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Restaurants for a touch of Southern comfort

Richard Ouzounian
Toronto Star

CHARLESTON, S.C.–This charming Southern destination offers fine dining all year round, but it really goes that extra distance in the holiday season, when virtually every restaurant has something special to offer. But no matter when you go there, these six restaurants offer something out of the ordinary.


CHARLESTON GRILL, 224 KING ST.; 843-577-4522: Bob Waggoner's jewel of a restaurant inside the lovely Charleston Place Hotel is always finding new ways to present Low Country cuisine at its best. His latest menu offers mix-and-match opportunities from four styles of cooking: pure, lush, Southern and cosmopolitan. There's a world of great choices, but his buttermilk fried oysters and total chocolate dessert platter are musts.


HOMINY GRILL, 207 RUTLEDGE AVE.; 843-937-0930: This bright, sunny place is open three meals a day, but I love it best at breakfast. The ginger pumpkin bread, biscuits with country ham and gravy, and shrimp and bacon on cheese grits (yes, for breakfast!) are unbeatable. Check to see if the picture of Anthony Hopkins is still in the W.C. He fell in love with the place while shooting Hannibal here.


STICKY FINGERS, 235 MEETING ST.; 843-853-RIBS: It may be part of a chain, but the food here has a personal touch and the downtown Charleston location nestles in a building that's more than 130 years old, with pine floors and brick archways. Then there are the ribs, perfectly smoked, falling off the bone and served with a choice of five sauces that are so sublime I have been ordering refills online since my first visit there six years ago.


PENINSULA GRILL, 112 N. MARKET ST.; 843-723-0700: One of the most sophisticated restaurants in this city, you'll feel like you're out for a special occasion, whether you prefer to tipple the bubbly and nibble on oysters and foie gras in their well-appointed champagne bar, or settle into their elegant dining room for wild mushroom grits, cornmeal crusted mountain trout and their world-famous mile-high coconut cake. Heaven.


JOSEPH'S RESTAURANT, 129 MEETING ST.; 843-958-8500: This is definitely on the funkier side, a family-run, no-frills place near the waterfront. Come here for the food, specifically the sweet potato pancakes with pecan butter. There is also reason to cheer for the roasted pepper, sausage and onion omelette, served with a reassuring side of grits, of course.


HIGH COTTON, 199 E. BAY ST.; 843-724-3815: "Livin' large and steppin' high" is the motto of this popular place and boy, do they live up to it.

There's always a happening crowd at the bar and the dining room is packed with happy guests. Ample portions of zesty food is the order of the day.

Their brunch menu includes such winners as a barbecue duck hash, hangtown fry (an open-faced fried oyster omelette) and superb devilled crab eggs Benedict, served with fried green tomatoes.




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