Two Charleston restaurants made Bon Appetit magazine's Top 50 Best New Restaurants of 2012 list.
The Ordinary and Xiao Bao Biscuit were in the running.
Mike Lata, James Beard Foundation Award-winning Best Chef: Southeast in 2009, and business partner Adam Nemirow opened The Ordinary in December 2012. They also own FIG in Charleston, which opened in 2003.
The food at The Ordinary is excellent, with the menu changing according to the seafood available that day. It's also a beautiful restaurant in a renovated 1927 bank building. It has 22-foot ceilings and Palladium windows along the front and one side that stretch almost floor to ceiling, and the original bank vault door was left intact to give diners a view of the kitchen.
Even before The Ordinary opened, it was earning praise. Esquire magazine named it to its 2012 list of "Best New Restaurants," Southern Living Magazine listed it as one of "50 reasons we're thankful to be Southern," and Vogue suggested making it the first stop on a night out in Charleston.
Xiao Bao Biscuit opened in a converted gas station in November 2012. Owners Duolan Li, Joshua Walker and Joey Ryan started by holding pop-up dinners around the area. The owners describe their food as Asian comfort food.
In a story the three wrote for Charleston City Paper, they said: "Xiao Bao started as a way to satisfy our own late-night cravings for Asian foods we loved. We wanted to capture the flavors we discovered during our travels and to revisit the comfort foods of Duolan's childhood. The Chinese term of endearment, "xiao bao" was the perfect way to sum up our journey across Asia. We wanted to tell a (love) story about traveling to other parts of the world, yet discovering that sense of home in each bite. Our desire was to make simple, delicious, fun dishes prepared the way we had eaten them in Asia."
Bon Appetit said The Ordinary is "a celebration of the seafood of the South: sometimes cold (pickled white shrimp, lobster roll), sometimes hot (oyster sliders, crispy grouper sandwich), always satisfying."
Of Xiao Bao Biscuit, the magazine asked: "What's not to like? Chinese dumplings, Thai-style chili shrimp, Korean mung bean cakes: These all deliver the sweet, spicy, sour flavors of the moment. It's the stuff you crave all the time, whether you know it or not."