Southern Cooking in SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolinians love a great meal, whether it’s fresh seafood from the state’s coastal waters or BBQ with a signature mustard-based sauce. But everywhere you go in the Palmetto State, you’ll also find creative menus and farm-to-table specialties with a distinctive South Carolina flavor.
In 2022, Conde Nast Traveler again named Charleston as America’s Best Small City, noting the local quality and diversity of its dining options. In the historic downtown area, the great restaurants range from Leon’s Oyster Shop to Hank’s Seafood, Oak Steakhouse to Scott’s BBQ, and French cuisine at Maison to Tex-Mex at Rancho Lewis. The best farm-to-table specials are found at Husk, FIG, and Butcher & Bee, or you can enjoy breakfast anytime at both Miller’s All Day locations and the Early Bird Diner in West Ashley.
The Charleston area also features two local favorites that are expanding statewide: Home Team BBQ, founded in West Ashley, now has locations in Mt. Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, Columbia, and Greenville, while the original downtown Hall’s Chophouse also has sites in nearby Summerville, as well as the Midlands and Upstate.
In The Lowcountry south of Charleston, you’ll find the waterfront town of Beaufort and popular restaurants like Old Bull Tavern and Saltus River Grill, plus Panini’s Italian fare and Greek dishes at Athenian Gardens.
Down the road in Bluffton’s lively Old Town, featured spots include May River Grill, Burnt Church Distillery, and Captain Woody’s. Across the bridge on Hilton Head Island are upscale dining rooms at world-class resorts, plus top-rated restaurants like Jazz Corner, Delisheeyo, Nunzio, Sage Room, and Frankie Bones. Among the long-time local favorites are Alexander’s, Skull Creek Boathouse, Hudson’s on the Docks, and Reilley’s Grill.
South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia features The Vista nightlife district with seafood restaurants like The Blue Marlin and Pearlz Oyster Bar, along with Korean-inspired fare at 929 Kitchen and fine wines with dinner at Gervais & Vine. More casual settings include Motor Supply Company Bistro and the Liberty Tap Room. For the region’s signature BBQ, take the short drive to Shealy’s in Batesburg or Farmboy’s in Chapin.
Aiken is a welcoming Midlands town that offers the elegant Wilcox Hotel Restaurant, Italian fare at Casa Bella, and South Asian spices at Taj Indian Cuisine. Traditional Southern meals are featured at Betsy’s Round the Corner, Charlie’s Fish Market, and Duke’s BBQ.
The Upstate city of Greenville has experienced a remarkable revitalization and made a fresh name for itself as a dining destination. Among the notable downtown restaurants are international-fusion fare at Asada, Japanese delicacies at Sushi Go, French-inspired specials at Maestro Bistro, and long-time local favorite Trio Brick Oven Cafe. Seafood dishes are the choice at Coral and The Anchorage, along with local-farm items at Stella’s Southern Bistro and both Lewis BBQ locations. The best views in town are on the terrace at Jianna overlooking Falls Park.
For more about great restaurants in South Carolina, including links to three regional BBQ Trails and the statewide Ultimate Foodie Trail, go to
Find Your Ideal Home in South Carolina
There are many reasons people choose to relocate to or retire in South Carolina. For one, the cost of living is hard to beat. There’s no state income tax, and property prices are notably reasonable. Find your ideal home here.
By JG Walker