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  3. These 12 Charleston restaurants crush the outdoor dining game

These 12 Charleston restaurants crush the outdoor dining game

A photo of Red logo
by Stephanie Barna
Updated May 23, 2024

Charleston’s creeks, rivers, and scenic rooftops make for leisurely outdoor meals. And its sultry summers and mild winters mean that dining alfresco can be a year-round experience.

Plants and wicker furniture dial up the tropical vibes on the patio at a beloved Mexican spot. An open-air rooftop is an ideal place for sipping a cocktail after an elegant French-inspired meal. A shaded porch at a Sullivan’s Island hotspot invites beachgoers to stop in for frozen drinks and fresh oysters.

From Shem Creek to hidden downtown courtyards, Charleston is filled with charming outdoor restaurants. Read on for a guide to the 12 places that ace the outdoor dining game.

A photo of The Longboard - Sullivan's Island restaurant
4.4
4.4 (121)
$30 and under
Seafood
Sullivan's Island
About the restaurant

If you’re after coastal vibes, The Longboard’s front porch is where you want to be. Its outdoor patio, surrounded by Bermuda shutters and greenery, is the place to sip frozen cocktails like the Wadma-Law-Breaker, a tequila and watermelon agua fresca combo. Luckily, there are plenty of drinks-friendly snacks—the oyster happy hour ($2 raw oysters; $8 oyster shooters) stretches from 11 am to 5 pm every weekday. Keep that in mind the next time you head to Sullivan’s for a beach day.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 3 days ago
What a fantastic experience! My daughter and I loved the oysters. The shrimp salad was perfect. We’ll definitely be back!
A photo of 39 Rue de Jean - Charleston restaurant
4.2
4.2 (4950)
$31 to $50
French
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

The patio at Rue may be tiny, but it drips with Parisian charm. The porch is set in a side alley off John Street, where a handful of bistro tables shaded by big red umbrellas are squeezed together for a cozy but lively atmosphere. Enjoy a couple bottles of French wine and a leisurely dinner of mussels and coq au vin. Or snack on cheese and charcuterie boards and pretend like you’re in a real-deal Parisian bistro.

Top review
katnvip
Dined 1 day ago
Had a nice evening. Had to wait until our reservation time to be seated. Sat at a small table near bar. Just had apps and dessert, food very good. Food took awhile. Overall, good value and nice meal. Mussels always the go to order.
A photo of Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar restaurant
4.6
4.6 (7607)
$30 and under
Seafood
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Despite its peninsular location, downtown Charleston has surprisingly few waterfront dining options. Fleet Landing, set in a 1942 Navy building, is one of the few that claims real estate on the harbor—the patio couldn’t be closer to the water. Gaze at the Ravenel Bridge and watch boats cruise by. If you’ve never had Charleston’s signature shrimp and grits, Fleet’s version is a good introduction, with tasso ham gravy and creamy grits.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 3 days ago
It was my wife's 70th birthday. Our son and his wife had flown in from California. We all had a wonderful time in a terrific environment. Service was superlative.
A photo of Stars Restaurant - Rooftop & Grill Room restaurant
3.3
3.3 (2380)
$31 to $50
American
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

This three-story King Street space became a hotspot when it opened in 2013, and it’s held that status since. The ground-floor dining room is heavy on wood and leather and makes an elegant place for a steak dinner. But it’s the open-air Satellite Bar on the roof with panoramic views of historic downtown that gives the restaurant its edge. Food is only served downstairs, so plan on drinks upstairs before—and after—your 16-ounce smoked ribeye.

Top review
CarrieQvip
Dined 7 days ago
Nice buildout but the second bar area TV mounted on the inside face of the storefront glass, facing in, can be seen throughout the restaurant area, thus killing the ambiance.
A photo of Coterie restaurant
4.3
4.3 (5)
$30 and under
French
Back Bay
About the restaurant

Coterie’s cozy patio is a cool respite from the King Street crowds. The oasis-like space is covered with greenery and accented by hand-painted murals, which makes a pretty backdrop for digging into chef Damian Sandoval’s new internationally accented menu. Coterie uses local produce for dishes like jackfruit ceviche and yellow Thai curry with pork belly. If you’re drinking, consider one from the creative cocktail menu, featuring unusual ingredients like chai-infused gin and okra amaro.

Top review
born2eat
Dined on Mar 13, 2024
Excellent service(Zach) and delicious burger! Will be back for sure
A photo of Peninsula Grill restaurant
4.7
4.7 (7757)
$50 and over
American
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Peninsula Grill’s kitchen has trained many culinary heavyweights, like current chef Caleb Hulsey. Everything here is luxe, including the tranquil courtyard. A historic brick path, illuminated by hand-lit gas lanterns, is heavy on the secret-garden vibes. Lean into the lavish experience and add seared foie gras or lobster tail to your already decadent rack of lamb, and finish your meal with a slice of the restaurant’s epic 12-layer coconut cake.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
Peninsula Grill never disappoints. Will always be the best restaurant in Charleston!
A photo of Maya restaurant
4.6
4.6 (650)
$31 to $50
Mexican
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Maya’s patio could be miles from busy King Street, even though it’s just a few steps away. The transportive indoor-outdoor space makes it a go-to when an early evening thunderstorm threatens. A ceiling protects you from the elements, but an open wall still gives you that alfresco feeling. Take a seat on the swinging velvet couch and sip a watermelon margarita before heading undercover for dinner. Lush plants and wicker furniture lend a tropical vibe that matches the sophisticated Mexican menu.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 4 days ago
Food was amazing, the birria tacos were some of the best i’ve ever had. Our waitress was super friendly and a CofC alum who shared a ton of helpful advice. The vibe was really fun with cute decor and flavorful drinks. Overall just a really great experience!
A photo of Gabrielle Charleston in Hotel Bennett restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1065)
$50 and over
Contemporary Southern
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Hotel Bennett is one of the most lavish retreats in Charleston, and that elegance extends to its signature restaurant, Gabrielle. Its location lets you dine directly on Marion Square, the city’s most prominent green space, surrounded by marigolds and velvet cushions. This is the spot for Charleston classics like citrus-crusted scallops with a side of cream corn grits. As the sky’s light changes in the evening, pair the house caviar with a glass of Champagne to channel your inner King Charles.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Lovely experience having breakfast here! We sat outside and it was a beautiful day in Charleston. My wife enjoyed the southern omelette and I ate a generously sized breakfast burrito. The food and the ambiance were well worth it!
A photo of ÉLEVÉ at Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston restaurant
4.3
4.3 (1304)
$30 and under
European
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

There’s a modernist ambiance at the rooftop at the Grand Bohemian Hotel that makes Charleston feel like a bigger city than it actually is. Neon lighting, synthetic turf, and futuristic furniture (think The Jetsons) create a fun contrast to the historic buildings that surround the open-air space. The coastal-inspired menu features snacks like fried potato chips and Wagyu sliders, plus more substantial mains such as Carolina Gold rice risotto and snapper la plancha.

Top review
Radar
Dined 2 days ago
The food and service were very good. The atmosphere was upscale and beautiful. Very classy place I would highly recommend it!
A photo of Tavern & Table restaurant
4.5
4.5 (2599)
$30 and under
American
Mount Pleasant
About the restaurant

Mount Pleasant’s Shem Creek has the highest concentration of outdoor dining spots in Charleston, and Tavern & Table stands out with its local produce and seafood focus (get the fried shrimp with Calabrian chile honey). Its covered patio offers constant shade with a clear waterway view of the waterway. For an especially relaxing time, come for brunch on Sundays, which also has daytime drinks like seasonal sangria made from local blueberry wine.

Top review
janiekins1vip
Dined today
What a great brunch! Something for everyone… lunch or breakfast entrees
A photo of The Kingstide restaurant
4.4
4.4 (1403)
$30 and under
Seafood
Daniel Island
About the restaurant

Two levels of wraparound porches contribute to The Kingstide’s status as Daniel Island’s first true destination restaurant. An open kitchen and a central bar make the blue wood-lined space feel extra spacious and welcoming. Get one of the signature seafood towers and gather a crew to tear into raw oysters, steamed clams, boiled shrimp, and crab for a signature experience. Or savor a bacon-forward oysters Rockefeller and a spiced rum cocktail as the Wando River turns a golden hue at sunset.

Top review
Phillyfotes
Dined 2 days ago
Our server Kaylee was outstanding. Food was great along with location. Really beautiful. Food was somewhat overpriced. With tip, our bill averaged about $90 per person - with one drink each, so it was food prices, not driven by alcohol. A nice memorable evening. Staff was extremely courteous.
A photo of Boathouse at Breach Inlet restaurant
4.6
4.6 (5226)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Isle of Palms
About the restaurant

Perched above the Intracoastal Waterway on Isle of Palms, the Boathouse at Breach Inlet is home to some of the area’s best water views. The laidback, screened-in deck (which is heated during the winter months) opens everyday at 3 pm, so get there early to stake out a spot to watch the spectacular sunset and take in the marshy surroundings. Grab a cold beer or glass of wine and choose from a top-tier snack menu of sweet corn hushpuppies and crab fritters.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Phenomenal food and fantastic service! Highly recommend!
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