Food & Drink

These Shrimp and Grits Dishes Are the Best in Charleston

Published On 05/17/2016 Published On 05/17/2016
Poogan's Porch shrimp and grits
Poogan's Porch | jwkpec

Poogan's Porch

French Quarter

The shrimp & grits here is almost as traditional as it gets, with a rich, brown gravy that proves it’s hard to beat the classic version. The fact that this choice is offered at Poogan's makes sense because the place feels just like grandma’s house... and not your bingo-playing, scotch-drinking granny who hums along to pop radio. We're talking the one who has doilies on the back of the couch and knows how to cook a proper meal. And just like at her place, elbows off the table!

Peter Frank Edwards

Magnolias

French Quarter

Magnolias is white-tablecloth fine dining at its best, and is all about showcasing some updated Southern classics. With that in mind, the chefs have upped the ante with this elegant version of shrimp & grits. The shrimp is but one star of the show in Magnolias’ shellfish over grits, which also includes scallops and a lobster butter sauce. If you're in Charleston, it's a definite must-try.

Peter Frank Edwards

Hominy Grill

Cannonborough

Speaking of waiting, Hominy Grill's line is almost a Charleston institution. But why do all the locals brave the wait? Well, a couple of reasons: 1) we’ve got to take our out-of-town guests here for the Charleston Nasty Biscuit (fried chicken with cheddar and sausage gravy), and 2) the tender-shrimp-meets-buttery-grits dish is too good to pass up. This version is the real deal: the shrimp is sauteed with mushrooms, scallions, and bacon, and placed over some cheesy grits.

Early Bird Diner

West Ashley

This wonderful version of shrimp & grits comes two ways: sauteed with tomato gravy, or fried with pepper jelly. Either way, it’s stick-to-your-ribs good, which is something you need after being famished as a result of the long wait for breakfast on the weekends. But don’t get discouraged; the parking lot is packed for a reason.

Courtesy of Middleton Place

Middleton Place Restaurant

West Ashley

Dinner here is a destination drive, but what you get for the gas money is an iconic dish in an iconic setting. Tasso ham and a little cheddar round out this version, served atop excellently prepared grits that are smoothed into perfection by copious amounts of butter. (Seriously, butter is always better.) Plus, the restaurant sits in the middle of a national historic landmark housing some of the oldest gardens around, so you best believe you'll have some great views to match the food.

Page's Okra Grill

Mount Pleasant

Chef Ashleigh Page’s version is beloved, but it’s probably because she takes the already-rich dish and gives it a great twist by serving the shrimp with andouille sausage and a cream sauce atop fried grits cakes. And just in case that’s not enough for your daily caloric intake, the meal comes with either cornbread or a biscuit. Let's hope you've got some stretchy pants...

Courtesy of SNOB

Slightly North of Broad (SNOB)

French Quarter

Green onions, country ham, and house-made sausage are included in chef Frank Lee’s version of the Lowcountry classic. That is, in addition to sweet, local shrimp. He was a proponent of local seafood long before it was trendy, and he definitely prepares it better than almost anyone else in the region.

Acme Lowcountry Kitchen

Isle of Palms

The stretchy pants are a requirement at this casual island spot. In fact, there is an entire section of the menu devoted to shrimp & grits. You can get them with pimento cheese if you please, BBQ sauce if you’re the boss, or smoked gouda if you woulda-coulda-shoulda. See where we’re going with this? Acme's selection is basically a veritable Dr. Seuss-style invitation to deliciousness.

Courtesy of Glass Onion

The Glass Onion

Avondale

This consistently good spot offers Lowcountry-meets-Louisiana fare, and it’s actually a favorite of chefs on their off days. Why? Because the menu is Comfort Food 101, with a little touch of elegance and seasonal ingredients. Case in point: the shrimp & grits. It's often on the menu, but not always the same. Chef Chris Stewart folds in delicious rotating specialties -- from root veggies in the winter to anything green for spring -- to make this dish stand out.

Jasmine Porch

Kiawah Island

Located inside The Sanctuary hotel, Jasmine Porch aims to convey that upscale Lowcountry feeling with a view of the gorgeous pool and the beach. But even with the sights, it'll be hard to take your eyes off the plate if you get this version of shrimp & grits, which includes sweet peppers and onions. The shrimp are plump and local, and the grits the perfect creamy accompaniment.

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1. Magnolias 185 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401

Magnolias is an iconic Charleston staple, white-tablecloth fine dining at its best, and is all about showcasing some updated Southern classics. With that in mind, the chefs have upped the ante with a sophisticated and refined take on Southern dishes like shrimp & grits. The shrimp is but one star of the show in Magnolias’ shellfish over grits, which also includes scallops and a lobster butter sauce.

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2. Poogan's Porch 72 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401 (French Quarter)

Poogan’s Porch—part of a famed Charleston brand—serves traditional Southern cooking in a Victorian townhouse, complete with porch seating and a massive wine cellar. It's one of the most popular destinations in town with a documented ghost story and some seriously impressive decor, luring in locals and tourists alike to this classic upscale eatery with wonderful updated cocktails.

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3. Hominy Grill 207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

Hominy is a relaxed eatery in Canonborough dishing up some of Chucktown’s most delicious Lowcountry classics. James Beard Award-winning chef Robert Stehling has built a landmark— you can’t miss the bright red exterior—complete with a mural that (rightly) states, “Grits are Good For You.” Everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Anthony Hopkins has enjoyed a meal in this restored Charleston single house because the menu is filled with iconic dishes (think fried okra and sausage gravy) prepared fresh and well.

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4. Early Bird Diner 1644 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407 (West Ashley)

Early Bird Diner in West Ashley is frequently found on “best of” lists when it comes to Charleston dining, and this funky, art-filled joint really lives up to the hype. It’s classic Southern cooking done right with breakfast served all day (meaning until 4am on Friday & Saturday nights). The true star of the menu is the chicken and waffles, so let us elaborate: it’s pecan-encrusted fried chicken and a cinnamon waffle drizzled with honey mustard and syrup.

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5. Middleton Place 4300 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414 (West Ashley)

Middleton Place is one of the most underrated restaurants in Charleston, but this destination is worth the drive to West Ashley. This spot is located on a rice plantation that dates back to the 1730's, and the restaurant, which sits in the middle of a national historic landmark housing some of the oldest gardens around, serves iconic Southern dishes in a charming setting. We suggest ordering the Tasso ham, served atop excellently prepared grits that are smoothed into perfection by copious amounts of butter.

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6. Page's Okra Grill 302 Coleman Blvd, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464 (Mount Pleasant)

Page's Okra Grill, brought to us by Chef Ashleigh Page, is bustling casual eatery that focuses on Southern home cooking. All the portions are generous, and a definite standout on the menu is Ashleigh's famous Shrimp and Grits, which is highlighted as one of her favorites. The already-rich dish has a great twist to it -- the shrimp is served with andouille sausage and a cream sauce atop fried grits cakes.

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7. Slightly North of Broad 192 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401

S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad) remains a major player in Charleston's food scene thanks to Chef Frank Lee's fresh, modern Southern cuisine. The menu features fine-dining twists on Southern classics, such as shrimp and grits with house sausage and country ham, local scallops with okra and tomato ham hock broth, and duck breast with a sweet Johnny cake and a honey thyme reduction. Despite the name, the 18th-century warehouse space isn't snobbish: feel free to enjoy your upscale meal and classic cocktails in your favorite jeans and T-shirt.

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8. Acme Lowcountry Kitchen 31 J C Long Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451 (Isle Of Palms)

Acme Lowcountry Kitchen is a casual spot that specializes in local, domestic, and sustainable seafood including fish, shrimp, and crab, among others. They proudly show you exactly where the seafood you order comes from on the menu, most of which is sourced from the East Coast and from the Atlantic Ocean. On the menu you might also be surprised to find an entire section devoted to shrimp & grits, with options like pimento cheese, BBQ sauce, and smoked gouda.

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9. The Glass Onion 1219 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407 (Avondale)

This consistently good spot offers Lowcountry-meets-Louisiana fare, and it’s actually a favorite of chefs on their off days. The Glass Onion has a menu full of comfort food, with a little touch of elegance and seasonal ingredients. We recommend the shrimp & grits, however it's not always the same. Chef Chris Stewart folds in delicious rotating specialties -- from root vegetables in the winter to anything green for spring -- to make this dish stand out.

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10. Jasmine Porch at The Sanctuary 1 Sanctuary Beach Dr, Kiawah Island, SC 29455 (Kiawah Island)

Located inside The Sanctuary hotel, Jasmine Porch aims to convey that upscale Lowcountry feeling with a view of the gorgeous pool and the beach. The dining room is grand and luxurious, as is the food on the menu. We recommend ordering the "Tour of the Lowcountry" which is a three course meal that guides your through Southern comfort food at its finest. Plus, this spot offers vegan and gluten-free options.