Although his only experience in the food industry was assembling sub sandwiches, Joe Fischbein dreamed of owning his own restaurant. To prepare himself, Joe literally worked his way up from dishwasher to prep cook, meeting future partner and professional chef Casey Glowacki along the way. Though their paths diverged, Joe's dream came true in 2004 when Casey asked him to help run his new eatery: Five Loaves Cafe. Since Casey first established the café, it's evolved faster than a tadpole's opinion of legwarmers. Salads and sandwiches dominate the menu, highlighting cold cuts carved from house-roasted meats and dressings made in-house in small batches. Dinner entrees showcase grass-fed, hormone-free beef from Meyers Farm, free-range chicken from Tanglewood Farms, and vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, as well as fresh-cut local pastas from Rio Bertolini's.
Craves Soul Food has a community- and family-minded history. In the company's early days, the founding Scott family catered a citywide celebration, satisfying citizens with their heritage-style cooking. Ever since, the Scotts have achieved their dream of sharing their parents' and grandparents' soulful food with their neighbors—the chefs still use Momma Scott's recipes, which she used to cook meals full of love for her family on Sundays and holidays. The caterers have southern standards down, offering Hoppin' John beans and rice, fried or baked chicken, and locally grown collard greens, as well as classic desserts such as sweet-potato pie. But their specialty is prioleau rice, a hearty dish of veggies and meat such as shrimp or ribs simmered and marinated with carolina rice. Devotees can also pick up a bottle of their crave-worthy barbecue sauce or generously pre-portioned Heat 'n' Eat meals made with whole foods, ensuring dinner guests won't resort to eating paper plates for sustenance.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery also has donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
An open flame: humanity's first means of cooking, and the one preferred by Chef Glenn Christiansen. At Heart Woodfire Kitchen he eschews processed foods and microwaves—alongside any traces of pretension in his dining atmosphere—opting instead for a farm-to-table, back-to-the-earth approach that relies on local and seasonal ingredients. And given Charleston's year-round gorgeousness and springtime broccoli showers, it's farm-fresh ingredients aren't too hard to find.
Diners watch Glenn and his team bring these ingredients to the flame in an open kitchen. Rich aromas from rotisserie chickens, hand-made burgers, and flatbreads waft into the dining space and outdoor patio from an open-flame wood grill and authentic Italian Valoriani oven. These impart a distinct crispness to Heart Woodfire's signature speidie skewers and lend a delectable smokey flavor to the wood-fired vegetable stew and other vegetarian dishes.
Queen Anne's Revenge borrows its name from the flagship of the infamous pirate Blackbeard. The boat was brought to the sea floor in 1718, taking with it a wealth of tools, treasures, and weaponry. Authentic artifacts like those on Blackbeard's boat can be found throughout the restaurant today, along with coastal recipes designed by executive chef Brent Quiggle. Chef Quiggle's dishes take shape with ingredients such as fresh-caught fish and aged prime rib. For dishes such as the Lowcountry seafood purloo?a recipe dating to circa 1700?he combines fennel broth and vegetables with local fish, shrimp, and mussels. His beer-braised ribs are coated in a homemade barbecue sauce, and his grilled beef tips arrive drenched in brandy sauce, like most people set up on blind dates.
Just as its barbecue earns its flavor in a fire—slow-smoked every day, in fact, with fragrant woods and sweet-yet-savory spices—Queology was born in the flames of competition. In 2001, founders Russ Cornette and Matt Gamble found themselves underwhelmed by the winners in a local barbecue competition, confident that they could do better. Within a few years, the duo had won countless competitions across the South, and soon they founded Queology as a permanent gallery of their edible works. Along with their award-winning pork, the duo's specialties include smoked chicken wings and chicken and pork sliders, which are just the right size for eating in one bite or plugging a leaking pool.