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10 Charleston Restaurants, Many Ways with Shrimp and Grits

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 35 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Shrimp and grits—it’s inarguably the most sought-after dish by Charleston visitors. The delicious duo, once the stuff of humble Lowcountry breakfasts, has swept the nation as one of the most iconic Southern dishes of all time. From white-cloth establishments to country cafes, you can find it on countless lunch and dinner menus, too. “It’s not just for breakfast anymore,” would surely make an apt tagline.

While fresh shrimp and stone-ground grits form the foundation of the dish, it lends itself beautifully to creative interpretations. Perhaps no place does that better than Charleston, where you will not only find the best shrimp and grits on earth (thanks to SC shrimp and locally milled grits) but some of the most imaginative versions. You can order shrimp and grits across the Lowcountry and feel like you’ve not had the same dish twice.

Here are 10 Charleston-area restaurants that excel at shrimp and grits, each with its own signature elements. If you’re a food adventurist, you’ll love exploring the many exciting flavors of this beloved local dish.

Acme Lowcountry Kitchen
Vibe: Casual/upscale hub of traditional Lowcountry and coastal cuisine on Isle of Palms
Shrimp and grits: Varietal jackpot with seven options—“Isle of Palms” with blackened shrimp, smoked sausage, tomatoes and onions over truffle cheese grits; “Charleston” with blackened shrimp, smoked sausage, roasted tomatoes and onions; “Sullivan’s Island” with sauteed shrimp, tasso ham gravy, onions, sweet peppers and corn over grits fries; “Southern Hospitality” with fried shrimp over pimento cheese grits and collards; “Whistle Stop” with sauteed shrimp and fried green tomatoes over pimento cheese grits; “Bull’s Bay” with New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp and haricots verts; and “Shrimp and Scallops” with blackened shrimp, scallops and smoked sausage

Circa 1886
Vibe: Elegant fine dining in the carriage house of Wentworth Mansion in historic downtown
Shrimp and grits: Shrimp, cabbage leaves, goat cheese and smoked ham hock gravy served over rice grits (aka middlins) for a traditional Gullah touch

The Darling
Vibe: Hip, vintage oyster bar on Upper King
Shrimp and grits: Shrimp, cheddar grits, crispy Brussels sprouts, country ham and fennel

Vibe: Upscale, but casual restaurant with creative dishes made from fresh, local ingredients
Shrimp and grits: Caribbean style with shrimp, conch, bacon, saffron-tomato gravy and smoked Gouda grits

82 Queen 
Vibe: Refined Lowcountry cuisine; white tablecloth dining in the historic district
Shrimp and grits: Shrimp, stone-ground grits, bourbon–barbecue sauce, applewood bacon, cheddar and scallions

Gillie’s Seafood & Soul 
Vibe: Cafe serving scratch-made soul food and Southern eats, fresh seafood baskets, burgers, salads and more
Shrimp and grits: Sauteed shrimp, brown bacon and sausage gravy served over creamy grits; crabmeat optional

Vibe: Iconic establishment in the historic district; focus on Southern ingredients; menu changes daily, so call ahead for availability
Shrimp and grits: Seasonal menu offers a rotation of versions; examples include shrimp and grits with March Hen Mills grits, andouille sausage, peperonata, kale, preserved tomato broth and poached egg; with HUSK City Ham, brassica greens, sweet peppers and buttermilk broth; and with Edisto Island grits, HUSK City Ham, heirloom peppers, NC turnips, buttermilk broth and poached egg

Marina Variety Store
Vibe: Bustling, nautical-themed diner serving breakfast and lunch; views of Ashley River and marina
Shrimp and grits: Sauteed shrimp, onions, peppers and peasant gravy over grits; other variations come with fried green tomatoes, smoked sausage or crispy alligator

Slightly North of Broad
Vibe: Eclectic Lowcountry bistro in historic downtown
Shrimp and grits: Shrimp, house sausage, country ham, tomatoes, green onions, garlic and Edisto yellow grits

Vicious Biscuit
Vibe: Knife-and-fork homemade biscuits; serving breakfast, lunch and brunch in Mount Pleasant
Shrimp and grits: Open-face buttermilk biscuit with blackened shrimp, Lowcountry gravy, white cheddar and Palmetto Farms stone-ground grits, topped with thick-cut bacon crumbles and scallions

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 35 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.