Take A Three-Day Culinary Tour of Charleston's Island Town
By: Jeff Walker
While Daniel Island may not be teeming with as many restaurants as downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, or the north area, there are enough eateries to provide variety, with some of them going above and beyond to accommodate locals and weekend visitors. The following is a sufficient three day weekend culinary tour of Charleston's 'island town'.
The best way to kick start your day is with a visit to MPISHI (Swahili for chef). Yes it has a peculiar name, but the food there is awesome. Aside from themed dinner three nights (Thurs-Sat) MPISHI is primarily an eclectic breakfast and lunch café'. From 8am-2pm you can dine on anything on their menu. Have a sandwich and soup at 9am or decadent sour dough French toast with Nutella (hazel nut cocoa spread) at midday.
MPISHI is equal parts a low country café' with worldly menu items dotted on the bill of fare. Great coffees, beer, and wine as well as superb desserts. Owned and operated by husband and wife Andy and Allie Clay, MPISHI celebrates food from around the globe. Located in the Publix shopping center across the Volvo Car Stadium. Consistently great food everyday.
If MPISHI doesn't make your lunch schedule you can always dine at Orlando's Pizza on Seven Farms Road. The owner is from New Jersey and knows how to serve up authentic New York style thin crust pizza. While pizza is the main reason flock there for lunch and dinner, Orlando's does offer up pasta, calzones, salads, a killer meatball sub, appetizers, and Italian desserts, alongside a nice cold beer. You can never go wrong with a visit to Orlando's. Find them at 295 Seven Farms Drive. Mangia!
Before you venture out to dinner many locals on the island find time to drop in Sauer Grapes Wine Shop. Owned and tastefully operated by Marie Sauer, her wine shop hosts Wine Tastings occasionally on Fridays 5-7pm. Her monthly Saturday Champagne Festivals are all the rage. Educated on fruit of the vine, Marie offers up wines from around the country and some of her favorite from Europe, South America, and regions unknown. If you're out on DI on the beginning of the week, Sauer's offers 5 for $5 wine tastings every Monday. A well rounded tapas menu complements any visit to Sauer Grapes. When you drop in ask Marie about private wine dinners. Open 3pm most days at 125 River Landing Drive Suite 102.
Maybe you have more time for dinner, and are looking for a nice outing in a relaxed setting. I would suggest taking in Sermet's Courtyard (115 River Landing Drive). Entrees $14-$30 include a nice Savory Chicken, Blue Crab Linquine, and Braised Short Ribs.
At Sermet's I would start with Fried Okra or Sauteed Filet Tips which are an ideal lead into four signature salads, including Roasted Beets served over baby Arugula salad w/ Queso fresco cheese & a white grape vinaigrette. If you love real mashed potatoes, theirs are whipped up inhouse from Yukon Gold, plus pasta and seafood. Sermet's is warm and wonderful in every regard. Open for dinner daily at 5pm.
Looking for a late night bite, or to cap off the evening with a few cold ones while watching the game, than do as the locals do and drop in either the long standing Daniel Island Grille aka DIG at 259 Seven Farms Dr. or the islands newest night spot Dockery's, a combination restaurant, brew house, and all around live music venue. Both DIG and Dockery's (880 Island Park Dr.) are extremely laid back. Also ideal for happy hour. Both offer courtyard dining with covered exterior bars. Play corn hole, chug a cold brew, enjoy appetizers or a burger while hanging with friends at either DIG or Dockery's.
Another day is dawning. If MPISHI is not your morning destination than Blondie's Bagel & Café' has been feeding Daniel Island for several years. A dozen bagel choices including parmesan, garlic, and cinnamon raisin that might easily complement their 12 homemade cream cheese spreads. You can go old school and top your bagel with PB&J, or order it up as a sandwich topped with your choice of meat, cheese, and egg. Their breakfast fare easily transitions into lunchtime sandwiches and wraps, with a classic Rueben, chicken, tuna, and egg salad listed among their 14 signature sandwiches. Salads and vegan options available.
Holy cow, it's time for lunch. Maybe you're craving a little upper crust without the usual upper crust price. Dropping in Laura Albert's Tasteful Options (891 Island Park Dr.) will delight your palate. While Laura's offers Saturday brunch 10-3pm, many who live and work on the island visit for an eclectic menu that mirrors downtown Charleston eateries. With menu items ranging from $7-$14, diners can chow down on Fried Green Tomatoes or Pimento Cheese & Beer Infused Sausage Flatbread.
Laura's Daniel Island Salad is a fruit lovers delight tossed in raspberry vinaigrette dressing, with the Sesame Crushed Tuna salad carrying an Asian flare. Laura's is no stranger to seafood with their BBQ Shrimp and Grit Cake or Open Faced Crab Cake Sandwich among their specialties. Their dinner menu pays tribute to both land and sea, with Sauteed Chicken and pasta dishes strewn throughout the menu. Laura's carries an eclectic blend of craft beers from around the country and the world. Fine wine selections to complement any plate set in front of you.
Where has the day gone, it's dinner time once again. You can pop in Wasabi and get your 'sushi or sake' on' or enjoy authentic Japanese fusion. Wasabi has gained a following with their Hibachi, Osusume, and Thai selections, not to mention their range of tuna menu options. Reviews continue to say Wasabi shines on Daniel Island. Have a yen for Japanese, find Wasabi at 194 Seven Farms Drive.
Not into oriental fare, perhaps Agaves Cantina would be more to your liking. Easily accessible for lunch as well, Agaves is a cut above the normal Mexican eateries scattered throughout greater Charleston. It's fun, casual, and affordably priced, plus has a nice courtyard to boot. Happy hour is well trafficked. Great place to sip a margarita while noshing on chips & salsa. Standard Mexican fare, but again a step above the rest. Most menu items under $12 with a few specialty entrees under $15. 885 Island Park Dr. is your destination for Mexican on Daniel Island.
Really it's late night again. Well you could stay at Agave's or venture to DIG or Dockery's. However Vespa Pizzeria offers up a nice courtyard for late night munchies with a nice beer and wine selection.
Vespa Pizzeria creates signature gourmet pizzas alongside unique entrees, including Ricotta, Pork, and Beef Meatballs with Marinara,& Focaccia. Their hand cut French Fries w/ Buttermilk Bleu Cheese & Grana Padano or Fried Risotto Balls stuffed w/ Mozzarella, Prosciutto & Marinara go so nice with a cold beer or appropriate glass of vino. Vespa is tucked nicely at 224 Seven Farms Rd. Open til 10pm Friday and Saturday.
It's the morning of my third day. Where to go for wake me up meal. I could easily revisit MPISHI or make a quick trip to Blondie's. The only two open early enough after a morning jog. At lunch any of the aforementioned locales would fill your tummy, but if you're hoping for authentic Greek & Mediterranean cuisine than a visit to Ali Baba's will fill the void.
Traditional dishes, such as chicken or beef shawerma, lamb kebobs, gyros and stuffed grape leaves arrayed on the menu list. Ali Baba's is known for their paninis, kebobs, and specialty sandwiches. As their website suggests, Ali Baba's serves up adventurous and playful fresh made dishes that will excite your taste buds. Located at 186 Seven Farms Drive on the island.
Perhaps you're staying at the Hampton Inn on the island or even better renting a house for the weekend, than the New York Butcher Shoppe might be of interest, especially to those native to tri-state area (NY,NJ & Conn). While not traditionally a restaurant NYBS focus on premium cuts of meat, oven ready entrees, and a fine selection of wines and cheeses to accompany said delicacies. Easy to heat meals for private dinners at home or late night snacks in your hotel room.
However they do have four tall café' tables, where hungry types can chow down on any of their seven signature sandwiches, that easily mirror the Italian & Jewish delis your accustom to in neighborhoods in the Big Apple. No asking 'where's the meat?' in their offerings, with each and every sandwich teeming with either ham, turkey, roast beef, Genoa salami, pastrami, and corned beef. The Verrazanno aka the Reuben will bridge the gap for New Yorkers hungry for familiar tastes. More than worth the $9.99 price. Open 10-7pm daily, 12-6pm Sun at 864 Island Park Drive.
Whether you enjoy American, Italian, Japanese, Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, or good old low country cuisine, Daniel Island has several food and drink destinations to cater to your cravings. And if you want to spice it up, than check out the eclectic mix of authentic dinners being served up Thursday through Saturday night at MPISHI. 20 worldwide menus currently in their arsenal of meals. There are a few additional fast food places on the DI, it that's your thing. Get out and enjoy all Daniel Island food and drink has to offer. Take exit 24 off the I-526. Just minutes from North Charleston and Mount Pleasant.