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12 quintessential date-night restaurants in Charleston

A photo of Red logo
by Stephanie Barna
Updated January 24, 2024

Charleston’s cobblestone streets and candlelit verandas scream romance, and that Lowcountry charm also defines its best date-night restaurants. Window seats and fried fish baskets take the edge off first-date nerves at an oyster bar. For dinner and dancing, there’s a multi-level hotspot with killer sunset views. Proposals mean a nautical dining room at a waterfront beauty.

This guide pairs Charleston restaurants with romantic occasions from first dates all the way to milestone anniversaries. These are Charleston’s 12 best date-night restaurants.

A photo of The Darling Oyster Bar restaurant
4.7
4.7 (3387)
$30 and under
Seafood
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

When it comes to planning a flawless first date, the right vibes are just as crucial as the food—you want a setting that smooths over any awkward moments. The Darling checks all those boxes with a crowd-pleasing menu of oyster shooters, seafood towers, fried fish baskets, and burgers. The best seat in the house is by the raw bar near the front window, where you’ll be entertained by buzzy King Street views.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on May 3, 2024
Great food amazing service great decor everything was perfect
A photo of Sorghum & Salt restaurant
4.5
4.5 (357)
$31 to $50
Tapas / Small Plates
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

At Sorghum and Salt, the ultra-seasonal New American menu changes daily, though dishes are always heavy on the produce. Chillier months bring options like scallops with celery root, shiitake, and watercress or butter beans with focaccia and feta. Focus on your date and get better acquainted by leaving the decision-making to the chefs and go for the four- or six-course tasting menu.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on Jun 14, 2024
Always a treat to be surprised at Sorghum and Salt. The food is interesting, beautiful and delicious.
A photo of Bearcat restaurant
4.6
4.6 (170)
$31 to $50
Contemporary American
West Ashley
About the restaurant

The two distinct vibes at this inventive Avondale newcomer make it the kind of versatile date-night gem you can keep returning to. Graze on chicken yakitori and bao buns on the bar side. The main dining room next door is all about inspired New American dishes by chef/owner George Kovach, who brings MICHELIN firepower from Chicago restaurants like Elizabeth and Band of Bohemia. His menu changes frequently, but is a unique riff on fine dining—without any of the fuss.

Top review
JenniferJvip
Dined 2 days ago
It’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to Completely fabulous on every level
A photo of Muse Restaurant restaurant
4.6
4.6 (3269)
$30 and under
Mediterranean
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Muse’s address—just off King Street in a historic home—makes it feel like a closely guarded secret. Small dining rooms are scattered throughout the rambling old house, and there’s an intimate bar known for a top-notch wine list. The drinks are great matches for the restaurant’s housemade pastas and seafood hits like risotto with pistachio-crusted halibut—dishes that will have you and your date plotting your return before you even get to dessert.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Absolutely fabulous dinner and service! We will be back!
A photo of Brasserie la Banque restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1159)
$30 and under
French
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Nothing levels up a special anniversary like a decadent French meal in a gorgeous dining room. Find both at Brasserie la Banque, a locally loved spot in historic downtown. Your celebrations here will include chic starters like caviar, chilled oysters, and escargot, plus mains like steak frites and coq au vin. Pro-tip: Begin—or end—your romantic evening with a martini or a manhattan at Bar Vaute, the cozy bar downstairs.

Top review
StephanieS
Dined 3 days ago
Food was great. Service fantastic! Sitting at the chef’s bar is the best.
A photo of Tempest restaurant
4.6
4.6 (2296)
$50 and over
Seafood
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Tempest’s nautical dining room is an elegant backdrop for a big night out. But it’s the installation by local artist Honey McCrary—100,000 pieces of stained glass on the ceiling—that adds a wow factor to any romantic celebration. The hyperlocal seafood-focused menu is just as innovative, featuring Lowcountry oysters from the Ace Basin and flounder with local kale. Whether you and your SO are seated indoors or out, Tempest’s dreamy atmosphere fits the bill for a very memorable evening.

Top review
JohnJ
Dined 3 days ago
Great place. Waitstaff quite knowledgeable . Had suggestion for vegetarian meal. Bread is awesome, fish dish was nice. Smaller portions but we were full. Fun little surprise st the end.
A photo of Coterie- Charleston restaurant
4.4
4.4 (370)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Coterie is for wanderlusting couples who crave a meal that stretches beyond traditional Southern food. Starting on January 18th, the restaurant will serve global cuisine made with local produce and fish. International ingredients like aloe liqueur and masala chai-infused gin make cameos on the creative cocktail list. The menu is just as cross-cultural, filled with must-orders like jackfruit ceviche and yellow Thai curry with pork belly.

Top review
BethS
Dined 2 days ago
The menu was fully labeled for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free…such a handy feature for a food conscious foodie! The flavors popped and the dishes were all so beautifully presented.
A photo of Maison restaurant
4.9
4.9 (1581)
$31 to $50
French
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Paris is always a romantic idea—and so is escaping to Maison. The petite, window-wrapped French bistro is led by executive chef Vandy Vanderwarker (formerly of The Ordinary), whose menu features sophisticated French staples like burgundy escargot and rabbit en croute, plus more casual dishes including steak frites. Bonus points for the excellent French wines, which round out the transportive European feels for you and your date.

Top review
Mccad
Dined 7 days ago
First time diners. loved it!!! Everything we had was delicious and our server was excellent!
A photo of Indaco restaurant
4.8
4.8 (3638)
$30 and under
Italian
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Indaco’s farmhouse-inspired interiors make a great backdrop for lively group conversations. And its rustic Italian plates, which include black pepper tagliatelle with a runny egg yolk, housemade salumi, and wood-fired pizzas, were made for devouring with a crew. Parties of four or more can enjoy a meal at a pair of butcher block tables or out on the streetside patio. Sign up for one of Indaco’s regular wine dinners for an exceptionally great group date.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
We love Indaco, and have been here several times before - ranging from general date nights, to restaurant week specials, bday celebrations etc. however, every dish that hit our table last night was like someone emptied the salt can in it. Roasted chicken was to die for, as it usually it, however we were extremely disappointed in the salt level that was used last night in our dishes :(
A photo of The Peacock Charleston restaurant
4.5
4.5 (234)
$31 to $50
American
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

When a date calls for dinner and dancing, you head straight to this sprawling downtown hotspot. With three levels, a rooftop bar, and a club, The Habit has something for every kind of date. Start with Champagne and caviar on the roof and then check out the speakeasy lounge for a DJ dance party. If you’d rather linger over dinner, sit in one of the dining rooms and get truffle fries and charred lamb lollipops before splurging on a chocolate tasting for dessert.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 2 days ago
Food was to die for! I had the burrata and it was amazing, the burger and farm salad were great as well. Service was a little slow but it seemed busy so that’s understandable. The atmosphere was probably the best part as the decor was adorable and there was really good live music. Definitely recommend getting a reservation, we made one 10 minutes before and were fine, but would not have gotten in without one. Overall great experience!
A photo of Oak Steakhouse - Charleston restaurant
4.7
4.7 (5340)
$30 and under
Steakhouse
Downtown Charleston
About the restaurant

Expect the relationship red carpet at this classic steakhouse. Oak is set in a former bank and has three floors with distinct ambiances, depending on the kind of proposal you’re planning: to see and be seen, grab a spot downstairs; for peak intimacy, pick one of the quieter upper levels. Signature steak options include filet mignon and a porterhouse to share, and the wine selection features an impressive by-the-glass list plus half bottles and magnums, ideal for your extra-special moment.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
Wonderful celebration and the special touch of personalizing the menu for my parents 50th anniversary was beyond our expectations. Would have loved the option of a baked potato. Steak was delicious as always. Thank you for making this a special night!
A photo of The Kingstide restaurant
4.4
4.4 (1401)
$30 and under
Seafood
Daniel Island
About the restaurant

Pop the question at one of the area’s prettiest waterfront restaurants. From Charleston, a visit to The Kingstide kicks off with a 30-minute ferry ride to Daniel Island, where you’ll be treated to solid seafood like crab fried rice and Lowcountry chowder. Get down on one knee in the nautical dining room or on one of the terraces overlooking the Wando River. Or propose at The Kingstide’s scenic rooftop, equipped with its own raw bar and small plates menu.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 4 days ago
As always, the food was delicious, and the service was excellent.
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