The Rooftop at The Vendue
If you're looking for a great place to kick back with a cocktail and a few snacks to enjoy the gorgeous southern weather and views of the ocean, look no further than the Rooftop at The Vendue. We stopped in here for afternoon cocktails and this rooftop bar in the heart of Charleston's French Quarter was exactly what we were looking for. The atmosphere is great, the cocktail list is extensive (with several made with freshly squeezed juices), and an impressive charcuterie plate. I'm sure this is a fun and fabulous venue for going out later at night, but our early evening views were really lovely!
Home Team BBQ
No trip down south would be complete without a little barbecue. There were a ton of different options for barbecue in the Charleston area, but after a recommendation from Julie and from two separate friends of our group we decided to head out to Sullivan's Island to give Home Team BBQ. This is exactly the kind of barbecue joint atmosphere that I like: big, loud, and no frills, but also with a bit of a beachy feel given its location near the water.
We started our meal with a couple of appetizers: The first being the much raved about smoked chicken wings. I didn't get a chance to snap a photo of them, but the unanimous response was that they were smoky, unique-- not like your typical norther Buffalo wing-- and very tasty. We also couldn't resist getting an order of their BBQ tortilla chips and queso. Warm tortilla chips were tossed in Home Team's BBQ rub to give them a delicious smoky spicy flavor perfect for dipping in a traditional creamy Mexican cheese dip.
The barbecue here is great too-- it's no frills, traditional southern barbecue with several different options to choose from: from your standard pulled pork and brisket to smoked turkey, which you don't see on every barbecue menu to the very southern BBQ shrimp or fried catfish, they have something for everyone here. I measure every barbecue joint based on my go to: the pulled pork. Home Team's pulled pork was tender and flavorful and they leave the saucing up to you, which I always appreciate. Each table is stocked with 4 sauce options including their Home Team Red, Hot Red, Pepper Vinegar, and my favorite (whether in the Carolinas or anywhere else) a tangy Carolina Mustard.
I should also mention that a meal here is super affordable-- a welcome change from the Chicago restaurant scene! Platters range from $10-$15 for most and up to around $20 if you're attempting a full rack of ribs. Platters come with a cornbread muffin and your choice of two of their numerous sides. I opted for coleslaw (another go to order for me when it comes to BBQ) and I also gave their mac and cheese a try. Everything here is consistently tasty and the atmosphere is great: perfect for dinner with friends, a few drinks after a day at the beach, and for dining with kids too.
Virginia's on King
By Sunday afternoon a number of our friends were already traveling back home, but a few of us were still around and decided to venture into the city for some brunch after checking out of our house. Charleston seems to be all about brunch, so we had no trouble finding several options just right along King Street where we decided to set up shop. I was really excited about the prospect of eating some real southern food during our visit, so settling on Virginia's on King was perfect. They describe their menu as an 'upscale' take on southern cuisine, so I had tons of great options to choose from here.
My friend Heather had remarked earlier in the trip that she had been craving some fried pickles, so when we spotted those on the menu at Virginia's we knew we needed an order for the table. Pickle chips were tossed in a traditional southern cornmeal batter and fried until perfectly crisp with all the breading intact. They were served with a spicy tangy remoulade for dipping. The perfect pre-brunch snack.
I bypassed the breakfast-y brunch items on the menu and went straight for the sandwiches as soon as I spotted a fried green tomato BLT on the page. There is nothing more southern than a fried green tomato and then adding it to one of my favorite sandwiches was a clincher for me. It was a super simple sandwich of Texas toast piled high with slices of fried green tomato, bacon, arugula, and mayonnaise. There were no crazy ingredients here, but it was just a simple an delicious elevated version of a classic sandwich. And I think that pretty much sums up what Virginia's menu is all about. Oh, and even better? All sandwiches are served with sweet potato fries (!!!) and Virginia's tangy blue cheese coleslaw.
This adorable little cafe is the perfect place for breakfast, brunch, or lunch when you need a little reprieve from shopping up and down King Street. Stop in and check it out! And FYI, they don't serve alcohol here so enjoy a cup of coffee or sweet tea and then head up to The Rooftop at the Vendue for a cocktail later in the day!
I have one more very special Charleston restaurant review to share with you, but after I got started writing it I thought that it deserved its own post. Come back on Thursday to check it out!
Need to know what to do in Charleston? Check out this post for some great sights and to do's!