There’s no denying that Charleston is home to excellent food. For locals and visitors alike, it’s an ideal destination to experience a sampling of the Lowcountry’s finest or a taste of international cuisine; the selection is diverse and the quality is unparalleled. We reached out to Festival staff and some of this year’s artists to bring festivalgoers a few recommendations on how to navigate through historic downtown Charleston’s eateries. With plenty of upcoming shows left during SFUSA’s 39th season, enjoy any meal of the day before a performance—the possibilities are endless.

01 Basil-John Kennedy

Basil | 460 King Street

Recommended by Spoleto Festival USA Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities John Kennedy.

Description from its website: “We invite you to celebrate refined Thai cuisine and an invigorating dining experience in the heart of Charleston. Basil’s infectious atmosphere centers around a dynamic kitchen as the sound of heat to metal, blade to board and liquid to flame resonate throughout the restaurant. Each space stylishly appointed to reflect the culture and energy of the noteworthy Southern cities they inhabit.”


02 EdmundsOast-Joe M

Edmund’s Oast | 1081 Morrison Drive

Recommended by Spoleto Festival USA Director of Choral Activities Joe Miller.

Description from its website: “Accommodating 130 guests inside, the interior features an open kitchen with chef’s counter seating for an up close view of the action and house cured meats hanging over head. There is an expansive bar, communal tables and front patio seating all designed by Charleston architect Dan Sweeney of Stumphouse Architecture + Design. The outside is as exciting as the interiors with the focal point being a large outdoor seating area filled with trees, community tables and more, perfect for the beautiful outdoor weather of the Lowcountry. Parking onsite is plentiful.”


03 Hominy Grill-Joe M

Hominy Grill | 207 Rutledge Avenue

Recommended by Spoleto Festival USA Director of Choral Activities Joe Miller.

Description from its website: “Located in a historic Charleston single house, Hominy Grill feels as though it has been open for generations, in fact this landmark has only been dishing up its simple, clean fare since 1996. Combining the traditions of the past with the bounty of land and sea, James Beard Award winning chef/owner Robert Stehling lets the Low Country’s unique cultural history and flavors guide his cooking.”


04 Leons-Stefano

Leon’s Oyster Shop | 698 King Street

Recommended by Stefano Vizioli, director of Spoleto Festival USA 2015 opera Veremonda, l’amazzone di Aragona.

Description from its website: “A seafood and poultry restaurant serving delicious fried chicken and fresh oysters to locals and visitors on King Street.”


05 Magonlias-Jennifer Wen Ma

Magnolias | 185 East Bay Street

Recommended by Jennifer Wen Ma, director of Spoleto Festival USA 2015 opera Paradise Interrupted.

Description from its website: “Led by executive chef Donald Drake and his team, Magnolias remains a forerunner in upscale Southern cuisine, blending traditional ingredients and cooking techniques with modern flair for artful presentations. The soul of the South meets the spark of innovation in dishes such as the Down South Egg Roll stuffed with collard greens, chicken, and Tasso ham, served with red pepper purée, spicy mustard sauce, and peach chutney and Shellfish over Grits with sautéed shrimp, sea scallops, lobster, creamy white grits, lobster butter sauce and fried spinach.”


06 Minero-Vivica

Minero | 155 East Bay Street

Recommended by Vivica Genaux, “Veremonda” in Spoleto Festival USA 2015 opera Veremonda, l’amazzone di Aragona.

Genaux also lauded the neighbors at her Charleston residence who cooked for her several times, ranging from Southern classics to swordfish on the grill.

Description from its website: “Minero is a casual Mexican eatery from Neighborhood Dining Group, located on East Bay Street in historic downtown Charleston, SC. The food is affordable and served in a fun and lively environment. James Beard award-winning Chef Sean Brock offers a collection of dishes inspired by the flavors and culture of Mexico.”


07 Platia Food Truck-Michael G

Platia Food Truck | 35 Woolfe Street

Recommended by Director of the Wells Fargo Jazz Series Michael Grofsorean.

From Michael: “With concerts starting at 9pm in the Cistern and many artists preferring to dine after they perform, finding late night options is always a challenge. One excellent solution has turned out to be the Platia Food Truck … I took Musica Nuda there as well as the members of Madeleine Peyroux’s band, and all were delighted. Tony is the proprietor, is a native of Sparta, Greece, and knows a good deal about music. In fact, he had an Italian pop singer on his sound system when I pulled up with Musica Nuda, and that got Ferruccio Spinetti directly into conversation with Tony. Then came the food, which was excellent. Tony checked out Musica Nuda online later that night and sent their work to all of his friends. We returned the following night and well … new friendships have been born. It’s tables and chairs next to the truck, and the real deal from Greece.  He serves Thursday through Saturday, 6:30pm to 3:00am.”

Description from its Facebook page: “A new food truck in Charleston serving traditional Greek cuisine. Pita Sandwiches, Souvlaki, Salads, and our homemade Greek Yogurt Bar.”


08 The Ordinary-John K

The Ordinary | 544 King Street

Recommended by Spoleto Festival USA Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities John Kennedy.

Description from its website: “The Ordinary is a Southern seafood hall and oyster bar located in an old bank in Charleston, SC. Our menu celebrates the ‘merroir’ of the Coastal Carolinas and the East Coast, and we strive to support local and regional fishermen, crabbers, oystermen, farmers and producers. From the same team behind FIG, our approach is recognizable: we aim to pair great food with great drink and friendly, detailed service. At The Ordinary, we do so against the backdrop of an historical Charleston building that has been transformed into a high energy, bustling American brasserie.”


09 Slightly North of Broad-Michael G

Slightly North of Broad | 192 East Bay Street

Recommended by Director of the Wells Fargo Jazz Series Michael Grofsorean.

From Michael: “Mônica Salmaso and Carlos Aguirre enjoyed an amazing lunch there and we talked with chef Frank Lee. He explained that this time of year is one of the most bountiful in the Lowcountry, because the end of the spring vegetable season is overlapping with the beginning of the summer vegetable season. With their emphasis on locally-sourced food, it’s prime time because the widest array of choices are available to their kitchen. When artists ask for local cuisine, this is a top recommendation. I generally don’t order from the menu. Rather, I just ask Frank to bring food. In a way, I approach his place the way I hope people approach the concerts I curate — let me and Frank show you the way, and we’ll show you wonderful things.”

Description from its website: “An eclectic Lowcountry bistro that brings together an abundance of local ingredients and thoughtful, expert presentation with a friendly, contagious energy. Here the dining room is a natural extension of the kitchen, a place where culinary skill, a clever, considered wine program, warm service, and conversations meld together. Our local farmers, fishermen and producers are as integral to the food we make as they are to our place in this community.”


10 Xiao Bao-Todd Palmer

Xiao Bao Biscuit | 224 Rutledge Avenue

Recommended by Todd Palmer, a featured clarinetist in the Bank of America Chamber Music Series.

Description from its website: “Xiao Bao Biscuit  – Asian Soul Food –  Select dishes from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam prepared locally & inspired by kick-ass grandmothers everywhere. Menu changes seasonally, with rotating daily specials and family style dinners.”


If you’re in town for the Festival there is still time to grab some food at one of these restaurants or any of the other fantastic eateries in Charleston. Eat a delicious meal before or after enjoying the many performances left in the 2015 season. Tickets to all remaining Festival performances are available online at, over the phone at (843) 579-3100, and in person at the Charleston Visitor Center (375 Meeting Street).

This blog post was written by Media Relations Apprentice, Connor Fox, who also recommends eating at Leon’s Oyster Shop.