Saluda's Restaurant celebrates many histories. Its solid mahogany bar was part of Philadelphia's Blakely Hotel in the late 1800s, its walls sport vintage European posters advertising festive drinks, and its menu pays homage to timeless Southern staples, from shrimp and grits to artfully grilled rib eyes. Perhaps the greatest nod to the past is the building itself, which was constructed after World War I as a VFW officers club. There, veterans would gather to carouse and reminisce, fostering a convivial tradition that Saluda's has since restored and nurtured.
Executive chef Blake Fairies fuels the animated atmosphere with dishes whose down-home roots benefit from French and Italian influences. His prime concern is freshness—in an interview with Undefined magazine, he revealed how his fish du jour is often prepped the day after his friend Mark, a member of Abundant Seafood in Charleston, lures it onto his boat with promises of a free tropical time share. Like much of the kitchen's produce, chef Blake’s flash-fried green tomatoes come from local farms, and his entrees incorporate seasonal ingredients to complement ones imported from across the world. The results are plates that blend classic taste with inventive zest: steaks in black-truffle butter, helpings of handmade pasta, and pork chops brined in sweet tea. At the bar, guests can peruse more than 300 wines as well as cocktails and small-batch bourbon.
Voted Charleston City Paper’s Best Corner Store of 2011, Queen City Grocery provides hungry patrons with a wide selection of conventional and organic groceries, crêpes, sandwiches, smoothies, and more. Toast co-workers at the morning coffee trough with a savory Wentworth breakfast crêpe loaded with banana, walnuts, and brown sugar ($7, add $1 to all crêpes for gluten-free servings), or consume the harmonious ham, avocado, red onion, and organic goat cheese quartet playing inside each Happy Houdini sandwich ($9).
North Charleston runs in the blood of Cork Neighborhood Bistro?s proprietor, Tradd Ashley Gibbs, whose South Carolina roots stretch back for generations. As the seasons change, so do the dishes and the ingredients that go into his menu of southern-style comfort fare and seafood. Executive Chef Heather Edwards mixes up hearty pots of shrimp and grits with smoked sausage and tasso gravy and uses seasonal veggies to adorn dishes with all the flair of a peacock wearing a tropical fruit hat.
Tasi sails on seas of blended fruit with its selection of smoothies ($4.15–$4.75). Lou Ferrigno impersonators can opt for the Hulk, a fabric-ripping monster of soymilk, peanut butter, banana, and honey, while Californian coconut collectors can jumpstart their mornings with the peach-mango-strawberry kick of the Triple C. Those preferring more punch in their pureed potion can get a power smoothie ($4.55–$5.35) with a shot of whey protein or espresso, while mountain-lion tamers and hangover havers can juice up the bio-batteries with an energy smoothie ($5.89–$6.60). Tasi also offers customizable raw juices ($4.25–$5.19), coffee ($1.50, $1 if you bring your own cup), and wheatgrass shots ($2) for those looking to imbibe liquefied energy in an unsmoothed way.
For more than 25 years, Chef Manigault's La Vieille Maison has served as an elegant locale for weddings, parties, and meals. Guests can find themselves in a dining room or sunroom, on a veranda or hideaway patio, or in an expansive garden perfect for large gatherings. There, they'll enjoy Southern-style dishes with a French flair from changing menus that have featured stuffed mushrooms, rack of lamb, and herb chicken with oven-roasted potatoes and saut?ed vegetables.
The walls of the warmly lit dining room where chef Paul Colella serves up mouth-watering entrees—such as cabernet-reduction prime filet mignon ($30) and tangy papaya-salsa-topped Carribean snapper ($29)—double as an art gallery for the colorful figurative paintings of his wife, Lunonia. The sight of Lunonia slathering oils on canvas in the dining room, or the sounds of guitarist Armand DeMille's retro rock ballads each Friday and Saturday night, may whip guests into a creative fervor, but the restaurant's list of 70 red and white wines and specialty coffee drinks rewards lingerers who don't drop their forks immediately to consecrate their lives to artistic creation and the careful maintenance of unicorn-hair paintbrushes.