Charleston natives and brothers Matt and Ted Lee are the authors of three cookbooks, most recently The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen.
“Dave’s Carry Out (843-577-7943) is a classic that’s totally worth it. It’s charming and does the fried fish and traditional Low Country thing. They also do amazing seafood platters. There are just a couple of tables, so it’s mostly take-out. Bowens Island Restaurant is another classic. The oyster roast is one of its great distinctive features; it’s one of the only places you can experience that kind of roast without being invited to a person’s house. The place to lunch downtown is Slightly North of Broad—better known as SNOB—which opened in the late 1980s and has a dedicated local clientele. Frank Lee has been one of the most consistent, true Low Country chefs; the shrimp and gritsis ironclad.
As for what’s new, we’re in a mode where people from the beverage industry are opening restaurants. Leon’s is a brand-new oyster hall from Brooks Reitz, the former bar manager at FIG and manager of The Ordinary. Patrick and Fanny Panella, who own the high-end wine bar Bin 152, recently opened Chez Nous (843-579-3060) in a romantic old Charleston alley. They tricked it out beautifully, and the food is not your stuffy French cuisine. The daily-changing menu also focuses on Italian- and Spanish-influenced dishes. And Edmund’s Oast is the brainchild of the two bearded dudes who run the craft-brew retailer Beer Exchange. Their pickled shrimp toast is the defining dish and sends the message that this is a freethinking kitchen. It’ll be interesting to see what Chef Andy Henderson does in the future. And this fall, they’re expanding with an outdoor bar and a covered dining area called The Bower.
The Palace Hotel (843-501-7994) is carving out a whole new neighborhood on the east side for fine food. Chef Blake Joyal, the former butcher at FIG, is stepping up hot dogs with toppings like wasabi nori, kimchi, and red-curry mango. A few blocks away, Butcher and Bee feels like a food lab, with a lot of collaborative special dinner events and pop-ups. It’s open from 11:00 to 3:00 two times a day, so it’s a lunch place that does late nights for people in the food and beverage world. We usually get a midday sandwich and kick-ass salad with ingredients like pomegranate seeds and other ingredients you don’t normally see here.”