Hit the Road: a flavorful foray to Charleston, SC

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We hope you’ve packed your appetite. This month, we’re finishing our Hit the Road series with a flavorful foray into Charleston, SC.

Whether you’re interested in taking a walking food tour, putting your cooking skills to the test at a Zero George class, or trying the award-winning steamed oysters at Bowen’s Island, this driving-distance destination is every foodie’s dream.

Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the area, along with our insider recommendations.

  • Drive time: ~4.5 hours from downtown
  • Est. population: 137,041
  • Avg. high in August: 87°
Folly Beach

Folly Beach shares the funky vibe that we know and love in Asheville. | Photo by AVLtoday

🎟️ Things to do

Hang out and eat around Folly Beach

The “tattooed bohemian” energy that you know and love in Asheville is palpable at this laid-back beach community. If you deign to leave your perch at the beach, consider visiting Chico Feos for tacos, Cuban sandwiches, and a generous selection of craft beer (and while you’re there, see how many Asheville stickers you can spot behind the bar — we saw about 20).

Two other gems: Bert’s Market, with its 24/7 selection of ice cream, burritos, burgers, paninis, and other casual eats — and the globally-inspired comfort food at Jack of Cups Saloon.

Take a cooking class with Zero George

Gather round this hotel’s professional demo kitchen for an intimate class led by Executive Chef Vinson Petrillo and Sous Chef’s Tyler Chavis. The result? A multi-course meal with wine pairings, plus heaping servings of professional expertise. Book a class.

The Historic Supper Club

This four-course, family-style meal — situated in a lavish French Quarter dining room — offers a rich + historical experience of Charleston’s culinary scene. Make a reservation.

Bowen's Island

This tray of Bowen’s Island oysters may seem daunting, but we ate all of them. | Photo by AVLtoday

🍲 Memorable eats

RAW LAB | 99 South Market St.

This three-hour omakase (which translates “to entrust” or “I leave it to you” in Japanese) raw bar dining experience is curated by the world’s first master mermmelier: Chef Kevin Joseph. This 11-course, mind-bending meal of marine cuisine is available by reservation only.

Bowen’s Island | 1870 Bowens Island Rd.

Want an unfussy, heaping pile of oysters, fried shrimp, hushpuppies, and the like? This walk-up, deceptively gourmet sea shack (and the winner of a 2006 James Beard Award) is chock full of character, humility, and life-changing seafood, so long as you’re okay with waiting in line.

Kwei Fei | 1977 Maybank Hwy.

Lamb dumplings, dan dan noodles noodles, and mapo tofu can be yours at this lively, peppery, and exquisitely authentic Sichuan eatery. Pssst, if you’re feeling dare devilish, try your hand at the Sichuan Negroni, made with peppercorn-infused Campari, vermouth, and Beefeater gin.

Sullivan’s Fish Camp | 2019 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island

New to the scene, this chic seaside restaurant is modeled after a 1970s sailboat and offers classic seafood hits like peel-and-eat shrimp + fried seafood baskets — plus sophisticated and higher-end offerings like lobster rolls and tuna tartare with bone marrow.

Leon’s Oyster Shop | 698 King St.

This playful eatery, housed inside a converted auto shop, knows how to play the hits. Come for the oysters, fried chicken, and shrimp rolls — stay for the soft serve, frozen gin and tonics, and rosé on tap.

If you need us, we’ll be daydreaming about The Ryder’s chic + sunny pool. | @sarahellensellschs

🏨 Accommodations with award-winning cuisine

Emeline | 181 Church St.

A meal at Frannie & The Fox, a wood-fired, Italian-inspired eatery, is reason enough to stay at this boutique hotel. A few other perks: complimentary strong punch cocktails (or house lemonade) upon check-in, Lowcountry curios sprinkled throughout the space, and an impressive collection of 500+ vinyl records.

The Ryder Hotel | 237 Meeting St.

This stylish, boutique hotel — which takes inspiration from the semi-fictional character Japhy Ryder in Jack Kerouac’s “The Dharma Bums” — is centered in the heart of downtown Charleston, which means you’re only a stone’s throw away from two of the Palm City’s most famous restaurants, F.I.G. and Lenoir.

Bonus: If you stay here, you also have an excuse to linger in the sunshine at Little Palm, the hotel’s breezy poolside cafe + cocktail bar.

The Grand Bohemian | 55 Wentworth St.

Come for the funky + eclectic aesthetic (read: crushed velvet headboards and a synthetic turf-covered rooftop bar), stay for the spectacular meals offered at the coastal-inspired Élevé that blends Southern heritage with the finest French culinary techniques.

Hungry for more? Catch up on the last two months’ Hit the Road features: Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and Black Mountain.

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