Image of outdoor patio

Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Dr. Shannon Barrett

Charleston, South Carolina is an urban destination that you can visit every year and always find something new to enjoy. It has southern charm, beautiful temperatures, and iconic waterways everywhere you look. More importantly, Charleston also boasts plenty of upscale eateries that don’t just serve biscuits and gravy. Although if you are coming for classic southern dishes, we have those too! As more people come to Charleston, restaurants are expanding outside the Lowcountry cuisine. With so many choices available it’s hard to decide which restaurant to try next. So let’s get started here.

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What are our favorite restaurants in Charleston?

 

1. Magnolias Uptown Down South

 

Magnolias restaurant
Magnolia’s Restaurant

 

This is one of the most historic and popular restaurants downtown. There is often a wait and reservations are recommended. Even after living here for over 10 years, it is still one of our favorite places to take friends when they visit.  The food is wonderful and they have some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. If you prefer fish, their Parmesan crusted market catch over shrimp pirloo is amazing. And as someone that it picky about her fish entrees, I crave this dish. Magnolias was recently renovated in 2021 after a fire but still maintains the elegance that has kept it a delicious icon for the past 30 years.

Know before you go

Vibe: white tablecloths, professional waiters, well-made cocktails elegant decor

 Reservations: highly recommended

 Price: Dinner entrées range from $28-$50

 Outdoor seating: No

 Pet friendly: No

Address: 185 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401

Phone: 843-577-7771

https://magnoliascharleston.com/

2. Poogan’s Porch

 

Poogans porch restaurant
Poogan’s Porch Restaurant

If you prefer a bit more laid-back atmosphere with outdoor porches, Poogan‘s porch may be the place for you. They have Southern cuisine served in historic Victorian home. Their pimento cheese fritters are not to be missed.  Sitting on their outdoor porches, you can watch Charleston visitors stroll by or catch a glimpse of people enjoying a Carriage Tour of our beautiful city. For those interested in our city’s ghostly past, Poogan’s serves that up as well. Don’t worry, the ghosts rarely bother diners and don’t eat much. Poogan’s Porch is named after the resident dog that greeted guests when the restaurant first opened. Their dog friendly attitude paired with delicious food is why this is one of our favorite spots in downtown Charleston.

Know before you go

Vibe: Laid back with no specific dress code. Professional wait staff. will see array of locals and tourists. atmosphere a bit more lively mostly due to the outdoor patio and fact that the patio doors can be opened when the weather is permitting.

 Reservations: highly recommended, only accept a limited number of walk-ins

 Price: Dinner entrées range from $24-$48

 Outdoor seating: yes

 Pet friendly: yes in outdoor areas, make sure to let them know you will be bringing your dog when you make the reservation.

 Address: 72 Queen Street, Charleston, SC 29401

Phone: 843-577-2337

https://www.poogansporch.com/

3. 39 Rue De Jean

 

Rue De Jean
Rue De Jean Restaurant

A delicious french restaurant in the heart of Charleston? Yes, and it has a patio! When we are meeting friends downtown for dinner, this is one of our first choices. They have an extensive menu, which normally makes me wary of a restaturant, but Rue De Jean pulls it off. Their brasserie burger is fantastic and the accompanying pommes frites are always perfectly cooked. The french onion soup makes you long for cold weather and is served in a bowl covered in melted cheese. They have a great cocktail list and if you are lucky enough to find a seat at the bar, good drinks and great conversation will abound. They have a quaint outdoor patio where you and your furry dining companion relax and enjoy the day. Located next to Charleston Music Hall, its a great place for a drink and meal before enjoying a show.

Know before you go

Vibe: Livley atmosphere on most evenings and weekends. Warm inviting indoor space with exposed brick meant to mimic a french bistro.

 Reservations: highly recommended, only accept a limited number of walk-ins

 Price: Dinner entrées range from $20-$50

 Outdoor seating: yes

 Pet friendly: yes on outdoor patio, make sure to let them know you will be bringing your dog when you make the reservation.

Address: 39 John Street, Charleston, SC 29403

Phone: 843-722-8881

https://www.holycityhospitality.com/39-rue-de-jean/

4. Edmund’s Oast Restaurant & Brewpub

 

edmunds oast patio
Edmunds Oast Restaurant

 

If you are looking for a spacious patio with good food, this is the place for you. This is one of our favorite restaurants to meet friends for a casual meal. If you haven’t noticed, we love outdoor dining so our lists of local restaurants will tend to focus on those with great outdoor dining options. However Edmund’s Oast also has a spacious indoor dining room as well. They even divide their menus into outdoor food and indoor food. Either option is good. I recommend the outdoor dining snacks if you are coming for drinks and light snacks. This menu includes fried chicken, sandwiches and salads. Still plenty of options for a full meal. They also have an outdoor bar where you can order cocktails, beer and wine. The inside dining room starts service at 5:00 pm. In the dining room, you can order larger entrees such as chargrilled steak. They brew their own beer so if you are looking to try local beers, this is a great spot for beer lovers. The staff is very knowledgable and can help you choose between their vast beer selection. It can be a bit confusing because they have 3 locations, all with the same name but they are all slightly different. Confused yet? Don’t worry, our favorite is the original location which is listed below. It is called the Restaurant and Brewpub.

Know before you go

Vibe: Laid back atmosphere with outdoor dining area and bar. Casual dining inside with large dining room and bar. OUtdoor area opens earlier than indoor so great place to grab an early drink and meal.

 Reservations: not accepted for outdoor or indoor areas but if you want to eat indoors, you can put your name on the list and enjoy the outdoor dining area while you wait

 Price: Outdoor dining Entrees Range from $13-$19

Indoor Dinner entrées range from $13-$32

 Outdoor seating: yes

 Pet friendly: yes on outdoor patio

Address: 1081 Morrison Drive, Charleston, SC 29403

Phone: 843-727-1145

https://edmundsoast.com/location/restaurant/

5. The Gin Joint

 

Gin Joint Restaurant
The Gin Joint Patio

This is one of our favorite hidden gems in Charelston that has become increasing popular over the last few years. If you love the feel of a speakeasy then The Gin Joint is right up your alley. Tucked away on East Bay Street, this intimate cocktail bar is a great spot to stop in for a cocktail or three! They also have tasty snacks that will make you wonder how such delictable food comes out of such a small kitchen. The Gin Joint gets really busy so come early because they do not take reservations. They work off of a text based waitlist when they are at capacity which happens quickly because they are also a small joint. Only a few tables inside and outside but that is part of the charm. Also, since the cocktails are made with perfect precision, they are not make quickly. Plan to stay a while and enjoy the ambiance. My favorite is to grab a table in the courtyard and enjoy and cocktail and some people watching. That makes for a great lowcountry afternoon. Make sure to check their “Before you Visit” section on the website for tips. For instance, they are a 21 years and older establishment but only after 7:00 pm.

Know before you go

Vibe: small speakeasy feel with indoor and outdoor seating

 Reservations: not accepted

 Price: Snacks, called “Provisions” Range from $8-$15

 Outdoor seating: yes

 Pet friendly: yes on outdoor patio

Address: 182 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401

Phone: 843-577-6111

https://www.theginjoint.com/

We hope this list gave you insight into some of our favorite restaurants in downtown Charleston. We’ll be updating this list regularly so check back for updates. Whether you crave pulled pork, comfort food or fresh seafood, it can all be found in Charleston. While you are visiting, don’t forget to check out the surrounding areas. Great food abounds in lowcountry!

Best Restaurants in Charleston in 2022: FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions).

 

Is Charleston SC A foodie city?

Absolutely! Charleston has an extensive eat-out scene enriched by access to spectacular ingredients. There are numerous dining options featuring indoor and outdoor dining.

Is it hard to find parking for restaurants in Charleston, SC?

Parking can be difficult outside of some restaurants in Charleston since some establishments only offer street parking. However there are many parking garages and parking lots throughout the city.

Does the restaurants in Charleston have a dress code?

The dress code for each restaurant varies however most restaurants in Charleston are relaxed about dress codes. We realize that travelers will be sightseeing and coming for the beaches so expect to see a mix of casual and “upscale resort” in most of our restaurants. If there is a dress code, it will likely be listed on the restaurants website.

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Veterinarian/Travel Writer/Digital Nomad

Dr. Shannon Barrett is a veterinarian and digital nomad. She owned a housecall practice, Island Veterinary Care, for over a decade and now travels full time. She lives in different beach towns and then writes travel guides based on her time there. If you’re looking for resources on travel destinations or how to become a digital nomad, then you’ve come to the right place! Love to bring your pets with you? Even better!

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