{Guide to Charleston, SC — WITH KIDS!}

Charleston 2017 from Liz Denfeld on Vimeo.

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since our trip to Charleston. Time flies! Lots of you asked for a post with all our recommendations from the trip, so here it goes:

STAY
Hyatt House Charleston: We stayed at the Hyatt House Charleston on points and there were so pros and cons that came with the hotel:

Pros: Suite-style rooms with small kitchens made it great for the kids, free breakfast (which worked perfectly to grab yogurt, cereal or toast for the kids before going out for real breakfast), possibility to get adjoining rooms (we had two rooms, which was perfect for us — we slept in one and James and Elodie slept in the other), close to lots of food and coffee.

Cons: It’s definitely not a luxury hotel, but nice for what it is/cost, rooms are a bit cramped for a family, not super close to the heart of Charleston (like Rainbow Row, where all the cute stuff is haha), but you are close to really good food

EAT
Obstinate Daughter: I URGE you not to miss this spot. We were BLOWN AWAY with our dinner, just kept raving through every single dish about how absolutely incredible the food was. Also, the interior design is so dreamy and my wine was on point, so basically I was ready to move in and stay forever! We started with flatbread that came with this delicious butterbean puree (sounds kinda weird, but it was gooood). Then Corey and I shared the pappardelle with mushrooms, greens, parmesan and pangrattato and there are just no words to tell you how much I loved this dish. We also shared the Old Danger pizza with pancetta, mozzarella, white sauce and a farm egg …  And it confirmed that eggs on pizza are so, so right. I typically am able to choose hands down what my favorite dish is if we’re sharing, but we kept switching back-and-forth because we both loved both dishes equally.

Beardcat’s Sweetshop: We popped down to Beardcat’s Sweetshop after dinner at Obstinate Daughter as it hast he same owners and is right downstairs. Their gelato was delectable and sitting outside and relaxing after our big meal was wonderful!

Butcher & Bee: Behind Obstinate Daughter, this was our favorite place. The space inside is super cool, but the best part was the outdoor area where our kids could run and climb while we took turns drinks our coffee and eating (haha talk about real life!). The food was absolutely phenomenal. We are total brunch snobs thanks to Portland’s amazing brunch scene and this food impressed us. We had the stuffed french toast, the morning hummus, a side of delicious bacon and the kids had the avocado toast. All of it was top notch!

Leon’s: Oh man, where do I begin. If you’re in Charleston, Leon’s is not to be missed. We went for lunch and loved seeing the spot in daylight and admiring their fun outdoor space. We got the Fried Oyster Sandwich and the Grilled Mahi sandwich and both were delicious. If I had to pick one I would go with the fried oyster. Yum! They both came with this little side cucumber salad that was delectable and added the perfect crunch and freshness. We got some fried chicken (without the spice) for the kiddos and they devoured it. We tried a couple bites and were super impressed. We finished the meal with some vanilla soft serve, which was hands down the best soft serve we’ve ever had! Honestly, pretty much the ENTIRE menu looked amazing, so we were tempted to go back a second time, but we just had so many other great options we wanted to check out

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Smoke BBQ: This was our very first meal in Charleston and it was a fantastic introduction to the city’s great food scene. I got the Smokey Chick Sandwich, which I LOVED, but be warned it is spicy! Corey had the sloppy smoke sandwich, which he also raved about (and wasn’t spicy). My mac & cheese side was just okay (but we had it takeout and by the time I dove in it was lukewarm, so that could be why), but Corey got the famous hash & grits and he couldn’t stop talking about them! The kids shared the chicken fingers kids meal, which is a good thing because it was HUGE.

Poogan’s Porch: To be honest, this was probably my least favorite restaurant of the bunch, but it was still good. I wasn’t feeling totally awesome this night, so that could’ve contributed for sure, but I also just asked Corey and his review was “pretty forgettable”. It was a place recommended to us several times, though, so I wouldn’t write it off. Our Mac & cheese and shrimp & grits were good, just not great. Our cocktails were pretty awful though (weak and really sweet — we got “The New Old Fashioned”), so I’d stick with beer or wine here. The restaurant is also housed in an old home and the layout was just strange and the place was smelly and warm. Man, I am kind of tearing this spot apart! This is why real restaurant reviewers go several times. I’m sure we caught it on and off night for both us and them. Any fans, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit: First of all, I am obsessed with the name of this cute little place. Second, holy yum!! By our fourth day in Charleston we really needed a break from longer sit-down meals with the kids so we popped in here and grabbed biscuits to go for lunch. Corey had the Bacon, Egg & Cheddar and I had the BLT (with fresh roasted tomatoes) and both were drool-worthy! Definitely super soft, dense and delicious biscuits. The kids had three of their mini-biscuits: Cheddar and Chive, Buttermilk and Blackberry and seemed to love them all, especially the blackberry. Really small shop with limited seating, so I wouldn’t plan to sit inside in case it’s crowded. We went around noon on a Tuesday and there were seats for us, but we took ours back to our hotel, which was just down the street.

Hominy Grill: We had tons of recommendations for Hominy and it was definitely a great spot. I actually like that my portion wasn’t GIGANTIC, the perfect size and my huevos rancheros tasted really fresh and perfectly cooked. Corey had an omelette and he thought it was good, but not great (in my opinion it was a poor menu choice haha). The service stood out as one of the best, the waiter was attentive and very nice and our food came out lightening fast.IMG_5846IMG_5851Poogan’s Smokehouse: This is a restaurant that actually wasn’t recommended to us by anyone, but we almost got it mixed up with Poogan’s Porch and therefore ended up checking out their website and Corey fell in love with the menu, so we decided to give it a go. We don’t have much good BBQ in Portland, so I figured I should let him eat ALLTHEMEAT. He got a half rack of the St. Louis Babyback ribs and he was in meat heaven. I don’t really eat pork and would certainly never order ribs for myself, but Corey insisted I try and I must say they had an amazing smoky flavor and just melted off the bone. The kids shared some mac & cheese off the appetzier menu (which was so good it was hard for me to stop taking bites) and the pulled pork sandwich with brussel sprouts on the side. They actually both ate and loved the brussels sprouts and the pulled pork. Success! The space is also really nice, so I’d definitely recommend this spot, especially if you want good BBQ!

Xiao Bao: We almost missed this place. Almost. But after having it recommend over and over by locals we decided we needed to give it a try. Boy oh boy am I glad we didn’t miss it! The food was all so flavorful and unique and just perfect. We were a little scared at first because the waitress said pretty much everything on the menu was spicy, which wouldn’t work for the kids (and I actually can’t handle spicy things either), but I’m glad that didn’t scare us away. The Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) was especially stellar, but we also LOVED the curry and the Som Tum with Chicken. Thought we ordered way too much when all the food came, but let’s just say we devoured every single bite 🙂

DO:

As you can imagine with young kids, we didn’t get around to seeing as much as we would’ve/could’ve had it just been us two, but we still did a couple nice things I’d recommend.

Boone Hall Plantation: Not only is the plantation just beautiful (especially the Avenue of Oaks and the Cotton Dock), but we found the history to be so interesting since it is so different than our history in the Pacific Northwest. We unfortunately missed the house tour due to nap schedules, but I would’ve loved to do that. The kids loved the Plantation Coach Tour and we were able to saunter through the Slave Cabins and learn a lot, which I found heartbreaking and fascinating.

Sullivan’s Island: We caught the sunset at Sullivan’s Island Public Beach one night (right by the lighthouse) and it was just plain dreamy. Huge wide open beaches perfect to let the kids run free. Very close to Obstinate Daughter for the best meal of the trip!IMG_6058IMG_6212Enlight8Enlight6

Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour: So I’m going to be honest that I was VERY conflicted about taking one of these tours. I don’t know enough about the treatment of the horses and such, so it made me sad and I know that there are many animal activist groups that are very much against these tours in Charleston. Having said that, they are EVERYWHERE and when you have a 3.5 year old who sees horses on every corner of every street, she was dying to go on one and wouldn’t stop talking about it. So we went and did it and it was very interesting and the kids loved it. If you are interested in this type of thing, or another type of tour I would highly recommend going at the beginning of your trip to help you get the lay of the land and see what areas you want to see more or less of.

Bike Taxi: This is kind of silly, but there are bike taxis everywhere and they were a hit with the kids! At night when we didn’t want to walk far to a restaurant it was a good option for us since parking was really tough in downtown!

Rainbow Row: Just a really cute street with many different colored houses in Charleston. And right down the block you can walk down to the water and it is just beautiful!

White Point Garden: This is a really pretty waterfront garden/park, but even better are the homes right around this area. They are extremely old and full of history! Definitely spend time walking the southern part of Charleston — you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time!

Waterfront Park: A cute spot to walk around, near rainbow row. Nice views of the water!

 

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