So many iconic dishes have emanated from Charleston, discover some of the best Southern cooking in the world on these five top food tours.
Charleston’s culinary reputation precedes it and for many visitors to this South Carolina beacon, trying she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, the Creole staple dish called gumbo, or a wholesome bowl of okra soup is high up the ‘to-do’ list. But if you’re not familiar with the city, a food and drink tour of Charleston is an unbeatable way to discover the best restaurants and try as many dishes as possible. Here are five of the best tours, taking into account the value for money, number of tastings provided and the number of satisfied customers.
Culinary Walking Food Tour of the French Quarter & City Market
One thing making Charleston’s gastronomic scene so great is the blend of culinary sensibilities, including Creole and French, while contemporary needs have led to reinvented dishes. This is primarily a tasting tour and you can expect a full meal’s-worth of samples during the course of the trip. Expect to try Southern pralines, short cakes and barbecue, along with many other options, learning about the local history of this fascinating region of Charleston along the way. Available Mon-Thu. From $85 per person.
Shem Creek Bar Tour in Charleston
If you want to go lighter on the eating and focus more on the liquid specialties of the Charleston area, it’s best to head north of the river, to Shem Creek, a popular eating and drinking district. This two-hour tour is all about combining the best light appetizers with drinks in the best bars. Sip Southern cocktails while learning about the local history and get some excellent views of the creek from the final stop of the itinerary. This is a great way to get local knowledge about the best spots to eat out, too. From $35 per person.
Charleston Small Group Food Tour
Bulldog Tours run a couple of ‘Savor the Flavors’ tours in Charleston designed to explore the city’s culinary history over the past three centuries. Your guides are all hired because they have culinary credentials of their own, or because they have grown up on this delicious down-home cuisine. Tastings typically include Lowcountry barbecue with collard greens, sweet tea and stone-ground grits. Tours usually run twice a day at 10am and 2pm. From $95 per person.
Savor the Flavors Upper King Street Food Tour
The Upper King Street District is well known as a top fashion area in Charleston, but there are plenty of excellent restaurants tucked away in this region too. This ‘Savor the Flavors’ tour includes five or six food samples during a two-and-a-half-hour walk, focusing on typical Lowcountry dishes such as fried green tomatoes, Southern mac-n-cheese, and gourmet cupcakes. This tour runs from Weds-Sat and a minimum of two people is required for it to run. From $95 per person.
Charleston 3-Hour Secret Food Tour
For the ultimate local culinary tour in Charleston, you have to look outside of the main tourist areas of downtown. Join a local guide, with a passion for fine regional food, for that ultimate insider knowledge, in order to try local staples at their best. Start on King Street then head further afield to sample she-crab soup, flounder po-boy sandwiches, and shrimp and grits. As with all of these tours, some dietary restrictions can be accommodated, but unfortunately most food tours in Charleston aren’t well suited to vegans. From $109 per person.