Best Value

Trying to pin down words like frugal, value, and deal can be exasperating because different people have different ideas of cost savings. For 10Best, the range is broad - we include impossibly cheap eateries with amazing menus, and we share really nice restaurants that have perks like an impressive wine list with no corkage fee or a terrifically affordable prix fixe menu. If you're looking for Best Value restaurants in Charleston, let us introduce you to a few of our favorites, starting with Cru Cafe and Basil Thai Restaurant. They're low in expenditures and high in appeal.

9 Boulevard Diner
Start your day off right with a heaping plate of bacon, eggs and grits at this Mount Pleasant hole-in-the-wall. Prices are hard to beat, and the kitchen's generously sized portions of homestyle eats ensure you won't leave hungry. If you come in the afternoon, dig into the hearty meatloaf or fantastic blue cheese and eggplant sandwich. (843-216-2611)

8 Pane e Vino
Almost every city hides away one special restaurant off the beaten tourist path. It is nondescript from the outside, but full of local spirit and some of the best food in town inside. Pane e Vino is just such a place, tucked away off King Street on quiet residential Warren Street, with only a chalk board to proclaim its existence there. But inside Pane e Vino, you'll discover owner Alfredo Temelini, very dedicated to his Italian family's traditions of cooking and caring service, as well as some of the best fine dining prices in town. Most entrees at Pane e Vino range from $14.50 - $23, a modest request for such an authentic menu dedicated to such vivid flavors and presentation. As with many semi-secret side street spots, Pane e Vino is a small place. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time, and ask for a table in the festively lit outdoor patio during warmer months. A meticulous attention to detail is paid to every dish on the menu, as evidenced by such interesting Antipasti starters as Funghi Fritti fried Shiitake mushrooms, the Grilled Eggplant stuffed with Buffalo Mozzarella, and the Cured and Smoked Duck Breast on Sardinian flatbread. Salads are dressed lightly with such accompaniments as Kalamata olives, local yellow and red bets, goat cheese, black fig molasses, and Cabernet vinaigrette. For the main course, try the Homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, or the Slow Roasted Duck Leg in wild mushroom cream sauce. Order the Cioppino for two to share - this Italian style seafood stew is simmered in a light tomato sauce with fish, shrimp, mussels, scallops, and lobster. Pay attention to the nightly specials, usually a highlight of which ingredients are enjoying high season in the area. (843-853-5955)

7 Tomato Shed Cafe
Located on the grounds of the Stono Farm Market on Johns Island, this eatery serves up satisfying hot lunch plates, soups and sandwiches. For seven bucks, enjoy your choice of meat, two veggies and tea or coffee. Scrumptious mains may include BBQ, roast pork, pot roast, ribs, chicken-salad stuffed tomato or fried flounder. For accompaniments, choose among tomato pie, mac 'n cheese, squash casserole, mashed potatoes, and butter baby carrots. (843-559-9999)

6 Cru Cafe
Cru Cafe, the brainchild of executive chef and owner John Zucker, is the working restaurant branch of the popular Cru Catering, voted #1 Charleston Caterer 11 years in a row. Opened due to high demand in 2002, Cru Cafe is housed in what was once a traditional single family home on Pinkney street near the Market Street historic district. Here in this cottage style restaurant, you'll find gourmet comfort food with a focus on fresh produce and local seafood, as well as creative daily lunch and dinner specials. Cool off inside at Cru Cafe during the sweltering summer months, or enjoy the outdoor patio on a cool evening. Cru's crew serves up lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with salads like the Duck Confit Arugula, small plates like Pecan Fried Brie with Fig Compote and local honey, soups and sandwiches making for the perfect light midday meal. Have the best of both worlds with a gourmet soup and sandwich combination lunch for $10.25. The historic charm of Cru's Charleston style setting makes for a great low key date night - opt for the Buttermilk Fried Oyster Salad, the White Wine Truffled Mussels and Peppers, or the Grilled Local Swordfish with shrimp jambalaya. Dinner at Cru Cafe is the traditional Southern supper with a modern twist. (843-534-2434, 843-534-2433)

5 Fish
Fish restaurant, located in the Upper King design district next to the iconic American Theatre, specializes in French-Asian cuisine with an obvious flair for fruits de mer. This local's favorite elegantly serves from a fresh, casual $10 lunch menu of customizable base soups, salads, and Moo Shu style options. For dinner, try one of Fish's Large Plates like the Spicy SC Triggerfish a la Plancha, served with cheese fried rice balls and green curry, or for something simpler, the Naked Fish entree, served "simply and fresh off the dock." Never judge a book by its cover - Fish serves up more than just fish. Dig in to Dim Sum style Caramel Pork Belly or Ginger Honey Fried Tofu. Looking for something even sweeter? Try Fish's 8 dessert Dim Sum options like Susie's S'more, Mango Cheesecake, or Rhubarb Pop-tart. (843-722-3474)

4 JB's Smokeshack
An airy interior, distinguished by vinyl tablecloths and hardwood floors, sets the scene at this casual eatery. Barbecued ribs, pork, and chicken are the delectable draw, cooked for hours over hickory and applewood. Sandwiches and combo plates appeal to diners with smaller appetites, while big eaters revel in the buffet, which not only includes barbecue but everything from butter beans to okra gumbo, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. Add in plenty of sweet tea and a big serving of banana pudding, and it's hard to find a better Southern meal! (843-557-0426)

3 Basil Thai Restaurant
Chef's Suntorn's international experience and Thai upbringing percolate through his authentic and beautifully presented Thai dishes. Basil's rendition of the classic Pad Thai is truly excellent, while colorful dishes such as the chef's signature Crispy Red Curry Duck are full bodied portions, bringing more flavor than their prices demand. Efficient, knowledgeable service; unique cocktails. Voted Best Thai Restaurant in Charleston, 2003-2011, consecutively. (843-724-3490)

2 Gaulart & Maliclet's Fast & French
A fireplace and long communal tables flank this charming eatery, where diners munch on casual French bites. Start your day off with a cup of coffee and apple, chocolate or cinnamon filled croissant, or come at lunchtime for a sandwich or salad with a glass of house wine. Seafood wasabi, chicken sesame or Proven├žal, and sea scallops in garlic lemon butter are among the dinner choices; each is served with soup or salad, rice or couscous, and bread. Thursday night features a choice of fondues, including beef, seafood, Swiss and blue cheese. (843-577-9797)

1 Five Loaves
Five Loaves, wholeheartedly adored by neighborhood locals, is a charming corner restaurant a little off the main tourist path. The food is fresh, and a great value for its modest prices. The menu provides a variety of vegan and vegetarian options, with popular soup/salad/sandwich combinations for lunch. Salads are served with house-made artisan dressings, and open face sandwiches feature chicken and beef from local farms. Soups, desserts, and dinner specials change daily, with favorites like Chicken Marsala and Butternut Squash Ravioli appearing regularly. (843-937-4303)


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Maps and Directions

1
Boulevard Diner 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Diner
Dining Options: Non-Smoking
Neighborhood: MOUNT PLEASANT
COST: $
2
Pane e Vino 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Non-Smoking
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
3
Tomato Shed Cafe 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Local Specialty, Southern
Dining Options: Family Friendly, Take Out
Neighborhood: JOHNS ISLAND
COST: $
4
Cru Cafe 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, New American
Dining Options: Catering, Family Friendly, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
5
Fish 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, New American, Seafood
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Catering, Live Music, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Neighborhood: Upper King
COST: $$
6
JB's Smokeshack 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, Local Specialty, Southern
Dining Options: Catering, Family Friendly, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Neighborhood: JOHNS ISLAND
COST: $
7
Basil Thai Restaurant 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, Thai
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Take Out
Neighborhood: North Downtown
COST: $
8
Gaulart & Maliclet's Fast & French 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Counter Seating, Group Friendly, Take Out
Cuisine: European, French
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $
9
Five Loaves 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
COST: $