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.
At Chucktown Tavern, you get to hear your neighbors sing. The joint booms with karaoke every single night of the week as patrons try their pipes on numbers from the DJ's selection of hundreds of karaoke tracks. Melodies of popular tunes and weekend performances from local bands drift towards the kitchen, where head chef Hope Young and her kitchen crew fold locally grown produce into classic breakfasts, sandwiches, and seafood dishes. She stuffs burgers with filings such as marinara, pepperoni, pimento cheese, and jalapeños, piling the patties onto freshly baked breads. Glasses click together, spilling rivulets of imported beer and cocktails into cool rings on wooden tables. The revelry pours out onto the front courtyard, where patrons recline in padded furniture like kings or cool pieces of wood a king found and named.
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.
Founded in 1986, Long Island Cafe serves an array of seafood dishes grilled, fried, and sandwiched, emphasizing fresh local favorites, such as she crab soup. Kick-off dinner with lightly breaded claw meat crab cakes ($6.75) or baked mustard shrimp ($8.50). If you'd like to keep your meal as light as a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, try a peppered salmon salad ($9.75), or satisfy ocean-sized appetites with the Collection, a broiled medley of shrimp, oysters, scallops, and fish ($19.75). Hungry lunchgoers rejoice in a menu swimming with savory salads—including a shrimp-festooned variety ($10)—and hearty sandwiches, such as the fried oyster po' boy ($10.50).
Thursdays Too fills stomachs with the aid of a menu of tried-and-true American specialties and caters to diners with top-notch service. Diners donning pilgrim garb can enjoy a roast-turkey dinner served with brown gravy, traditional homemade stuffing, and cranberry sauce ($9.25), and pioneers seeking new American classics can gobble up seasoned tenderloin medallions ($11.25) and blackened tilapia with mango salsa ($13.50). Potato skins ($6.95) and chips ($4.25) are made in-house, as is the tangy honey mustard that accompanies the chicken-strip appetizer ($7.25). The dreamy scent of homemade lasagna ($8.75) leads diners to contemplate faraway adventures, from exploring Roman catacombs to playing a thrilling game of laser tag inside a hot air balloon’s wicker basket.
The president of Northampton Wines, Richard deBondt, lends his perceptive palate and vast vino-centric knowledge to Italy Exposed, a one-hour educational exploration of the world's second most refined beverage after Tang. Learn proper tasting technique and pairing methods while sampling seven premium Italian wines, accompanied by a selection of Italian cheeses and fresh-baked bread from the Wine Café. Between sips, discover the basics of Italian wine-law and learn to read an Italian label, so you don't get fooled into buying a $500 bottle of moustache oil. Insatiable imbibers can also take advantage of a special 20% discount on all in-stock Northampton Wines merchandise.