Most of the time when you go out of town, people ask “Where did you go?” or “What did you see?” or “Did you have fun?”
You won’t get those questions when you visit Charleston, South Carolina. When you return from your visit to the Holy City, the first question you get will be: “Where did you eat?”
Case in point, we went to Columbia after our visit to Charleston. After a couple of days of the same question (“Where did you eat?”), I wanted to hold up a sign with the places we ate. I never even had a chance to talk about the bike ride downtown or the sand dollars I found on Sullivan’s Island. It’s all people wanted to know: Where Did You Eat?
If Charleston isn’t the No. 1 foodie town in America, it must be the runner-up! Rarely have I put a bite of food in my mouth that wasn’t delightful! Because I live in California now, when I am planning a trip to Charleston, I ask people for restaurant recommendations. I am looking for the hot spot or the “next” hot spot. I frequently hear: Halls Chophouse, FIG, the Ordinary, The Grocery, Husk, SNOB, Magnolias, The Obstinate Daughter, and Poes. I have eaten at each of those places and they are can’t miss!
On our last visit to Charleston, I went rogue. I selected a place that has received a lot of write-ups, but not many of my friends had heard much about. 5Church in Charleston is the younger sister to 5Church in Charlotte. I loved the pictures I saw online of 5Church and OpenTable helped me get the time we desired. Excellent choice and I love we scooped my friends, many who consider themselves Charleston culinary experts!
Because we wanted to walk around Charleston after dinner before the sun went down, I made a 5:45 pm reservation at 5Church. The second we walked in, My Man and I were stunned. Our booth looked over the restaurant and bar. If there was a better spot in the place – I’d love to see it! We had a real bird’s-eye view of the entire restaurant. We felt like VIPs.
5Church is an old mariner church at 32 Market Street. It was built in the 1920s. I laughed when I realized it was the same place that operated as Mad River Bar and Grille for years. I went to Charleston on a girl’s weekend nine years ago and we danced with a bunch of younger guys at the bar that weekend. Chris, the manager at 5Church, stopped by our table during dinner. When I told him I had come to the place years ago when it was a dance club, he laughed and said it took them a few weeks to get that dance club smell out of the place months ago.
A few things about 5Church that make it super special. And while I am at it, please note – this isn’t a tourist restaurant. This is a must see place for dinner or drinks when you are in Charleston. There is a lot of original art in the place done by Charleston artists. I love the painting below, done by the local graffiti artist, Ishmael. It represents Charleston’s past, present and future (right to left). I would love to ask Ishmael what the helicopters mean.
Much of the original stained glass covers the windows. It was The old Church of the Redeemer and Harriet Pickney Home For Seamen.
An artist hand-painted Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” on the ceiling over a four-month period. It’s stunning! My Man couldn’t stop talking about it. He kept reading me the ceiling! Trust me, you will want to take 100 pictures of this place! The bar is made to look like a church altar – it is 8,000 pounds of concrete painted white. Gorgeous. We loved the angel-like wings that hang over the bar as lights.
OK, on to the food! Formerly at 5Church in Charlotte, the 5Church Chef in Charleston is Jamie Lynch. Chef Lynch was named the Best Chef in Charlotte in 2013, 2014, and 2015 by Charlotte magazine. This guy can cook — think New-American cuisine.
The wine list is top-notch. I had a couple of glasses of Atlas Peak Cab (Napa).
I ordered the snapper. The snapper with lobster sauce is simply unbelievable! Honestly big thumbs up.
My Man ordered the 60 second steak. Long story short on the steak: after they salt and pepper the steak, they cook it only on one side until it’s done. Yep, just one side. The salt and pepper seared into the steak gives it amazing flavor. But they do cook it longer than 60 seconds so don’t worry!
The side order of green beans was slightly soft (I like green beans that crunch, but maybe Southerners prefer a softer green bean). The mashed potatoes, served with the steak, need a bit of salt and pepper.
The service was top-notch. Our waiter, Will, was super friendly. The manager on duty, Chris, gave us a lot of cool information about the place. Because we fell all over ourselves telling them how much we loved the place, they offered to buy us desert. We were tempted, but we had already made plans to walk off dinner before desert so we declined.
Put 5Church your list of must-eats next time you are out in Charleston. You won’t be sorry. And while you are there, check out the concrete bathroom sink (I love bathrooms!).
Make sure you walk around 5Church and see the art they have hanging in the different places. I’m not sure who this is, but it made me laugh.
After dinner, we walked around Charleston, enjoying the history and people watching. I took My Man up to the Market Pavilion Hotel Bar. It was a little too chilly to hang out up there, but the view was amazing and if it wasn’t so windy, that pool would be fun.
After we digested our dinner, we hit another Charleston favorite for desert, the Ordinary. Located on King Street across from the affordabike store, the Ordinary was the 2013 James Beard Foundation Award winner for top new restaurant. It is the younger sister of FIG. It is known as thee place to be for oysters!
At the Ordinary, we ordered a Meyer Lemon Tart and Chocolate Budino. Budino is the Italian word for custard or pudding. This Budino had layers of hazelnuts and caramel mixed with the chocolate. Both deserts were spectacular and filled with flavor.
If I gained a few pounds in Charleston on Wednesday, so be it. 5Church and the Ordinary were worth it. Already back in California, I can’t wait until we return to Charleston to eat again — oops I mean — visit again!
P.S. I forgot! We ate lunch that day at the Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island. It’s our second time there and it didn’t disappoint. The decor is to die for. I especially love the wood ceilings.
Our waiter, Adam, was a charmer. We had a spinach salad to start.
I ordered the Meatball Sub for lunch and My Man ordered the butter bean ravioli with lemon sauce. I wanted to lick both of our plates when were finished.
I LOVE THE OBSTINATE DAUGHTER and from the look on My Man’s face – so does he! Thanks again Charleston!
Cooking Traveling 5Church bike rides Charleston Cooking FIG food foodie Halls Chophouse HUSK Magnolias Meyer Lemon Obstinate Daugther Poes restaurant SNOB steak succulents Sullivans Island The Grocery the Ordinary, traveling wine tasting
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.