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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 38 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
Charleston chefs distinguish their shrimp and grits in creative ways.

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 by Charleston chefs. 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.

Shrimp and grits
Coconut and jerk spices infuse this Caribbean version of shrimp and grits at ACME Southern Kitchen.

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, including "Isle of Palms” with blackened shrimp, smoked sausage, tomatoes and onions over truffle cheese grits and “Charleston” with blackened shrimp, smoked sausage, roasted tomatoes and onions.

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

Shrimp and grits with sausage
Shrimp and grits gets a Caribbean touch at Edison.

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

Nigel's Good Food
Vibe: Casual cafe (three locations) serving scratch-made soul food and Southern eats, fresh seafood baskets, burgers, salads and more
Shrimp and grits: Grandma Fred’s Shrimp & Grits is studded with onions, bell peppers, bacon and sausage, then smothered in brown gravy. 

Shrimp and grits
HUSK restaurant in Charleston is famous for its creamy shrimp and grits.

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 or 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

Shrimp and grits at SNOB is a brothy, savory dish.

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 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.