“Eat Here or We Both Starve” reads the sign inside Harold’s Diner, a no-frills diner at the intersection of William Hilton Parkway and Singleton Road - an institution since 1974. It’s where loyal customers are constantly vying for spots at the busy counter, fillin out their own order sheets. Names are cried out from the cramped kitchen and orders of towering, mouth-watering burgers are served.
This is a neighborhood joint that has more character on one wall than many restaurants have throughout their entire dining room. Its popularity is a sign that eating local is alive and well, and gives credence to the idea that authenticity, good food, and ambiance are what we all crave when choosing a casual spot or a white-tablecloth restaurant.
In search of oysters, pad Thai, spanakopita, sole meunière, jerk chicken, or churros? Head to the Lowcountry because the food scene here is on the fast–track, and has become a dining destination. Many restaurants offer Southern classics like seafood and barbeque and the list of ethnic crowd-pleasing choices is long and growing with Caribbean, Chinese, French, Greek, Mexican, Central and Southern American, Italian, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisine. Many of these independent restaurants are family-owned and operated, offer gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options and attain high marks on service.
Locally-owned bars, breweries, pizzerias, diners, cafés, bakeries, ice cream and frozen yogurt shops are cropping up in droves, generating quite a foodie buzz.
Supporting local restaurants has a domino effect which directly impacts people’s livelihood. Fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers and farmers who raise livestock, fruits, vegetables, and flowers and those who ensure their distribution, are affected. Most vendors who have stands at farmer’s markets rely on a network of consumers, retail stores and restaurants. For years now, chefs have been adding their local suppliers’ names on their menus because they have opted for a higher standard–a healthy quid pro quo.
So next time you’re contemplating your next restaurant reservation, check your locavore index and help support our tight-knit community that cares deeply about food, along with art, culture and history and is proud to call the Lowcountry home…and nobody makes shrimp and grits better than we do!