When you put together a listicle that touts 101 of the best things to eat in Charleston, as we did several weeks ago, blowback doesn’t take long to erupt. Almost immediately, readers bemoaned the absence of Coleman Public House’s burgers and COAST’s Kolsch beer. Even staffers were annoyed that we’d left off Early Bird Diner’s chicken and waffles and Santi’s shrimp tacos. To sate everyone’s insatiable appetite to have their favorites championed, we’ve put together this brief follow-up list of 11 more things to eat in Charleston. Enjoy.
available at sweeteethchocolate.com
and various specialty stores
It’s hard to believe we forgot to include Johnny Battles’ rich handmade chocolate bars. One of our staffers gave them out as party favors at her wedding. The key is high-quality ingredients. Take your pick of his creations: the PB&C with peanut butter and chipotle, the A’Chocolypse with candied ginger and popping sugar, or the Cinnapsis with dried apples, candied pecans, and cinnamon. We always go back to the classic Sea is for Caramel, which takes a rich 62-percent dark chocolate and adds some cream, butter, vanilla bean, and a heavy sprinkling of fleur de sel. It explodes with a rich, sweet saltiness for a sultry treat.
COAST 32/50 Kolsch from COAST Brewing Co.
available at COAST Brewing Co.
1250 2nd St. North Charleston
We intentionally didn’t include drinks on our list, since it was a compilation of food to eat, but afterward we had to agree with a reader who let us have it for neglecting Charleston’s favorite beer from COAST Brewing. With the 32/50 Kolsch, David Merritt has crafted a brew that’s perfect for Charleston, whether it’s a blazing hot summer day or a brisk fall afternoon. It’s always the right time for a COAST Kolsch.
Chicken and Waffles at Early Bird Diner
1644 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley
No one makes chicken and waffles better than the Early Bird, not even Gladys Knight (at her chicken and waffle chain in Atlanta). At the funky little eatery in West Ashley, they coat two chicken breasts in ground pecans, fry them to perfection, and then serve them atop four cinnamon Belgian waffles. Doused with their housemade honey mustard and syrup, it’s a mess of flavors that’s hard to resist, particularly when it’s brunch time on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It might not be a permanent menu item, but it’s a regular special.
T&T’s Original Kettle Corn
Available at various events.
There’s nothing quite like a bag of Tom Miller’s kettle corn. At events throughout the year, his rig is always there. He cooks up the popcorn in a huge kettle, drizzling it as it pops with sweet honey and then sprinkling the fluffy kernels with a healthy amount of salt. The end result is a huge bag (even the small is big) of warm, sweet, salty popcorn. It’s just not a good outdoor event if Tom’s not there clanging his triangle when the corn is hot and fresh.
Wings at Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ
$5.95/per half dozen, $10.95 per dozen
2209 Middle St. Sullivans Island
The Home Team BBQ on Sullivan’s Island does wings so right people are obsessed with them. Dry rubbed then smoked for two to three hours, then flash fried when ordered, the wings are finished off with another sugar rub leaving a sweet taste. Served by the dozen ($10.95) or half dozen ($5.95), they are accompanied by an Alabama white barbecue sauce and a death relish so spicy you will have to order another round of beer.
Japanese Doughnuts at Bambu
604 Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant
A donut is a donut, right? Not necessarily. At Bambu in Mt. Pleasant, their little Asian donut bites are made to order, fried up on the spot, and dusted with an umami-spiked five spice cinnamon sugar and served with caramel sauce for dipping. It’s the perfect balance of sugar and spice.
Bone Marrow Bread Pudding at Oak Steakhouse
$8.50. 17 Broad St. Downtown
Bone marrow is one of those things. It sounds gnarly, but it is imbued with a rich, meaty flavor that will make you a believer in sucking bones. Over at Oak, Chef Jeremiah Bacon saves you the impropriety by getting to that marrow in a much more elegant manner. First he splits the bone (a femur) and soaks it in saltwater and ice for a day or so. Once soaked, the marrow is scooped out and rendered. Heavy cream, marrow, and farm fresh egg yolks are rendered, poured over slices of brioche, and baked. Out of the oven, it congeals as it cools. Portions are sliced off and griddled to order. The end result is a lip-smacking slice of bready goodness imbued with the essence of beef.
Shrimp Tacos at Santi’s Restaurante Mexicano
1302 Meeting St. Downtown
These little babies receive no fanfare on the Santi’s menu. Indeed, they aren’t even listed as an option under the a la carte taco choices. But ask, and the boys at Santi’s will be happy to put in an order for the best shrimp tacos in town. The shrimp is grilled, layered in a lightly fried flour tortilla, and topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. In these days of fancy taco joints, they’re a downright steal at $2.50 per taco.
Available from Tony at various events
Tony the Peanut Man has been a Charleston attraction for decades. He’s always at the RiverDogs games (and various other events) hustling his boiled peanuts. His peanut sales are brisk and usually come with his signature song: “Got some boiled. Got some roasted. Got some stewed. Got some toasted. I got the right one, baby.” And they are the right ones, no matter the occasion.
Burgers at Coleman Public House
427 Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant
Even though we recognized the deliciousness of CPH’s Asian rib (which is a phenomenal little treat), people were upset we didn’t include their burgers on the list. We agree. They’re so good, they deserve recognition. While some might like the California burger with jack cheese, bacon, avocado, and creamy Dijon mustard, lots of people go bananas for the Fungi Burger, which is a mess of melted gruyere, roasted mushrooms, and caramelized onions drizzled with a touch of white truffle oil. It’s a nice earthy flavor profile that melds nicely with the ground beef (cooked to order, of course).
Crêpe Cake from the Charleston Crêpe Company
available at charlestoncrepecompany.com
Whether you pronounce it like a Frenchman or not, the crêpe cake from the Charleston Crêpe Co. is a neat confection. Twenty-five layers of thin crêpes are filled with either chocolate or vanilla crème and end up looking like a stack of very thin pancakes. The taste and texture are out of this world. We also like getting a single crêpe from their Saturday morning stand at the Farmers Market and stuffing it with savory fillings. It’s a market tradition that’s still going strong.