Charleston's hidden gems, neighborhood eateries according to CofC foodies
by Molly Rion
Charleston is renowned for its vibrant food scene, where Southern hospitality meets culinary creativity.
Ranked No. 6 in the country for 2022 Foodie Cities by Yelp, Charleston is making its mark on America’s culinary scene.
What really makes Charleston's food scene stand out is not just the plethora of dining options but the passionate locals who tirelessly hunt for the city's hidden culinary gems.
For Fine, dining decisions are not made in isolation.
She thrives on recommendations from colleagues and friends who share her passion for good food.
"I'm always open to hearing people's opinions from one foodie to another," she says.
Her years of experience as a server also shape her choices, as she pays attention to factors like a restaurant's location, menu, design, and prices.
Yet, what keeps Lucy exploring new spots in Charleston is the city's wealth of dining options.
"Charleston has so many restaurants to offer," she explains. "There will always be places I have to go over and over, but it's fun to try new spots whenever possible."
Her approach to restaurant ambiance is flexible, depending on the occasion and company.
Like Fine, MiaBella Provenzano relies on her coworkers to recommend good eats and unique dining experiences.
“I pay close attention when my coworkers recommend restaurants to custo
mers because I know the places they are recommending have to be of the utmost quality,” says Provenzano, a server at 167 Raw Bar.
Provenzano's dining philosophy centers on supporting local and independent restaurants.
She firmly believes in uplifting small businesses, emphasizing the importance of family-owned
establishments that prioritize knowing their customers.
"The food is always better," she says.
Food blogger and Instagram account holder Bella Pitt also enjoys eating locally because she finds that is where she gets the best overall experience.
For Pitt, unearthing hidden gems often involves talking to locals and fellow food enthusiasts.
“I badger people I know that have great taste in food and sophisticated palettes to constantly send me pictures of their food and let me know where they have been eating,” she said.
Pitt encourages people not to dismiss a restaurant just because it isn't widely advertised on Instagram or located on well-known streets.
“I feel like nothing on King Street can be considered a hidden gem,” says Pitt.
Local health and wellness blogger Elle McGee has a completely different perspective than the other three food enthusiasts, who all rely on word of mouth recommendations.
McGee takes her recs from social media and from friends to discover new restaurants.
TikTok is her go-to platform, where many food enthusiasts share their ratings and reviews.
“I 100 percent rely on recommendations from the social media platform, TikTok, to find a new spot to eat,” she said. “Many food enthusiasts come to Charleston to rate and review restaurants so it's always interesting to hear their thoughts.”
Like Provenzano, McGee enjoys dining at small businesses for fresh ingredients, enhanced customer service, and to feel connected to the local community.
McGee is extremely passionate about local dining.
“I would say that I greatly appreciate a restaurant's choice to utilize local ingredients in their dishes,” she said. “I think it's what makes the restaurant unique and shows that they care about their local community. Not only does choosing local ingredients emphasize the city's location, but enhances the customer experience.”