The Ordinary, photo by Squire Fox

love the American South, but nowhere moreso than the Carolinas, and most especially Charleston. 

It was in Charleston where I tasted my first authentic fried green tomato, swooned over the fluffiest biscuits I’ve ever encountered and ate boiled peanuts like nobody’s business. 

Just two hours south of Myrtle Beach, the city feels quaint and welcoming as you drive across the Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River. The story of Lowcountry cuisine is rooted in the distinctive plantation field-to-table fare that has evolved over the course of Charleston’s 340-year history. With emphasis placed on local and seasonal ingredients, the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Gullah people—the Charleston area’s sea island community hailing from West Africa—continue to influence the city’s cuisine.

Sean Brock is one of America’s most prominent chefs, and his two Charleston restaurants, McCrady’s and Husk, both embrace the ingredients of the region—the benne (sesame) seeds, okra, rice, peas and sorghum so essential to African cuisine. 

For true southern comfort food, head to Martha Lou’s Kitchen, where they’ve been serving fried chicken and chitterlings for 30 years. I would get on a plane right now for another serving of fried green tomatoes at Hominy Grill, and maybe a side of grits—the slogan there, after all, is “Grits Are Good For You.” Book a two-hour tour with Alphonso Brown and his Gullah Tours for visits to Catfish Row, the Sweetgrass Market and stops on the Underground Railroad. After that, cocktails and deep-fried oyster sliders at The Ordinary are not to be missed.

Getting there: WestJet flies to Myrtle Beach twice a week from Toronto.