Anyone who has ever turned to restaurant reviews to find a new place to dine knows how the “$” rating system works: the more dollar signs next to the location’s name, the more expensive it is. While the food may not be necessarily better in quality, more $s usually ensures you’ll get a memorable meal.
Fewer $s, well, often the least expensive places are the ones you return to again and again.
The same holds true for the vast number of eateries in North Charleston. There are upscale spots that will test your pocketbook but ultimately be worth it for the food and experience. But, the city also has plenty of less-pricey options locals will tell you are equally (or almost equally) satisfying.
Take, for example, The CODfather, which advertises itself using the oh-so-British expression as the place for proper fish and chips. This one-$ place is a local favorite, offering other seafood options for lunch and dinner plus a variety of beverages. Short of a flight to London, this is as good as you'll find for fish and chips.
Another quirky offering is the Jerusalem Market & Deli, a one-$ Middle Eastern grocery and deli dishing up handmade gyros, tahini and hummus for lunch and dinner. Love the tastes of the Caribbean? Try Caribbean Delight for authentic Dominican food in a family-owned, small dining room setting.
If Lowcountry soul food is your thing, check out Bertha’s Kitchen, where the specialty — fried chicken — comes with a variety of Southern sides. Robert’s Barbecue offers up the homemade barbecue — the only kind to get — in a family-owned restaurant with a mid-century diner feel.
Of course, just because there are good cheap eats doesn’t mean you have to forego a top-drawer dining experience. Fratello’s Italian Tavern jumps your investment to three $s, but it is definitely worth the outlay. One of two locations in the area, this is a Park Circle favorite featuring daily specials, handmade pasta, ravioli and more.
A wide range of choices can be found in the $$ range, depending on your preferences. If breakfast and brunch are your favorite meals, visit The Junction Kitchen and Provisions, where breakfast (and lunch) are served all day, beer and wine are available in grab-and-go coolers, and the cooks use local eggs and offer vegetarian/vegan dishes. Another way to start your day is The Orange Spot Coffeehouse, serving coffees, handmade pastries and sandwiches.
Love a good burger — and who doesn’t? Sesame Burgers and Beer, with three locations, uses local ingredients in a sustainable business model. Owners Casey Glowacki and Joe Fischbein specialize in custom burgers, wraps and milkshakes. Want pizza? EVO Pizza has wood-fired pies, calzones and salads, plus a craft bakery and handmade chocolates.
If mainstream ethnic food intrigues you, check out LoLa Park Circle, which began in a food truck in 2010 and specializes in Louisiana cuisine and fresh seafood. For Mexican food, there’s YoBo Cantina Fresca, known for its fresh fare and handcrafted margaritas. The family-owned Nigel’s Good Food, another popular soul food spot, is all about homemade Lowcountry cuisine, including seafood, wings, crabs and other delicacies.
And then there are those days when what you want is a place to watch sports on TV, preferably (in nice weather) with an outdoor option. That’s DIG in the Park, an old gas station converted into a sports pub setting. Food, beer and sports. If you need a change of venue, there’s a second location too.
North Charleston has these and many more restaurants to satisfy your hunger and thirst. Where you go and how much you spend is up to you — but there should be no complaints about not having enough options.