The Best Food and Drink in South Carolina
The Palmetto State — in particular its Lowcountry coast and its oldest city, Charleston — is known for its rich food traditions. These stem from the state’s access to the sea and the bounteous hinterlands of the Piedmont and Upstate, as well as Charleston’s long history of international commerce — the city has been one of North America’s important entrepôts for trans-Atlantic shipping from its founding up to the present.
Though some of this cosmopolitan history is grim — and that’s putting it lightly; the city was a major center of the slave trade until the Civil War — it has given birth to a diverse present, with traditional Lowcountry and Southern cuisine standing alongside other delicacies from around the world to enliven the culinary landscape of modern-day South Carolina. We’ve rounded up the best offerings available in the state today as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Though the Charleston area is home to only 761,000 of the state’s nearly 5 million people, the city’s longstanding status as a cultural center has concentrated much of the culinary spotlight; all but two of the entries in our list are from the city or from nearby Mount Pleasant, leaving the Piedmont and Upstate, including important metropolitan centers like Columbia and the Greenville-Spartanburg area, unrepresented. Charleston seems to have everything from the state’s best pizza (Monza) to the best lobster roll (The Ordinary), and it’s hard to ignore the gravitational pull of chef Sean Brock’s wildly successful restaurants, such as Husk, McCrady’s, and Minero.
How did we go about choosing the best eats in South Carolina? Over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best tacos and farmers markets to its best dive bar and craft beer in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs. We’ve compiled these into individual slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state, and you can find our South Carolina slideshow here.