Charleston, South Carolina is a gorgeous city known for its beaches and old-styled architecture. It is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and you can certainly see that in the city’s style. It is characterized by many cobblestone streets and antebellum houses. You will even find horse drawn carriages on the streets. The residents of Charleston have taken great care to preserve their city’s history. This is even more true for neighborhoods like the French Quarter and the Battery District.
Another mainstay of this city is the black food culture. Food created and popularized by black people is a large part of South Carolina’s culture. Southern food has several influences that make it great. In Charleston, you will find several amazing restaurants that are black owned and operated. Many of these restaurants specialize in soul food and seafood, popular Charleston cuisines, and some focus on other foods like Mexican. Whatever your preference, you will likely find a black owned restaurant to fulfill it in Charleston!
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16 Blake St | Charleston | hannibalkitchen.com
Hannibal’s Kitchen serves some of the best soul food in the Charleston area. This restaurant prides itself on prioritizing its food rather than the aesthetic. While the place isn’t much to look at physically, you will be blown away by the food they offer. The food is based on the foods of the Gullah and Geechee cultures. These black cultures exist on the islands of South Carolina and have amazing food offerings.
Hannibal’s offers a different soul food special each day. Some frequent features are turkey wings, oxtails, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and red rice. They offer all the well-known soul foods on top of unique ones that aren’t commonly found in other parts of the country. They offer dine-in service as well as catering.
“Visited this place from out of town after seeing pics of crab rice and WOW it did not disappoint! So flavorful (just wish there was more of it!) We also ordered the fried flounder meal with mac & cheese and collard greens which was delicious (love that they give you the whole fish). Great food, great service, 100% will come back!”--Yelp
1011 King St | Charleston | rodneyscottsbbq.com
Rodney Scott’s Barbeque is a barbeque restaurant that treats everyone who visits like a member of the family. They consider both the customers and their crew to be their family. They aim to spread food, love, fun, and positivity to everyone who visits. The founders are two people who met and shared a strong love for the art of barbeque, and they spread that joy in their restaurant every day.
Their menu contains different meats like pork, chicken, and turkey that are pit cooked. They also offer beef and catfish, alongside several options for sides. Their sides include potato salad, mac and cheese, corn bread, and coleslaw among other things. They even have a few amazing desserts like apple hand pies and banana pudding!
“Some of the best South Carolina BBQ in the Charleston area! Definitely a must try when you're in town. Good selection of beer or draft. Fair prices for the draft beer too. Hard to pick what to order because there are so many good options. Definitely recommend going with a group and ordering a lot of different options to try. Some of my favorites are hush puppies, collard greens, baked beans, pulled pork, and wings. Rodney is known for the pulled pork so that's a must.”--Yelp
805 Folly Rd | Charleston | gilliesseafood.com
Gillie’s Seafood is where you go to get the type of food you can find in a black southern grandmother’s home. The food served here is inspired by the owner’s own grandmother, whose passed down recipes have shaped the food made at Gillie’s. This restaurant serves comfort food that is made from scratch. It will remind you of really good home cooking, especially because they make it with love!
The menu contains items like fried pork chops, meatloaf, shrimp, fried okra, and scallops. You can choose from a variety of seafood platters, and try their award winning shrimp and grits! The atmosphere makes you feel like you’re having Sunday dinner at your grandparents’ place, complete with desserts made from scratch!
“Best local cooking in Charleston. Family run and packed with flavor every time. The pork chop is always our favorite but we decided to change it up tonight and tried the shrimp and oyster tacos, an amazing choice. The collards and mashed potatoes were delicious, as usual. Don't forget to have the pineapple upside down cake. Thank you Gillies restaurant and staff for never disappointing.”--Yelp
3760 Ashley Phosphate Rd | Charleston | nigelsgoodfood.com
Nigel’s Good Food is a family owned restaurant that specializes in soul food and seafood. The founder worked his way up in the food industry because of his passion for it, and all that hard work over the years reflects in this restaurant. Nigel’s Good Food has won several different awards. They won an Oyster Recipe Contest back in 2005 and placed second and third in subsequent years. They were even ranked as the number one restaurant by Geechee One Awards.
Nigel’s serves soulfood and seafood in a relaxing environment with great customer service. They serve baked turkey wings, fried chicken, BBQ ribs, stew chicken, and smothered pork chops among other soul food offerings. On the seafood menu, you’ll find whiting, oysters, scallops, deviled crab, and shrimp. Their most popular seafood dishes are salmon steak and seafood gumbo.
“Nigel's Good Food on Ashley Phosphate Road in North Charleston is a great place to go for some of the most delicious and flavorful food in the area. I really like the location and laid back atmosphere that they have available here. I have really enjoyed every meal that I have had from here.”--Yelp
5117 Dorchester Rd | Charleston | nanasseafoodsoul.com
Nana’s Seafood and Soul has a casual family style atmosphere that is meant to make customers feel welcome. It is also almost as small as a family-sized dining room. There are only three tables inside! It is a simple space colored brightly with the color yellow with fun touches like cutlery stencils on the walls. They even have a gumball machine by the counter!
Nana’s is the top spot for seafood in Charleston for natives and tourists alike. They have won several awards and have been featured in many different popular publications. It’s easy to see why that is. Their menu includes authentic red rice, lump crab cakes, and fried oysters among other things. They even cater events!
“So this is a must when you come to town. Very small place so it really isn't for large groups. The food was amazing. There were four of us and we all got something different and we all loved what we got. Pro tip- make sure no matter what u get you get the tea with pineapple! I will be back for that just alone! Hands down one of my favs in the city so far!”--Yelp
3313 Meeting St | Charleston | magloriastrinidadcatering.com
Ma Gloria’s is the best place to enjoy Caribbean food in Charleston. This restaurant is one the few original Caribbean catering companies in South Carolina. They serve true Caribbean cuisine and show just how intertwined Charleston is with Caribbean culture. The Caribbean food they serve has been influenced by Asian, East Indian, and Southern American foods.
Ma Gloria’s caters to weddings, engagement parties, birthday parties, and so much more! On the menu, you’ll find tea sandwich platters, salmon, roti skin, blue crabs, and dumplings. They even have elaborate displays that they can set up when catering, like the pineapple palm tree fruit display. This is a structure made with pineapples atop each other to form palm trees. They stand behind a large array of fruits on large plates.
“I'm going to say it......My favorite Caribbean spot in Charleston. OMG. YES YES YES. The oxtail, I think it's the best I've ever had. Well done, well prepared. The lemon pepper wings were great. The portions are very good and leave you satisfied. I would say the price is definitely on point. I can't wait to visit again!”--Yelp
9616 Hwy 78 | Charleston | slaughterhousebbqandbrew.com
The Slaughter house is a barbeque restaurant that serves amazing food. They have a welcoming atmosphere and offer great service. They have an excited customer base that raves about the goodness of their food, and you’ll be able to see why as soon as you try it for yourself. Everything is very well prepared by talented chefs. There is seating in this restaurant, but there is very little of it. It is built best to serve pick up orders.
The Slaughter House serves traditional barbeque foods in a casual-style place. On their menu, you will find ribs, loaded potatoes, mac and cheese, and fried chicken. They also have cornbread, rice, wings, and so much more. If you try this food you will very likely want to keep going back for more!
“Service was excellent and the food even better. We had the Ribs and Brisket. Both were so tender they melted in your mouth. Housemade red and yellow BBQ sauces were both Absolutely delicious. And the sides were all very good. We had mac and cheese, fried smashed potatoes, loaded potato salad and green beans. We found our new favorite BBQ place today and can recommend it without reservation.”--Yelp
570 King St | Charleston | mesuchs.com
Mesu is a Mexican and sushi restaurant. There you will find a combination of elements that come together to create a unique culinary experience for any visitors that drop by. The creative food combinations combine with an artistic and energetic atmosphere. It will make you feel about as excited as the food does. The menu includes tacos with shrimp, carnitas, chorizo, and seaweed salad. They have sushi rolls with salmon, ahi tuna, and lobster cream cheese, along with great desserts like fried flan and caramel filled churros.
There is a full bar with drinks that vary as much as the food. They have a unique list of sake, tequila, and many more fun cocktails. It makes a great complement to their food menu. Everything about this place is fun and creative! It really shows you how fun fusion food can be.
“This place is great to kick off your night out on the town! It's central to all the bars and they play good music. They have sushi or Tex mex options, which add some uniqueness and I think is a good place if you're not sure what your party wants to eat. Their cocktails are great and they also have a full bar!”--Yelp
Charleston is a great city to visit if you want to enjoy black owned restaurants that specialize in seafood and soul food. The restaurants on this list are well loved, and you would be doing yourself a favor if you were to visit them to find out why for yourself!