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Great Eats: Charleston, South Carolina
By Joe Boone

For a true taste of Southern hospitality, look no further than Charleston, South Carolina: America's "Most Polite City." Founded by English colonists in 1670, its rich history, well-preserved architecture and mannerly people set it apart from other great cities. Stately antebellum mansions with elegant porches overlooking magnificent waterfront gardens, cobblestone streets and soaring church steeples make for a beautiful backdrop. Throw an ever-growing list of distinguished restaurants into the mix and it’s no wonder Charleston is one of America's most popular cities to visit.

Just ask any foodie-in-the-know and their list of favorite spots to grab a bite can be long and varied. Most include Husk, with its ever-changing menu of locally-sourced southern dishes, served up in a Victorian-era home on Queens Street in the downtown district. James Beard award-winning Chef Sean Brock and crew freely interact with guests, often personally delivering creative dishes from the restaurant's open-collaborative kitchen. Many ingredients are harvested from Husk's very own garden. Low-country ingredients flourish in each and every dish, the likes of which include sassafras glazed pork ribs with pickled peaches and butter beans; crispy pork collar served with cornbread purée and greasy beans; and benne and honey lacquered duck with pickled blueberries and chanterelles. Desserts are a must, including the warm berry cobblers when available.

Two blocks north of Husk on King Street sits the Charleston Grill. Wood paneled walls, crisp white tablecloths, seamless service, and nightly performances by rotating world-class jazz bands sets the stage for unforgettable dining, earning it the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award for food excellence. Chef Michelle Weaver takes local delicacies to innovative, decadent new heights with a heavenly mix of delightful dishes like smoked sturgeon salad, chilled pickled oysters, seared foie gras, Norwegian ocean trout or venison tenderloin. Consider Chef Weaver's six-course tasting menu for a true epicurean treat.

If you have a hankering for soul food, head north to Martha Lou's Kitchen – the little pink shack by the railroad tracks on Morrison Drive at the edge of town. Martha Lou, 87-years young, has been at it for over 30 years, sharing her family's recipes with thousands of patrons on styrofoam plates with disposable utensils. Nothing fancy here, just humble ingredients cooked with plenty of love that have earned her rave reviews from The New York Times, Travel Channel and Southern Living, just to name a few. Daily menus items include fried chicken, fish and pork chops, chitterlings, barbecued ribs and okra stew, served with sides like lima beans, collard greens, corn bread, and bread pudding. It's truly one of Charleston's culinary treasures.

As a major seaport, Charleston is also known for its fresh seafood, and few restaurants prepare it better than Hank's Seafood Restaurant on Hayne Street, downtown. In fact, they've been voted "Best Seafood Restaurant in Charleston" for 16 consecutive years. Executive Chef Tim Richardson and crew are masters at creating Charleston’s signature seafood dish – rich and creamy she-crab soup, and their raw seafood bar is to die for. House specialties include oyster stew, pan seared scallops, grilled swordfish, roasted salmon, shrimp & grits, broiled lobster, and of course – southern fried oysters, grouper, flounder, and shrimp. Oyster lovers should try their Oyster Happy Hour, weekdays starting at 4:30 p.m. Bon appetit!

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