Ringing in 2020 Without Spending More than $50

New Years in Charleston can be quite pricey, with most events costing at least $150 or more. This is why you have me to provide you with some great ideas on how you can ring in 2020 without having to spend an obscene amount of money. Keep reading to find out my go-to ways to have a budget-friendly New Years celebration.

1. Have a progressive New Years party with your neighbors. 

My neighborhood did this when I was a kid and I still reminisce about how fun it was to this day. Coordinate with your neighbors who will host the appetizer part, the main course part, and the dessert part. Coordinate with your neighbors who aren’t hosting what food item they will contribute to the party. If you have multiple neighbors who want to host, you could even make it into a 5 course dinner! When the clock hits midnight, march around the neighborhood banging pots and pans. The best thing about this is it’s totally FREE and everyone is contributing in some way.

2. New Years Eve at Prohibition

This event only costs $40 and includes a DJ, party favors, a midnight champagne toast, and passed hors d’ouerves from 10:30-11:30pm.

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3. New Years Eve Flip Flop Drop and Fireworks

Head to Folly Beach and hang out at the dive bars where you’re sure to snag some cheap brews, all while listening to live music and watching the flip flops drop and the fireworks burst at midnight. The event is FREE, all you have to do is pay for the drinks!

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4. New Years at Revelry

Looking to watch NYE fireworks from a rooftop, but don’t want to spend $10 on a fancy cocktail? Head on over to the rooftop at Revelry Brewery. Entry is FREE and can specials will be offered. DJ Sparkbox will be playing from 4-7pm.

5. Walk the Red Carpet at Ink N Ivy

For just $35, you can enjoy multiple food stations, a champagne toast at midnight, party favors, ice luges, a photo booth, a balloon drop and a DJ.

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I hope this list helps calm your nerves about the cost of your New Years fun this year and that you truly get the chance to live it up, let go of 2019, and bring in all the good vibes for 2020. If all else fails, you can sit on your couch, watch the ball drop and enjoy some champagne to yourself…but lets hope it doesn’t come down to that. 😉 Happy New Year to all!

Getting your Cultural Culinary fix at Workshop

Workshop has been around for a couple years now, but only recently has this fancy “exploratory food court” stepped up their game with a wide variety of very authentic ethnic food options. The food court has been criticized in the past for having stalls that are good, but leave shortly after they open and also for being a bit TOO fancy and being expensive for a food court-style business. I ventured over to Workshop recently to try out some of the newest stalls, and found myself to be quite impressed with not only the food but the entire layout of the whole place.

Over the course of the past year or two, Workshop has become less of just a food court and more of a family-friendly hang-out spot. You not only have the option to sit inside, but there is also plenty of seating in the huge lawn outside. Workshop now offers live music on the lawn a couple times a week and inside the food court during the cold winter months. Another more recent development is that Workshop now serves fun craft cocktails on the lawn, which makes it easy to grab a beverage if you’re just hanging out on the lawn with your kids or friends.

In my recent visits to Workshop, I sampled a few of Workshop’s offerings. My first stop was to Mansueta’s, which is offering up authentic Filipino cusine. Here I tried the Pancit ($13), the Lumpia ($8), Squash Salad ($11) and Champorado ($8). The Pancit consisted of stir-fried noodles, crab-fat ginger sauce, cabbage and egg. The Lumpia was pork spring rolls, and the Champorado was a thick chocolate rice pudding. Everything at Mansueta’s was delicious and full of rich flavors. The best part was that none of these dishes cost more than $13 and they definitely weren’t skimpy on portion sizes!

My next stop was to Julius’ Deli, where I tried the Whipped Feta ($6) and the Pierogi’s ($8). This stall is a Jewish deli, so many of their dishes are staples of traditional Jewish cuisine, such as the potato Pierogi’s I had. Both of the dishes were super flavorful and I especially loved the sweet and savory flavors of the feta dish, which also had chunks of salty beets on the side. The portions weren’t light and the meal only cost me about $15. Definitely a good bang for your buck!

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My next stop was to Rebel Taqueria, which serves up authentic Mexican cuisine. Here, I tried a dish off their appetizer menu. I sampled their Yoda Balls, which only cost me $5. I was given a basket of what I suppose you would call Mexican hush puppies. The balls were fried and were infused with salsa verde and a corn filling. They were topped with cotija cheese, giving them the perfect tangy finishing flavor. I loved the sweet and spicy flavor combo of this dish I’d probably say these are going to quickly become my new favorite hush puppies in town!

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I paired this delicious food with a warm bourbon-spiked apple cider from the cocktail cart on the lawn (though inside this time due to rain). It cost me $8, which is a bit more on the pricey side, but it was delicious and definitely not skimpy on the bourbon! They are also currently selling mulled wine for about the same price, as well as local beers and wine. You can also venture over to Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co, which has plenty of freshly brewed beer on tap and more delicious food options.

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I still have a few more places at Workshop to check out, but in the meantime I will be here reminiscing about the amazing fusion of flavors of the food I had in my recent visits to Workshop. If you haven’t been yet, you’re really missing out on some high quality food at a very reasonable price. If you need a good post-work hangout spot, this is definitely the place to go!

Now Open: King Claw Seafood!

New to the West Ashley food and bev scene is King Claw Juicy Seafood and Bar, known for its heaping bowls of seafood boils. This week I had the opportunity to attend the soft opening with some fellow bloggers. The restaurant surprised us with how bright, vibrant and big it was. We also liked how well they incorporated a seafood theme, with sailboats and boat ropes scattered around the restaurant and ceilings. With a full bar and plenty of large tables to sit at, we found this restaurant to be very accommodating, as well as inviting.

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King Claw offers a wide variety of seafood boils by the 1/2 pound as well as fried seafood and various appetizers consisting of things like oysters and hush puppies. You can choose from 3 different seasonings when ordering your seafood boil (Cajun, garlic butter, lemon pepper, or the house special) and you can also choose how spicy you want it to be. I opted for a boil consisting of crab legs, crawfish, and shrimp (*this option was only available during their soft opening). I selected the cajun seasoning and a mild spice level. The boil was served in a large bowl, inside a plastic bag to contain what is expected to be a very messy meal. You are given plastic gloves and a bib to help with this as well! I don’t eat a lot of shellfish in general and had never even had a crawfish before, so this was a whole new experience for me..but I went with it! I pulled out my crab cracker and started cracking away. Much to my surprise, the meat inside the fish was incredibly flavorful and in fact, juicy (their restaurant title does not lie!).

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I also tried a few of their appetizers, including the hush puppies, Cajun fries, sweet potato fries, fried shrimp, and Cajun edamame. The fried shrimp and Cajun edamame were my favorites. The fried shrimp was extra crispy, yet soft to the bite, and had a bit of a spice kick. The Cajun spices on the edamame provided the most unique flavor and I will probably be trying to find ways to recreate this app myself in the next few days.

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Not only is the food unique and delicious at King Claw, but it is also pretty affordable. Most boils are in the $15-$25 price range and you are given A LOT of food. I could only eat about 1/4 of my bowl and I took the rest home, making the price a pretty good bang for my buck. If you are a fan of seafood boils, then I would highly suggest venturing out to this new West Ashley hot spot ASAP!

Celebrating Christmas in Charleston

There’s truly nothing like celebrating the Holidays in Charleston. I’d almost compare it to Christmas in New York City, though that might be a bit of a stretch. Plus, there’s no snow in Charleston, but I am not complaining! Charleston is chock-full of festive events all throughout the month of December to get you in the full-on holiday spirit. The best part is that most of these events are FREE too attend and many feature FREE treats as well! Keep reading to find out what I’ve deemed the most festive and treat-filled events to get you in the ultimate holiday spirit. This list will be continuously updated, so keep checking back for more event info!

12/7: 20th Annual Holiday Market and Craft Show

From 11am-4pm, head over Moultrie Middle School for all your holiday shopping needs! Stock up on local produce, baked goods, hot food, and handcrafted gifts by local artisans. Live entertainment will be included as well, with a visit from Santa himself, face painting, balloon art and a craft area.

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12/7: North Charleston Christmas Festival and Parade

With FREE admission and FREE parking, this event is surely not to be missed! Enjoy visits with Santa, live musical entertainment, kids activities, a marshmallow roasting pit, hay rides, artist market, a petting zoo, a parade, and lots of festive food. Event is located at the Felix C Davis Community Center and begins at 4pm.

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12/21: Christmas Warm-Up Block Party

Head over to Baker and Brewer downtown for a festive oyster roast, including whole hog BBQ from Swig and Swine’s pitmaster, Anthony DiBernardo, oysters from the Darling Oyster Bar, and brisket and sweet potato casserole from Lawrence BBQ (located in Raleigh, NC). Tickets are $30 and are all inclusive. Baker and Brewer will also have a special beer on tap made with graham crackers and chocolate. It is topped with roasted marshmallows. YUM! There will also be a variety of market vendors for any last minute gift purchases. Event is from 12-4pm.

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12/22: Christmas in the Park

Head over to Hampton Park at 5pm for live music, live caroling, and a hot chocolate bar! Event is FREE!

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The Best Recipes for an Affordable Thanksgiving at Home

One of the best ways to truly enjoy an affordable meal is by cooking in the comfort of your own home. With Thanksgiving just a day away, I thought I’d share some ideas and recipes that are not only my personal favorites, but also are easy to make and don’t require too many ingredients. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday full of good food and lots of laughs with family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Appetizers:

CHARCUTERIE: My go-to Thanksgiving app is a good charcuterie board. As much as I strive to support local businesses, local cheese and meats tend to be more expensive. I’ve found that Trader Joe’s in Mt. Pleasant has a great selection of unique cheeses at affordable prices. They’ve also got some jams and mustard that make fantastic accompaniments. As for good meats, I would opt for sliced meats at the Whole Foods deli counter. Select your meats in 1/4 lb increments for the cheapest prices. You will also find that 1/4 lb ends up amounting to more meat than you’d think!

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CRUDITES: I always like to prepare my stomach for a big Thanksgiving meal with a good  amount of veggies and some hummus for dipping. Vegetable shopping is a great opportunity to support local farms. In fact, you can get some really great local produce at one of my personal favorite local grocery stores, Lowcountry Street Grocery. This fantastic traveling grocery store just partnered up with Meeting Street Eats, a food truck court in the old Bi-Lo parking lot on Meeting Street and will be parked at the food truck court weekly(Wednesday-Friday all day, as well as Saturday afternoons). LSG stives to provide easy access to affordable local produce to underserved communities.

Sides: 

Below are a few signature recipes that my family uses in our Thanksgiving meal each year. My favorite is the cranberry chutney. I love it because of its chunky texture from the celery and chopped apples. It’s got the perfect combination of tart and sweet flavors.

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY:

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CORNBREAD-SAUSAGE STUFFING WITH APPLES:

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Dessert:

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE (recipe courtesy of Beth Boisi)

Beth has been cooking this cheesecake every year since 2011. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Crust:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

30 ginger snap cookies

Filling:

Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

One 15-ounce can pumpkin

5 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Whipped Cream, for serving, recipe follows

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
  1. Crust:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Add the gingersnaps to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until crumbly. Transfer to a large bowl and add the melted butter. Stir until evenly mixed. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with 3-inch sides. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool completely while preparing the filling.
  5. Filling:
  6. Put a teakettle filled with water on the stovetop, over medium heat, and bring to a boil.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and sugar and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and beat until incorporated. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and vanilla, and beat until blended. Add the flour and beat until incorporated.
  8. Wrap the sides and bottom of the springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Pour the filling into the pan and put it in a small roasting pan. Pour the hot water from the teakettle into the roasting pan, filling halfway up the sides of the springform pan, about 1 1/2 inches. Bake until the center of the cheesecake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the water bath and let it cool on a wire rack.
  9. Once cooled, use a paring knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Chill the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving. Serve with Cinnamon Whipped Cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:

Yield: 1 1/2 to 2 cups
  1. Pour the heavy cream into a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until thick and frothy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, and beat until medium peaks form.

 

 

My Top 5 Restaurant Happy Hours

Happy Monday! It’s the start of another week and I’m feeling refreshed and ready to bring you another great blog post all about the best deals in Chucktown. It seems that one of the questions I am often asked when people find out that I write a food blog about affordability is, “What’s your go-to place for happy hour?”. What better way to give an answer to this question than by providing you with a list of my top 5 favorite happy hours in Charleston.

1. BARSA: This place is not only my favorite place for happy hour, but also is up there in being one of my favorite restaurants in Charleston. Barsa wins by having extremely high quality, authentic Spanish cuisine at an affordable price, even when its not happy hour. This means that when it is happy hour, you’re getting an EXTRA amazing deal! Barsa’s happy hour is from 4-7, Monday-Friday. Their offerings include discounted paella and drinks. Yes, that means you can order paella for about 5-6 people, only spend a total of $22, and who knows, you may even still have leftovers!

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2. EDMUND’S OAST: This restaurant has one of the best happy hours in Charleston in terms of pricing. Everything on the happy hour menu is priced at just $4. Some of my go-to items on the menu are the sticky peanut wings and the deviled eggs. The deviled eggs have a tangy flavored filling and are topped with pickled onions and the wings are fried to crispy perfection and are submerged in the most delicious sauce that contains a mixture of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors. You can indulge in this fabulous happy hour Monday-Friday from 4:30-6:30pm.

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3. COQUIN: Conquin opened just a little over a month ago and since its opening I’ve had to to a bit of adjusting to my list of happy hour favorites. I went to Paris in the Summer of 2018 and ever since then, I’ve just been DYING to go back. Coquin offers the perfect way for me to feel like I’ve been transported back, without even having to leave Charleston. It’s small, but at the same time allows you to feel as though you are entering into a typical Parisian cafe. This restaurant offers happy hour from 5-8pm, Sunday-Thursday and 5-7 Friday and Saturday. The happy hour menu consists of two different tapas, priced at just $5 each. Beer, wine and cocktails are typically priced at $6 or less. The menu tends to switch out items every now and then, but if you happen see the poached artichokes on the happy hour menu, don’t even second guess yourself about ordering them.

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4. LOCALS: Locals is located in Mt. Pleasant and offers happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-7pm, with discounted drinks. They also offer daily specials, with my favorite being their Monday half-priced sushi after 3pm deal. Yes, this means you can get a sushi roll for as little as $3! I would suggest arriving as early as you can to get in on this deal, as the restaurant tends to fill up quickly on Monday nights. My go-to rolls are the Caribbean Roll and the Ebi Ebi roll.

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(pardon the bad lighting in this photo..it’s still delicious!)

5. THE ALLEY: There’s really no better place to spend a weekday evening with friends than at The Alley. This restaurant/arcade/bowling alley offers $3 appetizers, $8 bottles of wine, and $4 local drafts Monday-Friday from 4-7pm. If you go on Monday, those specials last all night long! I highly recommend the loaded tots and the chicken and waffle sliders.

An Affordable Charleston Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us and I thought what better way to get into the Thanksgiving spirit than by highlighting some great, affordable ways to support local Charleston businesses to supply all your feasting needs! Upon my investigating, I discovered three restaurants in Charleston that offer Thanksgiving sandwiches at a very affordable price, as well as multiple restaurants offering Thanksgiving meals to take home at reasonable prices. Keep reading to learn all about my discoveries!

THANKSGIVING SAMMIES

Tattooed Moose:

Tattooed Moose is known particularly for their duck fat fries, but another staple on their menu that also happens to be a fan favorite is their Thanksgiving sandwich. This sandwich is complete with shredded roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, mayo, and crispy fried onions on toasted wheat bread. It comes with chips and a side of gravy for dipping! Cost for this sandwich is just $9.50.

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Circe’s Grotto:

This sandwich shop is a staple for CofC students. They serve up warm breakfast sandwiches and wraps in the morning and a variety of deli sandwiches and salads for lunch, including a heaping Thanksgiving sandwich, complete with fresh, sliced roasted turkey breast, lots of stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo. You truly get a full Thanksgiving meal in just one sandwich at Circe’s. Cost for this sandwich is just $9.50.

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SNOB:

This restaurant is only offering their Thanksgiving sandwich on Thanksgiving Day, but it only costs $9, proving to be the cheapest sandwich option. It is complete with turkey, cranberry mayo, cornbread stuffing, and gravy served on thick-cut white bread.

 

THANKSGIVING TAKE-HOME MEALS

Semilla:

Semilla is offering a full Thanksgiving meal that feeds 8 people for $155. It includes your choice of a 10-12 pound traditional, red chile rubbed, or a masa-fried turkey bucket, as well as mashed potatoes, stuffing, apple and walnut roasted brussels sprouts and your choice of pumpkin or oatmeal pecan pie. You can order al la carte, but the full meal option really gives you a great bang for your buck. You can order your meal online here.

Ted’s Butcherblock:

Ted’s has one of the most affordable to-go options, with a whole Joyce Farms “Naked” turkey costing just $4/pound. You can choose from a variety of side options, such as green bean casserole and mac and cheese for $13-$15/pound. To place your order with Ted’s, call 577-0094.

Hamby Catering:

Hamby Catering, located in West Ashley is offering a full Thanskgiving meal that feeds 8 people for just $165. This meal includes a southern traditional whole-roasted turkey and comes with mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, southern green beans with caramelized onions, cornbread dressing, and a classic turkey gravy. The meal does not include pie however, but can be purchased a la carte for $20. You can also order your turkey and sides a la carte, but the full menu is definitely the most affordable way to go. You can place your order with Hamby online here or by phone at 725-4035.

Swig and Swine:

Swig and Swine is located in West Ashley and is known for its fantastic BBQ. This restaurant is offering an a la carte menu, with a turkey that feeds 18-20 people for $80. You can choose from a variety of sides, such as mac and cheese, baked potato salad, green bean casserole, and corn pudding, which cost $35 for a half pan and will be enough to feed 10-15 people. They also are offering up a selection of pies for just $20. You can place your order with Swig and Swine by calling 225-3805.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Places to Satisfy your Halloween Sweet Tooth

If there’s one thing you should know about me its that I LOVE my sweets. Put a cookie in front of my face and I will happily gobble it down in just a matter of seconds. Obviously this means Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because it gives me even more reason to satisfy my crazy sweet tooth. If you’re like me and are a fan of all things sweet, keep reading to find out my go-to ways to indulge.

1. BEARDCATS

Beardcats is one of my go-to places when my sweet tooth is raging. Most people think Jenis is the best place to get ice cream in Charleston, but those people clearly haven’t been to Beardcats yet. Beardcats specializes in homemade gelatos and sorbettos and has some of the most delicious and unique flavors. The flavor is rich and the texture is soft and creamy. Not only do they offer gelato and sorbetto, but they also sell homemade pastries, as well as ice cream cookie sandwiches, made with their gelato and homemade cookies. They sell a variety of ice cream cookie sandwich combinations. Pictured below is their peanut butter ice cream sandwich with a chocolate gelato center, which costs just $5.

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2. BROWN’S COURT BAKERY

Brown’s Court Bakery is in my opinion, one of the best places to get a homemade breakfast sandwich, and not to mention a high quality pastry. Brown’s Court specializes in their homemade breads. They make everything from english muffins to french bread loaves. They even supply their bread to many restaurants in Charleston because its just that good. Every time I go in I usually don’t leave without purchasing a pastry on my way out. Everything is baked to perfection and there’s a wide variety of options, such as cookies, donuts, sweet breads, slices of pie and the most delicious carmelita bars you’ll ever stuff your face with. My go-to pastries are usually the carmelita bars or their huge candy-filled monster cookies, but in my most recent visit I walked out with a slice of pumpkin bread with a sweet iced topping. It only cost me a little over $3. They’ve also got a great selection of Halloween-themed iced cookies to supply all your party needs.

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3. BAKIES

Bakies is a small, locally-owned bakery located on Coleman Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant. This bakery specializes in all things sweet, from simple fresh baked cookies to full-fledged birthday cakes. Typically, people call ahead for large orders at this bakery but they also have a small selection of pastries in a case at the front of the bakery for satisfying your on-the-go needs. Recently, I indulged in this adorable ghost sugar cookie, which only cost me about $2. Bakies also runs a sticky bun special on Saturdays, in which you can get a sticky bun for just $3.50. Be sure to call ahead to get in on this special and by call ahead, I mean before Wednesday of the week!

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4. FRACTURED PRUNE

Fractured Prune is a donut shop located on Ben Sawyer Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant. This donut shop is no ordinary donut shop, as it specializes in freshly made HOT donuts that can be made to order. Yes, that means you can choose the kind of icing you want on your donut, the toppings, and your glaze. They also have a large selection of specialty flavor combinations to choose from. Right now they are serving up apple cider donuts, which I indulged in recently. These donuts cost a little over $3, so definitely not as cheap as Dunkin, but definitely quite worth the slight splurge. They’re a bit crunchy to the bite, but soft, warm, and moist on the inside.

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5. HALO

Halo is located in downtown Charleston on Ashley Avenue. Like Brown’s Court, Halo is also known for its freshly baked breads and pastries, particularly their muffins. Every day their case in the front of the cafe is well stocked with a variety of muffins. Recently I indulged in their most popular blueberry muffin, which only cost me about $2.50. Truly a great price for a homemade muffin in Charleston! Halo also offers a full menu of sandwiches and salads for lunch, as well as a small breakfast menu with very reasonable prices.

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I hope everyone has a super fun Halloween and indulges in all things sweet. If you have a favorite place for satisfying your sweet tooth not mentioned above, let me know! Happy Halloween!

 

Charleston’s Best and Most Affordable Bagel Hot Spots

In a city that’s known for its biscuits and gravy, you’d think it’d be hard to find a good, quality bagel.  What I have come to discover is that Charleston is in fact full of great bagels, you just have to know where to look. Recently, I went on a search for the best, most affordable bagels in Charleston. Keep reading to find out where my journey took me.

BLONDIES BAGELS AND CAFE

Blondie’s is located on Daniel Island, among all the other shops and restaurants on the main drag. It is a locally owned cafe, with a focus on homemade bagels and cream cheeses. The cafe has a beautiful, rustic interior and a wonderful selection of various bagels, pastries, sandwiches, and espresso drinks. I opted for a wheat bagel with their seasonal, homemade pumpkin cream cheese. The cream cheese was absolutely delicious. It had real pumpkin flavor and had hints of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Not to mention, it was extra creamy! The bagel was served warm and was soft to the bite. It seemed to just melt right in my mouth. This bagel cost me just $3.25 (cream cheese included!). It couldn’t have been more of a steal.

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RENZO

Renzo is a restaurant on Huger Street in downtown Charleston that is known for its Italian fare, however I’m here to let you in on a little secret. On Sundays from 9am-1pm, Renzo serves up fresh, homemade bagels with a variety of toppings to choose from. I opted for an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and topped it with cucumbers. The cream cheese was super flavorful, though the bagel seemed a bit dry and not quite so soft to the bite. If you like your bagels toasted more well done however, then this bagel would be perfectly pleasing. This bagel cost me a little more than $5, proving to be not quite as much of a steal as other places I visited. The unique varieties of bagels and toppings however, definitely make it a good bagel splurge.

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EASTSIDE BAGEL

Eastside Bagel is the smallest and most adorable hole-in-the wall bagel shop you ever did see. This bagel shop is located in the Eastside neighborhood in downtown Charleston on Line Street. The owners of Eastside Bagel have really hit a home-run with their unique spin on a classic bagel. Instead of toasting their bagels, they steam them! If you’re a New Yorker, you’re probably familiar with the bagel steaming practice, and should probably think about making your way to Eastside Bagel next time you’ve got that bagel craving. This bagel shop is counter-service only, with only a few tables to sit at outside. Most people order their bagels to go. For ultimate affordability, I would select anything from their “5 Hollars” section of the menu. I opted for the “Carver Bagel”, which is a PB&J bagel made with homemade peanut butter and jelly. I was amazed at how incredible this bagel was. It had a slight crunch when I bit into it and was soft and warm on the inside. The peanut butter and jelly seemed to just ooze right into my mouth. I savored each and every bite of this bagel sandwich. This bagel cost me a little over $5 but the unique steaming method and the rich favors from the PB&J made it well worth the cost.

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BAGEL NATION

Bagel Nation is one of the more well-known bagel cafes in Charleston. Their bagels are made from scratch every morning (you can literally see them making them behind the counter) and they have a wide variety of bagel flavors to choose from. The also have a large selection of bagel sandwiches ranging from sweet breakfast sandwich options to more savory lunch options. These bagels are some of the cheapest bagels in Charleston, with one single bagel costing just $1.25 and only $2.75 if you add cream cheese. Since these bagels are so cheap, I went all in and ordered a half dozen bagels (one of each flavor of course!). My favorite flavors were the blueberry bagel and their seasonal pumpkin spice bagel. Both were sweet, soft and moist. It’s quite obvious why these are the most popular bagels in Charleston!

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MOZZO DELI

Mozzo has two locations, one being in Mt. Pleasant and the other on upper Meeting Street in downtown, Charleston. Mozzo Deli is a cafe that serves a variety of sandwiches for lunch, as well as omelettes, pastries and breakfast sandwiches for breakfast. They are best known for their breakfast sandwiches served on their homemade bagels. I ordered an egg and cheese sandwich on a sesame bagel, which only cost me a little over $4. The sandwich was served warm, and was soft and chewy to the bite, while the cheese oozed out the sides as I bit into it. It couldn’t have been a better tasting breakfast sandwich, and not to mention, a great price!

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After all my bagel indulging, I came to discover that I don’t need to travel all the way to New York City for good bagel. Charleston has many great options to help you get your bagel fix at an affordable price. Have you been to any of these bagel cafes? What’s your favorite?

 

Spring Street on A Budget: The Best Ways to Affordably Eat Your Way Down Charleston’s Most Eclectic Street

When I moved to Charleston five and a half years ago, Spring Street was mainly comprised of College of Charleston student housing, with the exception of a few small restaurants that were within a college student’s price range. In the span of the recent years since moving here, I’ve gotten to see Spring Street transform into one of the most eclectic streets in Charleston. The street has grown into a mecca for unique, handmade goods and some of the most ethnic food downtown Charleston has seen. Though the food has gotten a bit more upscale and in some cases, a bit more pricey, I’ve found ways to explore Spring Street’s new-found ethnicity, without having to worry about overspending.

 

1. ALWAYS get the Okonomiyaki at Xiao Bao Biscuit. 

Xiao Bao Biscuit has been around for quite some time. In fact, it was open while Spring Street was a bustling crowd of college kids, but was not nearly as appreciated as it is now. Xiao Bao was one of the first few restaurants I visited when I moved to Charleston and has since become one of my go-to spots whenever I’ve got that spicy Asian food craving. For utmost affordability and palate-satisfying cuisine at Xiao Bao, ordering the Okonomiyaki is a must. The menu at this restaurant is always changing, but the Okonomiyaki is one item that is always there. This dish is essentially a very large pancake that is made out of cabbage, fried to crispy perfection, and is topped with a variety of tangy and spicy sauces. The dish costs $13, which might sound hefty at first, but when you realize that it’s big enough to split between multiple people, it makes this dish a pretty good deal. Not to mention, its delicious. You also have the option to add pork candy, bacon, or an egg for a few dollars extra (highly recommended to add all three!).

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2. Get transported to Paris at Coquin.

Coquin opened just a few weeks ago and does not fail to please. This restaurant is owned and operated by just two people who both share of love of Parisian cuisine and the city itself. They both have spent a lot of time exploring Paris and wanted to bring the cuisine of a typical French cafe and bar to Charleston. You might be thinking “oh man, this place sounds fancy and expensive” but FEAR NOT! Coquin offers happy hour from 5-7, Monday-Thursday from 5-8pm and Friday-Saturday from 5-7pm. During these times they have select tapas, wine and beer for just $5. They also serve up delicious frose for just $6. Even if you don’t make it to happy hour, most of their tapas cost less than $10 and they definitely don’t skimp out on the bread! Coquin is open for breakfast, during which they serve a variety of pastries and coffee, as well as lunch, during which they serve up baguette sandwiches.

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3. Eat authentic Spanish paella at Estadio.

Just last week, Estadio opened on Spring Street, and it couldn’t be a more high quality addition. Estadio’s chef, Alex Lira spent three weeks in Spain, traveling and eating at various kitchens throughout San Sebastian and Madrid. He is now bringing everything he learned about Spanish cooking to Estadio. Estadio is known for its traditional Spanish tapas, such as pan con tomate, patatas bravas, and ham croquetas, but also offers exceptional paella. Estadio offers a seafood paella, which costs about $28, but is enough food to feed about 4-5 people. Its full of fresh ingredients and rich, tangy and spicy flavors. If you’re not quite hungry enough for the paella, I would opt for a few dishes off their “pintxos and aperitivos” section of the menu. Most of these items cost just a measly $2 and end up being the perfect thing to snack on. I highly recommend getting their Boletus toast, which is toasted bread topped with a mushroom mousse. It only costs $2.50 and will wow your taste buds.

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4. Feast on the taco lunch special at Pink Cactus.

Pink Cactus opened a few months ago next to the Veggie Bin and brings extra authentic cuisine from Oaxaca, Mexico to Charleston. This restaurant specializes in moles and a masa corn grinding method, used in their tortilla making. If you go for lunch, you can get a great sampling of these freshly made masa corn tortillas with their $12 taco special. This special gets you 2 tacos of your choice, a side of rice and refried beans, as well as a glass of agua fresca. This is truly a great bang for your buck, and will have you leaving full and satisfied. I would say its even enough food to feed two people, which makes it even more of a great deal.

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5. Get your sushi fix at Poke San during happy hour.

Located on the corner of St. Phillip and Spring Street, this quaint and casual family-run sushi restaurant is serving up some great, freshly rolled sushi. The restaurant offers half-off all sushi rolls during their happy hour from 5-7pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Yes, that means you can get a sushi roll for just $3! The sushi is made with lots of love and great flavors and will not disappoint. I highly recommend the tropical tempura roll, which you can get for just $5 during happy hour and is made with tempura shrimp, spicy crab, asparagus, cream cheese, mango, scallion, sweet soy glaze, spicy mayo and a mango spice. It’s truly a fantastic fusion of spicy and tropical flavors.

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I hope you get the chance to explore all the ethnic foods Spring Street has to offer. It’s truly refreshing to see Charleston starting to branch off from its typical southern food fare and bring some new and exciting flavors to the city. Let me know which place is your fav! Bon Appetit!