You’ve picked your way down the cobblestone streets; you’ve marveled at South of Broad mansions; you’ve taken shelter in the shade at White Point Gardens; you’ve hiked to the top of St. Michael’s spire; you’ve even managed to score a table at FIG. But in contemporary Charleston, even locals have a hard time keeping up with all the new restaurants, shops, galleries, and hotels. Here are seven recently-opened favorites to put on the list for your next trip.
Four years ago while bicycling across the country to raise money for Just Food NYC (a non-profit dedicated to sustainable accessible fresh produce), Ben and Kate Towill had the idea for their Wentworth Street restaurant, which opened in November. “We wanted to create a neighborhood spot with fresh food,” Ben says, “where locals and tourists could come a few times a week for a delicious clean meal—breakfast, lunch, or dinner—in a bright inspiring environment.” Considering the number of diners eating (and Instagramming) their way through Basic Kitchen’s beautiful rainbow bowls (sweet potato noodles, shaved veggies, herbs, and peanut sauce), crispy cauliflower wings, and Happy Belly smoothies (Kefir, orange, mixed berries, and bananas), we’d say mission accomplished. basickitchen.com
French classics—the kir royale, the sidecar, and other vintage favorites—anchor the drinks menu at the new Parisian-inspired cocktail bar on Upper King Street, which opened its doors in late fall. But beverage director Davy Jones’ rotating roster of spirit-forward house cocktails, such as the Alpine Piste (made with bourbon, Genepy des Aples, black tea, and Byrrh) are worth sipping your way through, too. There also are plenty of French wines. As for petits plats, the bubbling Fromage fort (France’s sophisticated answer to queso) and the indulgent Raclette burger are musts. felixchs.com
Nothing wrong with a classic still life or a Lowcountry landscape, but an increasing number of contemporary artists and gallery owners are widening the scope of Charleston’s once uber-traditional art scene. Sarah Miller is the latest. Her white-walled minimalist space on East Bay Street—filled with Dixie Purvis abstracts, Kate Hoorary Osmond’s geometric oil-and-gold-leaf aerials, electric-hued collages by Miles Purvis—exudes a playful energy. Locally-made textiles, jewelry, home goods, and funky objets d’art find a place here, too.
Mike Ray and Ben Johnson are beloved for the fresh baked breads, pastries, and bagels they turn out at Normandy Farms Bakery locations around Charleston. The duo’s new venture One Broad—which opened at the end of November in the renovated hull of a circa-1853 bank—is breakfast-centric (you can get an egg sandwich or the pastrami lox bagel all day long) but also slings comfort food with attitude for lunch and dinner. Rib-sticking dishes range from fried bologna sandwiches on house-made Pullman brioche to latkes with corned beef tongue, apple, and crème fraiche. In December, they added a boozy brunch that has quickly become one of the Holy City’s favorites. 1broadstreetrestaurant.com
The Greenville, South Carolina-based heritage clothing retailer, which started out as an outdoor apparel company in the early nineties, returned to the land and its South Carolina roots for inspiration for Oobe Brand, a new menswear line. From the Blue Ridge to the Sea Islands and the indigo boom to the textile mill industry, Palmetto State history subtly informs the line’s timeless dress shirts, tees, flannels, pants, blazers, sweaters, and jackets. Shop new classics at their King Street flagship, where the brand’s refined-meets-relaxed ethos comes to life. oobebrand.com
Five years ago, Joey Ryan, Joshua Walker, and Duolan Li griddled their first Okonomiyaki—a Japanese cabbage, kale, and scallion pancake—at the now-beloved Xiao Bao Biscuit, and Charleston taste buds were never quite the same. At the group’s new restaurant, Tu, which opened in November, they’re aiming to shake things up again. Experimental small plates (crudo with guava, habanero, and cheese ice) hopscotch the globe, drawing inspiration from Mexico, the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe among other destinations. Don’t get too comfortable, though, because nothing remains on the menu long. tu-charleston.com
The South Carolina Aquarium’s sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation operation started with a kiddie pool in the basement. A turtle hospital wasn’t in the original plans—it sprung up organically and was sustained for years by a passionate volunteer corps. Last summer, the aquarium’s ailing loggerheads, greens, leatherbacks, and Kemp’s ridleys got a major accommodation upgrade when the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery experience opened with bigger tanks and top-of-the-line medical technology. The new clinic also doubles as an exhibit, where picture windows allow guests to view the convalescing gentle giants and peek in on live surgeries. IPad stations allow visitors to make mock diagnoses. And as you exit, you can watch videos of recent releases—to date the aquarium has reintroduced 220 turtles to the wild. scaquarium.org/sea-turtle-care-center