In the Local Palate’s 2022 Restaurants Issue, our state-by-state guide highlights the new restaurants that have emerged since 2020. Here, assistant editor Jacob Hollifield gives an overview of recent additions of South Carolina restaurants.
The opening of Burnt Church Distillery in March 2021 unleashed a Lowcountry altar call like no other for bourbon aficionados and amateurs alike. Brothers Billy and Sean Watterson’s investment in Bluffton came at a time when many restaurants were closing up shop, but the duo saw potential in the region’s alluring folklore.
The Watterson brothers spent three years researching the Lowcountry’s history of liquor production and bootlegging in addition to the fabled Burnt Church Road—a nearly 2-mile stretch that runs from highway 278 to the upper estuaries that surround Bluffton. They wanted to be able to share the history of the area with those visiting the distillery, which fueled their research, a book (Burnt Church Road: Unraveling the Story Behind the Name), and, eventually, a 2.8-acre campus with a 7,000-square-foot tasting room known as the Sanctuary.
The design of the space is a hybrid between an old, Southern warehouse, a Charleston storefront, and a gothic church, making for a venue that is as flavorful as the spirits it cranks out. Cathedral ceilings, tracery windows, stained glass, scattered church pews, and other ecclesiastical elements, such as the private tasting room appropriately deemed the Vestry, tie the space together under the Burnt Church theme.
Burnt Church’s lineup flexes seventeen spirits: A whiskey, two bourbons, vodka, flavored gins, and an array of moonshines ranging from sweet potato pie to iced coffee. Each spirit and cocktail is a nod to the history of the surrounding area or the theme of the road. Take their Anita’s Choice Bourbon, for example, named for Lowcountry legend Anita Pollitzer—a twentieth-century Charleston suffragist. The distillery is also capitalizing on the alcohol-free movement with a nonalcoholic spirit, Amethyst, and a menu of six alcohol-free cocktails.
Burnt Church is not just a distillery, though. Sharables like wings, pizza, tartines, and nachos are elevated with the likes of cauliflower pizza crusts and breads from Auspicious Baking Co. out of Savannah. In the spirit of the Burnt Church story, order the smoky goat cheese spread for a toasted start. The truffle ’shroom orzo mac comes topped with portobello mushrooms and is finished with a sprinkling of truffled parmesan. The Special Order #67 pizza’s buffalo sauce base kicks, but is mellowed out with a hefty pile of mozzarella, chicken, bacon, and ranch drizzle. @burntchurchdistillery
Can’t Miss on the Menu
Cocktail: Burnt Moline with Anita’s Choice six-grain bourbon
Appetizer: Smoky goat cheese spread
Main: Special Order #67 pizza
Desserts: Sin Eat monkey bread
More Recently Opened South Carolina Restaurants
The Pass | Charleston
The salad and sandwich shop became Instagram famous for its “such a nice Italian boy” sandwich (fresh ciabatta piled high with mortadella housemade vinaigrette, hot and sweet soppresata, burrata, greens, tomato, red onion, sharp provolone, and pickled calabrian chili relish). Bring your friends by after closing time for a tasting experience from the kitchen of chef Anthony Marini. Sample anything from zucchini carpaccio to a fresh crudo, and enjoy a curated selection of wines and local brews. @thepasschs
Ratio | Elgin
Just outside of Columbia’s bustling downtown, chef Javier Uriarte’s Ratio is introducing diners to Peru’s comfort food. The tapas-style menu places an emphasis on sharing and has plenty from both the land and sea, such as the market fish ceviche topped with sweet potato crisp or pork spare ribs finished with a fresh sunflower and herb gremolata. The cocktail program has quippy libations. Order an Oolong & Goodnight (oolong tea-infused roku gin, Suntory Toki whiskey, and lemongrass syrup) for a bittersweet start to your Ratio experience. @ratiorestaurant
Pink Bellies | Charleston
Experience Vietnamese dining at Pink Bellies on Charleston’s Upper King Street. The cocktail menu features classics but is punctuated with Pink Bellies signatures like the Tres Coop Riff. Divide and conquer the menu of Vietnamese-inspired bowls, sloppy fusion burgers, and spicy lamb dumplings with a chili garlic oil and sour of black vinegar. @pinkbellie
Smoked | Columbia
Smoked is an upscale oyster bar for South Carolina midlanders. Enjoy the raw bar and try their signature oysters topped with smoked pork and vinegar barbecue sauce for a layered slurp. @smokedsc
Old Town Kitchen & Cocktails | Rock Hill
This dining destination focuses on elevated nostalgia with a menu of re-imagined classics conceptualized by chef Chris Coleman. Taste Southern comforts like North Carolina catfish, butter beans, and Carolina Gold rice. Branch out with updated dishes like the beef short rib stroganoff and romesco mac. @oldtown_rockhill
Other Spots Not to Miss
Charleston Wine Co. | Charleston
Attorney-turned-winemaker Lindsey Williams blends globally sourced grapes into signature labels through her urban winery. Sample their newest wines, such as the 843 (a red blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and sangiovese from California, named for Charleston’s area code) and Sweetgrass (a crisp California riesling). “I’ve admired the city of Charleston for many years,” Williams says. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring the urban winery concept to the Holy City.” @charlestonwineco
Spaghetti Westurn | Greenville
Branded as a “semolina saloon,” this spot is all about a no-fuss approach to affordable food. Seasonally inspired pastas shine on the menu along with other dishes, all under 19 dollars. @spaghettiwesturn
Malika | Mount Pleasant
Experience a counter-service style Pakistani restaurant in the Mount Pleasant Town Center. Inspiration is drawn from Pakistani street food. The menu features favorites like the aloo tikki roll, chaat papri, (chickpeas, potatoes, yogurt, chutney, and crisps) and masala fries covered in spicy ketchup and a generous pile of chopped red onion and parsley. @malikacanteen
Chasing Sage | Charleston
The Lowcountry, American-inspired small-plates menu is subject to change with the season at Chasing Sage. However, keep your eye out for earthy beet salads, poached shrimp from the nearby ocean, or a forty-eight-hour short rib. Check Instagram to learn about their constant rotation of guest pop-ups and frequent tasting menus. @chasingsage
Camp | Greenville
Located in the city’s fresh new Camperdown Plaza, CAMP is led Drew Erickson and Carl Sobocinski of the local Table 301 Restaurant Group. Items like the wagyu corndog offer familiarity with a flair while the tongue and tail (braised oxtail, braised beef tongue, chocolate and cashew moles, and epazote oil) urge diners outside of their comfort zones. @campgvl
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Amber Chase