Charleston is the undisputed foodie capital of the South, and pound for pound, probably the entire country. We can go on and on about everything that is happening in the Holy City right now that is solidifying this claim, but what it boils down to is sheer, unadulterated (most of the time) love for food, and the people and ingredients that come together to create dishes that send your taste buds straight to nirvana.
The seafood situation is strong in Charleston. That's no surprise. But if you’re going to be the Valhalla of victuals in America, you’d better have the one dish that Americans love no matter where you are in this country...
And that is the hamburger, my friends.
I challenge anyone of you to visit Charleston, try one of the burgers listed below, look me in the eye, and tell me that it's not one of the best damn burgers you've ever had. What makes these grease bombs so fantastic? It’s the silky Bibb lettuce that grew eight miles away on Johns Island, the roasted heirloom tomatoes that came from the field across from the lettuce, seasoned with salt from our own Bulls Bay Saltworks. It’s the grass-fed beef, the aged cheddar cheese, the uncured bacon from one of our historic Ossabaw hogs, and the fresh baked buns that hail from local provisioners.
The best part about all of this is that it’s normal. It’s served to you by a normal, easy going waiter/waitress who isn't going to charge you fifteen dollars for one of the simple pleasures in life. The head chef is not going to come to your table, dressed to the nines, and tell you how fortunate you are to be eating this hamburger. It’s just a hamburger. It’s real food, real people, and real delicious.
Apologies for ranting, this writer is passionate about his burgers. Here are some of the best places to go when it's burger time in Charleston.
The Bar at Husk Burger
Husk is the cream of the crop as far as Charleston restaurants go, but a little known fact—the Bar at Husk, which is actually in a separate building next to the actual dining house, is home to possibly the best burger in Charleston. The kitchen house is dark, old, and the perfect atmosphere to pull up to the bar, order your Budweiser and burger, and enjoy your meal in solitude (no one is going talk to you, they’re too busy eating).
Butcher & Bee Burger
This is the burger everyone falls in love with upon first visiting Charleston—two thin beef patties, American Cheese, Bibb lettuce, roasted tomatoes, onions, and special sauce, on a pillowy soft brioche bun. The way these elements come together is almost overwhelming, and it's a miracle I'm not at Butcher & Bee right now devouring one of these devilishly good sensory delights.
Two Boroughs Larder Burger
The temptress of all the burgers listed here. Her thick double patties, bacon, egg, mornay sauce (that’s melted gouda and an egg), and brioche bun will have you bailing on your Wednesday night plans in no time at all, since it’s only offered at Two Boroughs Larder on Wednesdays.
Moe’s Crosstown Burger
This is the modestly delicious burger. If you’re not quite ready for one of the decadent burgers above, start off with one from Moe’s Crosstown Tavern. We recommend the poblano/goat cheese; it will get you hot and bothered for your next burger venture.
Artisan Meat Share Burger
Artisan Meat Share will take you to places you didn’t know exist, on a vessel made of meat. After you’ve tried the burger, loaded with two patties, government cheese, shredded lettuce, and bacon jam, on a buttermilk bun, try one of the charcuterie plates. Odds are you will have never heard of anything on the plate, but you’ll be back for more. And, all of this served up in a super low-key, casual atmosphere.
Gnome Cafe Veggie Burger
We haven’t forgotten about our vegetarian/vegan friends. Last but not least, the veggie burger with Portobello bacon from Gnome Cafe is better than most 4-star (beef) burgers you’ve tried. Wash it down with a spinach/coconut yogurt smoothie, and you’re sittin’ pretty...and healthy.