Food & Drink

These Charleston Restaurants Prove That Dining in Hotels Doesn't Have to Suck

Published On 06/21/2016 Published On 06/21/2016
Courtesy of the Peninsula Grill

Peninsula Grill

Market Street

Both locals and tourists look to Peninsula Grill, located inside the Planters Inn on Market St, to either celebrate a special occasion or just enjoy an upscale evening out. The menu is full of great steaks and seafood dishes such as the grilled swordfish, sea scallops, or the classic rib-eye (and an array of sauces to accompany each one). It's an unforgettable experience heightened only by the outdoor dining area.

Barony Tavern

Downtown

Chef Robert Carter’s latest venture, Barony Tavern, can be found inside the Renaissance Charleston Hotel and is meant to feel like a hip Scottish hunting lodge (complete with mounted deer heads sporting sunglasses on the walls). Décor aside, the food at Barony Tavern is best described as upscale Southern comfort food that's familiar with a surprising twist. Favorites include the crawfish-stuffed shrimp with Charleston "red rice" orzo and creole butter, and seared beef carpaccio with okra aioli, fried okra, and arugula salad. And do NOT overlook the oh-so-delicious coconut cake.

Courtesy of Zero George

Zero Café

Downtown

Whether you’re staying at Zero George or you live locally, there’s no denying that Zero Café is cozy, comfortable, and one of the most underrated restaurants in Charleston. From the moment you walk in and see the exposed kitchen, with chef Vinson Petrillo and his talented staff hard at work, you’ll be transported into a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Chef Petrillo takes familiar and comfortable dishes and elevates them to a new level of intricate culinary artistry, with an emphasis on art. The best example: oysters served with heirloom radish and gold flake -- served on a tree trunk.

Palmetto Cafe

Market Street

Located inside the swanky Belmond Charleston Place hotel, this oft-overlooked (mistakenly so) casual dining spot is worth a visit for the Instagram-worthy interior alone. There's lots of greenery and natural light, so you can #nofilter your seat in the lush courtyard as you dine on inventive dishes like the Seafood Club (lobster, shrimp, Applewood smoked bacon, smoked salmon, and crispy bread) or other Lowcountry-inspired favorites.

The Watch Rooftop Kitchen

The Watch

Downtown

In addition to having some spectacular views of Charleston, the food at The Watch (inside The Restoration on King) is pretty fantastic as well. Watch the sun go down out on the patio as you snack on grilled oysters, lobster mac & cheese, or ratatouille, all of which pairs perfectly with any choice from the extensive beer and wine menus.

Grill 225

Market Street

Inside the fancy Market Pavilion Hotel (the one where the doormen wear top hats and jackets with tails), you’ll find Grill 225. This place is a classic steakhouse that feels like that old pair of Rainbows you store in your closet and put on at the first sign of summer: it may not be the most exciting selection, but it fits well, is comfortable, and will get the job done. You can’t go wrong with a classic steak and nitrotini for a celebratory dinner or night out on the town. Just beware: you'll probably end up spending some serious money.

Courtesy of The Drawing Room

Drawing Room at The Vendue

French Quarter

The Drawing Room at Vendue has undergone a lot of changes in recent years. Now marketing itself as a "boutique art hotel," this place focuses much more on presentation and creativity. Executive chef Jon Cropf turns out artfully plated cuisine that takes full advantage of the fresh produce, proteins, and seafood, as well as Ambrose Farm pork. Try the red snapper with scallop mousse, black truffle, pancetta, and spring peas if you're really looking for a memorable experience.

Old Village Post House

Old Village Post House

Mount Pleasant

The Inn at Old Village Post House has only six distinct rooms, but the restaurant is chock-full of mouthwatering Southern options like cornmeal fried oysters, braised short ribs, and pimento cheeseburgers. It’s well worth the drive to Mount Pleasant’s Old Village neighborhood, especially because the place makes you feel like you were transported back to the quaint days of Mayberry and The Andy Griffith Show.

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1. Peninsula Grill 112 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401

Located inside the Planters Inn on Market Street, Peninsula Grill offers a comfortable, inviting dining experience, whether you’re inside or out on the open-air courtyard. Made famous by its 12-layer coconut cake that practically melts in your mouth, this restaurant's savory options are just as decadent and flavorful. A classic steakhouse with a Lowcountry seafood twist, Peninsula Grill takes advantage of its Charleston locale to bring Southern flavors to New American cuisine. Set back from the street and behind a wrought iron gate, this is a private, romantic spot for an upscale dinner date.

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2. Barony Tavern 68 Wentworth Street, Charleston, SC 29401

This hunting-lodge themed bar and restaurant inside of the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel is a relaxed, homey destination for classic American food with a Charleston bent. Infusing local flavors and ingredients into his New American cuisine, chef Robert Carter makes this hotel restaurant a place even locals want to dine in. The signature burger (on a brioche bun with aged cheddar) pairs excellently with one of the house cocktails, all updated versions of historic cocktails (like the French 75 and the Manhattan) made with local liquors. An upscale restaurant that welcomes business travelers and townies alike, Barony Tavern is a hotel eatery done right.

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3. Zero Cafe + Bar 0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401

Ranked as a Top 5 Foodie Hotel in the World by Condé Nast Traveler, Zero prepares American cuisine carefully and elegantly. The fare features locally-grown and seasonal ingredients, thoughtfully paired with a curated list of boutique wines and craft cocktails. The seasonal menu features small plates and hyper-seasonal dinner specialities, including fresh herbs and vegetables from the on-site kitchen garden. Patio dining lets you take advantage of Charleston's natural beauty as you eat, and the attached hotel is as refined as the cuisine if you need a post-meal nap.

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4. Palmetto Cafe 205 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

The Belmond Charleston Place Hotel's courtyard dining space The Palmetto Cafe is a Southern-influenced restaurant specializing in Lowcountry seafood. The al fresco seating area is located in the hotel's spacious interior courtyard garden, so you can enjoy eating outside without having to deal with the noise and the smells of the city. Only open for breakfast and lunch (and of course, brunch on the weekends), this is a posh option for a weekday lunch of local seafood favorites. A small but excellent wine list pairs well with the lightness of the food and the sunny beauty of the courtyard's lush vegetative decor.

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5. The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits 75 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401

This Harleston Village rooftop bar offers stunning views of the sunset over the city and some of the best bar snacks of any local rooftop stop. The relaxed and casual atmosphere of this restaurant attracts locals as well as tourists staying at the attached hotel for sunset drinks. There are great local wine and beer selections in addition to handcrafted cocktails updated from vintage recipes passed down over generations. Fresh, local seafood anchors the menu of Southern classics, where the shrimp and grits are as widely praised as the signature burger (served with truffle frites).

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6. Grill 225 225 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401

Grill 225’s vows to serve guests the absolute best prime beef around, and they are very serious. This local Market Street restaurant has a great selection of meat (wet-aged for 42-50 days) for any carnivore, and a selection of classic steakhouse sides to go with it. But what Grill 225 is really known for are the unique Nitrotinis they serve, flavorful cocktails cooled to -320 degrees with liquid nitrogen that arrive smoking at your table and require at least a five minute wait to avoid freezing your insides. A theatrical kind of place to say the least, this formal steakhouse is best saved for special occasions that deserve a unique (and expensive) experience.

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7. The Drawing Room at The Vendue 19 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401

The Drawing Room's sophisticated dining experience is part of the Vendue's boutique hotel ambiance, focusing much more on presentation and creativity than portion size. Executive Chef Jon Cropf turns out artfully plated cuisine that takes full advantage of the fresh produce, proteins, and seafood of the Charleston area, as well as local Ambrose Farm pork. A sizable alcohol list (aperitifs, signature cocktails, beer, wine, and champagne) fuels this hip restaurant, which draws in-the-know locals along with the hotel crowd.

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8. Old Village Post House 101 Pitt St, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

The Inn at Old Village Post House boasts an in-hotel restaurant highlighting southern delicacies on a menu of soups and starters, salads, steaks, and chef specialties, like crab cakes with creamed corn, leeks, and crispy truffle potato strings sweet potato gnocchi with spinach, dried cherries, goat cheese, pecans, and brown butter sauce. The dining space is elegant in its décor, lit by brass chandeliers and wreathed with Impressionist oil paintings of landscapes.