The Healthy Side of Charleston
Forget fried food; follow our guide for a wholesome and active visit to this culinary destination.
While no excuse is needed to visit the charming city of Charleston, famous for its old-world elegance and palmetto lined streets, one of the best times to experience this Southern hub is during the annual Wine & Food Festival, which kicks off today. The four day event highlights the very best of the city’s cuisine as well as its chefs, many of whom are James Beard Award winners and the masterminds behind Lowcountry fare that is light, fresh, and organic. Here, our virtual stroll to some of the best spots in town to dine, work up a sweat, and more.
The Charleston Farmer’s Market
Located in the heart of town in Marion Square, the farmer’s market opens in mid-April and is an ideal stop for a quick lunch or snack. Don’t miss Cannonborough Sodas, which are handcrafted and all natural. Flavors include peach verbena, ginger beer and grapefruit elderflower. Some of the most popular stands are Roti Rolls and King of Pops for handmade ice cream. For a local souvenir, pick up a soy candle from Rewined; the glass holder is made from recycled wine bottles.
Alluette’s Soul Café
For a healthier twist on soul food, head to this small café where owner Alluette Jones-Small focuses on “holistic soul food”. Which, if you're wondering, translates to organic produce and meats, and olive oil and fresh herbs used in lieu of heavy animal fats and salt. Instead of traditional dishes like shrimp and grits slathered in butter, menu options include organic lima bean soup, fish stew with wild salmon and a Geechi girl turkey burger. Organic brown basmati rice, tofu and locally caught fish, including whiting and croaker, are always available.
Opened in 2012, Dellz Vibez has the distinction of being Charleston's first juice bar. And while smoothies may be prevalent in town these days, freshly pressed green juices are more elusive. A few enticing options on the menu: the Grandma Vera, a blend of banana, ginger, apple, lemon, kale and almond milk, and the Juice 135, which comes in at under 135 calories with a mix of cucumber, broccoli, carrot, apple and lemon.
Boasting a sleek design, a location in the heart of King Street, the city’s main shopping area, and an extensive gluten free and vegan menu, Co. is a perfect place to stop and refuel. The menu at this Vietnamese restaurant highlights all the classics, including tofu buns, fresh spring rolls, and pho. If you’re craving a sandwich, there’s plenty of bánh mì to choose from, including lemongrass tofu and short ribs with kimchi.
Take to the water
In between all the sightseeing, antique shopping and eating, it’s easy to forget that Charleston is located on a peninsula—and no visit is complete without hitting the water. Try stand up paddle boarding with Charleston SUP Safari. They offer sunset and full moon tours, as well as dolphin safaris in the calm waters of the Folly River. Or sign up for a kayaking tour through saltwater marshes with Nature Adventures Outfitters.
Walk the Ravenel Bridge
For a different perspective on the city, walk, run or bike the span of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, which connects downtown Charleston to Mt. Pleasant. Also known as the Cooper River Bridge, it spans 2.5 miles and at 200 feet high, offers outstanding views of the Charleston harbor and skyline. The 10K Cooper River Bridge Run takes place on April 5th.