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Rory Brown Shares the Best Brunch in Downtown Charleston

Charleston is a historical, beautiful and vibrant city of some 140,000 inhabitants. It’s got some beautiful and unique architecture, and whenever friends visit for a weekend, I take them on a tour of downtown Charleston in particular.

Downtown Charleston, which the locals call the Peninsula because it’s located on a peninsula, is surrounded on its west coast by the Ashley River and on the east by the Cooper.

I always start my tour by going to Rainbow Row, a group of 13 Georgian houses ranged on East Bay Street. These are gorgeous houses, painted in pastel colors, with quite the history behind them. Depending on the interests of my guests, we’ll then walk north up Bay Street for a mile to Calhoun, and from there east to the Aquarium or the Fort Sumter Visitor Center.

There’s plenty of museums and historic houses throughout downtown Charleston, of course, but those are my “first stops.” And after a lot of weekend walking it is time for brunch.

If you start from Rainbow Row – and I do – the first restaurant I suggest you try is Magnolia’s Uptown. Their Sunday brunch menu is exquisite, and served from 10 am to 3:30 pm. I love their griddled sweet potato pancakes with maple syrup poured over honey butter and candied walnuts, or their banana pudding stuffed French toast.

If neither of those appeal, keep on heading north to the family-owned Slightly North of Broad Street (SNOB) – yes, that’s its name. It’s also right on E Bay Street.

They serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and I highly recommend the Fried Chicken Livers with Geechie Boy yellow grits, caramelized onion jus, and sweet pepper relish. The Fried Carolina Trout isn’t too bad, either! An accompanying cocktail such as a Sidecar or Front Porch Thyme will set the meal off nicely.

If you’d like seafood for brunch, the Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar is just off of E. Bay Street on Concord. Serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, you’ll find their pan roasted crab cake, with poached eggs and low country grits, a delight. Fleet Landing is right on the waterfront, but you’ll need to get there right at 11 am for the best views.

For a Mediterranean taste, check out Tabulli and their gyro egg benedict- consisting of shaved lamb and beef, with a poached egg and sautéed spinach, over grilled pita bread, or their Mediterranean Egg Benedict with grilled tomato and poached eggs over grilled pita bread. For cocktails, try their mimosa or ultimate Bloody Mary.

No matter where you are on the Peninsula, you’ll find a delicious meal somewhere – close to some gorgeous home or history-drenched museum. But starting with the restaurants mentioned above for brunch will be quite a treat.

Rory Brown is a Charleston, SC native who started writing about food in 2008.

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