It has been over two weeks since I returned from vacation. I had such a good time I wasn't sure where to start (or end) with this post. I had a great time traveling around the Southeast part of the country. It is an area that I have not explored and honestly had little desire to visit before I found out about the conference in Atlanta. Visiting the south made me feel as though I missed large parts of American history. I found myself googling names like Drayton and Oglethorpe each night as I headed back to my room. I had some great food in Charleston, I have been inspired to make more salads. It was terribly hot and humid all week, so I didn't have much of an appetite for anything heavy. I didn't really stop at any of the good snack shops, and when I did it was usually just to pick up a lemonade. The south really knows how to make a good lemonade. They also know how to make a good mixed drink as well. I had fun exploring some of the local libations, I recommend you do the same if you ever visit the area. Here are some of my favorite Charleston places:
Hope and Union- This great little coffee shop was literally right around the corner from the place I stayed. It is the kind of place I could sit and lounge for hours. The decor is clean and bright, if not a little sparse. I loved that it didn't have a grungy coffee house feel. The coffee was perfectly executed.
FIG- You can shove me in a corner with an overgrown plant in front of me and I'll still be happy as long as the food is good. I must have looked a little too Alaskan for the hostess at FIG, I'm sure they feared I would scare all the other hip, well dressed customers away! Even still, this was by far the best meal I had in Charleston. If you ever find yourself in Charleston, don't miss the Ricotta Gnocchi, the Pork Bolognese was amazing. I almost went back my last night in Charleston to have it again.
Hominy Grill- Maybe I should have said that my meal at FIG was the best dinner I had in Charleston. The Hominy Grill was so good I ate there twice during my stay. Yes, both times I had biscuits and gravy. I couldn't help myself. The service is unbelievably fast for how busy the place is. The best part was when my waiter asked if I would like dessert after my breakfast. I didn't partake, but this is my kind of place for sure!
Slightly North of Broad- I have to admit that this place really turned me off at first. The S.N.O.B. acronym along with a real tourist trap kind of feel made me nervous. It was my first night in Charleston, I had been driving all day and I was starving. My initial choice for dinner had a menu that was just a little too light. This place was right next door and the Quail with Cornbread Stuffing was calling my name. It turned out that they had a seat available at the chef's table. Everything worked out perfectly. My tomato salad and the quail was excellent. The only thing I wouldn't do again is order dessert, yes you heard me right! I ended up being too full, the dessert seemed a little uninspired compared to the rest of the meal, not to mention they brought out a great little plate of dried orange peel, brownies, and some other little tidbits with the check. That would have been plenty for something sweet at the end of the meal.
Charleston Beer Exchange-This isn't the kind of place where you go and sit down and have a beer. I wish it was because I would have stayed all day! It is however a great place to go and pick up beer for take out. They even have a growler filling station with some of the best beers around. Every time I travel outside of Alaska, I always bring back my allotted 50 lbs of checked baggage in beer. I managed to pick up everything I wanted at the Beer Exchange. The staff was great for suggestions. This place is a must for beer lovers. Don't miss it.
HUSK-I'm telling you I was having a bit of a complex during this trip. Again, this time in any empty restaurant I was seated outside behind a plant. I'm still not really sure what I thought of HUSK. It is really highly rated and they do use all fresh local produce. I couldn't help feeling something was missing. Part of me felt like they were trying to hard to be west coast. Also, in a place as expensive as HUSK I expect the servers to know a little about the food and beverage they are serving. I'm not even sure that my waiter was so much not knowledgeable as he was uninterested. That said, my beet salad with whipped goat cheese was the best salad I had on the trip, and I had quite a few. Sitting out on the deck was really nice. They have quite an impressive cocktail list. I would recommend HUSK as a place to go an have a drink outside and then have dinner elsewhere.
Caviar and Bananas-I only stopped in briefly on the last day of my trip. Wish I would have found this place sooner. If I lived in Charleston I could see myself stopping in here ever day, whether it be for coffee in the morning, a quick lunch, or maybe a snack on the way home from work. The name alone is perfect. Really, the place has everything you could need from a small local convenience store. If you are planning on taking a trip out to the beach, pick up your provisions from Caviar and Bananas.