Thanks to chefs like Sean Brock (Husk; McCrady's) and Mike Lata (F.I.G.), Charleston has been on the minds of the food cognoscenti recently.
Then, in the past year, a wave of openings took that sterling reputation and ran with it. This sunny, cobblestoned town has now reached a critical mass of flavor: Go. Now.
The Macintosh: A recent meal here was one of the most exciting we've had in months. Jeremiah Bacon's warm pork-trotter terrine is brightened with Meyer-lemon zest; smoked ricotta and lemon cling to young green and radish leaves; and hot-and-sour soup is laden with pork belly and Carolina rice grits. Must-try: the over-the-top bone-marrow bread pudding.
Two Boroughs Larder: Nothing cuts through the haze of a night of whiskey drinking like the goat pozole at this market-cum-restaurant. The bowl is thick with pulled meat and spicy enough to induce a damp brow. Make a meal of it, or complement it with kimchi-stained rabbit fried rice and garlicky confit chicken wings.
Butcher and Bee: Only open for lunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and late night (11 p.m. to 3 a.m.), but the roast beef sandwich here is worth the inconvenience. Thinly sliced, medium-rare top round is piled high on ciabatta and lathered with chimichurri aioli and onion jam. Pair it with sides such as beet salad dressed in broccoli pesto and Tabasco-slicked, deep-fried fish collars.
The Grocery: The "deviled egg sauce" that accompanied the fried oysters at this airy newcomer is genius. So too is "lam," in which lamb shoulder is cured like country ham and sliced thin, and a Beeliner snapper met with perfectly roasted cauliflower and a bright caper-raisin sauce.