Charleston–casual dining with flare

Eating in Charleston, SC, is an event itself! Top-rated restaurants and chefs abound in this city. But what’s unique is that you can get amazing food even in a casual dining atmosphere.  Check out Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar and Hominy Grill. You won’t be disappointed!
Fleet Landing on Urbanspoon

 Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar
Within walking distance to River Front Park is Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar.  It’s the only restaurant in Charleston actually on the waterfront. Housed in a 1940’s retired naval building, the restaurant has a wrap-around porch with a great view.

Fried Green Tomato and Crab Stack appetizer -Fleet Landing Restaurant

Their appetizers are equal to what you might find in a 5-star restaurant.   My favorite is the Fried Green Tomato Stack (perfectly fried sliced green tomatoes layered with blue crab and creamy shellfish sauce).

Their She Crab Soup with blue crab and sherry is also a great starter. For an entrée try the Pan Seared Tilapia or Grilled Local Swordfish. And save room for dessert. If you’re a chocolate lover you’ll want to order the Fleet Landing Chocolate Torte with cinnamon pecan crust served with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Hominy Grill
Housed in a former barber shop, this restaurant is popular for its great Southern breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We stopped in for dinner on a Saturday evening, and although it doesn’t look like the type of place where you might need reservations, do make them, as it’s a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike.

Hominy Grill on Urbanspoon

Described as “food just like Grandma’s,” I’d definitely say this Grandma has some secret gourmet touches! Everything is made from fresh, locally raised  ingredients and is definitely upscale from your typical Southern cooking. In fact, Chef/proprietor Robert Stehling won the 2008 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast.

My recommendations:  Start with the  Okra & Shrimp Beignets with Salsa (perfect texture as well as taste). For your entrée order the Sesame-Crusted Farm-Raised Catfish with sautéed Okra, Deep Fried Cheese Grits & Geechee Peanut Sauce (this recipe won Chef Stehling the Best Chef Award).  Or, also highly acclaimed is their Shrimp and Grits. Our waitress explained their recipe has garnered many local awards as the best Shrimp and Grits because they use just the basic ingredients of sautéed shrimp with mushrooms, scallions & bacon served over cheese grits. (My husband raved over this dish and agreed it was the best Shrimp and Grits he’d ever had!)

For dessert I went with chocolate, ordering the Chocolate Pudding with dark Belgium chocolate. My husband ordered the Buttermilk Pie which was wonderfully light with a hint of lemon. (You can find this recipe on their website and even order their recipe book with 23 other favorite recipes.)

Copyright 2010 Sandra Chambers–All rights reserved (text & photos)

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