Food & Drink

The Best Places to Drink in Charleston Right Now

Updated On 12/12/2017 at 04:13PM EST Updated On 12/12/2017 at 04:13PM EST
Chris Watkins Photography



Trendy hotel restaurant specializing in Southern food & cold brew cocktails
1Kept may have only opened its doors earlier this summer, but it’s already made a big impact on Charleston’s dining and drinking scenes. It’s currently the only place in Charleston serving up cold brewed cocktails -- a slow-drip-infusion process that looks like a science experiment happening behind the bar, and it takes 36 hours to complete. The result is a flavor packed-cocktail that’s bright and refreshing and has absolutely nothing to do with coffee. Our favorite is the Charleston Tea Old Fashioned which features HillBilly bourbon, Charleston Tea Plantation Earl Grey, black cherry, and clementine peels.

Gin Joint

French Quarter

Cozy and romantic cocktail bar serving hand-crafted drinks
The Gin Joint offers up all the makings of a perfect romantic night out: softly lit, with unobtrusive music, and of course, sinfully delicious mixed drinks. The cocktail menu leans heavily on the eponymous spirit, but the bar is stocked with other popular liquors as well (just don’t ask for anything with vodka). Not sure what to order? Ask for the bartender’s choice for a one-of-a-kind cocktail crafted just for you.

Chad Klimaszewski

Cane Rhum Bar


Caribbean-inspired bar with tiki drinks, snacks, and cold beer
Charleston might feel a little chilly outside right now, but inside Cane Rhum Bar, it’s like summer never left! The brightly colored walls, leafy green palm trees, and upbeat island-inspired music make you feel like you’ve jetted off to the Caribbean for the weekend. Rhum chef Paul Yellin has crafted food & drink menus with authentic island flavors and ingredients to chase the chill away. One solid, go-to drink is the Instant Vacation, made with lemongrass and ginger-infused Mt. Gay rum, Falernum, orange, lemon juice, and a house-made ginger beer topper.  

Bay Street Biergarten


German-style sports bar with pour-your-own beer taps
Bay Street Biergarten is a lively, energetic beer bar inspired by German-style biergartens found throughout Bavaria. The outdoor patio features giant picnic-style tables, lawn games, and, when the weather’s nice, an almost constantly packed bar. Inside, you’ll find self-serve beer taps, comfortable booths, and a bar serving up local and regional brews and craft cocktails. Between the monthly pop culture-themed trivia nights, the puppy brunches, and broadcasts of the latest sports games, there’s always something fun happening at BSB. 

Recovery Room

Recovery Room

Upper King Street

Low-key dive bar known for cheap beer
We’re not sure there’s anything that could stop people from going to Recovery Room; it’s an evergreen haunt that Charlestonians will continue to frequent decades into the future. It’s like that little cockroach from Wall-E: the world might be completely deserted, but Rec Room will still be up and running, slinging PBRs to anyone who’s thirsty enough to want one.

Sydney Gallimore/Thrillist

Bar Mash


Upscale cocktail bar with seasonally-changing drinks
The dark wood paneling, low light, and head bartender Teddy Nixon’s proclivity for whiskey-based cocktails — including a Low Country-inspired fall cocktail called the Fairgrounds (made with Woodford Reserve Double Oak, clarified apple juice, sherry, Cardamaro, tiki bitters, and salt) —give Mash a cozy, romantic feel. They also keep things lively and casual with an indoor bocce court, jukebox, and live music a few nights a week, making it an ideal spot for whatever mood you’re in.

Courtesy of The Cocktail Club

The Cocktail Club


Jazzy speakeasy with craft cocktails and a rooftop patio
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a classic Old Fashioned that will warm you from your belly to your toes. And when it comes to the perfect Old Fashioned, it’s hard to beat the one found at upscale lounge The Cocktail Club. The At a Time Like This (made with Tito’s Vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, cinnamon, thyme, and a splash of prosecco) is also a great choice if you prefer a non-whiskey-based cocktail. Obsessed with The Cocktail Club? Join the VIP list for all kinds of cool discounts and special events.

Closed for Business

Closed for Business

King Street Historic District

Casual bar with over 41 local and national beers on tap
Those of you who are really into craft beer should plan to spend a few hours at CFB. Sidle up to the bar or settle into one of the leather chairs near the (unfortunately fake) fireplace and try a liter of your favorite seasonal brew, or one of the 41 other beers on tap here. Pair it with the Pork Slap sandwich -- or one of the other delicious menu items -- and you’ve got the makings of a perfect night out. 


King Street Historic District

Dimly lit dive with cheap drinks and pool tables
Those looking to stay in comfy clothes like flannel shirts and jeans all year long will find their people at AC’s. Plan to head there for Sunday brunch, which celebrates a new theme every week (paying tribute to a wide range of pop culture, where everything from Golden Girls to Game of Thrones is fair game). The beers are cold, the mimosas are 98% Champagne, the shots are cheap, and the bartenders are efficient and no-nonsense.




Minimalist bar and restaurant with cocktail pitchers
Warehouse changes up its cocktail menu on a pretty regular basis, depending on the season and what the bartenders are feeling at the moment. In addition to regular house cocktails, you’ll also find cocktails made to split (think: a pitcher of your favorite cocktail), two different sangrias, as well as the fusion of beer and liquor known as the “beer cocktail.” Here’s what you should drink if you’re feeling adventurous: the Back in Black, made with Holy City Pluff Mud Porter, bourbon, ginger snap, orange, and maple syrup. Oh, and did we mention that their cocktails are just $5 during happy hour?

Burwell's Stone Fire Grill

Burwell's Stone Fire Grill

Market Street

Ritzy steakhouse with modern cocktails and a generous happy hour
They say that some like it hot, and if you’re one who likes their cocktails with a little heat, then Burwell’s is the bar for you. The Mexican Campfire cocktail is made with Herraduras tequila, Laphroaig, Ancho Reyes, grapefruit, lime, and blood orange syrup, and it will tickle your tongue and give you that warm, fuzzy feeling. The bar at Burwell’s is trendy, yet comfortable, making it the perfect stop for an after-dinner nightcap.

Edmund's Oast

Edmund's Oast


Contemporary bar & restaurant with house-brewed beers
Beer lovers will rejoice over the giant wall of beers offered at Edmund’s Oast. Whether you’re into something dark (like the Prairie Bomb! Deconstructed Chili) or a more unique brew (try the house-brewed peanut butter & jelly beer), you’ll find your perfect seasonal suds and unusual cocktails here. Pair it with some of the house-cured charcuterie, and you might never want to go home.

Jonathon Boncek/Thrillist

The Rarebit

King Street Historic District

Upscale, diner-style spot known for house-brewed Moscow mules
There’s something about a Moscow mule that appeals to every season, and the best mule in the Holy City can be found at Rarebit. The dark, comfy booths, retro-style lighting, and bartenders who make complicated cocktails at lightning speed all come together to make you feel like you’ve found an intimate escape, even when the place is at capacity (which happens pretty quickly).


King Street Historic District

Jazz-inspired bar/restaurant with creative cocktails and live music
Prohibition’s name might imply otherwise, but the cocktail menu is full of creative and unique mixed drinks that appeal to any palate (assuming that palate drinks alcohol). Try the Bourbon Thyme with Granny Smith apple-infused Jim Beam, lemon, Aperol, thyme, honey, and orange bitters for the perfect palate-pleasing drink. And if that doesn’t do the trick, get out on the dance floor. After all, what goes better with cocktails than dancing?


Proof Bar

King Street Historic District

Intimate cocktail bar with an extensive drink list
The craft cocktail and “real good beer” menu at Proof is one of the biggest in Charleston, which means the odds of finding a drink to match your unique personality are pretty heavily in your favor. Not finding exactly what you want on the menu? Not a problem, as owner/bartender Craig Nelson and company can fashion practically any cocktail your heart desires. Just tell them what flavors you like and they’ll make it happen. The space is intimate and dark and overlooks King Street, which makes it perfect for date night.

The Tattooed Moose

Tattooed Moose

NoMo & Johns Island

Casual, American-style eatery serving classic cocktails
Both the Johns Island and Downtown Tattooed Moose locations are just generally fun bars to hang out at and drink leisurely while getting your game on. In addition to board games and arcade games, the bar often features live, local musicians or broadcasts your favorite sports team. If the weather is nice, plan to sit out on the patio and enjoy your drinks al fresco.


Johns Island

Neighborhood pub serving Irish spirits, food, and beer
When it comes to darker liquors like whiskey, bourbon, and Scotch, you can bet that an Irish pub like Seanachai has a decent selection of all three. Order up some of that good stuff, or try your luck with the cocktail of the week, made with ingredients picked fresh from the Johns Island Farmers Market (or Seanachai’s own herb garden). Sip your drinks inside the warm Irish pub interior or take them outside around the fire pit (if there’s any room!). 

The Alley Charleston

The Alley

King Street Historic District

Energetic sports bar & bowling alley with themed parties and live trivia 
Whenever you’re not avoiding the outdoors in favor of Netflix, head over to the Alley for beer and/or cocktails and a rousing game of bowling (don’t forget to bring socks!). Whether it be for the Studio 300 party, the Big Lebowski Bash, or just for a fun night out on the town, The Alley is one bar you should definitely pin to your list for a strikingly good time -- sorry, but those puns were completely justified. Remember, they show bowling on ESPN, which means you can also count this as exercise for the day.

Craft Conundrum

Craft Conundrum

West Ashley

Industrial-chic beer bar with over 100 beers on tap
Although Craft Conundrum is a super low-key spot to hang out after work, beer is serious business here. You may truly have a drinking conundrum upon arrival, thanks to the more than 100 beers on tap, but the affordable drinks and staff who really knows their beer will quickly turn this confusion into a cause for celebration. The bar doesn't serve food, but if all that drinking works up your appetite, the bartender will let you order a pizza or bring in food from one of the many food trucks that often visit.

DIG In The Park

Park Circle

Sports bar with a lively patio and cold beer
Dig in the Park is arguably one of the most fun bars in all of Park Circle, and perhaps in the entirety of North Charleston. Anytime you walk by, the patio looks like a party you wish you’d been invited to, often featuring live music, trivia competitions, live sporting events on TV, or just a general air of camaraderie. Stop by for a happy hour drink (or two) during the week from 4pm-7pm for $2.50 select drafts and $3 house liquors!

Courtesy of The Business Company

Local 616

East Central

Mellow watering hole specializing in craft cocktails and mule varieties
Local 616 is a dive bar, but owner Dwayne Mitchell has created an atmosphere that makes you feel like your best friend (who’s great at mixing drinks) opened a bar and you’re their favorite customer. Although it’s definitely off the beaten path, Local 616 is definitely worth going out of your way for. As Dwayne would say: “Word.”

Sara Norris/Thrillist


King Street Historic District

Chic and trendy cocktail bar serving up all the classics
The comfortable atmosphere at the Belmont seems to be magically appropriate for every season. We’re not sure if it’s the black & white movies projected on the wall, the fact that there’s a limit on the number of people allowed in at a time to give it more of an intimate feel (seriously), or the artfully crafted cocktails that make us love the Belmont so much, but they all work together to really get you in the mood of the season. Pro tip: pair your fresh-pressed mint gimlet cocktail with a house-made banana and Nutella Pop-Tart for a truly indulgent evening.

Jack of Cups

Folly Beach

No-frills, Asian-inspired restaurant and saloon
This unique locals’ bar/restaurant exists in an area most often associated with tourists and generic fried seafood. Luckily, Jack of Cups isn’t afraid to break the mold and be different, and it’s also got the best beer selection on Folly Beach, with both local and regional brews, plus a decent selection of red and white wine, at prices that’ll make your wallet (and taste buds) jump for joy.

The Barrel Charleston

The Barrel

James Island

Dog-friendly neighborhood beer bar with food trucks and live music
The Barrel was made for people whose love for craft beer is exceeded only by their love for man’s best friend. Featuring 33 local and regional beers on tap and a waterfront backyard that welcomes both humans and dogs (and the occasional goat), The Barrel is sure to become one of your favorite spots to spend an afternoon. And when the weather starts to get a little nippy, gather around The Barrel’s fire pit to stay comfortably toasty.

Husk Restaurant

The Bar at Husk

French Quarter

Rustic, two-story bar with premium whiskey and regional brews
Much like chef/owner Sean Brock, the Bar at Husk has a real passion for the brown water -- it features more than 50 premium bourbons, ryes, and Scotches that are delicious -- whether on their own or in one of the signature cocktails. The atmosphere is especially unique, capturing true southern essence with its faux-thatch roof and exposed brick walls that make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time a century or two. Pro tip: order the burger and a barrel-aged Manhattan for a truly transcendent experience.

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1. Recovery Room 685 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

How does a Charleston dive sell more 12 oz cans of PBR than any other in the country? By selling them cheap and keeping them cold: it doesn't hurt that The Recovery Room's signature beer has quite the following. The twelve flavors of chicken wings and beloved tater tot nachos don't hurt, either. Foosball, pinball, darts, bocce, billiards and trivia nights hosted in the slightly grungy space give the PBR hounds something to do.

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2. Bar Mash 701 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29403

With a history as a former 19th-century cotton mill and cigar factory, Downtown Charleston’s Bar Mash space alone makes you want to guzzle down some of the American whiskey and beer bar’s extensive bourbon collection. Bar Mash pays homage to its industrial past by keeping with a steampunk look, and while exposed dark piping and light-colored wooden tables give the illusion of spaciousness, the bocce court, shuffleboard area, and the perpetually steady stream of patrons inside betray the bar’s small size. As for bites, opt for small plates like pretzels, wings, or fried pickles.

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3. The Cocktail Club 479 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Blending speakeasy ambience with contemporary trendy aesthetic (think wooden rafters, exposed brick walls, sleek black leather furnishings and industrial chandeliers overhead), The Cocktail Club is a upscale hotspot for those looking to imbibe on craft cocktails. There's an emphasis on making things from scratch here, with several drinks on the mixology-inspired menu featuring house-made infusions with market-driven ingredients (pro tip: you can't go wrong with the house Old Fashioned or the signature Double Standard). Combined with the rooftop terrace and menu of New American light fare, it's an ideal locale for intimate dates and group outings alike (as an added bonus, the bar also serves craft cocktails by the punch bowl).

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4. Closed For Business 453 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

CFB in the King Street Historic District is a classy bar with a serious beer selection (over 42 on tap alone). Large leather couches, mounted animal heads and a roaring fire set a warm, almost-too-cool ambiance. Closed for Business is famous for its huge cowboy boot-shaped glasses offered exclusively during Oktoberfest— each drink holds 2.5 liters of your choice (provided the ABV isn’t dangerously high) and costs $25. Serious beer drinkers, your challenge has been set.

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5. AC's 467 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

AC's Bar and Grill on King St is rowdy college-kid dive by night, and a rowdy college-kid dive brunch spot by Sunday morning. After a night of pool, dancing on tables and beer-and-shot combinations, you can load up on a decadent menu of exaggerated American dishes served on plastic plates late-night, like loaded nachos and burgers topped with punishingly hot sauce. Come back in the morning for equally gut-busting hangover cures, because cheesy eggs and ham in a waffle sandwich fixes most ailments.

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6. Warehouse 45 1/2 Spring St, Charleston, SC 29403

This industrial-chic bar garners lines with artisanal cocktails and New American cuisine served in a dark-hued space made edgy with exposed brick. The bar serves plenty of wine and cocktails (as represented by a sleekly designed menu), but PBR and a pool table also caters adequately to the casual post-work crowd.

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7. Burwell's Stone Fire Grill 14 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401

Burwell’s Stonefire Grill is a modern steakhouse that offers dishes that appeal to a more creative palate, such as deviled eggs that look more like artwork than they do food. The space itself is contemporary, and the rooftop bar is one of the best in the city with unique, artfully crafted cocktails and an extensive wine selection. For an excellent steak experience, be sure to try the “Rock Candy” and cook your own meat on a 700-degree hot stone.

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8. Edmund's Oast 1081 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403

This modern warehouse/barnhouse/beer hall hybrid tucked inconspicuously amongst North Charleston's office parks and empty lots serves New American fare, beer brewed on-site and craft cocktails. Cult-ish domestic crafts like Coast, Evil Twin, and Prairie Artisan Ales are posted next to hard-to-find imports (De Struise, Nøgne ø, J.W. Lees...), all available alongside house-made jerky, charcuterie, and other indulgent bar snacks. Snag a seat on the patio for a relaxed dinner and stay out late with a young-professional crowd.

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9. The Rarebit 474 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

This old-fashioned diner serves elevated, modern versions of your favorite comfort food classics, like chicken and waffles with Sorghum syrup and large plates of fish and chips. The '50s themed bar is aptly washed in a retro seafoam green, creating a nostalgia-inducing space in which to imbibe on their popular moscow mules crafted with house-made ginger beer.

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10. Prohibition 547 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

One of the hottest cocktail bars in Charleston, Prohibition takes a modern approach to old school booze: the house specialty is a bacon-maple Old Fashioned, and there's distinctly Southern palette in drinks like the King Street Cobbler (blackberry brandy, lemon, muddled sugar, and brandy-infused berries in a rocks glass). For those who fancy a dance after they've finished a few drinks, worry not: like any self-respecting speakeasy, Prohibition features live music every night of the week, ranging from swing, jazz, and funk. There's a focused menu of New American bites from chef Greg Garrison, featuring light bites like blistered shishitos with garlic aioli and tuna crudo with cherry blossom shoyu as well as larger entrées and a five-course tasting menu.

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11. Proof Bar 437 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Craft cocktails and Southern hospitality reign at this King St. bar. Guests can expect expertly mixed drinks ranging from classics (Hemingway daiquiri, anyone?) and modern specialties with an emphasis on bespoke liquors like gin, absinthe, and whiskey -- and with well-decorated veteran bartender and owner Craig Nelson at the helm, it's safe to say whatever you order will be wholly satisfying. The snug space manages to feel intimate even when crowded, refined yet relaxed at the same time, making it a great late night option for those looking to mellow out the evening.

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12. Tattooed Moose 1137 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403

There may be a moose head hanging on the wall of this celebrated dive, but there's another animal that is really the star: the duck, as in the must-order duck club sandwich. The signature plate is triple stacked on sweet Hawaiian bread and layers of brined duck confit, duck-fat fries, peppered bacon and smoked cheddar create a flavor mouthful. Other sandwiches on the indulgent menu aren't to be overlooked, from a sourdough American grilled cheese to a Moroccan gyro, and get washed down from the list of craft beers on offer.

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13. Seanachai 3157 Maybank Hwy, Johns Island, SC 29455

John Island's Seanachai is so serious about their whiskey and Irish food fare, they only accept members into their popular tavern: but don't panic, one-night-only entries run just one dollar. Two Irishmen run the place and, as only two Irishmen could, they nail their country's iconic dishes in a beef-stout cottage pie, bangers & mash, corned beef croquettes and towering burgers. Among the best whiskey selections in the area features blended and single malt bottles, with a house Manhattan (Irish whiskey, Benedictine, sweet vermouth, maple bitter) poured from a barrel.

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14. The Alley 131 Columbus St, Charleston, SC 29403

Located in an expansive warehouse downtown, The Alley is an entertainment hub complete with bowling, skee ball, ping-pong, dozens of old school vintage arcade games, and basketball hoops. The old-school hang out lounge with vintage paneling, memorabilia, two 160” projection screens and multiple TVs throughout the space is a perfect spot to catch a game. The kitchen—open for lunch and dinner—serves American comfort food along with some atypical snacks like siracha boiled peanuts, tuna spring rolls, and chili nachos. Plus, a fully stocked bar includes wines as well as popular and local craft beers on tap.

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15. Craft Conundrum 630 Skylark Dr, Charleston, SC 29407

On the outside, Craft Conundrum in Charleston looks like it could house anything from a dentist’s office to a Hallmark, but instead hosts 150 or so taps available in pints or growlers to go. The whole thing’s curated by folks who used to select the beer for a Piggly Wiggly, which would be hilarious if it didn’t make us start wondering whether Piggly Wiggly might actually be a stellar bottle shop, what with CC offering everything from Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin to Lexington’s Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, Maine’s Tiny Something Beautiful, and even hard-to-find Belgian imports. Oh, and considering the place is in a strip mall near a grocery store (that was also once a Piggly Wiggly), there’s ample room for food carts to park outside.

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16. DIG In The Park 1049 E Montague Av, North Charleston, SC 29405

North Charleston’s Park Circle hosts the aptly named Dig In the Park, a sports bar and grill known for its large outdoor space for wings, burgers and “free oyster” happy hours. The blacktop patio is outfitted with high communal tables where drinks from the outdoor bar can be sipped under umbrellas. Flat-screens line the bar for game watching when the weather's not peachy enough for corn hole tournaments, and burger buns are branded with the logo, just in case you forgot where you were.

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17. Local 616 616 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403

Casual sports bar Local 616 revolves around soccer games, opening early to accommodate game day fans. Futbol fans get a kick out of six variations on the Moscow Mule, and specialty cocktails that exceed typical sports bar expectations (a standout, The Old 616, features Fernet Branca, bitters, muddled orange, cherry, sugar, bourbon and soda). The food is American and heavy, with fried bologna and American cheese on Texas toast and a fat honey bun topped with melted cheese and bacon bits.

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18. The Belmont 511 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

This quiet, intimate cocktail bar seats just 40 at a time, shows black and white films on mute, and serves some of Chucktown’s finest bottles. It’s located on King Street located alongside heavy hitters like Stars Restaurant, Indaco and The Ordinary, but starkly differentiates itself with a classed-up, mellow ambiance.

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19. The Barrel 1859 Folly Rd, Charleston, SC 29412

Some bars are referred to as “animal houses,” but James Island’s The Barrel literally is: drinkers, their dogs, and, hell, their billy goats are welcome (the proprietor has a couple). An enclosed backyard bordered by marshes is the central lure, where dogs run willy-nilly and their owners play corn hole and shuffleboard or chill in the gazebo and by the dipping pool. 33 Southeastern and national beers are on tap in the dark-wood interior, while an outdoor bar looks in and parked food trucks provide the eats.

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20. Jack Of Cups 34 Center Street, Folly Beach, SC 29439

Jack of Cups is a nook of a craft beer bar with global pub grub and a growing cocktail list. Its a cozy, no-nonsense space with outdoor seating on a patio. Though small compared to some other spots on Folly Beach, this place is a far cry from the cases of Coronas served at other spots down the street. There are tripels, sours, seasonals, reserves, and the occasional “whale” on tap. Ask about it.

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21. Husk 76 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401

Headed by two-time James Beard award-winning chef Sean Brock, Husk's menu is unique not only because of its interesting takes on Southern favorites, but also because the menu changes twice a day. Housed in an historic 1800s Charleston mansion, the environs themselves are enough to make you lick your lips: the interior reads more like a stately residential home than a restaurant serving honey-lacquered duck with pickled blueberries and rabbit-pimento loafs. Long waits can be avoided at the adjacent and more casual The Bar at Husk, standing apart in a brick warehouse. In addition to a stunning list of some 50 bourbons, including its own barrel of the coveted Pappy Van Winkle, a seat at the more casual bar increases your odds of scoring the must-order, iconic Husk burger: two 100% chuck patties infused with Benton’s bacon, and griddled with onions shaved onto the patty before being topped with American cheese, bread & butter pickles, and Brock's own special sauce.