A little over a week ago I returned from my very first trip to Charleston. It seems like almost everybody is going to Charleston these days and so instead of feeling all of the FOMO feels, I decided to make the trek myself to see what I might be missing out on. My friend Sarah (who is also a wedding photographer!) and I road-tripped together from Virginia. Surprisingly, the drive isn’t terrible and it’s well worth it, in my opinion, because it turns out, if your favorite things in life are food and cocktails, Charleston is the place for you!
I have quite a bit to share from our short trip (I really love to pack it all in on a trip!) so I'll be sharing two separate Charleston posts. I only took my little film camera (a Canon AE-1, if you're interested) and my iPhone, so most of my photos are just phone photos! Don't judge too harshly, guys.
Sarah and I live a couple hours apart, so we met in Richmond and drove into Charleston Sunday afternoon. After a few re-routes thanks to destruction from Hurricane Matthew, we finally made it to town in time for a late dinner!After consulting Yelp and comparing menus of a few places with good ratings, we chose to head over to Voodoo Tiki Bar in search of Cheeseburger egg rolls.
I have to say, after the experience we had at Voodoo Tiki Bar, I will be a little skeptical of Yelp in the future. I was hoping for a chill bar where people go to have a bite and some cocktails. It ended up being a full on club atmosphere (we’re talking black light halloween party here, guys). It was a pretty interesting way to start the trip, considering I was basically wearing pajamas (leggings and a big comfy sweater) and had no makeup on…not even moisturizer!
We had drinks and shared both Cheeseburger egg rolls and Shrimp po boy sliders. Both were pretty good, especially for a club-y type place. I don’t think there are many places like this where the food is actually really good! I imagine if you'd had a few drinks, it would taste even better!
I also noted that they had several types of tequilas that seemed really cool (like a strawberry jalapeño infused variety) and I’m already regretting not having the pecan pie bourbon. All in all, I do think I would return if I was in the area for like, a bachelorette party, a birthday, or something else with a big group. I will definitely try to dress more appropriately next time, as well…HAHA.
The next morning we set out for the day to explore and eat. And eat and explore. We had no real set agenda, just mainly stuffing our faces as much as possible. Which is pretty much par for the course when you are on vacation with me. That and day-drinking.
Our first stop was Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. It’s such a cute place, but it’s really tiny. So tiny that we actually passed it twice walking King Street before we made it in! We decided to share three biscuits (our main strategy here was to share smaller portions so we could eat as many things as possible since we were only in town for a couple days). We sampled ham, cinnamon, and buttermilk with pimento cheese.
The biscuits were so good! I highly recommend trying a few different things because there were things I liked about each of them. The cinnamon had a sweetness to it that complimented the saltiness of the ham biscuit. And the pimento cheese? Well, it’s pimento cheese so you know it was amazing!
We also shared a homemade oreo cookie. I'm an oreo connoisseur, if you weren't aware, so I felt this was a necessary snack to try. The cookie was chocolate-y and shortbread-y and amazing! I could eat a whole sleeve of them if they were smaller, for sure.
After browsing some of the shops on King Street, we took a break for a donut at Glazed Donuts. I chose a raspberry frosted donut that was delicious! Probably one of the best I’ve ever had! The raspberry icing really tasted of raspberry. I could tell that they used real berries to make it. The donut itself was a perfect yeast donut. Light, airy, and soft! I would rate this as an A+ donut.
Following our donut tour, we went to a distillery tour at Charleston Distilling Co. Living in Virginia, there are a ton of wineries and breweries around and I’ve been on my fair share of tours of them. I’ve yet to go to a distillery though, so this was a neat experience! We learned about how they make rye whiskey, vodka, and gin (did you know gin is actually FLAVORED VODKA???) and sampled a few.
Next, we set out in search of the infamous Rainbow Row that’s pinterest and Instagram famous. I loved the pastel colored houses and the charming architecture in this area! The bright paint colors are just so happy I wish that they would catch on at home so at least when we’re in the depressing throes of winter we’d have something cheerful to look at!
We also stopped by the pineapple fountain at Waterfront park, since it’s in walking distance from Rainbow Row.
After walking around quite a bit, we stopped at Pearlz for a bite to eat and a glass of champagne. We shared some oysters on the half shell, pork rinds, and corn fritters. The oysters were good, but I was underwhelmed by the corn fritters and pork rinds. The corn fritters were pretty bland and the pork rinds tasted like they came from a bag.
It could be I'm just spoiled by the amazing homemade pork rinds back in Richmond at the Roosevelt. I think Richmond is gonna be the next Charleston, guys. At least foodie wise!
A lot of people highly recommend Folly Beach, so we drove out to check it out around sunset. There were SO MANY SHELLS. And rocks! I’m imagining that’s because hurricane Matthew rolled through only a week prior. I can’t wait to see my film photos from Folly beach because it was just so pretty!
Instead of a full on dinner, we decided to go to two bars and have some snacks and drinks. Our first stop for the evening was the Gin Joint. The most unique thing about the Gin Joint is that you can order a drink based on two adjectives listed in their menu and the bartender will create something special for you! I chose fizzy and floral. I’d like to go back at some point and choose another combination…maybe tart and unusual? Or herbal and fruit?
We split a ricotta stuffed meatball and pretzels and then headed to the rooftop bar at Vendue hotel, where we met a couple who had just gotten married and were on their honeymoon and were treated to two rounds of salted pretzel shots (who knew that was a thing??) by the bartender. Totally made for a fun evening and a neat story to remember when looking back on the trip. We meant to eat something else, but being that it was late Monday night and lots of things were closed early, I ended my evening with Doritos from the hotel vending machine. (Typical Katie Nesbitt).
If you’re wondering where we stayed, we had a room at the Hampton Inn in Mount Pleasant, just over the bridge. I’m a Hilton Honors member (what, what!) and I earn points every time I stay, which during wedding season is pretty frequently. I had enough points for us to stay for three nights for FREE in Mount Pleasant, so it worked out really well for us to make that our home base. It wasn’t too far away that it felt like a hassle to go “home” and it was a lot cheaper than staying downtown.
That concludes the first part of our trip! When I return with part two of our adventure, I'll be recapping the trip to Boone Hall Plantation (where the Notebook was filmed!) and several more food pit stops. We hit THIRTEEN places from Sunday night to Wednesday morning, so you’ll definitely want to stick around to hear about Tuesday/Wednesday!