Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great EATERIES! You’re off and away!*
Charleston, South Carolina doesn’t hold back. She is big, bold, and bright. Her color glows in the dark. And if you don’t like one side, she has multiple to show. Cheat meals in Charleston, South Carolina are no different. They cater to eclectic tastes and traditional desires. You want seafood–well DUH you’ve come to the Low Country. Doesn’t get much fresher. You want high-class dining? Talk a walk down King Street and sample some of the classiest foods your wallet will forgive you for.
Me? I always search for a bakery. A sweetshop. A cookie store or cupcakery. That’s just how I roll.
To my faithful readers, you already know I travel to eat. You know there’s nothing I love more than biting into a soft, warm cookie fresh from the oven. You know a good cheeseburger with extra awesomesauce beats the thrill of skydiving any day. At least for me, it does. To my new readers, welcome to a sweet devotion to sugar, grease, calories, and excess. Food that makes taste buds do more than dance, they sing opera. In your mouth.
So if you find yourself in Charleston–and truthfully, why haven’t you gone out of your way to come here?–here are some cheat meals that will make the 5 miles you run afterwards worth it!
King Street Cookies
King Street has an array of restaurants from burgers to seafood to well-known chains. But my first mission in Charleston? Find a cookie. And this cute little shop did the trick. King Street Cookies has all kinds of cookies: key lime, snickerdoodle, lemon, ginger snap. They have a mango cookie with a taste that literally explodes in your mouth. Seriously, I jolted when the taste first touched my tongue. Don’t worry, they also have your classic chocolate chip, sugar (my FAVORITE), and oatmeal raisin for those of us who enjoy a traditional cookie.
You can go in and buy one (but why??) or you can try their special: buy a dozen and get one free! Three guess to what I did…
OH, because I promised, if you go, ask for Tasha or Brenna. Those ladies helped me beyond what defines customer service and they were absolutely adorable at the same time. Good customer service always stands out for me–and ladies, don’t forget what I told you both about what to add to your resumes! (thanks for the help)
Fresh Bites – Room Service with Charleston Marriott
Okay, so you can’t actually eat here unless you book a room at the Charleston Marriott (which you should!), but I enjoy trying out a hotel’s room service. And I needed my comfort meal–cheeseburger and fries. Like the variety of restaurants and shops in the city, Fresh Bites has different meals for different desires. And oh em gee, my meal had my blood grinning like a kid on the first day of school. Cheese perfectly melted, fries carefully seasoned, and good, hearty beef. A good burger makes me feel at home, even miles away.
What I loved most? The way my food arrived in these perfectly cute and completely practical boxes! Everything came in the bag and everything opened into a tray for easy dining and clean up.
Early Bird Diner
My normal breakfast consists of Greek yogurt with a little granola sprinkled on the top. Or a banana. So a tiny, intimate diner with food that rivals Waffle House had me doing backflips in my head. Early Bird has funky stickers, portraits, and pictures scattered across the walls inside. If you’re a comic book fan, you’ll fall instantly in love with the décor. The diner serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but my suggestion? Go for breakfast. Order chicken and waffles. Thank me later.
Freshly cooked waffles with hot, sweet syrup coupled with crispy fried chicken covered in warm honey mustard sauce? If your mouth isn’t salivating right now, I want to know your secret. The combination of flavors is potent and unforgettable. Easy to understand how chicken waffles is the signature meal at Early Bird. Perfect cheat meal in Charleston.
Oh, and a tip? Get there early, be prepared to wait, and don’t fret if you have to park down the street. Early Bird has a tiny front lot and an even smaller back lot, but the packed house only proves how AMAZING this food really is. And worth the wait.
I love a small business placed in the middle of quaint residential area. Charleston has this in spades. The best places hiding in plain sight between the neighbor’s flowerbed and your dad’s squeaky front gate. I researched Sugar before I arrived, knew I couldn’t leave without stepping inside. The interior is as cute and picturesque as the outside. Actually, it reminded me of Santa’s workshop–if Santa made sweet treats, cupcakes, and pies.
The quiet bakeshop screams homemade; no excess frosting or too loud colors in the cake. Everything small and perfectly tailored for a hand-held delight. But with the most eclectic flavors and tastes. I had a blueberry vanilla cupcake and a grapefruit raspberry.
Tip? Be sure to check the time before you go–I nearly missed my chance because I forgot Sugar closes at 5pm on weekends.
I did not plan for this meal. I wandered around King Street, hungry and annoyed because I couldn’t find parking near Nana’s Seafood and Soul (another local place I STRONGLY recommend). The name caught me. I remember reading about it in an article when I researched Charleston. I thought, why not? So happy I remembered the Macintosh.
Now, forewarning, your wallet will yell at you for five minutes. But then your mouth will thank you in seven languages. The Macintosh’s menu changes not just daily, but twice a day. Which means you can come back and get an entirely new experience every.single.time.
The inside speaks to dark, romantic atmosphere, an after hours spot for close co workers, a release from the stress of the week. I sat out in the courtyard and enjoyed the cooling summer air and setting sun. I order CAB Deckle–slices of the most tender steak I’ve ever had. In my life. Ever. That steak melted in my mouth. And then breathed new life into my veins.
Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts
So clearly, you see a theme here for my cheat meals in Charleston: I like sweet things. It’s a bit of a problem when not held in check. Glazed satisfied yet another urge for sugar and dough and yum with their gourmet doughnuts. I suppose you could say I’m on the lookout for a fried dough that makes Krispy Kreme’s iconic glazed fall to its knees in shame. Glazed Gourmet, like the other shops on King, is small, but more modern than quaint. Made more for the millennial after work or fresh-eyed college student. I could see myself sitting on the couch reading the next few chapters of a new book.
And the doughnuts? Um, HUGE. Bright. Colorful–bold color that laughs at you when you try to turn away. But what I appreciated was the taste. The sugar didn’t slap in the face and leave you dazed and confused. Instead, the sugar lightly hugged you and kissed you on the forehead. Not subtle, but just the right amount of yes. If you go, try the raspberry–WOW.
Angel Oak Restaurant
So we’ve moved from Charleston to John’s Island, but I wanted to talk about this charming little place on the way to visit Angel Oak (and for more about that experience, click here). Authentic country, down home and sweet. Angel Oak Restaurant comes with paper covered tables, mason jar cups, and flowers as the centerpiece. Adorable place settle make food taste better, I think.
I’ll admit, I didn’t plan to come here. I got frustrated with my lack of options for Sunday brunch. Then I found Angel Oak Restaurant. And I went because I desperately (yes desperately wanted pancakes.
For brunch, they provide a plain pancake and a special. The special that day? S’mores Pancakes. I opted for the plain and thoroughly enjoyed a nice, pure homemade pancake. Not fluff, No artificial flavors. But the real deal with fresh syrup. Worth the 30 minute drive.
Did you see a restaurant you want to try out? What did I leave off the list? I regret I didn’t get to taste all the cheat meals Charleston offers, but that only means one thing: I MUST return! Till next time…
Related post: 36 Hour in Charleston, SC | What to See and Do!
*This quotation comes from the opening line of the Dr. Seuss book, Oh the Place’s You’ll Go, from which my title is adapted.
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