Charleston Appetizer Crawl
When you’re planning to spend a weekend in Charleston, a destination on the fast track to becoming the new culinary mecca of the South, you’ll realize that there just aren’t enough meals on the docket -- let alone room in your stomach -- to sample every delectable dish that the destination has to offer. That’s when its time to plan an appetizer crawl: a progressive tasting that allows time-sensitive foodies to experience the atmosphere and flavors of several different dining establishments, rather than eating a multi-course meal at just one.
To get in on the trend, simply make reservations for your group at a few notable locales, order selections exclusively off the appetizer or bar menu, then dish about your favorite plates before moving on to the next stop.
After my travel companions and I embarked on our own culinary journey to 6 Charleston restaurants, we developed some informal guidelines that can help you better plan your own crawl. Follow (or ignore) these tenets at your discretion -- but don’t miss the "Holy City" hotspots that made our final Charleston culinary cut.
How to Plan a Successful Appetizer Crawl
1. Get the local perspective. Before scheduling your crawl, get residents, friends in the know or your hotel concierge to share their recommendations for Charleston’s top tastes and small plates.
2. Arrive at the first destination as early as possible. You want to get through at least half of your crawl before restaurants get busy for the night (if you can get there by 4 p.m., all the better).
3. Order one fewer appetizer than the total number of people in your party. And pair your selections with one signature beer or cocktail apiece. Consume more than that at each stop, and you’ll have a tough time finishing your crawl before you’re too stuffed -- or tipsy.
4. Make reservations. Do this at each eatery around 90 minutes apart. That should give you an hour to snack and sip before you need to take off for the next restaurant.
5. Give your server the heads up. Let him know that you’re on a crawl. Not only is it good form to let them know that you’re not ordering an entire meal, but he or she can clue you into the best items on their bar or appetizer menu. Don’t forget: Tip generously.
Now that you know the rules, it's time to start the appetizer crawl.
Check out the best places for small bites in Charleston: