So, we go to Charleston a lot. We've especially gone a lot in 2014. This trip was very special, though. We went for the sole purpose of celebrating my twin brother's nuptials to the perfect girl. Not thinking we would have a lot of time to explore and eat, we were surprised that this trip allotted way more time than expected to try some new Charleston eateries. And they were ALL AWESOME. (please excuse that these are all iphone images. i made the choice to not touch camera this trip, and it was a needed break).
First up, and not in Charleston, is The Willcox in Aiken, South Carolina. You might be saying, who gives a shit about Aiken, South Carolina, but by doing that you are depriving yourself of quite an experience. The road to Charleston from Atlanta seems especially long. There are basically 3 parts: Atlanta to Augusta (which feels like forever), Augusta to Columbia, and Columbia to Charleston. It is crucial to make a pitstop somewhere in there or you'll go mad. Or maybe that's just me.
Normally, we stop in Columbia, but this time we headed to Aiken. A very old town first developed in the early 1800's, Aiken was the place where northerners came to vacation. More specifically, it was a place for the rich to bring and ride their horses. Driving through downtown, you can see that there still influence in area and The Willcox is a screaming example. Consistently named by Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler as one of the world's best small hotels, the Willcox screams Gilded Age and high society. I love it.
The food was good, but not spectacular. (The chewy and not so tasty lamb belly was quite confusing for us). It was the atmosphere that I loved. The high society of Aiken pulling a chair up to the old bar, sippin' on G+T's, and chatting about nothing in particular in thick thick southern accents with a classical pianist playing in the background. AWESOME.
Arriving in Charleston, we ate at our favorite; The Ordinary. Our previous 2 visits, we've only had enough money for the raw bar and cocktails, but this time Brian paid (thanks Brian), so we splurged. We ordered oysters, the heirloom tomato salad, and the grouper. And y'all, the grouper blew our minds. Holy moly. If you find yourself in Charleston, EAT AT THE ORDINARY!!
We tried Ted's Butcherblock which was the perfect lunch spot. Specializing in housemade charcuterie, it is what I'm hoping the Spotted Trotter will become here in Atlanta. The meats are awesome, and they have a full shop including meats, cheeses, wines, and prepared sides. Also, they apparently have a bacon of the month club... um, yes please!
On to breakfast. It's not my favorite meal of the day but it's probably the most important. The Early Bird Diner hits the spot. If you're there on a weekend, it might be tough as the line curls out the door into the streets, and the food truly merits that. But I am impatient and would never wait in a line like that, so thankfully, we went on a Wednesday. Although it was still crowded, we got in and out and fed well. Their Corn Cakes Benedict was pure delight.
Probably the most unexpected eating victory of the weekend was Dave's Seafood. Located on a random corner with bars on it's doors, Dave's doesn't scream "come on in." Once you're in though, you want to be in. We ordered the Seafood Platter which is all fried, all locally fished by Dave and friends, and served in a classy styrofoam container. We took our platter, bought some bottled coke, and enjoyed our dinner as the sun was setting in Marion Square. I don't think life could've been any better at that moment.
Found totally by chance, but I totally recommend, we stopped in Bakehouse on Bay St. I ordered the Orange Creamsicle Smoothie and my mind was blown. If you're walking around, this is the perfect place to stop for a reprieve from heat and fatigue and suck down a little orange dreamsicle nostalgia.
And to round it all out is our hangover meal of choice on the return home: greasy hamburgers at Rockaway Athletic Club in Columbia South Carolina. The wedding was a success, meaning we drank, we danced, we partied, and we were therefore hungover. So, it was crucial on the ride back to Atlanta to stop somewhere worthy of that hangover. And although they sold Pepsi (WTF), the burgers hit the spot and gave us the right amount of energy to make it home.
Gah, I love eating in the south, and I just can't wait for my next trip!