Over the past year or so the blog has stretched and grown to reach the many branches and leaves of Charleston’s culinary tree. One of my favorite things has been getting to know all the incredible restaurants and tasting so many of Charleston’s talented chefs’ best offerings. It is, after all, great food that inspires great writing. While we are getting excited for new foodie projects around here, I wanted to take a moment and highlight a handful of super special dishes you definitely don’t want to miss enjoying in 2017. Browse through our list, grab a date (or a book and some gumption), and head out for your first palate orgasm of the new year!
10. Seafood Paella with chorizo by Barsa
We love Barsa. Like, REALLY love Barsa. New specials are always popping up in Charleston’s most established Spanish-style restaurant, but what really shines is the paella. Especially the seafood paella. But, never fear carnivores- we always add chorizo! The small size paella with a couple of tapas is perfect for two, or if you head in really hungry, take on one by yourself. It will be worth it when you have to learn to sew later in the week to fix your busted pants button. With a dark and cozy atmosphere and a kick-ass patio, Barsa and her paella will not disappoint.
9. Fancy Tots by HōM
Everyone knows HōM makes stand-out burgers. Seriously, so juicy, so flavor-packed, and so satisfying. But, one little side item always gets me everytime: the Fancy Tots. These crunchy beauts covered in parmesan cheese and free from any sauce are enough to make you gasp in glee. However, you will need to prepare the smelling salts for the fainting spell you’ll have after dunking them in the truffled aioli. Literally the only thing that could make this tot-bite better is a sip of a dark, local brew, of which they usually have on tap.
8. Banh Mi by Mercantile and Mash
I was surprised by how much I love this Vietnamese-style sandwich. It is sticky and sweet in the best way. The crunchy veggies and the aromatic cilantro round out the delicate texture/flavor balance going on in this sammy. And the fries. Oh, the fries! The are wonderfully crisp, light, and salty. No ketchup needed.
7. Curry Chicken and Pork & Ginger Gyoza by CO
CO is so dang scrumptious that we had to pick two dishes- just call them tapas and eat both! See that curry down below? I’m just telling you about it now so you can save up to buy in bulk for the family, because one could eat this on e. ver. y. thing. Here served with bread, the curry can top rice and noodles, be eaten like stew, spooned over eggs, used as a water substitute…be the key to world peace. Just kidding. Maybe.
And if that curry can bring about peace on earth, then these little dumplings are going to be served at the giant, hedonistic shin-dig we throw to celebrate our victory. Some little angel in the CO kitchen stuffed these soft pillows with pork and then made me dunk them in scallion soy sauce. Let the people say, “Amen!”
6. Bourbon Pecan Pie by Pearlz
I don’t even want to put descriptive words to this photo. Look at it. Study the cool, but slowly-melting vanilla ice cream. Watch it begin to permeate the top layer of the bourbon-infused pecan dream. Follow your eyes down that thick slice and make your own decisions about dessert. Don’t let anything I wrote influence you.
5. Bacon and Egg breakfast sandwich by The Daily
The Daily. What would I do without you? Feel infinitely less cool, that’s what. You make even a simple bacon and egg breakfast look sexy. I for sure cannot say no to their smooth coffee, but I don’t like to skip the green juice either. It’s tangy and fresh, and when you sip it, you feel like this is California and you just got a light brunch with Jennifer Aniston. Now you’re on your way to interview potential Pilates instructors to take on vacation with you, or whatever you and Jen decide to do that day.
4. Any and all ramen by 2Nixons
Have y’all heard about the ramen guys? It’s 2017’s version of do you know the muffin man. They are Charleston’s hottest pop-up right now and it is VERY important to know where these guys are at all times. Follow them on social media from restaurant to restaurant, putting out a fabulous spread of plump and juicy noodles bathed in broth that has been loved on for days. That runny egg in there is just to make you question everything you’ve ever cooked before. It’s okay. Head down, eat your ramen.
Don’t forget to slurp those last, juicy bits down!
3. Shrimp and Grits by Early Bird Diner
This is a gorgeous version of shrimp and grits that our neighborhood diner puts out. It’s fried. It’s creamy. It’s got gravy. I’m not sure what else you’re looking for in breakfast, but stop it. It’s all here and served up with toast.
2. Fried Shrimp Po’boy by Bay Street Biergarten
Bay Street Biergarten is like our second home. It has everything a home needs- TVs, heaters, beer, your dog. And really good food. We already have a love affair going with the tots. They are unspeakably good for the soul. To our trio we have recently added this fried shrimp delight. It is so perfectly balanced, especially when chased by a Westbrook White Thai. The shrimp are crunchy and perfectly cooked, layered in with sweet cherry tomatoes and a creamy remy sauce. Get you some.
Would you like fries with that?
1. Oysters Rockefeller by Leon’s Oyster Shop
This oyster Rockefeller dish, and really the whole damn Leon’s Oyster Shop restaurant, is our new favorite right now. We lurrrrrve it. There’s always a groovy vibe on the patio, the drinks are always on point, and the food is slap your mama’s mama good, especially the oysters Rockefeller. We like to get the old-school iceberg salad and, of course, hushpuppies on the side. As you can see, Alfonso cannot be bothered by my photography as he is so hypnotized by delightful flavors.
Another thing: one cannot simply go to Leon’s Oyster Shop and ignore the dessert options. In a simple, yet beautiful way to end an oyster meal, the ice cream cones and milkshakes take the whole ordeal into old-school joy territory. I love the vanilla cone with sprinkles and Alfonso will fight you for a chocolate milkshake.
If you’ve tried one of these Charleston plates, what do you think? If you missed out in 2016, you still have this year to make up for it. What were you eating, anyway??