The 5 Top Charleston Eateries for a Hungry, Cheap 20-Some-Year-Old

Cullen Murray Kemp

1. Dell'z Deli: Dell'z is a funky Jamaican-themed hole-in-the-wall (although I’m not sure if this phrase still applies because of Dell’z popularity) on Cannon Street that serves healthy food for cheap. A wrap, which runs about $8 and is sufficient for two sober meals or one intoxicated feast, is stuffed with just about every edible ingredient you would find in your mom’s garden, your choice of meat/cheese, and Dell’z special spicy sauce. As good as it is, the food comes secondary to the atmosphere. I can describe the Dell’z vibe (recently Dell’z opened its sister smoothie shop right around the corner called Dell’z Vibes so the word “vibe” is fitting here) as a place that makes you just want to be a better person. Not that being in there makes you feel like a bad person in any way, it’s just something about the way everyone acts inside Dell’z that makes you think, “Hey, they were so nice to me, maybe I should refrain from reminding my roommate that his beloved Philadelphia Eagles have won a grand total of three games this season...” Probably not, but you get the point. Whether it’s the wisdom on the Snapple caps that sit about the counter, the pictures of Dell’z customers all over the walls, or the fact that every time I go in there they know exactly what I want, it just feels authentic. Cullen’s Grade: A+


2. Kickin’ Chickin (downtown): I know, I know it’s a chain! But if I told you that you can get the world’s best beer-drinking food for 10 bucks, could that help you change your mind? It’s not especially authentic, it’s not progressive, and no foodie would ever set foot in a Kickin’ Chickin. But it is a great place to drink beer, eat greasy food, laugh, and watch football—maybe this explains why I’ve spent my last four NFL Sundays there arguing with football fans and guzzling $10 buckets of Natural Bohemian. Cullen’s Grade: B+


3. Halls Chophouse: This might seem odd sitting directly below Kickin’ Chickin on my list of relatively cheap eats, but I’ve found a couple of ways to go about scrounging up a meal at Hall’s. One, go with rich friends (or your parents) and make them collect the bill. Two, and probably the more ethical route, is to sit at the bar and order water and the steak tartar. Halls uses USDA Prime meat from Allan Brothers in Chicago (top shelf) and charges top-dollar ($45-$80) for the steaks. The tartar on the other hand is like 12 bucks, and of the same quality. With any luck, you’ll meet one of the hundreds of rich people that frequent the Chophouse every evening, and will be enjoying the Tomahawk Steak and a $500 bottle of Pinot Noir in no time. Not likely, but it could happen. Cullen’s Grade: A-


4. Hominy Grill: Let me justify this pick. After a long night of carousing, I wake up on a Saturday morning with a pounding head, aching liver, and a surge of disorientation that causes my first couple of steps out of bed to be especially wobbly—essentially I’m hungover as all hell. Fortunately for me, Hominy Grill (my hangover-haven) is just a short walk down the street. If I can manage to rustle up $20, I will journey to Hominy for Shrimp and Grits and Bloody Mary(s)—both of which are self-proclaimed best in town. Not sure if this is true, but what I do know is that if a make a quick stop-in at Hominy for Saturday brunch I will be prepared to yell, “Go Gamecocks” for the rest of the day and deep into the night. Cullen’s Grade: A-


5. Fleet Landing: Surprisingly, Fleet Landing is one of the only (if the THE only) restaurants in downtown Charleston where you can eat and look out over the water at the same time. Having grown up on the Chesapeake Bay, virtually every dining memory of mine centers around looking out over the water—there’s something serene about scarfing down a burger covered in crab dip (Chesapeake Burger) and watching the tide move along. Fleet Landing is not renowned for its enlightened entrées, nor does it have a chef whose name alone sells plates, rather the food is a modest mixture of seafood and land-food that fills the stomach—that, combined with the water view? Not a bad place to spend a few bucks. Cullen’s Grade B+