The Hottest Restaurants in Charleston Right Now, February 2017
More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? What are the new restaurants? What’s everyone talking about? While the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering old standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the “it” places of the moment. Enter the Eater Heatmap, which will change continually to highlight the spots crowds are flocking to at the moment or generating a big buzz. The map welcomes Stella’s and Avila to the list. Folks are asking, “Have you been yet?” Try one of these newbies today.
Note: Map points are not listed in Rank
1 Butcher & Bee
Butcher & Bee is back with a bigger space, more parking, more hours, and a cocktail/beer/wine program. It’s everything you loved about the King Street location, but with more, including dinner service.
Ever since pitmaster John Lewis came to town with his brand of Texas barbecue and knee-weakening brisket, people have hungered for his restaurant to open. With the doors to Lewis Barbecue unlocked, the crowds are free to indulge in beef ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and other meaty delights. Give the agua frescas a try too.
The new outpost of beloved cheese shop goat.sheep.cow offers more wines, meats, and dairy for guests in addition to a dining room. Now guests can enjoy a glass of chardonnay or slice of prosciutto in the space.
The interiors at Harold’s Cabin make the guests feel like they’ve stepped into a friend’s eclectic mountain home — a friend who happens to cook thoughtful, vegetable-driven dishes. A popular place for Wagener Terrace families, Harold’s Cabin serves savory grits, giant, fluffy biscuits full of interesting additions, and a produce forage board worth 100 Instagrams (we counted). There’s also confirmed reports of Bill Murray sightings (he’s an investor).
If you haven’t been to Little Jack’s Tavern yet, then you’ve probably at least seen one of the hundreds of photos of the throwback booths on your social media feeds. From restaurateurs Tim Mink and Brooks Reitz, this new addition to North Central was poised to be a hit before it even opened. Old-school interiors combined with classic, comfortable fare, and half-price martinis during lunch make for a win. Everyone’s saying to try the burger.
While Luke’s Craft Pizza only offers carry-out pizza, patrons are racing to get to the Ashely Avenue eatery to guarantee they’ll get a few of the artisanal pies to bring home. Chef Luke Davis, formerly of EVO, sources the best ingredients and works with seasonal produce to offer unique creations to guests. A recent special placed peaches, speck, and housemade pickled jalapeños on a pie.
With new chef Josh Keeler executing a new menu at Upper King eatery 492, the food-minded crowds are curious to see what plates he’s putting out. Keeler brings his experience from beloved, but now shuttered, Two Boroughs Larder with him to the kitchen, but is also bolstered by a larger space, a pastry staff, and a fully stocked cocktail program.
Scarecrow opened last month with a stunning dining room and a massive wood-fired grill. The menu keeps most items under $30 and utilizes seasonal products and produce. With fall upon Charleston, you’ll find warming, comforting dishes like whole quail with chestnut stuffing, beef short ribs with bone marrow custard, and North Carolina trout with vermouth butter.
Henrietta’s sits on the first floor of The Dewberry, on the corner of Meeting and Henrietta Streets. The space opens into a bar area with booths near the windows facing Marion Square. The concept for Henrietta’s takes cues from contemporary French brasseries. The menu is inspired by classical French cooking, but with a lighter, more vegetable driven touch. Seasonal, local ingredients, in-house butchering, and a wood-fire grill also shape the menu.
Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchen offers patrons Instant Vacations, and even though that’s the name of a rum cocktail, the staff also wants you to feel relaxed, as if on a tropical island. Chef Paul Yellin and his team offer plenty of umbrella-topped drinks and Caribbean-inspired fare, like jumbo garlic prawns and coconut curry chicken.
Downtown’s latest restaurant Pawpaw features a menu of Southern small plates, handmade pastas, and wood-fired local ingredients. Look for hush puppies with lemon-dill dipping sauce, pecan-smoked salmon with toast points, capers, and remoulade, shrimp and grits with crispy okra, bacon, and roasted tomato gravy, short rib with spinach stuffed agnolotti and black truffle pecorino, and more.
Only 18 patrons have a chance to sample Sean Brock’s ideal McCrady’s each evening through a ticket system. Brock says that this is the most intense food he’s ever created. He’s trying to cultivate a unique, intriguing, and stimulating experience for each guest. The food reads simple, like uni and paw paw, but the results are beyond sophisticated.
McCrady’s Tavern premiered in the former McCrady’s dining room at 2 Unity Alley in August. The Sean Brock concept draws from the Gilded Age of dining with a lively atmosphere and “craveable” food. The menu is full of old-school items like calf’s head soup, marrow bones stuffed with escargot, veal blanquette, a tavern burger, and more. The restaurant opens for lunch, brunch, and dinner.
After 3:00 p.m., Normandy Farm Bakery turns into Bar Normandy. Chef Alex Lira has created a small, affordable, ever-changing menu of snackable plates, like baccala, $2 oysters, or a salad of lunchbox peppers and potatoes. Former FIG server Philip Michael Cohen runs the beverage program, which includes well-curated wines and inexpensive local beers (plus a $2 PBR). They want to bring good food and drinks to Broad Street at an affordable price.
Harleston Village Italian restaurant Le Farfalle unlocks the floodgates to fresh pasta earlier this month in an airy space on Beaufain Street. Chef Michael Toscano and team will showcase “various regions throughout Italy, as well as ingredients bountiful to the South.” There’s small plates, seasonal vegetables, pasta, a $90 steak for two, and Italian-inspired entrees.
Restaurant owner Steven Niketas shut down new American concept The Westendorff in October of last year to transition the address to a Charleston version of the family Greek concept Stella’s. The newcomer is a partnership between Niketas and friends Johnny and Katrina Giavos, who have ran the original Stella’s with chef Stella Dikos. According to the wave of early adapters this week, the gamble to go Greek is winning over fans on the peninsula.
After a rocking review in City Paper, more diners are looking to Avila for traditional Venezuelan dishes like carne al coco, arepas with various fillings, tostones, and more. The restaurant recently applied for a beer and wine license, so brews may come soon.