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Charleston Wine + Food

Tasting Notes


The Smoky Secrets to the Best BBQ with Charleston’s Top Pitmasters

From left to right: Aaron Siegel, John Lewis, Anthony DiBernardo

Rising temperatures and sunny skies can only mean one thing: summer’s here. Marked by long days at the beach working on the perfect tan and late-afternoon bike rides through the neighborhood, the dog days offer the chance to ditch suits for shorts and let your hair down for some fun in the sun.

Summer also means something else. Grilling. Whether throwing a backyard BBQ with your friends or just giving your winter-worn oven a rest, the smoky flavors from dishes adorned with grill marks are a staple of the season. We’ve gathered some of Charleston’s top pitmasters to find out how you can take your BBQ from boring to badass. Aaron Siegel of Home Team BBQ, Anthony DiBernardo of Swig & Swine, and John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue are sharing their tips + tricks to become a BBQ Boss in your own right.

What is your best advice for someone looking to beef up their home barbecue?

Anthony: Keep it simple.  Do as much preparation in advance as you can.

John: Order take out from Lewis Barbecue! Just kidding… In all seriousness, I like to keep it simple and have everything prepped beforehand.  My number one advice for smoked meats is starting with a quality product. Invest in premium meat and you won’t have to do much besides cooking it properly to make it taste good. Buddy up to your local butcher or even go to Costco or Sam’s Club and splurge on USDA Prime Cut from the Certified Angus Beef.

Aaron: Balance the meat with lighter, fresh sides to compliment the spread. Summer is great for fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs. Oh, and cold beer.

So, what are your must-have sides?

Aaron: Can't go wrong with some mac n’ cheese somebody's mama made, or something light like cucumber and tomato salad to balance out the meat sweats.

Anthony: Some of my must-have side dishes are corn on the cob, tomato cucumber salad, pickled shrimp, and some type of coleslaw or potato salad.

John: Green Chile Corn Pudding is our signature side dish. It’s got a little heat and is super creamy. I also love putting out pickled red onions, pickles, and white bread to soak up the sauce.

What are the most common grilling mistakes people make at home? And how can you avoid them?

John: The most common mistake I see is slicing the meat right after it’s pulled off the grill. You have to let meat rest - especially beef - before cutting into or you’ll lose all that juice and flavor you’ve worked so hard on cultivating. Be patient!

Aaron: The great thing about cooking and more specifically grilling at home, is there really are no mistakes. You're experimenting. If you liked what you made, write it down so you remember it for next time. If even the dog turned up its nose, try again.

Anthony: Rushing the process of charcoal.  Light your grill an hour before you plan to use it.

Can you cook other things on the grill besides meat?

Anthony: I like to take potatoes and onions and wrap them in aluminum foil and put them directly into the coals as I cook. Another thing I like to do on the grill is making a cobbler in a Dutch oven over the charcoal.

Aaron: At Home Team BBQ we love to grill and smoke vegetables. One of our favorite items is a salsa verde which uses grilled tomatillos, poblano peppers, and jalapeños. It's fresh, smokey, and delicious on anything from nachos to pork chops. We've also been known to grill fruit, like pineapples, that go great in making cocktails.

John: I love grilled corn on the cob. It’s an easy side and everyone thinks it’s impressive looking, but it’s super easy!

Final question, what do you do with the leftovers?

Aaron: What leftovers? Yesterday's meats are just tomorrow's tacos.

John: Tacos!

Anthony: I usually take the leftovers and just distribute them to the neighbors or buy a package of to go boxes from the grocery store and have them available for my guests to take any leftovers home

There you have it. Say goodbye to basic barbecues and get ready to be the rockstar of your next summertime celebration. Let us know what your favorite grill recipes and hacks are on social media using #chswff. Cheers!

-Chris Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager

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Best Summer Beach Bites

Summer is here and in full swing. The sun is shining and the temperatures are most definitely rising. One of Charleston’s favorite activities is unwinding with full days under the sun and wading in the waves at the beach. In Charleston, it’s no secret that there are plenty of options to eat well no matter what kind of activity you may be doing. So, where do we even begin? There are a number of hidden gems for the perfect bite both close to and on the way to each of the beaches in the area. Not only is there ample access to food you can grab-and-go on your way, but you can also easily find something tasty that will make you savor every bite. Here is our guide for the best beach bites.

Sullivan's Island

Sullivan's Island Co-Op

The Co-Op on Sullivan’s Island is your ideal one-stop-shop for all the essentials. For food needs, they provide quick and tasty sandwiches, salads, all day breakfast, and a deli section. They also offer a wide variety of beverages from coffee to juices to their famous frosé (to enjoy before going back on the beach!).  What really sweetens the deal is that the Co-Op offers delivery to any of the beach stations, so you can get any must-haves in a few short footsteps.

Middle-Street Market

The owners of Home Team BBQ have struck a balance between convenience and quality with Middle-Street Market. Whether you’re looking for a smoothie from Hustle Smoothie Bar or artisanal sandwiches inspired by historic residents of Sullivan’s Island, this “happy little market” is the place to go.

Mozzo Deli

Mozzo is conveniently located right on Coleman Boulevard less than ten minutes on your way to Sullivan’s Island. This eatery is known for their exceptionally wide variety of provisions that are quickly prepared, in fact, you may even find yourself overwhelmed. You can find just about any kind of sandwich on the spectrum from simple to sophisticated, as well as breakfast, burgers, and salads. Mozzo has something for everyone looking for something speedy.

Folly Beach

Lost Dog Cafe

Whether you want a tasty takeaway with a southern twist or a shady oasis to kick back, Lost Dog Cafe on Folly can do both! Lost Dog Cafe serves breakfast and lunch with options such as classic Charleston Shrimp + Grits, for those looking to indulge shamelessly, or a Very Berry Spinach Salad if you want something healthy. This place has a wide selection that welcomes guests to sit and stay awhile or to quickly take back to the beach that will have you feeling as bright + golden as the dogs you’re likely to see running around here.


If you find yourself on the way to Folly Beach around breakfast time, Scram is definitely the place for grab-and-go. Helmed by former FIG pastry chef, Melanie Durant, Scram is likely to curb even your most relentless morning cravings. Whether it’s a sweet custard-filled milk bun or one of their savory fontina egg and chili mayo breakfast sandwiches, this food truck will give you the elevated pick-me-up you didn’t even know you needed for a day at the beach.

Bert's Market

Known for its motto “We may doze, but we never close”, Bert's is known by many in the area for being the hub of eccentricity and friendliness on Folly. While it may have a humble appearance on the outside, this divey, one-stop-shop has won the hearts of locals and tourists alike. Bert's persistently pleasant hospitality and high variety of commodities cannot be beat. The deli provides unique specialty sandwiches, sweet treats, hot dogs, bagels, and more that are tasty + quick. From pretzel crisps to their rave-worthy homemade peanut butter, everything you need for fun in the sun at Folly is just a block and a half to the ocean and open 24 hours!

Isle of Palms

Cafe Paname

If you’re having trouble finding this place, all you have to do is look for its iconic, Instagram-worthy VW van. This French-inspired haunt is known for its friendly service + croissant-centric creations. Just to demonstrate how creative these croissants can get, you can get anything from dijon mustard to classic provolone + mayo, or even smoked salmon and pimento cheese.

Sea Biscuit Cafe

Sea Biscuit Cafe is a local favorite for quick breakfast and lunch just less than two blocks from the ocean. Their charming atmosphere and affordable prices have everyone coming back time-after-time to indulge in classic southern breakfast done right. While this humble IOP staple may look small and easy to miss upon the first impression, locals and visitors alike have raved over for their friendly service and savory bites. Sea Biscuit Cafe has without a doubt become a go-to for beachside homestyle comfort food.

Papi's Taqueria

Papi’s is a great place to spice up your day on IOP with elevated tex-mex flavor. Rusty Hamilton, “Food Network Star” runner up and chef to country music superstar Zac Brown, opened Papi’s less than a year ago. Hamilton aspired to bring creative southwest flavor to his favorite vacation spot.  This place does the trick whether you want takeaway tacos or to sit and stay a while sipping on one of their signature margaritas, all seconds from the beach.

-Bobby Carey, Marketing + Communication Intern

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Three Dishes: Chubby Fish

Born + raised in New England, it’s no surprise I’ve developed an affinity for – dare I say it – wicked good seafood. From steaming clams + shucking corn on my parents’ back porch to clamming in the Block Island waterways and enjoying lobster rolls (top-split white bread hot dog bun lightly toasted in butter – no exceptions) at Matunuck Beach, some of my happiest memories growing up involve not only food, but seafood.

When I relocated to Charleston a few years ago, I quickly learned there is no shortage of amazing seafood to be found in this port city. And Chubby Fish, tucked away in the Ellliotborough neighborhood, is at the top of my list. From its welcoming, comfortable, and intimate atmosphere to a menu board full of locally-sourced dishes thoughtfully concepted by Chef James London, I knew right away I was in for a treat. And while I definitely indulged on much, much more, these three dishes in particular left my taste buds wanting another bite.

Dish 1: Amberjack Crudo

If you’re looking for a one bite wonder, look no further than the amberjack crudo. The amberjack melts in your mouth, and is topped with a delicious avocado puree + chili ponzu. It is a perfect bite of fresh, hot, sweet, and tangy.

Dish 2: Spadefish Toast

Piled on top of soft bread with a “just right” amount of crunch at the edges, is a savory blend of flavors that are both fresh and perfectly unique. The addition of the nori butter alongside the spadefish is spot-on, and the combination of fresh herbs + radishes rounds out the plate perfectly.

Dish 3: Bluefish Curry

Curry tends to get a rep for being both sauce- and dish-heavy; the bluefish curry at Chubby Fish is anything but. Topped over fluffy coconut rice, this dish is a hearty main course while still maintaining the light + fresh vibes of the rest of the menu. With just the right amount of heat, it is an amazing combination of unique flavors, textures, and ingredients.

While I couldn’t order everything (I had to save room for a “Not Fried Chicken”!), it’s clear that you can’t go wrong eating your way through the Chubby Fish menu. From the cozy neighborhood vibes to thoughtful wine pairings and an ever-evolving menu board, adding Chubby Fish to your restaurant rotation will be well worth it. Be sure to share your favorites with us the next time you stop in. Cheers!

-Rachel Bergan, Guest Experience Coordinator

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