A Charlestonian’s Guide to the ‘Southern Charm’ City

Explore Charleston like a local! We have recommendations to explore the city of Southern Charm. From the best vegan café to a European-style bar, explore all the hidden gems that the Holy City has to offer!

When one thinks of Charleston, one may think beach, booze, and southern cooking are all the city has to offer. However, real Charlestonians know that the city has so much more! Born and raised right in downtown Charleston, I feel qualified to share these great spots to learn a bit more about my city’s historical past and happening present.


Charleston is nicknamed the Holy City for its beautiful churches and religious population. After church though comes brunch, and thus was born the city’s great love of food! However, you won’t find any “Southern Style” restaurants on this list! Locals tend to make their own southern food or go to the classic southern food establishments only occasionally. Instead, here are recommendations from actual residents!

Brown’s Court Bakery

Start your day off with a pastry and coffee from this local bakery. The shelves are piled high with every kind of freshly baked goodie imaginable, and be sure to pick up a baguette- voted the best in charleston!

Xiao Bao Biscuit

This Asian fusion eatery is a local favorite! Located in a former gas station, Xiao Bao is inspired by various traditional and creative recipes, most of which pack a delicious dose of spice. The menu is continuously being updated but for lunch, be sure to grab the fan-favorite Okonomiyaki, a traditional Japanese pancake, or at dinner, the fish which changes seasonally!


For something delicious and nutritious, check out this cafe serving healthy, local, and did I mention delicious food! Grab a friend and split a smoothie or bowl with the nachos or turkey sandwich and you’re in for a treat! Side note, this is a great option for vegans and vegetarians!

La Norteña

If you want to dine like Southern Charm’s Patricia Altschul, look no further than this hidden gem serving up casual Mexican fare in North Charleston. Mrs. A considers it the “Best Mexican food in Charleston”!

Gnome Café

Another recommendation for the vegans and vegetarians, this cute and casual café is always sure to delight! Local favorites include the taco salad, “chicken” sandwich, and a cinnamon roll if any are left!


Bin 152

This hip bar on King Street carries a vast array of imported wines and cheeses in a cozy setting. Between the delicious charcuterie, fabulous beverages, and Parisian decor, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a European bar!

Second State

Grab an iced lavender latte and a slice of spinach quiche at this adorable coffee shop. While this establishment now boasts four locations in the Charleston area, be sure to hit the downtown location if you’re going to the other Harleston Village locations on this list!

Places To Stay

The Dewberry

This Mid-Century hotel aims to have guests “Experience #SouthernReimagined ™” per their Instagram bio. Bonus: the hotel boasts two unique bars, the rooftop Citrus Club and stylish Living Room.

Hygge Rentals

This Scandinavian-inspired rental property collection allows guests to rest and relax in a cute neighborhood with all the comforts of home! Pro tip: La Norteña is a quick drive from all of the properties!


Historic Harleston Village

After hitting Second State, take a walk around Colonial Lake, currently surrounded by lush natural greenery, planted to emphasize an idealistic habitat for butterflies and insects. Continue to the Avery Institute, according to their website, “The Avery Research Center, which is affiliated with the College of Charleston, is a great site for learning more about Afro-American history.”

The Maritime Forest

While everyone knows Sullivan’s Island is a must-hit beach in the Charleston area, few are privy to the best part, the forest! Check out their website for more information!

Theatre 99

This great theatre boasts the city’s best improv! Pro tip: Seating is first-come, first-serve so get there early!

As you can tell, there’s a lot more to Charleston than is often showcased! Be sure to follow this list on your next trip to the Holy City and tag us at @afterbuzztv so we can see!

About the Author

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Galen Berger

Galen Berger is a film, television, and media studies and screenwriting student at Loyola Marymount University. She loves music, animals, hiking, and all things entertainment.