Charleston’s top 3 decadent dining experiences

It’s southern hospitality at its very finest. Spoken with a soft southern drawl, luring you in with irresistible temptations just sinful enough to delight all the senses. This is Charleston, jewel of the lowlands and capital of culture south of the Mason-Dixon line. Voted top city in the world by Condé Nast Traveler for three consecutive years. Apparently her charms are contagious.

It may be affectionately dubbed the Holy City due its abundance of churches, but Charleston’s real religion revolves around one thing: the art of eating. Charlestonians indulge liberally in their culinary creations. Each restaurant outdoing its neighbor in the freshest, most creative, most delicious combination of ingredients ever served.

These are the three that consistently occupy the top of the list. And yes, reservations are highly recommended.

Halls Chophouse

Imagine walking through the door, and being immediately being welcomed by a member of the family. The Hall family, that is. This family-owned establishment prides itself on true hospitality and comfort. From taking patrons’ jackets at the door to making sincere conversation at the table, no detail has been left to chance. Chef Matthew Neissner manages his kitchen to the highest standard, bringing with him years of experience at fine dining restaurants all over the United States.

The menu consists of lowcountry favorites such as she crab soup, crab cakes and shrimp and grits. Start with burrata cheese and vine ripened tomatoes with prosciutto, basil and a balsamic reduction before enjoying maple leaf farm braised duck as the main course. Their offerings provide something for every tastebud, but they are most famous for one thing: their steaks.

Halls proudly serves 28-day aged fresh usda prime steaks, supplied by the well-known Allen Brothers of Chicago. Choose from classic cuts like filet mignon and a New York strip, or go big and order the 34-ounce Long Bone Tomahawk Rib Eye. Just make sure to leave room for the sides, and dessert.

All this delicious food is bound to stir up quite a thirst. The wine list features over 100 different bottles, and the restaurant features a full liquor bar. For the more adventurous meat-lovers out there, try the prime steak martini. Great food, great drinks and great atmosphere, it’s no wonder Halls Chophouse ranks among Charleston’s best.

McCrady’s

It started 200 years ago. The original McCrady’s started at a tavern, in 1778. Given the time period it’s not surprising that this address played a prominent role in American history – it served as refuge for Charleston society during the American Revolution, and hosted George Washington and company for dinner in 1791. After passing through several owners and falling into abandonment, it secured its place on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks following a restoration in 1982. The current restaurant revived the tradition of its conception by re-opening the doors in 2006.

As if the historic architectural beauty wasn’t enough to draw patrons in, the creations of Chef Sean Brock complete the allure. The menu focuses on seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers, fisherman and even from the restaurant’s own rooftop garden. Dishes take influence from traditional southern cuisine, and the offerings change daily to keep in touch with their philosophy of fresh.

The wine list is not to be outshone by the food. Choose a bottle from anywhere in the world, including France, Germany, Italy, Austria. Spain, Portugal, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina and South Africa – reds, whites, champagnes to taste, have by the glass or by the bottle or half-bottle. If that doesn’t tempt, cocktails, beer and spirits are available.

McCrady’s is a dining experience to be savored. Patrons can choose a 4-course menu, and can add a collection of five snacks before the meal and/or specially paired wine selections from a sommelier. The combination of historic significance and dedication to quality is sure to impress.

FIG

Food is good. That’s the origin of the acronym FIG, and these guys live up to this philosophy. In fact, their food is very good. So good that FIG ranks as one of the toughest places in town to snag a reservation. Their recipe for success includes seasonally selected, locally-sourced ingredients served without a hint of pretentiousness. It’s New American with an artful nod to the region. “When you eat at FIG, you taste produce grown in the Lowcountry’s distinctive sandy soil, fish caught in our briny waters, and livestock raised on our pastures, all of which is grown and harvested by people I have grown to know and love,” Chef Mike Lata is quoted as saying.

Lata and the folks at FIG bring its farm to table-style menu to a crowd comprised of as many locals as tourists. The restaurant itself is reminiscent of a favorite neighborhood bistro, occupying an otherwise quiet corner on Meeting Street. The ever-rotating menu is kept simple with the attention placed on quality over quantity. Share appetizers, enjoy an entree… and don’t skip dessert.

FIG has garnered quite a reputation in the drinks department. Their wine list boasts 100 bottles for under $100, and changes seasonally. But perhaps their best-known liquid assets include hard liquor. FIG was named in GQ Magazine’s 10 Best Whiskey Bars in America in April 2013. They offer cocktails and beers, including draught beers from local Charleston breweries. Their most unique feature, however, is their Make Your Own Manhattan menu – complete with more than 1000 possible combinations. At FIG, it’s satisfaction to the highest degree.

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