Charleston, South Carolina is a city known for colorful homes, a small-town vibe, and many spots that serve up incredible southern food. From smaller places that do great take-out to fancier sit-down restaurants, there is no shortage of food here, that's for sure.

When we find ourselves visiting this beautiful place, we should go with big appetites and empty stomachs because sampling a city's food is one of the most interesting and fun parts of travel. Here is a guide to the best southern food in Charleston.


These Spots Serve Up Amazing Fried Chicken

When we think of southern food, one of the things that come to mind right away is fried chicken. This crispy, crunchy, moist food is incredible, and it's not going to be possible to go to Charleston without trying it.

Poogan's Porch is one place that has amazing fried chicken, so we can't skip it. The restaurant atmosphere is adorable as it looks like a light yellow colored house and even the name just makes you feel happy. Many reviews on Trip Advisor talk about the really good fried chicken, and there are a lot of other good things on the menu, like shrimp and grits. The Country Fried Chicken comes with mac and cheese, hot honey, and collard greens. Tourists also want to check out this place for weekend brunches as you can get chicken and waffles which comes with honey butter. The restaurant has been a very popular part of Charleston since the 1970s.

You could also go to Martha Lou's Kitchen for fried chicken. The outside of the restaurant is pink and it looks like a really fun place. As this Trip Advisor review explains, it's got a casual atmosphere and the staff are warm and wonderful: "If you want southern cooking this is it. Locally owned and operated. Fried chicken was excellent. The two sisters working the day we were there were friendly and funny. It is "rustic" - this is not fine dining establishment. BUT the food is excellent." It's definitely all about the sides when you order fried chicken, and this place delivers those.

Definitely Try Some Cornbread And Fried Green Tomatoes At Jestine's Kitchen

When we're in Charleston, we're also going to want to go to a place called Jestine's Kitchen. This spot has two southern food staples: cornbread and fried green tomatoes. The menu has absolutely delicious items on it: you can order chicken "pecan-fried" and you can get pimento cheese or meatloaf sandwiches, among many other things.

The restaurant has a sweet story behind it. According to the official website, the name comes from a Southern woman named Jestine Matthews. She lived in Charleston and was a housekeeper. She became close to a family named the Ellisons in 1928 because she got a job for a couple who were about to become parents. Jestine lived until she was 112 and passed away in 1997. Now a woman named Dana Berlin runs the restaurant: the website explains that Dana is "the daughter of the Ellisons’ only child, Shera Lee Berlin." The site continues, "this restaurant is her way of sharing the wonderful style of home cooking and the warm atmosphere that Jestine provided for generations of friends and family."

You Can't Miss Beloved Restaurant Magnolia's

When talking about restaurants that are Charleston institutions, Magnolia's is definitely at the top of the list. It's more of a fancy, sit down restaurant than the others on this list, and it's going to be a highlight of a trip to Charleston. You can't look up where to eat in the city without stumbling up on a lot of praise for Magnolia's, so it just makes sense to make a reservation.

The menu is full of delicious southern food like Pan Seared Lump Crab Cakes and Fried Mac & Cheese. For an appetizer, you could get Heirloom Tomatoes which come with "arugula, lemon oil, balsamic syrup, jalapeño-pistachio pesto, fried goat cheese." There's also Boiled Peanut Hummus and Blue Crab Bisque. For a main dish, try Shellfish Over Grits, Parmesan Crusted Flounder, or BBQ Pulled Pork which comes with "Carolina red rice, collard greens, jalapeño-peach coleslaw, grilled cornbread." Dessert includes Southern Pecan Pie and Spiced Peach Cake.

Going to Charleston, South Carolina is always a good time because it's such a gorgeous city with so many interesting sights and streets. Of course, one of the best parts of the city is the food, and you can't miss these spots for true southern fare. Craving some fried chicken now?