This past Friday I headed over to the Holy City to meet Danimal for a weekend of eating our way through Charleston. Charleston is one of my favorite US cities for its walkability, rich history, art galleries, and the way it honors the tradition of Southern food.
I arrived MUCH later than expected thanks to what was described by *511 as ‘congestion’ in the middle of nowhere. But, sensing my need for food to avoid destroying people, we quickly departed for O-Ku. O-Ku is NOT southern food… its sushi. However, the atmosphere and patrons were quintessentially Southern. I would call the dress code of this place Sophisticated Fratty. Danger – Popped Collars Ahead.
We got an early start Saturday morning at the farmer’s and art market in Marion Square. I suggest grabbing breakfast at the market and then taking time to explore the booths. We met an incredible carpenter + craftsman, Capers L. Cauthen of Landrum Tables. (I know… Most. Southern. Name. Ever.) I want this guy to make me a house full of furniture.
Dan then went on a walk down memory lane through College of Charleston, before we headed over to Jestine’s Kitchen. (In Dan’s perfect world, we live in Charleston.) Now, Jestine’s Kitchen is a Charleston institution. Just getting a table is a production. You wait in a line outside that boasts fans + water stations to keep you comfortable. We made it in, ordered, and the goodness began to arrive. I have HIGH standards for fried okra, and this okra blew my mind. The combination of flavoring, crispness, and amount of breading were just to my liking.
After Jestine’s we walked over to Queen Street. Queen Street is my favorite in all of Charleston. It is a main drag, but has a more intimate feel because of the combination of galleries, restaurants, and residences. We wandered into a new-to-us gallery, Robert Lange Studios, and I fell in love. The artwork and artists are incredibly soulful.
Me: Dan, we need a bigger house so we can have more walls for this artwork.
Dan: (Eye Roll, followed by silence…)
Dinner that evening consisted of drinks at Husk and dinner at 82 Queen. Husk is a fairly new restaurant to Charleston, and we went for drinks at their bar. The cocktails were inventive… combinations of sweet (like blackberries) and spice (like blackpepper) filled the menu. I had been to 82 Queen before and the grits were just as creamy as last time… that is a good thing.
Our progressive feast ended this morning with brunch at Virginia’s on King. I don’t really need to expand on this place. The picture of this okra says it all. My one bit of advice would be this, while the omelette had ideal fluffiness, stick with the traditional southern dishes. You’ll be glad you did when you are back home and fluffy omelettes fill the menus there as well.
The only thing I don’t recommend about this little mini-excursion is August. The heat + humidity were fierce, and for brief moments felt like I was back in Dubai. Otherwise, rinse + repeat… especially Husk.