An Ode to Restaurants Bygone
For our first Grit List reader query, we posed the question "What shuttered Charleston restaurant do you miss the most?"
The responses were myriad and many, but overall our readers touch on one major topic: How the changing face of King Street has affected smaller mom-and-pop restaurants offering lower-cost fare to downtown clientele.
Here's a list of some of the most beloved come-and-gone spots that readers still pine after when their stomachs growl.
1. Chai's Lounge — Tapas Bar formerly located at 462 King St.
What is now the popular nightclub and bar Republic was once the low-key tapas joint Chai's—"The tapas was great, and they served Coast HopArt (when it was still hard to find on draft). Upper King Street was more low-key than East Bay & the Market."
After a troubled final year that involved a closing and reopening, Chai's finally closed on New Year's Eve 2013 to make room for Republic.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
2. Social Restaurant and Wine Bar — Closed after 8 years at 188 East Bay St.
Social, which was famous for its pizza and cheap glasses of wine, closed "as the neighborhood changed" in July of 2015.
"Their happy hour pizzas were so good! And the wine offerings were fantastic. They would even deliver across the street."
Social was replaced by Poogan's Smokehouse, so we can't say we're too upset.
3. Your Place — Lowkey famous burger joint at the end of Market
Your Place recently got some posthumous love from City Paper as a fondly remembered burger spot that eventually fell to increased rent and the fickle habits of downtown tourists.
The homely building that housed it is gone, and this place hasn't been in business since 2007, when it's Mount Pleasant location hit the dust.
We never tried it, but if it's still haunting the hunger pains of locals ten years after its demise, it was probably a pretty damn good burger.
4. Il Cortile Del Re — Italian Restaurant at 193 King St.
Last year the owner of Il Cortile Del Re closed up unexpectedly after Valentine's Day weekend, saying simply "I'm excited to be retired!"
Our reader waxed nostalgic about the spot, saying, "It was around in the old days when I moved to Charleston and was always so European and imperfect, yet sophisticated at the same time."
This is one spot that bucked the trend of closing because of higher rents and changing clientele. Il Cortile del Re's owner, it seems, was just ready to do something else.
5. Two Boroughs Larder — Local favorite at 186 Coming St.
This fan favorite from Josh and Heather Keeler was open for five years and offered up unique and ever-changing eats to the Cannonborough/Elliotborough crowd. The five years that Two Boroughs was open was a time of big change for the neighborhood, as gentrification took hold and college students and young professionals replaced the older black residents of the area.
The Keeler's wrote a lengthy farewell here.
Our reader's submission said it all about why we miss this place so much. Two words: "Noodle Bowls."
There were many more submission's including a place called Steak & Ale that apparently had the best salad bar in town years ago, but that we could find no record of! Thanks for all of your input and make sure to keep your eye out for next week's Grit List.