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The Best Cheap Eats in Charleston

Many people visit Charleston, South Carolina, to immerse themselves in the history of this 350-year-old city. It has notable sites like Fort Sumter, beautiful neighborhoods like the French Quarter and Harleston Village, and delicious cuisine blending Southern style with Low Country flavors. But all of its beauty and elegance comes at a price. So how can visitors and residents alike sample Charleston’s unique cuisine without putting too big a dent in their wallet? Welcome to our Tastemakers List. We’ve crunched the data from restaurants all over this port city to find the top spots that OpenTable’s most expert diners go to when looking for a bargain meal. From skillfully crafted small plates to fresh takes on meat and seafood to classic Italian fare, here are some of the best places for cheap eats in Charleston. Since many specials are only available to those dining in the restaurant’s bar area, reserve a spot ahead of time to be assured of a seat at the table.

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The OpenTable Team
Updated March 14, 2022
A photo of Rutledge Cab Co. restaurant

Rutledge Cab Co.

$$$$
Bar / Lounge / Bottle Service
Downtown Charleston
4.5
1025 reviews
Cozy industrial chic meets diner casual at Rutledge Cab Co., a neighborhood bar and restaurant that gives 20% off the bill to residents of the surrounding area on Tuesday nights. Talk about good neighbors! Those looking for cheap eats in Charleston should stop by anytime on Mondays, when their regularly $12 burger gets priced down to $5, including choice of side (not just French fries, but also mac and cheese, sautéed brussels sprouts, and fresh fruit). Better yet, the burger is all-natural and hormone-free, and chefs cook it to diner’s liking on an indoor charcoal grill.

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A photo of Ms. Rose's restaurant

Ms. Rose's

$$$$
Unspecified
West Ashley
4.3
829 reviews
Diners at Ms. Rose’s enter an airy and eclectic, yet welcoming, place, whether they eat in one of the restaurant’s outdoor or indoor spaces. Don’t miss the wall made out of dishes, silverware, fan blades, and more. Happy Hour here lasts three hours, six days a week, and includes a handful of appetizers at handsome prices. This includes three succulent and filling smoked brisket sliders and a half-dozen chicken wings tossed in a choice of five sauces. Lunch specials change daily, so be sure to call ahead. One more-permanent lunch choice that’s both filling and inexpensive is the Low Country Meat Pie, which comes with parmesan cheese grits.

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A photo of Page's Okra Grill restaurant

Page's Okra Grill

$$$$
Southern
Mount Pleasant
4.7
821 reviews
The owners of Page’s Okra Grill take pride in serving simple, no-fuss Southern cuisine, offering the best value in Charleston. Dishes, which contain locally grown and locally caught ingredients, are often large enough to share, including a variety of offerings at breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. The fried chicken, which comes with two sides and a choice of cornbread or buttermilk biscuit, is a delicious, well-priced dish, as is the chicken and Belgian waffle, stuffed with sausage, corn, sharp cheddar cheese, and jalapeno peppers. Try the Redneck Rolls, the restaurant’s original take on egg rolls containing smoked BBQ and pimiento cheese.

A photo of Barsa Tapas Lounge & Bar restaurant

Barsa Tapas Lounge & Bar

$$$$
Tapas / Small Plates
Downtown Charleston
4.6
833 reviews
In both décor (think matador and flamenco dancer paintings) and cuisine, Barsa Tapas Lounge & Bar pays a simple and tasteful homage to Spain. The eatery serves tapas plates all day, allowing diners to mix, match, and share an assortment of tastes. The meats and cheeses are a popular choice, with a discount applied when patrons order three. Barsa’s paella is the thing to come for, especially during Happy Hour (4–7 p.m. daily), when all three paella sizes are discounted substantially. Choose from veggie, seafood, and chicken with chorizo—and plan to bring some home.

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A photo of Bourbon n Bubbles restaurant

Bourbon n Bubbles

$$$$
Contemporary American
Downtown Charleston
4.0
926 reviews
As evidenced by the name, Bourbon N’ Bubbles showcases its rather large drink list, which includes some bottles of bubbly that get quite pricey, indeed. However, patrons need not go hungry, as the restaurant also serves a small selection of appetizers and entrees that get rave reviews. Better yet, Monday–Friday Happy Hour sees half-priced apps and 25% off all entrees, which means some of the offerings here qualify as cheap eats in Charleston. Don’t miss the gnocchi, stuffed with ricotta and topped with chicken, bacon, broccolini, and tomato in a white wine cream sauce.

A photo of Bay Street Biergarten restaurant

Bay Street Biergarten

$$$$
Contemporary American
Downtown Charleston
4.1
166 reviews
Bay Street Biergarten is a warm and welcoming mix of wood and brick, both outside on the patio and inside the surprisingly large space. Patrons can sit at large communal tables, in traditional biergarten fashion, or in more intimate settings. Fare is Bavarian-inspired, but not wholly German, as evidenced by sides ranging from cheese spätzle to sweet potato fries. The Biergarten’s “Hoppy Hour” is the time for reduced prices on sliders, a combo kielbasa and beef jerky board, pretzel, fried green tomatoes, and more.

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A photo of Crave Kitchen & Cocktails restaurant

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails

$$$$
American
Mount Pleasant
4.6
2684 reviews
Diners looking for some of the (allegedly) best macaroni and cheese in the country should trek to Mount Pleasant, a town northeast of Charleston. There, they’ll find Crave Kitchen & Cocktails, a casual yet refined restaurant serving some mid- to high-priced entrees. The macaroni, available at brunch, lunch, and dinner, is fairly priced, though add-ins ranging from bacon to scallops increase the bill accordingly. Cheaper eats can also be found on the brunch and lunch menus, with an assortment of salads, sandwiches, and wraps showcase Crave’s focus on fresh and seasonal local ingredients.


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A photo of Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar restaurant

Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar

$$$$
Seafood
Downtown Charleston
4.6
6506 reviews
Diners can’t get much closer to Charleston Harbor then this eatery, on the site of a former ferry and Navy fleet landing with an unobstructed view of the water. The Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar specializes in South Carolinian Low Country seafood dishes such as seafood gumbo with Andouille sausage, Low Country boil, she-crab soup, and other casual seafood dishes like fried shrimp and flounder. The restaurant’s daily “blue plate” lunch specials are some of the best cheap eats in Charleston, offering filling meals like fried pork chops, fried chicken, and shrimp pot pie, depending on the day.


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A photo of Prohibition restaurant

Prohibition

$$$$
American
Downtown Charleston
4.5
2091 reviews
The use of lighter-colored wood and grey-beige palette keep Prohibition from the dark oppressiveness of a speakeasy. Instead, this jazz-themed eatery exudes a breezy, almost whimsical vibe, especially in its outdoor patio. Those looking for deals should come for lunch or brunch or stick to the share plates at dinnertime. Alternatively, the restaurant’s Happy Hour offers up some cheaply priced bar snacks—charred wings, fried oyster roll, crispy brussels sprouts, pimento cheese poppers, and deviled eggs with smoked trout and caviar.

A photo of Hooked- Charleston restaurant

Hooked- Charleston

$$$$
Seafood
Downtown Charleston
4.3
160 reviews
A relative newcomer on the Charleston dining scene, Hooked is already garnering accolades for its quality food and service. The ambience here is casual but classy, with a fresh take on a nautical theme that’s natural and uncluttered. Lunch items are definitely the bargain at Hooked, where diners can enjoy the same grilled or Southern fried seafood as dinnertime at a reduced price. They come with some attractive choices of sides, including succotash with charred okra and roasted corn salad with pineapple rice. Lunch also offers a reasonably priced selection of handheld foods, including an oyster po’boy and grilled grouper tacos.

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A photo of Renzo restaurant

Renzo

$$$$
Pizza Bar
Downtown Charleston
5.0
1 review
Renzo’s unassuming storefront doesn’t even hint at the stellar Italian cuisine found inside, including Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas and classics like rigatoni with Sunday sauce. The restaurant encourages family-style sharing, done easily with pizza pies and an assortment of small plate selections. Renzo’s Happy Hour, from 4–6 Tuesday through Saturday, offers slices of Detroit-style square pies at $5 a piece: It’s the only time diners can sample this thick-crust pizza, which comes adorned with mozzarella and Muenster cheeses, “grandma” sauce, and a scattering of parmesan cheese. It’s delicious, unique, and some of the best cheap eats in Charleston.

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A photo of Indaco restaurant

Indaco

$$$$
Italian
Downtown Charleston
4.8
2898 reviews
Indaco’s décor hits the right combination of farmhouse and industrial to give it a feeling of warmth and welcome that extends to its cuisine. Meals here are mouthwatering Italian delights such as crowd favorites black pepper tagliatelle, agnolotti, and—of course—pizza. Come at Happy Hour to enjoy that same selection of pizzas at half off the regular price. Don’t miss the polpette, made from C.A.B. beef, Keegan Filion pork, and prosciutto, and served in sauce with parmesan. Indaco offers this Italian meatball at a handsome discount during Happy Hour as well. Just be sure to sit at the bar to take advantage of these prices.

A photo of O-Ku restaurant

O-Ku

$$$$
Sushi
Downtown Charleston
4.7
2207 reviews
Part of a sushi restaurant chain, O-Ku Charleston serves a wide variety of Japanese temptations, including toban yaki, nigiri, sashimi, sushi, and rolls. O-Ku doesn’t open for lunch; instead, it caters to the after-work crowd with a dinner menu during the week and extended late night menu on the weekend. Locals know to come here for Happy Hour three days a week, when those dining at the bar can get a selection of rolls and sake at half-price. The salmon and lemon roll is a hands-down favorite, along with the potato and playboy rolls. Friday and Saturday nights feature a DJ, dancing, and a late night menu offering a small selection of ramen bowls and rolls at discounted prices.

A photo of Parcel 32 restaurant

Parcel 32

$$$$
Contemporary Southern
Downtown Charleston
4.5
460 reviews
There’s something both refined and comfortable about Parcel 32, with an understated elegance extending through its many rooms. While the restaurant is closed on Mondays, it offers a two-hour Happy Hour on Tuesdays through Sundays, when those seated in the bar area can enjoy a limited selection of cheap eats in Charleston such as oysters and burgers. A late night food menu also offers some deals, including a “smash” burger with bacon and gouda, waffle fries poutine with oxtail gravy, and crispy chicken wings. For the young at heart, there’s also a daily ice cream sandwich selection.

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A photo of The Macintosh restaurant

The Macintosh

$$$$
American
Downtown Charleston
4.6
2130 reviews
The menu at the Macintosh, a casual neighborhood bar and restaurant, changes weekly depending as much on the whims of the chefs as the seasonality of the ingredients. Two unique offerings—deckle and bone marrow bread pudding—have become diner favorites, as has the Bacon Happy Hour (named for the chef’s last name, not the food). While the restaurant does offer vegetable-driven dishes on its dinner and brunch menus, at Happy Hour it’s all about the meat. Held from 5–7 p.m. Monday through Friday, it features four meaty dishes for $5-6 each, including a BBQ pork poutine and beef belly tartine with pastrami on rye.

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