Southern

At 10Best, we're always on the lookout for Charleston's best restaurants, and while we appreciate places that have a broad culinary range, we can't help but adore restaurants that specialize in a given cuisine. When we're in the mood for Southern food in Charleston, we head to Magnolias - a reader favorite - or we count on Anson's solid track record and consistently great dishes. You'll find these places - and any of the restaurants on our list - to be fantastic options for Southern cuisine, and if you're looking to concentrate your efforts, start with the vibrant Downtown area.

10 Jestine's Kitchen
Whenever the line at a soul food restaurant wraps around the block, you know there's something special going on inside. In Jestine's Kitchen, timeless comfort foods like Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo, Pecan Fried Chicken, and Meatloaf Sandwiches are served with country vegetables like Fried Okra and Collard Greens. The salty-sweet pickle starters on every table should hold you over long enough make a choice from the generous menu. Expect at least a 30-minute wait, and maybe even a chance celebrity spotting - the likes of Anthony Bourdaine and Rachel Ray have visited Jestine's cozy digs. (843-722-7224)

9 Barbadoes Room
Located in the historic Mills House Hotel, the Barbadoes Room offers an upscale dining experience . Enjoy Southern specialties such as pan-fried Lowcountry crab cakes, grilled salmon glazed with honey jalapeño sauce, pork tenderloin with curried fruit compote, blackened shrimp and scallops with grit cakes, and ginger-encrusted tuna with apple relish. For dessert, the mud pie can't be missed. (843-577-2400, 800-874-9600)

8 Anson
Located just one block off of the Market, this romantic hideaway has consistently served some of the best contemporary local dishes to be found anywhere. Soft lighting and cozy banquettes provide an ideal backdrop for great food and outstanding service. Enjoy some of Charleston's best she-crab soup as well as entrées of shrimp and grits, fried corn bread oysters, and barbecued grouper. (843-577-0551)

7 Old Village Post House
The Maverick restaurant group has "the knack." At their Old Village Post House, set in an elegantly restored 19th century building with an upscale dining room plus a casual tavern, patrons feast on fabulous Lowcountry dishes that change with the seasons and the chef's whims. Their signature oyster stew is a hearty concoction that's sure to please, as is that old Southern standby, shrimp and grits. Crab cakes and grilled steaks (especially with bourbon-mustard sauce) are excellent; service and wine are top-notch as well. (843-388-8935)

6 Slightly North of Broad
Frank Lee prepares the best regional fare in the open kitchen of this local favorite. Casual yet sophisticated, the restaurant has earned accolades from just about every regional and national gourmet publication. Select a premium vintage from their impressive wine list to accompany a delightful Southern entrée like grilled dolphin glazed with pesto on a bed of tomatoes, grilled beef tenderloin with green-peppercorn sauce, topped with a deviled crab cake, or honey-and-sesame-crusted sea bass with roasted beets. (843-723-3424)

5 Husk
So you want to experience real Southern style cooking in Charleston? Husk may be the answer to your culinary prayers, but no need to take our word for it. Chef Brock's one-man revival of the "old south" was awarded The Best New Restaurant of 2011, according to Southern Living and Bon Apetit magazines. As guests approach the porch entrance of Husk's historic home, they are greeted by wall-sized chalkboards detailing where each ingredient hails from and, "If it doesn't come from the South, it's not coming through the door." The menu changes daily according to what's delivered from local farms each morning, and is posted on their website as soon as it's made. Cornbread is always offered "For the Table," to warm up your comfort food cravings. (843-577-2500)

4 Magnolias
Once the site of the Charleston's original Customs House, Magnolias is a downtown restaurant intent on showcasing its deep Southern roots. Chef Don Drake's commitment to adding worldly spice to old Southern flavors sets Magnolias apart from all other coastal fine dining. The modern presentation of homegrown dishes like the Down South Egg Roll, or the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, cleverly appeals to all tastes. Entrees such as the Shellfish Over Grits, which introduces lobster to traditional Shrimp 'n Grits, are accompanied with sides of Carolina Dirty Rice, Creamed Corn, and Collard Greens. Dinner reservations recommended; Sunday Brunch offered 10 a.m. - 3:45 p.m. (843-577-7771)

3 Cypress Lowcountry Grille
When Cypress hit Charleston's dining scene, it did so with a terrific splash. The two-story establishment, which specializes in Lowcountry cuisine, kept its historic home's aged brick walls and lofty ceilings but updated the space with elements of glass and steel. Laser lighting and a 6000-bottle wine wall also add decidedly modern accents. The menu takes a similar tack, updating what's already good with new techniques and ingredients. A wood-burning grill emphasizes the fresh flavors of local meats and seafood, and innovative soufflés add a sweet touch to the dessert menu. There's also an extensive wine list with vintages from all over the world. (843-727-0111)

2 High Cotton
Dine on inventive Nouvelle cuisine in a place that really gives you the Charleston feel with its potted palms, ceiling fans and mahogany shutters. Starters such as buttermilk-fried oysters with arugula and Green Goddess dressing are sure to please the palate. For mains you can't go wrong with BBQ-spiced Carolina trout or bourbon-glazed Eden Farm pork with white cheddar jalapeno grits. At brunch, meanwhile, there's the shrimp and lobster crêpe or the BBQ duck hash, and you haven't lived until you've sampled High Cotton's heavenly praline soufflé. Their bar boasts several wines by the glass, great cocktails and nightly live music. (843-724-3815)

1 Carolinas
Once an antique warehouse, this restaurant has a unique atmosphere. Locals claim that you will find the best crab cakes in town here. Other entrée selections include pork tenderloin with Jamaican seasoning and salmon with cilantro, ginger, and lime butter. (843-724-3800)


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Maps and Directions

1
Jestine's Kitchen 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Local Specialty, Soul Food
Dining Options: Family Friendly
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $
2
Barbadoes Room 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Local Specialty, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
3
Anson 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Seafood, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
4
Old Village Post House 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Neighborhood: Mount Pleasant
COST: $$
5
Slightly North of Broad 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Local Specialty, New American, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Counter Seating, Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
6
Husk 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Regional, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
7
Magnolias 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Local Specialty, New American, Seafood, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
8
Cypress Lowcountry Grille 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, New American, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Disabled Accessible, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
9
High Cotton 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Continental, Regional, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$
10
Carolinas 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, European, Local Specialty, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$