When visiting Charleston, getting a taste of the unique culinary experience is an absolute must. With varied cuisines and atmospheres to choose from, it does get a bit daunting when deciding where to go.  Visitors often flock to the “Big 5: ” Husk, Halls, Hominy, Hanks and High Cotton. There’s certainly good reason why these hot spots, among others, have hit the charts as top restaurants in Charleston, but there are definitely great eats elsewhere that go unrecognized. As an avid foodie, world traveler and Charleston local, I have found the sometimes quirky, off-the-beaten path restaurants are where it’s at … you may just have to wander a bit to find them!Here’s a look at 7 Hidden Culinary Gems in Charleston you won’t want to miss:

Chez Nous: 6 Payne Ct, Charleston, SC 29403

Nestled down a back alleyway, Chez Nous has a romantic charm like no other. Gas lanterns, rustic tables and the ideal ambiance, make it the perfect place for a date night. With an ever-changing menu that’s posted daily on social media, I have found that going once maybe twice a week is not out of the norm.

Trattoria Lucca: 41 Bogard St, Charleston, SC 29403

Quaint and consistently incredible describes Trattoria Lucca in a nutshell. With a stunning atmosphere and melt in your mouth handmade pasta, it definitely takes the cake as the best Italian restaurant in Charleston.

The Gathering Café: 1124 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, Charleston, SC 29407

Located just off the downtown peninsula, The Gathering is in Charleston’s West Ashley neighborhood, and is the perfect combination of healthy and delicious. Each dish has an exotic blend of flavors that appeal to those who want to try something a little different. 

H & L Asian Market: 5300 Rivers Ave, Charleston, SC 29406

Now this is a total hole-in-the-wall, so don’t expect anything remotely close to an upscale experience. You are practically stepping into an Asian mall and sitting in a food court. This place offers true authentic Asian cuisine with NO frills – it is what it is – and what it is is absolutely delicious.

R Kitchen: 212 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

R Kitchen offers a unique experience as the “kitchen” has two seating options per night, 6:30pm and 9:30pm. The menu changes daily and is based on what the chef can find at the local markets, making for an eclectic and surprise-filled dinner. Their motto? “We’re a kitchen, not a restaurant. ” Tip: plan for a two-week waiting list and text (843)-789-0725 for a reservation.

Bertha’s Kitchen: 2332 Meeting Street Rd, Charleston, SC 29405

For those who are looking for a true southern soul food experience, Bertha’s is the place to go. Get more bang for your buck at this hole-in-the-wall and have some of the best fried chicken in town. Recently awarded the 2017 America’s Classic award from the James Beard Foundation, now the secret is out! 

The Wreck: 106 Haddrell Street, Mount Pleasant, SC  29464

Set at the mouth of Shem Creek, The Wreck has some the freshest seafood in town and is removed from some of the highly visited “packed-with-tourists ” spots on the creek. When you have a shrimping boat docked right outside the restaurant, you know it’s going to be fresh, but don’t expect anything fancy.

Note:  One of the BEST parts of living in a vibrant city like Charleston is that there is room for all types of dining experiences … those that you’re going to have when you dine at one of the elite establishments, and the experiences that await in those little “neighborhood joints ” off the beaten path.  Take a look at some of the other favorite places that the locals like to go to eat – “Cheap Eats In Charleston, SC … Where The Locals Love To Go ” or view our FREE Discover Charleston guide for more local information on the Holy City.

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