It’s been a long and hard search to replace my favorite US city, since we now live in it – Seattle – but I think I found it… Charleston, SC. This past December the husband and I went to Charleston for a friends wedding and now understand why people love it there: the food scene (mmm grits), the shopping, the weather, and the amazing southern charm – to just name a few.
When we arrived in Charleston, we went straight to our friend’s brewery. The craft beer seen in Charleston is really taking off and what craft brewers are doing, like my friend at Frothy Beard, is pretty darn amazing. Have you ever had jalapeno cilantro pale ale or a peppermint porter? The guys at Frothy Bread really do a great job of using what’s fresh and in-season to make amazing seasonal brews in addition to some of their staples. They have definitely turned my stouts only opinion around. If you have a car the next time you are in Charleston, I highly recommend taking a detour from the airport and visit their brewery.
After visiting our friends at Frothy Brewery we finally made it to our hotel – the Francis Marion Hotel. Situated in the heart of the city and walking distance to many yummy food spots and shopping delights. We checked in pretty late and I have to admit I was concerned about finding a place to eat at 11 PM. Boy was I wrong.
After we dropped our bags off I was amazed by the amount of people out and about the town. In Seattle, we’ve gotten pretty used to happy hour being packed and things calming down around 11 PM or midnight. In Charleston, every place was packed. We ended up at Halls Chophouse, which I have to admit was a little more than what we were initially craving but the food was tasty. The she crab soup and the creamed spinach were just what I needed to get me in the southern mindset.
The next couple days we found a few other mouth-watering restaurants. The first was The Ordinary. This place has been getting a lot of delicious press lately. If you love fresh seafood then this is the place for you! They have a quite the menu, including a three-tier shellfish tower, an amazing twists on pumpkin soups and Caesar salads. Drinks are tantalizing on the taste buds and the atmosphere is fresh and clean.
For brunch on our third day we went to Husk. This is another place that gets a lot of buzz and was recommended to me by many of my friends who had been to Charleston before. Trying to choose just one item is a very difficult decision. The bartender makes out of this world drinks and saying their shrimp and grits were to die for is an understatement.
Two watering holes we went to get our libations fix were The Gin Spot and Proof. The Gin Spot had a great cocktail and bar snack menu. If you are feeling adventures, you can tell the bartender two words from a list of bartender’s choice (Smokey & Savory, Refreshing & Vegetal) and they will make you the drink you didn’t even know you wanted but wanted all along. Proof is another bar (close to the Francis Marion) that serves a mecca of cocktail treasures. The bartenders there are friendly and they serve traditional cocktails (such as an old fashion, without the fruity additives). Their special the night I was there was a French 75 with a splash of absinthe. Pretty much all of my favorite things in one cocktail glass. Heaven is all I can say. If cocktails are not your thing, they also had a great selection of beers on tap (including a variety of local craft brews).
In Seattle, I’ve gotten used to the limited shopping options. Yes, we have a flagship Nordstrom and a scattering of boutiques, but not like what you see in other cities. Typically, I save my shopping sprees for when I’m traveling and boy I am happy I waited for Charleston. The boutiques and bigger retailers on King Street can hold you hostage for an entire day! On the weekends, the Charleston Farmers Market takes over Marion Square where local vendors sell their art, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and street artist perform. Lucky for us we were visiting Charleston on the second Sunday of the month. On King Street, the street shuts down to vehicle traffic and turns into a European-esque shopping and eating experience. Shops open their doors to shoppers and restaurant sets up tents on the street to share small bites of their delightful creations. Bands play on the street corner and people stroll and enjoy Charleston’s finest. My parents and I were even more excited when we found out a family favorite store that we have only seen in Italy – Campo Marzio – had opened a brick and mortar store in the United States! A few years back when my parents were vacationing in Rome, they were introduced to Campo Marzio. Campo Marzio is a family favorite with their beautifully crafted purses, Italian pens, leather portfolios and accessories (to name a few). The store, which is typically closed on Sundays, opens its doors to participate in the second Sunday of the month.
Aside from the amazing food and shopping Charleston really is a unique place to experience. The long cobble streets, the ocean front views, hand-woven palmetto roses and baskets, and the eclectic rainbow colored mansions make Charleston one-of-a-kind. So much that the husband and I have already made plans to go back in 2014! If you’ve been to Charleston before share your recommendations. We’d love to check them out!