It’s hard to keep up with Charleston. The pastel-hued Lowcountry town may be known for its deep and rich history, but the city seems to be opening a fresh new restaurant, shop, cocktail bar, or boutique hotel every second—each one cooler and more gorgeous than the last.
On my latest visit, I stayed in The Dewberry, which checks all of Charleston’s boxes: interesting history, chic design, incredible food, and fabulous cocktails. (Bonus points: It also has a spa that is a perfectly cool and dark retreat from the Southern city’s ridiculous summer heat.) After that visit, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite Charleston spots right now. New and trendier places will edge their way in soon, but for now, my latest favorites:
Even if you don’t sleep at The Dewberry, plan on at least one cocktail in the new(ish) hotel’s luxe lobby, which they aptly call a “living room.” Housed in a former 1960s federal building, the area features authentic 1960s furniture and a vibe that’s distinctly Mad Men. Behind its brass bar centerpiece award-winning mixologist Ryan Casey works his magic. Order the Old Fashioned and pretend you’re Don Draper for the night.
The bustling Upper King Street is undeniably the hottest place to eat and drink in Charleston these days. My current favorites are The Darling Oyster Bar, The Ordinary, and The Grocery (related: What’s with Charleston adding “The” before all restaurant names?). At the vintage-inspired and stylish Darling, order the baked oysters (pictured). At The Ordinary, which is housed in a 1920s bank building snag a seat at the bar and order the crispy oyster sliders. And at inviting and convivial Grocery, don’t skip the fresh and bright swordfish crudo.
After dinner, grab a cocktail at The Belmont where black-and-white films play on the wall and the drinks are as smooth as they are potent. Or, head down the street to The Cocktail Club, a hip speakeasy-esque destination with an always-popular rooftop. (It’s been around for awhile and gets talked about a lot, but if you haven’t been, The Gin Joint on East Bay is just as good as you’ve heard.)
Sure, there’s plenty of history around town—definitely take a walk through the historic City Market or along the Battery. But this time of year you’re likely looking for the places with air conditioning or a breeze. Grab drinks one night at The Watch, the rooftop bar and restaurant at the new(ish) Restoration hotel. Take a stroll in the early morning through the Saturday market in Marion Square. Grab an iced coffee and sweet treat at the cozy new Harbinger bakery.
Ok, I’m stopping. If you’re looking for more, there’s no shortage of online articles telling you the latest and greatest in the city. These are just my favorites. For now.