Editor's Letter

My Charleston

Making the most of life in one of the South’s favorite towns

Photo: @Daveddibenedetto

DiBenedetto enjoys a Frito pie in the backyard during an oyster roast.

By Charleston standards, I’m a newbie, especially when you consider the city was founded 350 years ago. I moved here from Manhattan a mere twelve years ago to join Garden & Gun shortly after its launch. The Lowcountry was not a foreign landscape to me, as I had grown up two hours south in Savannah, and its coastal environs had long beckoned me back. My landing couldn’t have been softer. My wife, Jenny, and I rented a carriage house that had been built in 1785, and on our first morning, we sat in the tiny courtyard and drank mimosas as the downtown church bells rang, amazed that the pendulum of life could swing so quickly from sitting in traffic jams on Broadway to watching carriage tours roll down our narrow alley. A Boykin spaniel, Pritchard, soon joined us, and then later our children, Sam and Rose, and finally the Labrador, Story.

Sam shows off a nice shark tooth.

Needless to say, we outgrew that carriage house, and these days there’s less boozing in the garden and more carpooling to baseball practice and gymnastics. But I find true delight in watching Sam and Rose grow up on the same waters that welcomed me home, whether we’re fishing for redfish and trout or shark-tooth hunting on the barrier islands. And when Jenny and I do manage to line up a night on the town sans little ones, it’s tough to decide between the city’s latest openings and some old favorites. On a cold evening, we’re drawn to the cozy warmth of Melfi’s (try the wood-fired eggplant) or the lineup of tapas at Estadio. And any evening we can snag a seat at the bar at FIG for a drink and a bite (the ricotta gnocchi is a must) is a great night. 

Rose with a black drum.

We’ve moved off the peninsula and traded the courtyard for a backyard, where a fire kettle has become the focal point. One of my favorite ways to give guests a small window into our Charleston life is to toss a bushel of local oysters on the fire, stuff a cooler with beer, and set out a pot of spiked cider. And I often provide a tailored list of must-dos around town. If you’re looking for your own Charleston itinerary, turn to page 93. Whether you’re a foodie, a sportsman, a shopper, or an arts aficionado, our guide to the city in honor of its 350th will help you experience Charleston like a local