Love at First Bite

Posted On January 4, 2018

For the most romantic dinner for two, reserve a table at one of these favorite fine-dining spots

Luxurious eating is just a table away—and it has your name on it. Whether it's a black-tie and high-heeled affair or a laid-back date night, the Lowcountry has an eatery capable of cultivating
the classiness and amorous vibes every couple needs to escape the mundane chain restaurant cuisine. Pamper your taste buds with new life.

82 Queen

For an intimate, outdoor dining experience, head to this historic eating hole where the courtyard, and its towering magnolia tree, is sure to provoke that loving feeling. In addition, the centuries-old address the restaurant spreads throughout is quite the conversation starter. Queen Street Hospitality, owner also of Lowcountry Bistro and Swig & Swine, offers Southern comfort fare and a quaint environment made even better with seafood eats and other local staples like shrimp ‘n grits, she-crab soup, Lowcountry boil and jambalaya. Weekend brunch is also an event to remember with the menu’s crispy chicken and biscuits you can wash down with a Firefly vodka fruit cocktail or “ultimate” Bloody Mary, sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. 843-723-7591, 82queen.com

Bistro Toulouse

You might daydream about the Eiffel Tower or find yourself whispering “je t’aime” in your dinner date’s ear when relaxing in this Parisian-style bistro. The Mt. Pleasant kitchen cooks up only the best dishes reminiscent of the European Motherland—indulge on escargot and steak tartar. It also serves locally-brewed beer—Belgian and French styles included, of course—and handcrafted cocktails to help you unwind. There’s even champagne for your Nutella fruit crepes or other brunch dish you order, and more than a dozen labels available from the wine bar at any given time. Like the menu, they also change seasonally to give customers new and fresh flavors. But don’t walk out the door without a dark chocolate soufflé or pistachio cake. 843-216-3434, bistrotoulouse.com

Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill

A modern steakhouse with high-quality beef—that’s what this North Market Street destination promises, along with only the best and freshest ingredients from local farms and ranches in the Lowcountry and across the state. Find colorful art-decorated walls and plated meals equally as beautiful. Two other top features inside this elegant eatery include a lengthy wine list and stone-fire grill, giving every dish the perfect punch of flavor to ensure patrons’ swift return. Over the grill steaks receive a special treatment, cooking in temperatures up to 1,400 degrees and on the kitchen’s “signature volcanic rock,” caramelizing meat and intensifying the flavor. And each cut is aged to perfection. But don’t fret if you’re looking for a non-beef dish. The menu is sure to please with buttered lobster or the seared scallops. 843-737-8700, burwellscharleston.com

Charleston Grill

Put on that little black number or nicest dress slacks and whisk away with your better half to this lavish French-inspired locale for that much-needed date night. Find that tranquil dining environment you’ve been daydreaming about, where Southern hospitality and private candlelight moments are common. Or maybe you want to slice through that succulent, pink-center steak or sip your favorite wine with live jazz tunes in the background. The eatery offers more than 1,300 labels. So regardless of where you’re seated or if it’s prime rib, lamb or seafood you crave, you won’t leave dissatisfied from this popular King Street spot. After dinner consider sharing a decadent German chocolate cake slice or carrot cake fritters to round out your romantic night on the town. 843-577-4522, charlestongrill.com

Circa 1886

One of Charleston’s top places to eat for its classy atmosphere and eye-catching décor, Circa 1886 maintains a sophisticated carriage house setting and appealing story of historic renovation. Dine in style inside the 1800s-era Wentworth mansion still displaying some of its original details. The kitchen boasts a wood-burning fireplace; you’ll walk along the original hardwood floors and find it hard not to admire the impressive stable doors. After studying the menu, perhaps transfix your gaze on the one seated across from you—both sipping a favorite wine picked from a list of more than 325 labels that are offered. And if you sit side-by-side in one of the unique arched booths, you’ll probably envision yourselves on a romantic carriage ride—the heat rising from the kitchen and into your hearts. 843-853-7828, circa1886.com

Fulton Five

The entrees are heavenly and the dessert is sinful inside Fulton Street’s cuisine hotspot, voted nearly two consecutive decades as the most romantic Holy City restaurant. Revive your passionate feelings and make lasting memories over fine food and vintage wine labels—there are dozens to order by the glass or bottle. Choose one to pair with the espresso-rubbed filet, seared duck breast, daily fish special, veal entrée or grilled lamb chops, among other options. But start first with a seasonal soup or salad—perhaps the lobster, shrimp and lump crab over greens or the sautéed mussels with pancetta. Round out the night with a sinful tiramisu. You won’t leave hungry, but you’ll surely leave smiling. 843-853-5555, fultonfive.com

Grill 225

Amp up your mealtime experience with this posh spot inside Charleston’s Market Pavilion Hotel, then perhaps cool down to unprecedented temps when sipping an after-dinner liquid nitrogen cocktail dubbed the “Nitrotine.” Whether rekindling an old flame or looking for love, Travel & Leisure Magazine’s award-winning eatery can equally chill the taste buds and satisfy the palate, all while warming the heart of the date you hope to impress. Try sizzling steak entrees or fresh seafood eats like colossal crab cocktail, red snapper, salmon, flounder and oysters, and keep the cocktails coming as you sit back and enjoy the modern vibe.  843-266-4222, marketpavilion.com/grill225.com

Hall’s Chophouse

Does the thought of making “goo-goo” eyes over a thick piece of meat while a piano plays in the background make your mouth water and heart skip a beat? That’s a promise Hall’s can fulfill, whether your plate features New York strip, ribeye, prime rib, filet mignon or porterhouse. Seasoned to perfection, the entrée favorites don’t end there. Maine Lobster, duck, veal, chicken and pork are among other menu picks for you and your date. Raw bar eats, sweet treats and hearty, homemade sides—mashed potatoes, lobster mac ‘n cheese to name a few—also attract a crowd of customers on any given weekend. So make a reservation, to ensure a seat inside, and go downtown to find a memorable upscale dinner or brunch—offered Sunday with live, soulful Gospel music. 843-727-0090, hallschophouse.com

High Cotton

Whatever meal you’re in the mood for—dinner, brunch or perhaps just a few drinks with a special someone or friends—you’ll encounter a clean, classy menu with cuisine made only from local ingredients. Nearly a dozen farms from across the Lowcountry and Upstate stock the kitchen. Feast in the main dining room or choose a more private eating area—perhaps the East Bay or French Quarter rooms—for a celebration to remember. The chandeliers, wall hangings, and other fancy lighting and décor pair beautifully with the window treatments and natural light to create a swanky synergy. For dinner, consider the pan-seared halibut, spinach and artichoke ravioli or yellowfin tuna with a glass of wine or cocktail. Brunch favorites include the sugary bourbon-glazed, bacon and apple donut hole, seafood crepe and brioche French toast. 843-724- 3815, highcottoncharleston.com

La Fontana

Stop by Charleston’s West Ashley district and fill up on Italian-American classic eats. Peppering the menu are authentic fare you’d also find in nearly every eating nook throughout the boot-shaped Mediterranean country, particularly the city of Naples. Think manicotti, lasagna, cheese ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, and fettuccini alfredo to name a few. Gary Langevin heads up the kitchen and is a skillful chef popular within the Lowcountry food scene for previously operating two other Italian eateries: Bella Napoli and Cuoco Pazzo. But if it’s finger food the family craves, checkout the lunch menu’s sandwich list or personal pizza pies—barbecue, Hawaiian, buffalo chicken, chicken alfredo. 843-556-1111, lafontanacharleston.com

Langdon’s Restaurant & Wine Bar

Since 2003 community members and visitors alike have kept this modern, upscale eatery a Mt. Pleasant success, ordering up wine and plates that have a mix of international and regional tastes. It’s a polished place boasting a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its vast array of available labels—sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and other favorites. For dinner, start with the Rockefeller oysters or local goat cheese gnocchi with prosciutto, but keep some stomach room for orange-soy grilled salmon, Hawaiian tuna or NY strip—served with whipped potatoes, smoked tomato and brie grits, or leek and corn risotto. The lunch menu also offers finger foods and lighter fare options—the salads more sexy and original than others you might find on a Lowcountry menu. 843-388-9200, owensdininggroup.com/langdons

McCrady’s Tavern

The American fare and exposed brick setting make this Charleston food hub a perfect hangout spot for you and your date to spend quality relaxation time. You’ll find classy tables and sophisticated vibes without the stereotypical pretention of other fancy restaurants. And what’s not to love about a weekday happy hour offering discounts on various food and drink items? Try the Tavern burger, pimento cheese ball and Manhattan mixed drink, among others. The bar is also fully stocked with wine, beer and liquor if it’s an anniversary you’re celebrating. Make a toast to forever over dinner, dessert or a weekend brunch. After feasting on a grilled pork porterhouse with melted onions or maybe the charcoal grilled deviled lobster, slice through a French silk pie or rice pudding treat. 843-577-0025, mccradystavern.com

Morgan Creek Grill

Find some Caribbean flavor and tropical feels inside this dining location. That’s because the kitchen’s experts cook up cuisine that mirrors the eats you’d find on the popular islands, no matter your diet or food allergy. Choose to turn any meal into an “island” feast—adding to it grits, collards and mango salsa. A “pumpkin seed crusted” option adds mashed potatoes and asparagus, and the “simply grilled” selection gives your plate a tasty portion of lemon caper butter-covered veggies and rice. Don’t forget between bites to stop and view the Intracoastal Waterway in the distance. Spying a boat or coastal sunset might transcend your senses fully into that paradise state of mind. 843-886-8980, morgancreekgrill.com


Here’s a one-stop shop for authentic Mediterranean cuisine, good drinks and amorous vibes with your Valentine. This Charleston restaurant and wine bar is colorfully and creatively decorated with wall art and light fixtures both modern and eclectic in nature. Dine in a cozy private room if your display of affection is strong. Or muse over your favorite relationship moments at a table in the outdoor courtyard. Entrées range from fettuccine carbonara and veal scaloppini to lobster risotto and crispy sea bass. Pair any dish with sides like butterbean ragu or cider-roasted Brussels sprouts. And for dessert, share an apple tart, ricotta cheesecake or dark chocolate torte with strawberry rhubarb. 843-577-1102, charlestonmuse.com

Old Village Post House Inn

Over the bridge and to Mt. Pleasant you should go. Because a cozy, white inn awaits you and your guest, sure to enjoy an unforgettable experience from the moment you step inside—whether your plans allow a meal and overnight getaway or just a short time to relax and fill your stomach. Choose to hold hands over a table in one of three spots: in the reservation-required private dining room, main tavern room, or if the weather allows, the outdoor patio. 

Try strawberry shortcake French toast paired with a blood orange mimosa for a sweet brunch; or if it’s dinner you crave, sample the crab crusted salmon and sweet potato gnocchi with a potato gratin or honey-drizzled Brussels sprouts side. 843-388-8935, oldvillageposthouseinn.com


One of Summerville’s finest dining experiences, Oscars is a quaint Flowertown hangout that’s become a community staple after 35-plus years. With a down-home vibe and weekday lunch buffet that won’t break the bank, the eatery offers a perfect blend of informality and luxury that will still sweep you—and your taste buds—off your feet. Seating is offered at the bar, the open dining area or private spaces, in the Plantation and Garden rooms. Feast on dishes from the classic lunch and dinner menus—smoked gouda mac and cheese, braised lamb shank, 12-ounce filet—or more American pub menu fare—chipotle barbecue nachos, fried green tomatoes—served in the lounge. Don’t forget the special sips. Consider a “watermelon crush” or “South cackalackey,” fruit juices with peach vodka, for a thirst-quenching good time. 843-871-3800, oscarsofsummerville.com

Poogan’s Porch

Dine and converse on the cozy front porch, like you never left home. Treat yourself to a fair-priced meal inside this bright, yellow Charleston townhouse, rich in Victorian-era appeal and traditional Southern cooking. Often the site of an afternoon or evening crowd, whether it’s lunch, dinner or after-church brunch, you’ll be tempted to try multiple menu items like the pimento cheese fritters and classic biscuits and gravy. Pair with a wine selected from the facility’s massive cellar stocked with 1,500 different labels. Nationally recognized for its ambiance and comforting dishes, Poogan’s invites all to tuck themselves away for a refreshing time at one of the area’s oldest independent restaurants. 843-577-2337, poogansporch.com

Sermet’s Courtyard

One of two locations in the area, Sermet’s Courtyard on Daniel Island, not far from the Wando River, is a waterfront destination that’ll please your plate and meet your craving for a romantic view. The atmosphere, the flavors, the service, the wine—you’ll wonder why you didn’t bring your Valentine, or single ladies’ celebration, here sooner. The eatery is open 5-10 p.m. every day but Sunday. Entrees range from basil/parmesan-encrusted salmon, seared scallop risotto and scallop ravioli to fettuccini with pork-veal Bolognese, long-braised short rib and chicken agnolotti paired with Granny Smith apples and bacon. But you might need a roasted beet or savory soup starter. Also try a mixed green or sautéed calamari appetizer. 843-471-1777, sermets.com

Swamp Fox Restaurant & Bar

Pop inside King Street’s Francis Marion Hotel for an indulgent experience at this eatery named after a Revolutionary War hero. Regardless if you’ve reserved an overnight stay, the restaurant staff wants to overwhelm your senses with exquisite service, sights, sounds and tastes! On certain days of the week while you dine, tap your foot to live jazz piano music or dance close with your leading lady. But every day offers an epic view of the city—Marion Park is a stone’s throw away. Tuesdays are the perfect time to bring a large group—consider the private dining room for 30—and mingle over social hour’s complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Come by for grub on any night of the week and find local, sustainable ingredients part of the chef’s special “Farmers Market Dinner.” 843-724-8888, francismarionhotel.com 

Tavern & Table

This kitchen is run by an “Iron Chef America” champion and is so close to Mt. Pleasant’s Shem Creek, you might glimpse a dolphin from your table during downtime. With a rustic setting and staple finger foods—think burgers and wings—as well as fancier fare like pan-seared scallops and filet of beef, even the pickiest of eaters won’t leave disappointed. And don’t forget tacos! It doesn’t even have to be Tuesday to dig in to a fresh order. Find a lounge chair or spot at the waterfront bar to quench your thirst with one of 16 craft beers on tap, a barrel-aged or classic cocktail, fine liquor, bubbly champagne or dessert wine, among other select red and white labels. 843-352-9510, tavernandtable.com

The Barbadoes Room

Leave the jeans and T-shirt at home because you’re not in Kansas anymore. From the moment you enter the front doors of the Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel, it’s guaranteed your jaw will drop with lust over the swanky, picturesque world around you. The hotel also offers various spots to mingle and unwind. Dine on a charcuterie plate in the Fountain Courtyard or sip martinis in the First Shot Lounge. With its attractive plates, Southern hospitality and seemingly all-around mealtime perfection, the lush place turns patrons into romanticists. Make a reservation and treat your crush to a fancy breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or brunch. You’ll also be close enough to cruise the downtown Charleston scene, taking in the historic sights and character that help make The Barbadoes Room a hangout paradise. 843-577-2400, millshouse.com

The Grocery

In a city of unending bustle, this local spot has a small-town feel sure to relax you. It’s an innovative dining retreat along Charleston’s Cannon Street and offers all who step inside the food-fix and respite they’re seeking from the fast-paced life. Perhaps try a “green tomato” dirty martini or glass of rose. The alcoholic beverage options—wine, beer and cocktails—prove endless. Dishes are comprised of ingredients from area fishermen and farmers—Growfield Carolina and Carolina Heritage Farms among others. Some items might have even been preserved in-house through the facility’s special canning program. Try the cornmeal-dusted oysters, spaghetti squash or smoked Spanish mackerel. No matter the meal, it’s sure to please. That’s because the culinary operation boasts a Charleston Wine + Food Festival winner. 843-302-8825, thegrocerycharleston.com

The Ordinary

A King Street oyster hall featuring the fanciest of seafood in a facility that formerly operated as a bank house during the Prohibition Era. The ceilings are high, and the windows large, giving customers a spacious place to unwind. And what could be better than $1.50 oysters during “Oyster Happy Hour” 5-6:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Friday. Find additional specials every day during the week, except Mondays. Feast on baked stuffed lobster Fridays for only $35; $40 steak night on Saturdays. And start the week off right with a warm Sunday meal—the popular $30 fish fry event. Additional seafood menu items are flounder, clams, peel ’n eat shrimp, oyster sliders and caviar. 843-414-7060, eattheordinary.com 

Vincent Chiccos

Named after an historic Lowcountry outlaw turned leader with Italian roots, this eatery’s atmosphere and décor remain as timeless as the story behind the iconic man. Chef Aaron Lemieux operates the kitchen as well as two other local eateries and keeps each of them thriving on domestic ingredients and this one in particular renowned for its homemade pastas, sauces and wines. A taste of the old-fashioned adds to the classic ambiance just right for celebrating love, while either sipping mint limonadas at the bar, cuddling close over bruschetta in a booth or playing footsy finishing a dark chocolate crème brulee and warm espresso on the outdoor patio. Other mouth-watering entrees include grilled Tuscan quail and classic chicken parmesan. 843-203-3002, holycityhospitality.com/vincent-chiccos

Wild Olive

Want a little more “healthy” in your life? Head to this green-eating establishment on Johns Island known for opening “in the heart of Charleston’s farming community.” The fancy Italian dive is famous for being the first-ever environmentally friendly restaurant in the Palmetto State. It received the unique recognition partly for recycling and compositing most of its waste along with securing ingredients locally. And the cuisine is legit—after all, the top chef perfected his culinary skills under the leadership of Food Network legend Mario Batali and among the rich Italian culture. The staff also boats a certified wine specialist. So refuse another chain restaurant meal and revive the family’s love for dining out with this Lowcountry hotspot. Try grilled swordfish, milk-braised pork shoulder or the seared sea scallops. 843-737-4177, wildoliverestaurant.com