The Best Restaurants to Eat Gluten-Free in Charleston, North Carolina

Yes, the region’s unofficial trademark dish, shrimp and grits, is gluten-free. But the burgeoning (and GF-friendly) dining scene makes South Carolina’s historic city of Charleston one of our favorite places for a hearty helping of Southern hospitality. While none of the following is 100 percent gluten-free, these Charleston restaurants are well versed in catering to GF and other special diets.

By M. Linda Lee

Farmers Market
Stalls overflowing with artisanal foods, crafts, and the bounty of the area’s fields, farms, and waters make for lively Saturday mornings (April through November) at the historic district’s central Marion Square. 

Cannon Green
The Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood courtyard seating flanked by the picturesque façade of a circa 1840 Charleston “single house” provides a posh platform for Mediterranean-accented dishes by chef Amalia Scatena. Must tries: house-made pickles, baby beet salad, cioppino (minus the crouton). 

Charleston Grill
Floor-to-ceiling wood paneling, neutral tones, soft jazz, and chef Michelle Weaver’s decadent cuisine set a special-occasion scene. The mix- and-match menu allows freedom to design your own meal from four menu categories: “Pure” ingredient-focused dishes, “Lush” French classics, “Cosmopolitan” globally inspired fare, and “Southern” fresh takes on regional standards. Must tries: branzino, “21” Club steak tartare (request GF), Catfish Country Captain Stew (request GF). 

Edmund’s Oast
While they don’t offer GF beer, this upscale brewpub outside the historic district does score points for extremely tasty bar food, creative cocktails, and a boisterous vibe. Its moniker honors English-born “Rebel Brewer” Edmund Egan and the European term for a kiln used to dry hops (oast). Must tries: chicken and Carolina Gold rice porridge, charred okra. 

167 Raw
There’s always a line to get in this tiny twenty-seat raw bar on a quieter section of East Bay Street—a testimony to owner Jesse Sandole’s experience with fresh fish (his father ran a seafood market, which Jesse now owns, on Nantucket Island). Must tries: oysters from the raw bar, lobster roll (the GF version uses a corn tortilla or piles the fillings atop fresh greens). 

Mediterranean-inspired small plates and pastas encourage sharing at chef Nate Whiting’s sexy spot on upper King Street. Grab a seat at the communal table or at the bar overlooking the open kitchen, and
be sure to order a cocktail from the ever-changing list of cleverly named house libations. Must tries: sous-vide butter-poached halibut (aka barrelfish), Canadian duck three ways. 

The Grocery
The modern country-grocery dining environs, complete with shelves lined with jars of pickles and preserves from their in-house canning program, testify to chef Kevin Johnson’s affinity for farm-fresh cuisine. Must tries: wood-roasted whole fish, fried oysters with deviled-egg sauce (request GF). 

Within this 1893 house on the historic district’s Queen Street, chef Sean Brock champions Southern ingredients and heritage, likely in the form of Broadbent’s country ham, Geechie Boy Mill grits, and produce from his organic garden. Bonus: almost everything on the menu can be made GF. Must tries: shrimp and grits, American Spot heritage pork with Carolina Gold red rice.

The Macintosh
Booming acoustics and a packed dining room and bar ensure the atmosphere is as festive as chef Jeremiah Bacon’s seasonally inspired contemporary American menu, which showcases his winning way with fresh fish. Must tries: Seared grouper with broccoli and sunchokes, 7-ounce Certified Angus Beef deckle steak. 

Minero                                                                                                                                                                   At this Sean Brock outpost (also Husk, above), tortillas made from heirloom corn (ground in-house) are the foundation for casual yet memorable artisanal Mexican fare. Gluten-free considerations include a separate menu and extra care in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination. Must tries: queso fundido, tacos al pastor, red posole with Anson Mills hominy. 

The Ordinary
Within a gorgeously restored 1927 bank building on upper King Street, James Beard Award–winner Mike Lata offers up his take on an upscale oyster bar, complete with delicious small plates that beg to be shared. Must tries: Nantucket Bay scallop aguachile, pickled white shrimp, squid a la plancha.


GET MORE GFF: Want to see all the pretty photos in this article and get the nearly 50 extra-relish recipes in the issue of GFF where this appeared? Get a print or digital issue here!

Photography Christopher Shane

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