200 Years of Fine Dining in Charleston: A Culinary Walking Tour

I'm very excited to be leading two culinary history walking tours of Charleston in conjunction with the good people at Buxton Books on King Street. The first tours are slated for Saturday, October 8th and Sunday, October 9th, and they'll offer a rather different take on Charleston dining history than other culinary tours. We will focus not on the food served in local homes (as delicious as that is) but rather on what Charlestonians ate in restaurants, hotels, and other commercial venues. Along the way, guests will hear culinary stories that haven’t been widely told before, like these:

  • The evolution of Charleston fine dining during the antebellum period, as taverns and boarding houses gave way to hotels, restaurants, and saloons
  • The remarkable individuals who were the foremost practitioners of the culinary arts in 19th century Charleston — many of whom came from some very surprising backgrounds
  • The boisterous era of the Blind Tigers, some three decades before National Prohibition, when Charleston’s saloonkeepers fought tooth and nail with the state government in Columbia over laws restricting the sale of alcohol
  • The real origins of she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, mint juleps, hopping John, country captain, and many other Lowcountry classics, plus the scandalous history of pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes, which aren’t actually Southern dishes at all.
  • The emergence of Charleston as a fine dining destination in the last three decades, including the city’s emergence on the national scene with the New Southern movement in the 1990s, its gaining international fame in the early 21st century, and its continued evolution through today— including plenty of restaurant recommendations for those seeking to experience the very best city has to offer.

Departing from Buxton Books (160 King Street) and lasting approximately 1.5 hours, the 1.4 mile tour is the perfect preamble for guests seeking to explore Charleston’s vibrant culinary history as well as its present-day dining scene. The stories told will connect the past with the present, explaining the deep-running roots of the dishes and styles that so distinguish the city’s acclaimed restaurants today.

For more information and tickets, visit the Buxton Books website.