Finally, I’m wrapping up our culinary tour of Charleston and what better place to start than the Farmer’s Market, which is held Saturdays in Marion Square from April until December.
Not only is it a great place to stock up on fresh, local produce (we scored some of the same strawberries used by Husk for their shortcake), there are producers of locally raised meats, raw milk, eggs, homemade pastas, canned preserves, fresh flowers, and local arts and crafts. Perhaps the biggest draw, however, is the variety of food vendors offering baked goods, sandwiches, coffee, juices and artisanal ice cream.
Add some live music and you get a festive atmosphere where families lay out blankets on the grass with kids and dogs to enjoy their finds. I’m disappointed we didn’t have time to visit again this past Saturday. We planned on leaving a little later in the day, but the weather turned bad and we had to get an earlier start. But I can’t complain, we left Charleston a little heavier than when we arrived.
Here is a list of the other restaurants we visited:
Slightly North of Broad is part of the Maverick Southern Kitchens group that also owns our beloved Charleston Cooks kitchen store and cooking classes. We had lunch at this self-described Lowcountry Bistro, which means an emphasis on local ingredients and an upscale interpretation of traditional dishes. Lunch relied heavily on fresh, local produce resulting in light, flavorful dishes.
Cypress is another take on Lowcountry cuisine re-imagined, but in a more modern atmosphere. James Beard nominated, Chef Craig Deihl composes a menu of steakhouse classics alongside a seasonal menu to highlight regional offerings. For example, Mark had a Steak Diane with Gruyère Potato Fondue and I had a Grilled Pork Chop with Fried Mac & Cheese and Collard Greens. We still haven’t decided which was best yet (I think maybe the pork chop).
Five Loaves is the hidden gem of the bunch, located in a neighborhood in the northern section of downtown. It was a mile and half walk each way, but we visited three times during our two-week stay. From soups and sandwiches at lunch to the pasta and risotto with fresh seafood at dinner, every dish is creative and tastes wholesome and fresh and that’s because most are made in-house daily or sourced from local purveyors. All of this for what it would cost to eat at a casual chain restaurant. Even more amazing, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, they have half-priced wine nights. We couldn’t afford not to eat there!
WildFlour Pastry of “Sticky Bun Sunday” fame, is just around the corner from Five Loaves. Enough said.
Bull Street Gourmet and Market is located oddly enough on King Street (I understand there are other locations), and is a counter service café with a small gourmet market. We split a sandwich there one day, which was delicious, but I felt it was important to mention that you can purchase from their excellent selection of craft beers and wine at liquor store prices, then enjoy in the dining area with one of the always-yummy-sounding lunch or dinner specials. A tremendous value for good food and drink, whether you find yourself in the heart of downtown or they deliver!
We did not even begin to scratch the surface of wonderful dining options in Charleston, although it seemed like we were constantly eating (and I have the pictures to prove it). We never had time in our previous visits to really explore all the city has to offer and I was overwhelmed by the number and diversity of outstanding restaurants. That’s a high quality problem.