Exploring the historic streets and spicy cuisine of Charleston, S.C.

Manses along Battery Row in Charleston

Manses along Battery Row in Charleston

You’re a (sub)urban Maryland couple looking for a short U.S. getaway late October/early Nov. There should be a direct, nonstop flight from BWI to said destination. The locale should be at least 10 degrees warmer than Baltimore. There should be good, unique, local cuisine and plenty to do. Not a stay on the beach all day every day kinda gal and neither is DH.

Do you pick a) Tampa b) Santa Fe c) Charleston.

We had been to Tampa and surrounding environs (Naples, St. Petersburg, etc.) a couple of times, so it was time to try some place new. I would have picked Santa Fe, but I missed out on the  Wanna Get Away fare on Southwest Airlines. As I was scrolling through the list of cities it hit me — Charleston!

Beautiful Charleston, with its palmetto-lined streets, spicy lowcountry cuisine and eclectic blend of Greek Revival, Italianate and Georgian-style architecture, has popped up on so many Best Of travel lists but yet had somehow escaped my wanderlust.

Truth is, I have found many beloved cities a tad overrated (New Orleans, I’m looking at you.) But once I discovered its charms, I was hooked. My imagination ran wild as I pictured the elegant soirées that went on behind the colorful, ornate multimillion-dollar manses.

I discovered that Charleston’s historic treasures are among the best preserved not only in the nation but the world.We took a walking tour of the city with Oyster Point Historic Walking Tours , a horse and carriage ride with Old South Carriage Co., a tour of the Nathaniel Russell House Museum, and Middleton Place Plantation.

 

Historic Charleston City Market

Historic Charleston City Market

The U.S. Custom House in Charleston

The U.S. Custom House in Charleston

Big old manse along the Battery in Charleston

Big old manse along the Battery in Charleston

Palm tree and cool building in downtown Charleston

Palm tree and cool building in downtown Charleston

Dining in Charleston was a treat for this pescatarian who asks for Sriracha even before tasting my dish. South Carolina Lowcountry cuisine is rich with a variety of seafoods and exotic influences from the Caribbean and Africa. We ate dishes like cornmeal-fried catfish with fennel sausage (OK, I eat some meat), butter beans, sweet corn and spicy tomato gravy at Blossom; fennel-dusted scallops with lima beans, leeks, shiitake mushrooms and mint at Muse Restaurant & Wine Bar; and, my absolute favorite, blackened escolar with jalapeno cornbread, blue crab etoufée and pickled okra.

The food is rich. Very rich. It would have been smart for us to order one entrée and a few appetizers. But we’re not practical when it comes to food. We think with our stomachs and not our head.

Inside Muse restaurant in Charleston

Inside Muse restaurant in Charleston

Scallops at Muse restaurant in Charleston. Fennel dusted and served on top lima beans, shitaake mushrooms, potatoes, leeks, & mint.

Scallops at Muse restaurant in Charleston. Fennel dusted and served on top lima beans, shitaake mushrooms, potatoes, leeks, & mint.

Blackened escolar at Coast restaurant in Charleston

Blackened escolar at Coast restaurant in Charleston

Cashew-crusted grouper with cilantro cream pesto at Coast restaurant in Charleston. Served on top of potatoes and green beans.

Cashew-crusted grouper with cilantro cream pesto at Coast restaurant in Charleston. Served on top of potatoes and green beans.

 

About Julekha

I'm a Maryland (sub) urbanite who loves food, art and travel.
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