At some point after the third snowstorm of the year, I was walking to work wearing more layers of clothing than I could count and yet the icy wind was still cutting through them all. As I speed-walked to the heated lobby of my building, skidding on the salt on the oversalted (but not at all icy) sidewalk, all I wanted, all I needed, was the prospect of warm weather. Just something to pull me out of this miserable winter funk. Just something to make this winter tolerable. Just something to make me not want to throw my winter coat away because I was so sick of wearing it.
On that day, the ten-day weather forecast offered me no hope of warm weather and so I booked a trip. To someplace warmer. The earliest date I could make it work was April 1st and when I was booking it, I laughed to myself “Way to go, it’ll be warm in DC by then for sure. Why are you even booking this?”
It snowed two days before I left. Maybe I was just a bit psychic in my booking of the trip.
So on a Monday night, I dropped my winter coat off at the dry cleaner with a dramatic “I am totally done with this coat for the year” and on Tuesday morning, I found myself in Sunny! Warm! Charleston, South Carolina. And stepping outside the airport into that warm air, I felt myself get my spark back. (I know that sounds cliché and cheesy but my gosh, this winter sucked the life from me.)
And I spent my morning wandering all of cobblestone sidewalks of Charleston into the shops and coffee shops tucked away on side streets. And staring at all of the amazing houses.
And I spent my afternoons sitting on a park bench in the waterfront park reading while sailboats floated by and dolphins jumped up from the water.
And then my evenings were dinner at a great restaurant.
Repeat four times. That was my vacation. I didn't do too much but I did everything I wanted. And I never even had to wear a jacket. Just sunscreen. It was THE BEST.
I picked Charleston because I think everyone in my Instagram feed has been on vacation there in the past year and my vacation plans can easily be swayed by filtered to perfection pictures. It is quite the photogenic city!
Charleston appears to be the flower box capital of the East Coast.
And unfailingly polite and nice. This sign in DC would have some legal disclaimer about the implications of throwing the ball.
Sweetgrass roses in the City Market. Also known as VERY EXPENSIVEgrass. (But very cool!)
Sunrise on the waterfront. Take that miserable winter.
Charleston, unlike any other city I have ever visited, ALWAYS merited this response when I told people I was going there “Oh, you HAVE to eat at <insert name of a restaurant>.” Normally people tell things to do, shops to visit. Nope this city was all about the restaurants. And I was totally okay with it. So in the spirit of paying forward all of the restaurant wisdom that was shared with me, here are my recommendations for you (Note: I won't even attempt to write some food critic-y review. My vote can be won with a great bread basket so take these reviews into consideration with that in mind.) (Note Number Two: Vacation food pictures do not annoy me.)
Husk – This is actually a bucket list restaurant for me. Reservations are a bit hard to come by but I got lucky and had dinner there my first night. Note to self: never visit a bucket list restaurant on the first night of a trip. Because every other restaurant that follows on the trip—while independently stellar—will pale in comparison to the bucket list restaurant. This was the case with Husk. I was prepared for a letdown. It had to be overhyped, right? Nope. From the front door of the Victorian house it calls home to the lemonade with cinnamon(!) ice cubes to chocolate chess pie for dessert, it was just the best dining experience. The food was outstanding and the staff genuinely seems so happy to be working there. Gosh, I loved this place.
The chocolate chess pie tasted like the little Cadbury eggs with the crunchy shell. I think I sighed after each bite.
FIG – Like Husk, FIG’s menu changes daily based upon which locally sourced ingredients are available and, I suppose, based upon what the chef feels like cooking. On the ride into Charleston, I saw a billboard that asked if I could name 20 vegetables in the next 2 miles; I could name 15. In honor of that, I ordered the Salad of Nine Vegetables; I could identify five of them. I am apparently a D student when it comes to vegetables.
Poogan’s Porch – For the famous fried chicken, obviously.
Poogan is a dog, by the way. Dining solo is not always something I am comfortable doing. That I made and kept one solo dinner reservation, let alone four was an accomplishment for me, actually. But dining solo always causes me to fret about what exactly to do while I sit there. You either end up accidentally awkwardly staring at other diners and then quickly averting your eyes or looking like you got stood up on a date but still decided to stick around and eat your feelings. And so I passed the time by reading the restaurant’s website on my phone. And that is how I learned Poogan was a dog. And not an old man. For some reason, I thought it was like Mean Old Man Poogan’s Porch or something.
Magnolias – My favorite bread basket of the vacation.
Black Tap Coffee – Not a restaurant, but great coffee. Which is what powers me. I loved the lavender latte.
And that was Charleston. Thank you Mother Nature for smiling on me with the great weather. I needed it.