Downtown Charleston Restaurants That Don’t Take Reservations

February 17, 2024

Today’s post goes out to the eaters, not the planners. If you’re in Charleston looking for good food last minute, this is my tried and true list of the top restaurants that don’t take reservations.

These are the spots for people who want to eat good food in Charleston but are, ahem, a little more on the last minute side, or just don’t want to spend their precious time scouring Resy waitlists.

I hear you, I see, I am often one of you… especially when tourist season begins to pick back up in Charleston  and I am still a tired local maintaining my winter cocoon status with occasional bursts of desire for a good meal and nice night out.

And yes, you may still have to wait, but at these spots, that means everyone else does too-  equality for the planners and non-planners alike! 

The Top Charleston Restaurants that don’t do Reservations

167 Raw

This is my go-to non-reservation with visitors wanting to eat good local seafood, as it’s in the heart of lower King Street’s tourist and shopping district. Trust me, everyone puts their name in and patiently waits because the tuna burger, shaved swordfish sandwich, and lobster roll all slap. Plus you can wait around the corner at 167’s neighboring bar on Fulton street and enjoy major vibes, imbibes, and focaccia.

Chubby Fish

This local seafood with a changing menu is tucked off upper King. It is popular with the locals, and everyone knows to expect a wait… only some know to put their name in and walk down to Malagon for a drink and appetizer at the bar while doing so.

The Bar & Patio at Husk

Charleston is home to Sean Bock’s original Husk restaurant, who main menu changes daily and will generally require a reservation in advance. But you can always eat at The Bar, and no I don’t just mean at a bar. Folks often overlook the adorable carriage house & outdoor garden patio that is to the right of the house restaurant and offers a full separate menu, with the bar burger maintaining the rep as a Charleston staple. Husk’s current executive chef, Raymond England, updated this second menu, which is elevated beyond bar fare, boasting bourbon and oyster pairingsas well.

Edmund’s Oast Restaurant

Edmund’s Oast doesn’t take reservations for parties of 6 or less indoors, and all of the outdoor seating is first come first serve and offers one of the best happy hours in all of downtown Charleston. This is a local favorite with an easy party and relaxed yet refined vibes – code for last minute work and/or family meals.

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Xiao Bao joined the Charleston food scene back in 2012, has opened a second location in Nashville, and still maintains their “No reservations, just come” policy in both spots. They do a decent amount of takeout in downtown Charleston as well – whatever you do, know that ordering their signature Japanese cabbage pancake, the Okonomiyaki, is a must.

Leon’s Oyster Shop

This Charleston institution doesn’t mess with reservations for parties under 8 as they serve out fried chicken, oysters, salads, soft serve and frozen G&T’s – all in an old garage. Plus, if there happens to be a wait you can just sneak around the corner to Graft wine bar and might never make it back!

King BBQ

This spot is 10 minutes north of downtown near the Park Circle neighborhood and brought to you by the genius duo behind the nearby Jackrabbit Filly that is delicious but probably in need of a reservation (at least on weekends) King BBQ offers more parking and chill vibes since you order at the counter. The line to order moves fast, and if it looks full, do not despair! There is a big back patio that is easy to miss.

So there you have it! There is no need for you to let a missing reservation keep you from enjoying Charleston’s amazing food scene, and definitely no need to feel guilty about not having assumed Resy or Open Table vulture status. Enjoy 🙂

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