I was recently contacted by Charleston Culinary Tours and invited to participate in one of their many tour options. Despite feeling like I’m relatively in-the-know when it comes to Charleston food and restaurants, I had never heard of these tours. I jumped at the opportunity and signed Greg and I up for the Upper King Street tour.
“The Upper King Street Culinary Tour visits 3-4 different restaurants and combines elements of a historical tour with a culinary adventure! The food on your tour will provide a broad range of samples which will provide insight into Lowcountry cuisine.”
Our tour visited HoM, Sugar Bakeshop, 39 Rue de Jean and Prohibition.
All of the spots were pretty new to me. I’d been to HoM once a year or two ago while bar hopping late at night and only spent time in the back with the ping pong tables. I’d had a cupcake from Sugar one day at work as an intern for a PR agency during college. I’ve eaten lunch at Rue de Jean once. And I had no prior experience with Prohibition.
We met our group at HoM. There were nine of us total, plus the tour guide Guilds. We were the only locals, which was to be expected since most tours are for…tourists. However I think any local wanting to test a few restaurants at once, like we were, would be happy.
At HoM we were given samples of the Calamari, the Dixie Flatbread, and the Green Gobble’n Burger.
Next, we walked a few blocks to Sugar Bake Shop, where we were each given a mini Lemon Curd Cupcake with sugared blueberries. The lemon was super refreshing on the hot Charleston summer day. Simply delicious. I will definitely be back to Sugar.
We had a bit of a longer walk back to King Street. We followed Guilds at a slow pace as he talked about some of the history of Charleston and the surrounding buildings. We even stopped to visit a Jewish cemetery. We probably strolled for at least 30 minutes and by this point I was losing interest. I’m not sure if the tourists appreciated it any more than I did, but I was more than ready to get back to the FOOD. I realize my prior knowledge and experiences living in the city gave me a different perspective than most in the group though.
We made it to Rue de Jean and were relieved to be back in the air conditioning with a glass of ice water. On the menu for us: Mussels and Pommes Frites. Only since this past spring have I grown to like oysters – oyster roasts being a very popular Charleston tradition. However I had still never tried mussels, which are very similar (at least to my untrained palate). Guilds told us Rue de Jean’s mussels are the best in the city, so I knew this would be the right place to try them first. Sure enough, they hit the spot.
I ate half of the pommes frites without one regret. It’s hard to go wrong with fries, and these were no exception.
Next brings us to the last stop of the day. Prohibition is primarily a bar, so I wasn’t expecting to be overly impressed by the food. Boy was I wrong.
Chef Stephen Thompson came out from behind the kitchen to talk to us about the dishes – a cheese plate, but not just any old cheese plate, and a mini cast iron skillet of shrimp and grits, again, not just any old shrimp and grits.
That EGG!!! This was the most unique spin on traditional shrimp and grits I’ve ever had. I loved it so, so much.
Now that it’s all said and done, and I can honestly say I would go back to every one of those restaurants again for the full dining experience. Thanks so much to Charleston Culinary Tours and all of the restaurants for having us!
The tours aren’t cheap, ranging from about $40-75 per person, however you can expect to walk away full (depending on which tour you choose since some are more focused on meeting the chefs, learning about how the kitchen operates, etc.). There also isn’t another way I know of to be able to try so many different restaurants and foods in one day for a price like that. If you’re interested in the history of Charleston, this tour also gives you a good bit of that as well.
Locals – have you been to any of these restaurants? Which would you try first?
Everyone else – do they have culinary tours in your city?
I love the concept and would be interested to try something similar in other places.
*Disclaimer: While I received admission to the tour for free, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*
My list of 25 Ways to Have the Best 25th Birthday really should read: 25 Things I Did (or will do) to Celebrate My 25th Birthday.
1. Declare that your birthday is really more like your birthday week. Take a trip to visit your beautiful sister and grandparents in Orlando to celebrate.
2. One day during your trip, bond with your sister through an exercise class, relaxing with a short nap, drinking some margaritas, going to an Orlando Magic game, and grabbing some drinks downtown.
3. Also be sure to use your “free birthday meal” coupons all week. I was looking forward to using my coupon from First Watch since we don’t have them in Charleston. Brooke and I shared two of our favorite dishes: Floridian French Toast (so appropriate) and the Cherry Chicken Quinoa Bowl. Perfection!
4. Continue the delicious food consumption with sushi. Ohmygosh, how I had been craving sushi! This Hot Lava Roll from Bento Cafe in downtown Orlando hit. the. spot.
5. Be blown away by your sister’s gift to you: a behind the scenes tour and interaction with the BELUGA WHALES! What?! I didn’t even know that existed as an activity. Despite the 50 degree water, it was #amazing.
6. Eat Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. My pictures didn’t do it justice so just use your imagination. Pure indulgence at its finest.
7. When your trip comes to an end, don’t say, “Goodbye” to your sister and grandparents. Instead say, “See ya later!” Goodbyes are no fun.
8. Claim your Starbucks birthday reward drink to for a little pick-me-up during the drive (one of my most anticipated gifts every year).
9. Spend quality time with yourself in the car on a long drive home. Contemplate life, listen to an audio book, pray, and sing your heart out to worship songs…and probably some Katy Perry too.
10. Give your husband a big hug and kiss when you arrive home.
11. Greet your dog with some puppy-talk and receive lots of slobbery kisses. Try not to get tackled.
12. Go to Chipotle for a birthday lunch date.
13. Eat said Chipotle, savoring every single bite.
14. Shop for a real winter coat and gloves in preparation for a trip to Colorado next week (not the typical lightweight stuff that is good enough for living in Charleston).
15. Relax on the couch with your husband and avoid unpacking as long as possible.
(This is where I currently am, so no more pictures to share…)
16. Deem control over the remote for once in your life and watch Glee on Netflix.
17. Take a nap, consider unpacking or doing laundry, but quickly talk yourself out of it and go on a family walk instead.
18. Put on a fun, festive birthday outfit and head out for dinner at Coleman Public House, which by the way will be free for me with yet another birthday coupon! (I’m a pro at getting all the deals if you haven’t noticed.)
19. Meet up with friends for a drink or two.
20. The next day, remind your husband that although your birthDAY is technically over, it’s still technically your birthday week (as previously mentioned in #1).
21. Cleanse your bod with lots of water, fruits and vegetables after a few days of splurging. After all, taking care of you and your body is the most important thing.
22. Anxiously await any final birthday surprises…
23. …but don’t be disappointed if/when nothing else comes 😉
24. Thank the good Lord for blessing you with family and friends who make your birthday so special.
25. Thank God some more for giving you the past 25 years on this earth. Pray for another wonderful 25 and many more to come.
One of the most popular plantations around Charleston (Mount Pleasant to be exact) is Boone Hall. The plantation draws crowds to its pumpkin patch during the fall and strawberry fields in the spring. They supply produce to local restaurants and have their own market/cafe as well. I drive by frequently and have always wanted to see what the market had to offer. Last week, when we didn’t have any groceries at home in preparation for the excessive Thanksgiving food coming our way, Greg and I met at Boone Hall Farms market for a lunch date.