Are you looking for the best casual restaurants Charleston SC has to offer?
When it comes to visiting amazing restaurants in the south, Charleston, SC, should be at the top of your list of places to eat. And there’s no better place to start than at one of Charleston’s best casual restaurants.
We asked our friend Sarah from Explore More NC to cover this topic more in-depth. She’s local to North Carolina and loves to explore the area, from hiking trails to local foods/drinks to finding amazing things to do.
Best Casual Restaurants In Charleston
Charleston has so many amazing restaurants; breaking them all into this list is hard. But that is the task, so I will share some amazing options on where to eat while you are in Charleston, SC.
1. Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar
📍 186 Concord St, Charleston, SC 29401
Want to have an incredible view overlooking the water while enjoying top-notch seafood? Then Fleet Landing in Charleston is your place! The restaurant is located in a 1940s retired naval building and was restored into the amazing restaurant it is today.
Located at the foot of the City Market, this is one of the best downtown Charleston seafood restaurants. Some of the fan favorites include shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, and triggerfish.
2. Toast All Day
📍 155 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
Toast All Day has several locations in Charleston. The address above is for the downtown location in the Historic District.
Known for its amazing southern breakfast items, one of our favorites is the corn beef hash made in-house from pulled brisket. Other favorites you will find here are the deluxe stuffed french toast, she-crab soup, and shrimp & grits. Make sure to order some of their fresh-squeezed orange juice, too.
At Toast All Day Charleston you will find breakfast, brunch, and lunch. If you love brunch, you’ll be happy to know they were awarded the Top 25 Brunches in the U.S. by TripAdvisor in 2021.
3. Boxcar Betty’s
📍 1922 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407
Ready to enjoy some gourmet fried chicken? Boxcar Betty’s has several locations in Charleston, one in Chicago, IL, and one in Charlotte, NC. Boxcar Betty’s will be opening a new location in Atlanta soon, too.
This popular casual restaurant only uses the best chicken and locally sourced ingredients.
Make sure to order the fried chicken sandwich, sweet potato fries, and fried pickles. You will find fun ingredients on their sandwiches, such as bacon jam, pimento cheese, and peach slaw. Get ready for amazing flavors at Boxcar Betty’s!
4. Poogan’s Porch
📍 72 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401
Ready to dine in a charming Victorian townhouse at one of Charleston’s best restaurants in the Historic District?
Poogan’s Porch has been open and serving Lowcountry cuisine since 1976, and I highly recommend you add it to your list of places to eat in Charleston.
Some of the fan favorites include pimento cheese fritters, pork chops, she-crab soup, biscuits, chicken & waffles, shrimp & grits, and the incredible brunch! It’s such a cute place and one of our favorite casual restaurants Charleston, SC has to offer.
5. Butcher & Bee
📍 1085 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
Butcher & Bee has been nominated for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. They have been open for over 10 years and have a fantastic atmosphere as you step inside. They have two locations, one in Charleston and one in Nashville, TN.
Their menu updates seasonally, so it may change from what is listed online. You’ll enjoy many amazing flavors here, where you’ll find a fusion of Middle Eastern and American foods. Make sure to try the whipped feta and hummus.
6. Basic Kitchen
📍 82 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401
Basic Kitchen is one of the best casual restaurants in downtown Charleston SC. It’s located in a historic building with floor-to-ceiling windows, making for a more upscale-casual atmosphere.
Their daily menu rotates with seasonal dishes. They offer both small and big plates, salads, and bowls.
Basic Kitchen values ethical and sustainable dining and have lots of plant-based menu items and sustainably raised meats. Stop by for lunch, dinner, or even Sunday brunch.
7. Darling Oyster Bar
📍 513 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Ready to enjoy some good seafood? Grab a seat at Darling Oyster Bar’s 14-seat raw bar and enjoy some incredible oysters and ceviche. If you prefer full table service for your meal, then have that, too.
Inside Darling’s historic 1800s building, you will find a cozy, intimate atmosphere with exposed brick walls, vintage light fixtures, and a large oyster-shell chandelier.
They are open for lunch and dinner. As one of Charleston’s most popular restaurants, you can expect it to get very busy, so reservations are recommended.
The Darling Oyster Bar is considered one of the best seafood restaurants in Charleston, serving high-quality seafood and a great selection of cocktails. Stop by for a happy hour and make sure to try the shrimp & grits, oyster shooters, and lobster roll.
8. Xiao Bao Biscuit
📍 224 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
Located in a converted gas station, Xiao Bao Biscuit is known for their specialty cocktails and Asian fusion cuisine. You’ll find dishes and flavors from all across Asia at this top restaurant.
Some of the fan favorites include the dumplings, and the okonomiyaki, a Japanese cabbage pancake.
You’ll love the atmosphere here, too!
9. Hyman’s Seafood
📍 215 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
Established back in the 1890s, Hyman’s Seafood has been serving up incredible fresh seafood in Charleston for over 130 years!
They have a very large menu, so you’ll have many options to choose from. Our suggestion is the hush puppies!
For the last nine years, Hyman’s Seafood has been voted the best seafood restaurant in the Southeast by Southern Living Magazine. You can even sit where a celebrity has sat and enjoyed their food here, noted by little plaques on each spot with their names.
Other fan favorites on the menu include the Carolina delight, crab cakes, boiled peanuts, salmon croquettes, and shrimp and grits.
10. Lewis Barbecue
📍 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403
Ready for some incredible Texas BBQ? Stop by for some mouth-watering beef brisket, smoked ribs, and Texas sausage. Lewis Barbecue has been recognized by Southern Living, Conde Nast Traveler, and Garden & Gun.
Make sure to enjoy their legendary brisket and the laid-back atmosphere! Who doesn’t love amazing BBQ!? Just be prepared for long lines if you don’t get there early. It’s worth it, though! Make sure to add this to your list of casual restaurants in Charleston, SC, to check out.
11. The Junction Kitchen & Provisions
📍 4438 Spruill Ave, North Charleston, SC 29405
Would you like to find a place to order breakfast all day? The Junction Kitchen is your spot. Enjoy some comfort food like breakfast, brunch, and some sandwiches as well.
While you are here, make sure to pick up a buzzed doughnut and try their Mexican hash, shrimp and grits, and croissant French toast.
12. Coast Bar & Grill
📍 39D John St, Charleston, SC 29403
Enjoy amazing seafood in a fun atmosphere at Coast Bar & Grill. Fan favorites include oysters on the half-shell, blackened swordfish, and wood-grilled fish with their in-house sauces. Something unique to them is using a hickory and oak custom wood-burning grill.
13. Rutledge Cab Co.
📍 1300 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
Enjoy some American comfort food with a twist in its retro-styled atmosphere. This restaurant is co-owned by actor Bill Murray.
Rutledge Cab Co. is known for its laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff. Everyone loves the shrimp and grits and the BLT. Enjoy lunch, dinner, happy hour, and the weekend brunch.
14. Little Jack’s Tavern
📍 710 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Enjoy a classic tavern for some good comfort food. Tables are covered in green checkerboard tablecloths; it’s a fun atmosphere!
They serve classic cocktails, amazing burgers, comfort food, salads, beer, and wine. Make sure to try the Brussels sprouts, crab cakes, and the Tavern burger with fries.
15. Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
📍 476 1/2 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is a small grab-and-go location. They have several locations throughout Charleston, including a food truck. Enjoy some fluffy biscuits with a variety of options like pimento cheese, bacon, egg and cheese, sausage gravy, and blackberry jam.
16. Cru Cafe
📍 18 Pinckney St, Charleston, SC 29401
Since opening in 2002, Cru Cafe has been serving some amazing food to the Charleston area. They offer both lunch and dinner options that focus on American comfort food.
Enjoy their amazing mac and cheese, truffle fries, Thai seafood risotto, and mussels. The restaurant has a casual and relaxed atmosphere.
17. Charleston Crab House
📍 41 S. Market St, Charleston, SC 29401
Are you looking for a casual restaurant with lots of focus on crab and seafood? Try their world-famous steam pots.
You can get the Lowcountry shrimp boil, crab house crab pot, and more. Check out the she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, and crab-stuffed mushrooms.
18. Rodney Scott’s BBQ
📍 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Ready for some James Beard Award-winning BBQ? Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ started in 2017, but Rodney has been cooking since middle school.
They offer classic sides in addition to their pulled pork, ribs, smoked chicken wings, and turkey.
19. Hannibal’s Kitchen
📍 16 Blake St, Charleston, SC 29403
Would you like to enjoy some local soul food? Taste the homemade cooking here at Hannibal’s Kitchen.
Make sure to try the crab rice, crab and shrimp rice, collard greens, fried shrimp, and liver and onions. In 2021 they were listed in New York Times’s best places to eat.
Visiting Charleston: FAQs
Charleston, SC is rich in history and one of America’s oldest cities. Founded in 1783, it was originally settled in 1670. It’s a very popular tourist destination. Charleston is known for its food, particularly Lowcountry cuisine, which is a blend of African-American, English, French, and West Indian influences.
While you are here, make sure to enjoy King Street, which runs through the heart of downtown. King Street is home to several historic landmarks, including the Dock Street Theatre, the Charleston Museum, and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. You’ll also find a ton of shopping, dining, and cultural experiences on King Street.
Stroll along the waterfront park and the Battery, which is a historic seawall. From here, you can see views of Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired.
After walking around the Battery, find Rainbow Row, which is a group of 13 colorful historic homes located on East Bay St, which you’ll find painted in pastel colors and is so fun to see.
If you are looking for some other activities, take a ghost tour or go watch a baseball game and cheer on the Charleston RiverDogs, which is a minor league team co-owned by Bill Murray.
What is the best casual restaurant in downtown Charleston, SC?
The answer to this is, of course, subjective. For many locals, Lewis Barbecue tops the list of best casual restaurants in downtown Charleston SC.
Lewis Barbecue’s food is amazing, and some of the best bbq we’ve ever had (which says a lot, being from the south!) Get there early to avoid the long line out the door.
What is the best casual seafood restaurant?
It is extremely hard to break it down into one restaurant, but two with the best reputation for seafood in Charleston include Darling Oyster Bar and Coast Bar & Grill. Charleston has some of the best seafood, so there is no way to single out just one.
Where is the best restaurant for casual lunch in Charleston?
Check out Hannibal’s Kitchen for amazing soul food. This family-owned and operated business has been serving Charleston with incredible cuisine for over 40 years. They have even been featured in Southern Living Magazine in 2020 and made it to New York Times’s top restaurants in 2021.
There is no shortage of amazing restaurants in Charleston, SC. You could spend weeks here diving into all the amazing food. While you are here, make sure to enjoy all the incredible history Charleston, SC, has to offer.
If you want to leave the city for a while, the closest beach to Charleston, SC, is Folly Beach along the Atlantic Ocean.
Charleston has been known for being a foodie destination. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time if you can for some of your top choices for restaurants.