My first time in Charleston, South Carolina, was spectacular. I highly recommend a trip for the history and architecture, but you can't miss the food.
I stayed at the Vendue Hotel. This unique and charming hotel was the epitome of southern hospitality in a modern way. The staff greets you at the door like you are long-time friends. No need to stand at an impersonal reception desk. Instead, you check in, sitting on one of their couches in the lobby while being offered a glass of wine. Talk about winding down after traveling.
The hotel is art inspired with changing art exhibits and even an artist in residence, Fred, who has his studio in the second Vendue building across the street from the picture above. Everywhere you look, there is amazing artwork, and every day there is a tour you can join to learn more about the art.
Besides the art, the food is amazing. I enjoyed several southern-inspired fish dishes, including a pistachio-crusted roasted halibut one night served with a trio of sauces - beet, carrot, and romesco. On another night, it was the catch of the day, served with black-eyed peas and okra. Yummy!
Charleston sits on an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean; therefore, many dishes feature seafood, such as their Frogmore Stew or Low Country Boil featuring shrimp, corn, potatoes, and sausage.
Shrimp, crab, and oysters grace almost every menu because they are easily sourced from the Atlantic. I tucked into delicious Crab Cakes served with slightly spicy Carolina Red Rice and Collards. A delicious trio celebrating the local specialties. (I'm not great at taking pictures yet. I'm always so in the moment I forget. Use your imagination here, and I promise to get better 📸)
You can't talk about shrimp without talking about Shrimp and Grits. You can find them on just about every menu, and this dish really represents what the south has to offer. If you are unfamiliar with grits, they are coarsely ground corn similar to polenta, although polenta is more finely ground. Grits were a dish originally served by the Muscogee people in the Southern states and were adopted by the Europeans.
Other dishes to consider if you are visiting Charleston include Fried Green Tomatoes, She Crab Soup, Hush Puppies, Country Captain (Curry Chicken - remember Charleston was and is a port of entry, and back in the day, traders bringing spices from India introduced curries to the south), Crab Rice, BBQ, Fried Chicken, and so much more.
If you plan a trip to Charleston, you will not have a problem finding good food, lots of history, handmade crafts, and southern hospitality that will make you feel right at home.