802 Bay St., Beaufort, S.C. 843-379–3474, saltusrivergrill.com, @saltusgrill.
For 25 years, Magnolia’s has been a top destination, inspiring a restaurant renaissance, cookbooks and a line of stone-ground grits. Even the fried mac and cheese is classy when served in the columned or wood-beamed white-tablecloth dining rooms. Don’t miss the signature Down South egg roll — collard greens, chicken, tasso ham, red pepper puree, mustard and peach chutney — or the Lowcountry bouillabaisse, loaded with shellfish, tasso ham and andouille sausage.
185 E. Bay St., Charleston, S.C. 843-577-7771, magnoliascharleston.com, @magnoliaschs.
Johnson & Wales grad Mike Davis serves a menu designed around local and fresh ingredients — Carolina catfish, pork and house-made pimento cheese. Hints of the Alabama native’s roots and training in New Orleans also show up: Don’t miss the Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie with walnut, bourbon and chocolate fudge.
100 State St., West Columbia, S.C. 803-791-3443, terrasc.com, @TerraSC.
Greenville: Nose Dive Gastropub
Lobster sliders, buttermilk-brined chicken, braised beef and seared tuna, as well as traditional pub grub, are a few of the enticements at this spot in the heart of town. Pair them with local and regional organic brews, wines or handcrafted cocktails. Grab a table on the wide sidewalk out front and settle in; the bar’s open until the wee hours.
116 S. Main St., Greenville, S.C . 864-373-7300, thenosedive.com, @thenosedive.
Greenville: Soby’s New South Cuisine
Classic Southern starters of deviled eggs, biscuits and ham and fried green tomatoes are polished to perfection, as are the main dishes of pan-seared bass, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin and grilled trout. Begin or end with a cheese plate that blends favorites with regional selections.
207 S. Main St., Greenville, S.C. 864-232-7007, sobys.com, @sobysnewsouth.
Scranton: Schoolhouse Barbecue
The smokers are fired up Thursdays through Sundays, and they only take cash, but that doesn’t keep this four-room former school building from being packed by diners queueing up at the buffet. Classic Carolina chicken and ribs are the main attractions; collards, cole slaw and two dozen side dishes round out the selections. Pot roast, fried seafood, ham and other entrees appear on weekends.
2252 Highway 52, Scranton, S.C. 843-389-2020, schoolhousebbq.com.