Establishments that are unsuspecting during the day come alive at night in Charleston. Here are several places to check out for coffee, a great glass of wine or whiskey, and epecially a late-night nosh.
At the corner of busy Rutledge Avenue and Spring Street (which is going through a major revitalization) once sat an unassuming, abandoned gas station. It’s now remodeled and houses Xiao Bao Biscuit, or Biscuit, as it's called. Serving a fusion of Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese, Filipino and Vietnamese cuisine that it has dubbed "Asian soul food," Xiao Bao Biscuit (See Ou! – Baow – Biskit) is a locals’ spot. Nearly everyone in Xiao knows one another, but don’t let that dissuade you. Xiao captures its international inspiration in just the perfect way. No dish of any Asian origin would be complete without the right amount of spice, and Xiao delivers with its Banh He, a crepe with fresh ingredients including chives, herbs and bean sprouts — perfect for a light, late-night dish. Xiao also offers an impressive beer and wine menu, featuring both internationally and locally (Westbrook) brewed beers.
Social Wine Bar and Restaurant
Just around the corner and down the road from touristy Market Street sits a handful of locals' spots, including Social Wine Bar and Restaurant. Open till 2 a.m. 7 days a week (check its website for dinner service times), Social is a great place for white or red wine, from the New or Old World. Social supports local producers but isn’t ashamed to tell you that it backs “team” red from Burgundy, France.
Be greeted with a jubilant "hello" upon entering and a Southern "thank you!" upon exiting. Happily serving coffee, espresso, hot chocolate, pastries and locally brewed beer such as Charleston’s Holy City, Kudu has a friendly atmosphere inside that is matched well with its discreet patio. The outdoor area has ample tables and chairs, is beautifully lit in the evenings and features a mini fountain. For a late-night snack and something sweet-tooth-worthy, try Kudu’s hot chocolate and butter croissant.
Just 1 block from bustling King Street, Hutson Alley has come alive thanks to Charleston’s Holy City Hospitality, which brought to this inconspicuous alley Vincent Chicco’s (Italian), Michael’s on the Alley (surf and turf) and the Victor Social Club (cocktails, beer, port, wine, appetizers). Each place adds its own flair — just enough for every social and not-so-social visitor who comes to Charleston.
Only noticeable by the "C" on the front of the door, The Cocktail Club is often overlooked by out-of-towners who are distracted by the live music venues and bustling restaurants lining upper King Street, all of which look amazing inside. Situated above Macintosh restaurant, this hidden gem is quaint and lightly lit, and it offers plush leather chairs and a great rooftop. The ceiling is open, revealing its historic Charleston charm. The cocktails are served with fresh, local ingredients, alongside a humble list of reds and whites and an impressive menu of whiskey, bourbon and rye.