The Ultimate Guide to Eating Gluten Free in Charleston, SC

June 5, 2024

It’s no secret that Charleston has become a foodie’s paradise, especially when it comes to fresh seafood and southern cuisine. Having celiac or a gluten intolerance shouldn’t be a problem here- you just have to know where to go! This list of Charleston restaurants will help you get the most of the Holy City’s food scene while staying gluten-free. 

Use this guide to enjoy eating out gluten-free for any and every meal in the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina. 

Gluten-free in Charleston: breakfast, coffee & baked goods

The Harbinger

Oh Harbs, how I love thee! This is truly my favorite neighborhood bakery and coffee shop in all of Charleston- women owned, locally focused, and everything is made from scratch and melts in your mouth. They have a set breakfast menu (go for the Grasshopper), plus a whole case of rotating baked goods (the Spice Girl is my current fav) and daily sandwich and salad specials. The Harbinger offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, free wifi, and a sweet little back patio that fills up fast on a gorgeous day.  

The Daily

The Daily is one of Charleston’s OG local coffee shops that has since expanded its reach to Atlanta. The flagship King Street location is a combination of a coffee shop, bakery, and cafe, serving up fun lattes and a host of mediterranean inspired vegetarian and gluten-free options – order anything that comes with their schug. Pro tip: this is wi-fi free cafe, come and hang!

Harken Cafe

Consider this The Harbinger’s little European sister. Located in an old house in the heart of downtown’s French Quarter, the vibe could be enough of a reason to go, but the food is equally wonderful. This is where the neighborhood locals meetup for coffee, surrounded by tourists stumbling in after straying from Market Street. There is wifi, but laptops are only allowed along the back wall and outside on the patio- the dining room is meant for folks to gather! Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free friendly options, plus a local drinks cooler with natural wines and kombucha.

BKeDSHoP

Charleston is serious about their donut shop comparisons, and  this local spot is my favorite. BKeD was once a food truck that gained such a local following they set up a storefront, and their fluffy donut selection is full of funky flavors and always rounded out with gluten free options (see what I did there?). Or you can trade donuts for their handmade pop tarts, stuffed soft pretzels, or specialty lattes- no wrong decisions here! Their shaken cookies and creme espresso has me convinced I’m always deserving of a sweet treat.

Annie O’ Love’s Cookie Cafe

Located in the West Ashley neighborhood, this sweet treat bakery has an *almost* cult following, complete with the option to buy an “I love my cookie dealer” tank or tee. I haven’t gone that far,, but can vouch for their amazing cookie cakes, vegan cheesecake options, and the fact you can buy a pint stuffed with gluten free birthday cake! 

Gluten-free in Charleston: Lunch spots

Mercantile and Mash

Merc and Mash is a popular breakfast and lunch spot located on the first floor of the historic Old Cigar Factory offering specialty coffee in addition to vegetarian and gluten-free options. You can grab and go from the pre-made fridge, or order fresh from the counter. Plus, their market is a great place to buy local gifts or souvenirs and there is free parking out front. 

Lewis Barbecue

Lewis Barbecue is my favorite BBQ spot in all of Charleston, known for their brisket and a smattering of delicious slides that gives vegetarians options too. Plus, they offer a great happy hour that includes food options at the bar (get the loaded nachos). 

Lewis is also hyper gluten-conscious. You can tell the staff you can’t eat gluten, and they’ll get you a clean carving board from the back to ensure it has not touched any bread and all their meats can be carved on that clean space. Plus, all their world famous BBQ sauces are gluten-free. 

Mozzo Deli

Mozzo is your friendly neighborhood deli that keeps it simple but stays busy by allowing you to choose your bread (gluten free options) and/or make almost anything vegetarian or vegan. Plus you can order breakfast sandwiches all day. If you go to Mozzo Mt. Pleasant location, keep an eye out for the retiree men’s breakfast club that has eaten there together every morning for more than a decade!

Brown Bag Deli

Brown Bag is a long time staple lunch spot for locals working in downtown Charleston, and almost everything on their menu can be made gluten-free. It’s a funky local vibe with fun sandwich names. My absolute favorite is the “Apple Butter Jeans”: Melted brie, sliced Granny Smith apples, local apple butter, fresh arugula, mesquite smoked turkey, honey ham, and applewood-smoked bacon (I just hold the meat as a vegetarian and ask for more brie). 

Gluten-free in Charleston: Dinner & Date Nights

Coastal Crust

Coastal Crust is a great spot for families with kids or a large group hangout. Their original Coleman Road location has a big play area with tables out back complete with a vintage car-turned-playset, icecream truck, and they even host movie night. They offer both gluten free and vegetarian pizza options, a full bar, and a fun chance to cozy up by a fire pit during the off season. 

167 Raw Oyster Bar

167 Raw is truly one of the best local seafood focused spots in downtown Charleston, where you can always trust there to be an endless oyster supply… and probably a long wait unless you get there early. 167 Raw doesn’t do reservations, but their sister spot (167 Sushi) does. I say put your name in then go around the corner to the aesthetically pleasing Bar 167, order a cocktail or mini martini, and it won’t even feel like a wait! 

Barsa Tapas Lounge & Bar

Book a patio table at Barsa, order some wine and tapas, then sit back, relax, and wait – your traditional paella order will take 30-40 minutes to prepare, but be worth the wait. This meal is great to order for a large group, and I love how they take an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to both the vegetarian and seafood options- you never fully know what local fare will be tucked inside that paella! 

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Don’t let “biscuit” fool you, XBB offers a seasonal menu of Asian street foods from China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam- comfort food from the owners’ childhood honoring “kick ass grandmas everywhere.” It’s hard for me to order anything but the Okonomiyaki- their signature Japanese cabbage pancake with a sunny side egg on top. Many of their entrees, including the pad kra pow, can be made gluten-free.

Basic Kitchen

At Basic Kitchen, you’ll feel healthy but fancy. Vegan and vegetarian options abound at this neighborhood kitchen known for their cauliflower wings and natural wine list, with many bowl based entrees that you can deconstruct as needed. The bartenders are really friendly, and the staff is very understanding and sensitive to celiac or any other food allergies.

Grace & Grit

Thank God grits are gluten-free, because we all know that’s a southern foodie staple! Grace & Grit is my top recommendation, because with 10+ grit flavor options, you can order a grit flight. This is also a great gluten-free brunch spot option, especially as many folks build their own menu by ordering a variety of sides… not to mention they have some killer brunch cocktails!

Conclusion

Whether you’re a seasoned local or a food-loving traveler looking to explore Charleston’s southern foodie scene, the Holy City offers plenty of gluten-free options that do not compromise on taste or variety. Use this comprehensive guide to enjoy Charleston casual and fine dining without dietary constraints.

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