Here Are 9 More Restaurants For You to Adore...

Here Are 9 More Restaurants For You to Adore...

Raise a glass to the Charleston and Mount Pleasant Food Scene.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise that creating a list of nine more "must-try restaurants" around Charleston was no challenge...the only real challenge here was narrowing the list down to nine.

So, here's to you Charleston for keeping all of your visitors and locals well fed, well entertained and as of late, well watered due to your routine flooding upon the smallest amounts of rain.

Nonetheless, here are nine hotspots to try next time you find yourself with a free moment or some vacation time in the beloved Chucktown.

1. The Park Cafe

Although you may have to "park" yourself outside while you wait for a coveted spot at their southern Sunday brunch, I can assure you that all of their food (not just the brunch) is worth the wait. On certain Sundays, you may even run into this guy (pictured above) selling succulents, along with a few other local vendors to entertain you while you lightly fry and sun yourself under clear Charleston skies. Speaking of "frying," the fried egg sandwich is a must-have.

2. Tricera

Does Charleston have you too excited to even sit down and enjoy a meal? No worries, Tricera has you covered with their breakfast sandwiches that you can get to-go. Even though the Triceratops might have been a herbivore, some of Tricera's bagel breakfast sandwiches will have you eating otherwise. The "everything goes" sandwich is out of this world but luckily not extinct like the coffee shop's namesake.

3. Leon's

I can't say that I've had many great meals in an old garage but even if I'd had a thousand, Leon's would top the charts time and time again. Oyster lover or not, Leon's has something for everyone...including frozen yogurt. Even more, the interior is just like finding a pearl inside of an oyster: a hidden gem tucked away behind a perfectly rustic exterior.

4. Harold's Cabin

Funky, spunky and delicious. Harold's Cabin takes me back to my Tennessee roots with its Appalachian-esque, log cabin decor. Whether you're in it to win it for the biscuit, beer or beautiful rooftop garden, you may experience your first enjoyable case of cabin-fever after you find yourself wanting to cozy up in this restaurant/bar/grab-and-go market day after day.

5. FIG

The restaurant's name, FIG, is an acronym for "Food Is Good." Amongst all of the hustle and bustle of the growing food scene in Charleston, FIG has stood strong at the corner of Meeting and Hassell Street since 2003. Serving innovative, fresh, seasonal, local, Southern cuisine, FIG will have you wanting to "get 'figgy' with it" after experiencing why this restaurant has become a staple of the South.

6. The Grocery

Out of groceries? Save yourself a trip to the store and enjoy a meal by the 6th restaurant on this list. The Grocery specializes in farm to table cuisine but the only shopping you'll be doing at this grocery is choosing from food on the menu to go from table to stomach. Plus, any restaurant with house-made charcuterie and an in-house fresh produce canning program is a friend of mine.

7. The Granary

They say you should "eat your greens" but does it still count if those "greens" are brussels sprouts that have been marinated in a sherry maple glaze and resemble a perfectly crisped, browned color instead of green? My stomach thinks "yes." This Mount Pleasant favorite is one of the better meals I've enjoyed in a long time. Bravo Mount Pleasant, you've mastered the art of a downtown dining experience on the other side of the bridge.

8. Kanpei

While we're over in Mount Pleasant, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Kanpei, a local's best kept secret...until now. Located on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard, this dive might go unnoticed and fly under the radar. However, put your radar detector (aka google maps) to good use and drop in. Kanpei offers the best of the best when it comes to sushi and authentic Korean cuisine. Did someone say bulgogi and steam buns? I'm in, and you'll want to be too.

9. The Drawing Room at the Vendue

Weighing in at #9 on the list, I suppose my biased opinion would say I saved the best for last. Have you ever heard of popcorn on a salad to add texture instead of a crouton? Or how about dehydrating olives to create a dusted, granule-like base for a plate of Valencia orange cream and roasted beets? Before you experience the culinary master pieces offered by the Drawing Room, take a quick elevator ride to the rooftop and enjoy panoramic views and a signature cocktail. On your way back down to the Drawing Room, you'll realize that the food isn't the only art the Vendue has to offer. The boutique hotel doubles as a gallery with walls adorned with beautiful works of art. Bon Appétit!

Cover Image Credit: Sophia Winter

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I'm The Customer That Doesn't Always Tip 20 Percent

I can be your best friend or your worst nightmare, but it depends on YOU.

As a server, I fully understand that myself, and others like me, make a living off of our tips.

I know how nice it is to get a $50 tip and how frustrating it is to get merely change when you did everything you could to make the unpleasable table happy. I am well aware that an acceptable tip is anywhere from 15-20% and I typically tip way over that.
However, I can easily say that there have been times where I have tipped anywhere from 5-15%. In these times, the tip was well deserved...or not deserved.

As before mentioned, I am a server, bartender, and part-time restaurant manager. It is safe to say that I know the business quite well. This makes me aware of the tipping process and what is deemed acceptable, but it also makes me aware of what a serving job entails. We are, without a doubt, the worst critics when we are out to eat. We noticed everything you did or didn't do and we timed how long it took to get our drinks -- it's just in our blood.

We also notice if you are genuinely good at your job, or if you are just there to be there.

The key point to any serving job is knowledge. I, as a customer, expect you to be able to answer almost all of my questions. If I ask you something absurd like "exactly where was your lettuce grown?" ....Like what the f****? Who knows that? But when I ask what beers you have on draft, or what all comes on a salad, I expect you to know it. If you don't, I dock it off your tip. No, it's not mean, it's you not holding up your end of the deal when you started this job.

I know that sometimes you get busy and it's hard to cater to someone's every need, but I do expect my refills in a timely manner and would also expect you to check back with me shortly after I get my food to make sure everything tastes good. I feel like that all is just common sense. If I have to wait for five minutes with an empty glass before I even have the chance to call you over, that's going to affect your tip. If you never check up on me after I get my food, guess what, I take it off your tip. If something goes wrong in the kitchen or you forgot to put my order in, do not avoid me. Tell me. I know how hard it is to tell a table that you are the one who screwed up their experience, but it is so much better to be honest and shows more about your integrity than by saying, "I don't know, the kitchen lost your ticket. There was a computer malfunction and then things caught fire. The firemen had to come and put it out, and then they found your ticket under the smoldering that's why your steak is five minutes late.".... Just tell me you got busy and it slipped your mind. I'm okay with that.

The worst one to me is when I see my server on her phone. I know that today's generation has some need to be in contact with everyone 24/7 and I have learned to accept that. But when I need something at my table, and you fail to notice because your girl friend just broke up with her boyfriend who cheated on her with his supposed best friend...I'm not going to be happy. You are here to work and this is your job. And, not to be conceded, but I come first. I am the one paying the bill that allows you to keep that phone your on in service, so make sure that I am happy before Samantha can't call you the next time shit hits the fan with Andrew. It's common sense.

Despite all of these, probably the number one thing I look for in a server is a positive attitude. We all have our own lives outside of work, and not to be cold, but I don't really care about yours. I am here for a nice dinner and a night out to not worry about my own crazy life let alone wonder about yours. As soon as you walk into work, the outside world needs to stay there. Do not be in a terrible mood because your girlfriend is psycho. Do not show the customer that you simply don't want to be at work. You don't want to be -- I don't tip you. Easy as that. If you engage in even a small conversation with me, I will tip you more than expected. I am extremely easy to please and really understanding.

I know that every place is different and every store/restaurant has different standards, but I the guest-service industry all lies on the same guidelines. The number one rule is to make the guest happy. I am not that guest who asks for the world from my server. Nor am I that guest who doesn't tip my server if my food came out overcooked or doesn't taste good. I know what lies on the server and what lies in other areas of the store. I know what they can and can't control.
As a customer, I can be your best or your worst, but that all lies on the service that I receive from YOU.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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Pho Fixes Everything

A bowl a pho keeps everything bad away.


Pho might just be the best thing my taste buds have ever endured. If you haven't had pho, you're missing out. It's a Vietnamese soup, but it's not just any soup; it's the soup to my heart.

And no, this is not like ramen. It makes ramen look like random noodles in a bowl of water….yeah I know that's basically what it is, but you get the point.

Pho helps with everything. Having a bad day? Pho. Want to have 2 meals, one here and one to go? Pho. Bad break up? Pho. Need some emotional support? PHO IT UP.

Best part, there are so many options for pho. If you're vegetarian, no worries, there's pho for you. If you don't like spice, no worries! There's pho for you! If you love different kinds of meats… THERE'S PHO FOR YOU.

Please, everyone, just go get a bowl of pho and be happy. Doesn't matter if it's 100 degrees out or -13, pho is still amazing. You won't regret it.

Not going to lie, I'm craving it just from typing this.

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