“If it’s “In,” it’s In Charleston”

Charleston has been breaking all kinds of ground with its new restaurants, hotels, apartments, and other developments that are in the works. King St. has so many new restaurants that have just opened/will be opening that I can hardly keep up. The Ordinary was a very exciting opening that has received rave reviews. In fact, Conde Nast (who named Charleston as the #1 City in the World last year), just placed The Ordinary in their top 8 Best New Restaurants of 2013 of the American South list. Here’s their description of the bank-turned-seafood restaurant.

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“The scene: Upper King—the stretch of King Street just north of the well-touristed city center—continues to surprise locals and visitors alike with its proliferation of gems such as this grand two-level, 90-seat seafood restaurant set in a 1927 Bank of America building. A celebration of coastal Carolina mollusks and fish, it arrived in a wash of good will: James Beard Award–winning chef/owner Mike Lata runs city favorite FIG.

The food: The raw bar, in front of the bank’s vault door, churns out slender Caper’s Blades oysters on the half shell, banded rudderfish tartare, and triple shellfish towers that would impress a robber baron. The kitchen on the other side of the vault door prepares grouper-cheek sandwiches with chowchow tartar sauce, and barbecued white shrimp with charred bread to sop up the buttery, spicy sauce.

Our office downtown on King St., The Real Estate Studio, is also thrilled for the new breakfast and lunch restaurant, Kitchen 208, that just opened up right next door.

And they aren’t the only ones getting noticed. Lately, Charleston’s Food Trucks have also been booming. There have been multiple Food Truck Rodeos, including one that brought hundreds to the Post and Courier parking lot at the beginning of the month with 15 trucks. Two of these trucks, Geechee Island and Roti Rolls (who appears every Saturday at the Charleston Farmer’s Market) were included in The Daily Meal’s top 101 Food Trucks of 2013.

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It’s not just Charleston’s food that makes the “best-of” lists. Charleston has been rated over the past few years for having one the best Farmer’s Markets, for being one of the best Shopping Cities in the country, was featured in Architectural Digest, on HGTV’s House Hunters (with one of our very own agents), andNBC’s “TODAY” was its most recent visitor. Most recently, Zero George, a boutique hotel that is the newest addition to Ansonborough, made Travel + Leisure’s “It List: The Best New Hotels 2013.” They were rated 8th out of 63 hotels in the country.. not bad. They also gave a lovely description of the hotel:

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In a city known for antebellum-style inns and antiques-filled bed-and-breakfasts, a local iconoclast is shaking things up. Owner Dean Andrews—who ran the venerable Charleston Place hotel for 16 years—has introduced this genteel town’s first truly contemporary retreat with Zero George, in the oak-lined Ansonborough district. The 18 guest rooms, scattered among five historic buildings (all circa 1805), have the signature pocket gardens, piazzas, and sprawling verandas you’d expect from hotels here, but Farrow & Ball paint colors and Kravet linens bring the look refreshingly up to date. Guests can take Lowcountry cooking classes in the former kitchen house or dine on southern-inspired tapas in a sunny courtyard flanked by azalea- and palmetto-lined gardens

NBC’s “TODAY” Filming in Charleston!

Hosts of the TODAY show, Kathie Lee and Hoda, filmed two episodes this morning on the College of Charleston’s campus at the Cistern. One was live that aired this morning, and the other was filmed for tomorrow’s show. During their stay they have pretty much covered all of the activities that anyone visiting the city must do. They also had some great how-to’s with window boxes and guest appearances from owners of local stores on King St. that discussed Charleston‘s southern attire.

The Cistern, where the filming took place, was crammed full of excited college students and locals. The Cistern is the focal point of the College of Charleston’s campus. Numerous events are held here, small and large, ranging from an Alumni event called A Charleston Affair to performances put on for students before finals to help them cool down. It consists of a large grassy oval adjacent to Randolph Hall and was constructed in 1857 to control flooding and provide water for fighting fires. Later, it was covered and planted with grass and is now part of the campus. Spring Commencement is held here, which I was lucky enough to be a part of and think is the most unique graduation around.

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Kathie Lee and Hoda were brought into The Cistern by a horse-drawn carriage through Porter’s Lodge, which is very rare. Porters Lodge was the home to the College’s porter, or custodian. On its George St. façade, it bears the Greek inscription for “Know Thyself.” Today, the structure houses several faculty offices.

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I thought that NBC filmed a great portrayal of Charleston. For the live show, the girls began by having some gentlemen from The Cocktail Club make them a Firefly Sweet Tea concoction, a vodka that was created in SC. Then, Graham Dailey, the chef at Peninsula Grill, brought out the restaurant’s famous coconut cake. This cake is raved about all over the country and is something that every visitor should try when they are here. The Battery and East Bay Street were featured while Kathie Lee and Hoda went on a carriage tour, where they asked the guide what Charleston is best known for, which she promptly told them was Hospitality. I can’t argue with that.

They also ventured outside of downtown and gave audiences a view of Drayton Hall, one of the plantation houses. The editor of Southern Living Magazine gave a great tutorial on window boxes. Many historic homes that are lucky enough to have a yard have limited space, so the window boxes are a colorful and easy way to have your own petite garden right in front of your home.

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The owner of Hampden Clothing on King St. was also featured and discussed all different types of common southern trends. In particular, very colorful Vineyard Vines bow ties, needlepoint belts, and jewelry from local store Copper Penny. She also mentioned a few popular local items such as Callie’s Biscuits and sweetgrass baskets as things you shouldn’t leave Charleston without.

It was fun seeing our beloved city and all of the amazing things it has to offer, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s episode will feature. Tune it at 10 AM Friday morning to see for yourself!

36th Annual Cooper River Bridge Run

Tomorrow 40,000 people will be participating in the Cooper River Bridge Run. Having lived here for 7 years now, I think this is the largest event held in Charleston, along with Spoleto. While the run itself only lasts a few hours Saturday morning, most runners stay in Charleston for the week leading up to the race, and there are numerous other festivities surrounding the event. The Cooper River Bridge Run is a 10K, one-way running event that takes place over the Ravenel Bridge on the first Saturday in April. The start line is in Mt. Pleasant on Coleman Blvd., and goes all the way over the bridge into downtown Charleston with the finish line on Meeting St. at the 6th mile.

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An MUSC employee, Dr. Marcus Newberry, started the event as a way to encourage fitness and health in Charleston. Since the Bridge Run began, the start and finish lines have been placed in many different spots around downtown and the times have changed. 1995 was the first time that over 10,000 runners participated and the current limit is 44,000 people.  In the tradition of historic Charleston’s Civil War and Revolutionary War heritage, a cannon is fired to start the event.

I’ve never braved the run, but it looks like a ton of fun and brings more people to Charleston than most other events held here. It also is usually around the same week of Easter and Spring Break for some. Tons of restaurants and bars all around Charleston (Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, downtown) hold Bridge Run pre-run and post-run parties with live music and specials. If you’re visiting from out of town, a runner, or a local, I highly suggest cruising around downtown and checking out everything going on in honor of the Cooper River Bridge Run!

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