Destination Mount Pleasant: Best Restaurants East of the Cooper
By Clare Sweeney
Charleston Local Expert
Peninsular Charleston, South Carolina may be better known when it comes to being a foodie town, but Mount Pleasant is not-so-quietly stealing the show with some truly impressive restaurants east of the Cooper. Make a trip over the bridge from downtown and you'll discover a wide variety of restaurants adored by both locals and visitors to Charleston, with, in many cases, a more reasonable price tag, shorter wait times, and more space.
If it's Mount Pleasant waterfront dining you seek, look no further than Tavern & Table on beautiful Shem Creek, where dolphin spotting is a regular occurrence. Old Village Post House, a restaurant-inn hybrid located within the historic Old Village residential neighborhood of Mount Pleasant, is within walking distance of one of the lowcountry's prettiest views from Pickett Bridge Rec Area. For an authentic sampling of what the Charleston metro area has to offer, visit one of the many Mount Pleasant restaurants that prioritize locally grown produce, meats and seafood, such as The Granary in Belle Hall Shopping Center, The Pickled Plate garden cafe, or Red Drum's southwestern-style gastropub. Wherever you choose to dine, you'll quickly realize the true identity of Mount Pleasant as a culinary destination all its own.
The Pickled Palate
Located just past Shem Creek between peninsular downtown and the town of Sullivan's Island, this colorful, eclectic cafe is an easy choice for your next leisurely weekday or weekend lunch. It's not that the service is slow - the pressed sandwich combos at the Pickled Palate come out quickly enough. It's The Pickled Palate's unique backyard garden setting, complete with vintage yard art, that causes patrons to linger. Serving up a variety of soups, salads, and paninis using fresh herbs from the restaurant garden, The Pickled Palate specializes in simple presentations for familiar, comfort-food ingredients. All paninis, like the Tuna Salad, Pimento Cheese, Caprese, and Roast Beef, come with choice of chips or side salad for just $8.95. (843-388-7813)
Melvin's Legendary Bar-B-Que
The Bessinger family brand has a deep-rooted history in the South Carolina tradition of barbeque, with their first family restaurant established in 1939. Several drive in and buffet-style restaurant locations later, Melvin, the third generation of barbeque masters, established the Melvin's Legendary Bar-B-Que brand, with several successful locations created across the lowcountry. Several decades later, Melvin, now retired, has condensed the family business down to two Charleston locations, with his son David now running the show. For over 75 years, South Carolinians have enjoy the "secret Bessinger BBQ sauce" and some truly mouthwatering 'que. If you've fallen in love with the secret sauce recipes, you're in luck: all sauces and other Melvin's merch is available for purchase in their online store! (843-881-0549)
Fresh, creative interpretations of classic dishes grace this restaurant's addictive menu. Open for lunch, dinner, and brunch, Graze offers a varied menu that's heavy on fresh seafood with items like lobster mac & cheese, shrimp & grits, lump crabcake, and cornflake-crusted catfish. There's a slight lowcountry theme to the menu as well, and all dishes are well-presented with bright, colorful produce as the focus. Grazing entrees range from $16-$36, while craft tacos, each served with salad, are all $12. Graze is made even better by a great selection of craft beers on tap, alongside a long list of white and red wines by the glass or bottle. (843-606-2493)
Page's Okra Grill
Ideally located for visitors staying in both downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant, Page's Okra Grill is the go-to spot East of the Cooper River for home-style Southern cooking. The Page's Okra Grill menu is huge, and stuffed to capacity with lowcountry favorites such as the Country Fried Steak, Shrimp and Grits, Southern Fried Chicken Livers, and Fried Oysters. Even the sides are southern; add butterbeans, field peas, hush puppies or (of course) stewed okra to your order for what's sure to be a filling and satisfying meal. You don't need to get fancy for a visit to Page's Okra Grill - come as you are to this casual spot for a booth inside or a counter seat on the outdoor patio. (843-881-3333)
Coleman Public House
With a kitchen that's open late each night, a comfortable locals' atmosphere, and 10 varieties of burgers for $10.95 or less, Coleman Public House is one of Mount Pleasant's best picks for an easygoing and delicious night out. Craft beer enthusiasts will enjoy the 13 rotating draft selections from here and abroad, kept up to date on the Coleman Public House website. It's the combination of great beers and a slightly more robust and upscale pub menu that bring in the crowds each day of the week. Popular shareable apps include the mini lamb sliders, Asian glazed baby back ribs, and the smoked Gouda mac & cheese, while the flatbreads, burgers and other plates round out the entree offerings. (843-416-8833)
Tavern & Table
What better way to enjoy farm-fresh Charleston dishes and crisp cocktails than waterfront on Mount Pleasant's Shem Creek? Tavern & Table offers up that very experience, serving shareable snacks, cheese and meat boards, small plates, brick oven flatbreads, soup and veggie apps, fresh-ground burgers, sandwich melts and well-portioned seafood and meat mains. There's no shortage of variety on the Tavern & Table menu, with the popular Daily board a highlight of the restaurant's dedication to pleasing a crowd; expect unique burger and small plate specials, flatbread offerings, and the Barkeep's Daily Toast cocktail posted on the chalkboard wall each day. While food and cocktails remain the culinary focus, another obvious draw of Tavern & Table is the ample waterfront dining space along Shem Creek, complete with wide open sunset views and favorable conditions for local dolphin spotting from the outdoor deck. (843-352-9510)
A stylish newcomer to the Mount Pleasant restaurant and bar scene, The Americano stands out from a growing number of stellar local eateries with its Caribbean-Cuban fare and an impressive cocktail program. Both the traditional food and freshly mixed liquor drinks pair nicely with the snazzy art-deco interior and leafy, Miami-style outdoor patio. This Latin-influenced menu offers a solid variety of aperitivos, tortas, tacos and platos, which are enough to keep an entire table of varied palates entertained. Expect to order a few items to share, such as the dip trio, Yellofin Tuna Tower, or Shrimp Picante. Meanwhile, The Americano's tortas and tacos (priced a la carte), round out a full meal, and are stuffed with nearly every meat, seafood and vegetable filling imaginable. For a heavier entree, look to platos like the Ropa Viejo, Pollo con Mojo, or the Havana Fish Plate, some of The Americano's most authentic offerings. (843-352-2641)
Red Drum Gastropub
A welcome piece of culinary diversity in the Mt. Pleasant dining scene, Red Drum takes on the gastropub concept in its own unique way, by combining local lowcountry ingredients with a Southwestern style set of menu offerings. Red Drum is open 7 nights a week for dinner, as well as lunch and brunch on Saturday and Sunday, with menus changing seasonally to reflect the bounty of their trusted local purveyors. Try Red Drum for a group dinner, ordering many items to be shared and sampled around the table, such as the BBQ Wood Grilled Shrimp, Quail & Venison Sausage, or whatever local fish preparation is being offered that evening. If the weather is nice, take your brunch, lunch or dinner on Red Drum's brick patio, complete with umbrellas and heat lamps. (843-849-0313)
Old Village Post House
The Old Village Post House, located in Mount Pleasant's beloved historic Old Village neighborhood along the water, is equal parts fine dining restaurant and coastal inn. The style here is easy-breezy, with both accommodations and menu erring on the light and colorful side, no matter the season. The restaurant itself is housed in an elegantly restored 19th century building with an upscale dining room in addition to a casual tavern, the gathering spot for locals from the surrounding residential area. Expect top-level hospitality and service at this Maverick Southern Kitchens restaurant, alongside a menu full of lowcountry classics such as shrimp & grits, stuffed flounder, and pan-seared local fish. (843-388-8935)
This farm-fresh Mount Pleasant restaurant is a true local's favorite, with a stacked, varied menu sure to please all tastes, from vegetarian to the butcher board enthusiast. The Granary's pride and joy may be their charcuterie program, but there's plenty more on the menu, including shareable starter plates, complexly prepared veggie sides, and artfully prepared mains. The relaxed, rustic interior of The Granary is comfortable and sleek, without taking away from the real focus: locally sourced ingredients and a menu that's unique to the chef's creative imagination. There's also a sizable beer, wine and cocktail list available, with staff on hand to recommend the perfect pairing. Dinner highlights include Duck 2 Ways, served as pan seared duck breast with pork and duck fried rice, the Hangar Steak with sunchoke puree, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, and the Cioppino with blue crab, shrimp and mussels in a Westbrook White Thai beer broth. (843-216-3832)
About Clare Sweeney
A South Carolina native and avid locavore, Clare also ventured abroad to Spain and north to Boston before returning to Charleston and her beloved Lowcountry.
Clare works and plays in downtown Charleston, spending her days enjoying the city’s perpetually sunny weather, nearby beaches and ever-growing food and craft beer scene. Follow Clare on Twitter @LocalExpertCHS for the latest in local happenings!
Read more about Clare Sweeney here.