Charleston is continuing to open a slew of restaurants in town. The exciting thing is most of them offer something new to the landscape--more casual options, ethnic menus and places that are off the beaten path. Most of these restaurants provide diners a less expensive option which is always great as it allows people the chance to try them all. So go out, eat up and keep posted for what's in the horizon in the coming months.
Bay Street Biergarten, 549 East Bay Street, Charleston:
Even though it is not officially open, the Bay Street Biergarten is worth the mention. The Daily Meal has had the opportunity to tour and get a sneak taste and we like we what we see. First, the restaurant will provide a “first” for Charleston—beer tap tables. And not just any tap tables, a place where you can go, sit and order your own beer without having to wait around for a server to order or get another glass. With a specially designed pre-loaded card, patrons can select what beer they want to order and then drink away. Bay Street Biergarten’s tap system was designed specifically for them and there is no other one like it in the country. The restaurant’s interior makes you feel like you are in a log cabin as it features lots of woods, copper and rich textures. It is cozy but spacious and perfect for group outings. The large outside seating area will have custom made picnic tables and a bocce court. The food, prepared by Chef Jason Walker, is expected to be traditional southern bar food with a twist—fried shrimp and grit bites, soft pretzels, jerky and other small plates that pair well with beer.
Dellz Rutledge, 511 Rutledge Avenue, Charleston:
Good vegetarian restaurants are hard to find in Charleston so it was exciting to hear that Dellz was opening a second location, this time on Rutledge Avenue, right off the crosstown. It is easy to find but like most places in the city, parking is challenging. There are a few spots in the back for the first lucky few that arrive daily but afterwards, you will need to hit the streets. It is worth finding a spot. The place sports colorful murals throughout the space and seating is sparse but available via a counter overlooking the street or at various tables. The menu has incredibly generous “bowls” featuring vegan-style sausage, black beans, sliced portabella and more. They also have wraps like the “workout wrap”, pita pizzas, tacos and salads and best of all an entire menu of juices.
DeSano Pizza Bakery, 94 Stuart Street, Charleston:
It might take you a while to find DeSano (as it did for us), but once you find it, you cannot miss it. The large space has a ton of parking and can fit hundreds of people. DeSano is a sister restaurant to another location in Nashville and a similar concept in Atlanta (Antico). It is identical to those other locations and as soon as you enter, you are forced to make a decision. The menu features a plethora of pizzas from a more traditional menu to specialty selections. There are also calzones and salads and delicious desserts featuring cannoli, biscotti or gelato. Best of all, you can bring your own wine and if you happen to forget it, they have a small selection of wine and beer to order onsite. Once you order, you go to the back where rows of seating await and there you get to watch the chefs as they prepare your pizza order in one of the oversized wood fire ovens.
Indaco, 526 King Street, Charleston:
It was a little gutsy to open another Italian restaurant in downtown Charleston, especially down the street from a few other popular places. But restaurateur Steve Palmer had clear vision for the place and strived to make it a little different from the rest. He succeeded on all fronts with Indaco. The restaurant is in a great location in the heart of King Street, just blocks away from The Ordinary, The Macintosh and The Grocery. The décor is a home run as it features some original features of the old building—exposed white brick, a blonde butcher block bar counter and an open kitchen with a wood burning stove so patrons can watch the action in full affect. This action includes watching Chef Robert Berry (formerly of Cookshop in New York), as he prepares a full menu featuring a variety of pizzas, pastas, house made meats, seafood and more. Best of all, for $45 per person, you can have Chef Berry cook a curated family-style four course meal for the table.
Sweet Radish Bakeshop, 207A St. Phillip Street, Charleston:
With the opening of Sweet Radish Bakeshop on the corner of St. Phillips and Spring Streets, you now have a few blocks that have unofficially been dubbed “bakery row”. That’s because it is right around the corner from more established places like Brown’s Court Bakery, Wildflour Bakery and Sugar Bakeshop. But Sweet Radish Bakeshop stands out from the rest as becoming Charleston’s first and only gluten free bakeshop. Owner Julia Ingram has a gluten intolerance, something she discovered while in pastry school. After developing gluten free recipes for herself, she thought there might be others who are in the same boat. She was right and takes it very seriously. All of the ingredients are sourced from certified gluten free purveyors and they strive to use organic and local whenever possible. The menu has everything from cakes, cookies, tarts and items like rice pudding and panna cotta that are in jars that can be returned for a discount on your next order. As they get more comfortable with their offerings they have gradually offered more savory items like a breakfast tart, chicken pot pies and cornbreads.
Scratch Taco Boutique, 713 Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant
It might have only been open a week or so, but Scratch seems to have it nailed on the food front. The menu is a little ecletic and might scare off some non adventurous eaters but we say go for it. Chef Mat James is a newbie to the scene just arriving from Austin, TX. He has been cooking since he was 15 and it shows. The “firsts” feature a few salads, a gnocchi, deviled eggs and fries. The ceviche with fried hominy, bacon, pickled onion, aioli and cracklin’s offers a nice elevated style nacho. There are plenty of tacos to select from for $5 each and then entrees provide larger portion dishes to enjoy. The décor is fresh and open and it was not a surprise to learn architect David Thompson was responsible. There is plenty of seating inside and around the bar that provides a look into the kitchen action. Outside is partially covered and features rows of picnic tables. There is a great bar snack menu which is offered until late in the night and then a Saturday and Sunday brunch. Save room for desserts especially James’ signature brioche bread pudding; it is delicious!
Leyla Fine Lebanese Cuisine, 298 King Street, Charleston:
If there is one thing missing in Charleston’s burgeoning culinary scene, it is more ethic food. We were glad to hear about the opening of Leyla Lebanese Cuisine with Chef Vatche Meguerdichian who comes from Los Angeles. It was there that Meguerdichian ran Alcazar a place restaurant critic Jonathan Gold named as one of the city’s top 100 restaurants to go to. Leyla’s menu is large with over 20 cold mezza (appetizers), six of which are types of hummos. Same goes for the hot mezza that have rows of options and even an adventurous eater column with frog legs, quail, chicken liver and lamb tongue. There are group mezzas to share and lots of entrees. Patrons can also eat sandwiches, salads and lunch specials. Another great feature of the place, is the way you feel like your family. Walking by the place, you may find some staff, owners or even patrons, sitting outside, laughing and welcoming those walking by.
It never stops in Charleston and several places are under construction or in the works. We are excited and anticipating places like Maverick Southern Kitchen’s new place in Mount Pleasant, Leon’s Oyster Bar, Chez Nous, Edmund’s Oast, Wild Olive new place Sullivan’s Island, Mellow Mushroom Summerville and Egan’s & Sons.