Photo by Ruta Smith

Best New Restaurant 
Neon Tiger 

All-vegan hotspot Neon Tiger joined downtown Charleston’s dining scene in summer 2020, dishing out pizzas and plant-based riffs on shrimp, spicy chicken sandwiches and more. At the King Street restaurant, owner John Adamson, a converted vegan whose previous ventures include Rarebit and The Americano, makes plant-based eating approachable in a modern setting highlighted by retro futuristic murals and an entire wall covered in plants. 

“I wanted to make it super approachable, super hip, and luckily I have it in me to design spaces that people want to enjoy,” Adamson told the City Paper. “I needed something that was bigger, and Neon Tiger provided that.” 

Look for appetizers like trumpet mushroom “calamari,” and main dishes range from a shockingly meaty meatless seitan reuben to the big Buffalo “chicken” sandwich or Neon Tiger’s flagship fromaggio and champignon pizza. Patrons will also find an eclectic cocktail menu curated by Brent Sweatman and Jeremy Buck, who crafted options like the “truffle tiger tiki,” a combination of truffle-washed rum, Goslings, pineapple and lime that’s topped with aquafaba — or foam made from canned chickpeas. 

“What an incredible thing for the movement,” said Adamson of the nod from City Paper readers. “To be recognized in that way — it’s a bit overwhelming. This makes working every single night in the kitchen totally worth it.”