If you’ve ever attended Charleston Wine + Food Festival’s Waffle House Smackdown, you know that Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appetit‘s Restaurant and Drinks Editor, loves the Holy City. As host of the playful Smackdown, Knowlton has joked around with some of the best chefs in the city and, of course, spent ample time enjoying Charleston’s eats.

So it’s no wonder two local restaurants, Leon’s and Artisan Meat Share, were just named in the 50 nominees for America’s Best New Restaurants 2015 list. The fried chicken/oyster shop and charcuterie haven join restaurants from across the country like Seattle’s Damn the Weather (known for chicken-fat fries), San Francisco’s The Progress from the same folks who launched James Beard winner State Bird Provisions, and Richmond, Va.’s Southbound. 

In a press release from Bon Appetit, the magazine says that in selection of the nominees “the quality of the food is paramount, but in his search Knowlton also considers every aspect of the eatery, from its commitment to service, to its lighting and design. The 50 restaurants on this list represent the best of the best in 2015.”

Now the list gets whittled down to the Hot 10. On Tues. Aug. 18 readers can find out if Charleston’s own make that final cut. In the meantime try not to drool over the full 50 list here

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