Sitting in a waterfront restaurant on Daniel Island, looking at the peaceful Wando River in front of the newly developed Daniel Island Waterfront, it is hard to believe that in May 1780, the infamous pirate, Blackbeard, blocked the Charleston port not far from here, plundering ships and taking hostages in exchange for a chest of medicine.
The island, situated between the Wando and the Cooper rivers, has a long history.
A huge live oak near the Waterfront dates back to even before Christopher Columbus discovered the “New World.” Shards of pottery and other relics bear testimony that Etiwan Indians once inhabited the island.
During the years 1717-18, Robert Daniell, for whom the island is named, served as deputy governor of South Carolina.
At that time, the island provided yellow pine and live oaks for use in the construction of nearby Charles Towne, as well as for the shipbuilding industries.
In 1946, Henry Guggenheim purchased much of Daniel Island, using it mainly for farming and as a cattle ranch and private hunting retreat. It remained undeveloped until Interstate 526 was completed in 1992.
The Foundation developed a master plan for the island, now only a thirty-minute drive to downtown Charleston.
Daniel Island Company acquired it in 1997 and, in turn, later sold it to East-West Partners. Both companies received Institute awards for urban land development excellence.
The island has eight neighborhoods, each with its own park, and a downtown area with businesses, doctors’ offices, shops, restaurants, and condominiums.
Daniel Island has a wonderful array of restaurants – a world in one.
Whether you want typical Southern food or a more exotic menu, you will find many restaurants on Daniel Island to satisfy your craving. In this article, you are going to read about eleven of the best Daniel Island restaurants.
Adjacent to The Kingstide and run by the same company is DIME (The Daniel Island Market and Eatery.) This waterside Gourmet Market and Eatery is already drawing a crowd.
The charming venue has floor-to-ceiling windows with Hampton blue trim and a historic display against the wall. The pleasant courtyard allows for al fresco dining, while opposite the DIME, there is a hammock garden for take-outs at the Waterfront Park.
Customers enjoy the newly brewed artisanal coffees, made from the freshly roasted beans supplied by Springbok Coffee Roasters.
A variety of breakfast, light lunch items, and desserts are available. For breakfast on Daniel Island, try the DIME.
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The 10 Best Daniel Island Restaurants, South Carolina
32 River Landing Dr//(843) 216-3832
The Kingstide restaurant has pride of place at the newly developed Waterfront, facing a section of the Charleston harbor.
The Waterfront is fast becoming the focal point of Daniel Island, featuring brand new condominiums, a restaurant and a coffee shop, a hammock garden, a boat club, a ferry service to downtown, and access to miles of trails.
The nautical-themed, two-tiered restaurant has splendid, oversized windows, allowing natural light to show up the lovely woodwork, metal, stone tiles, and artifacts.
The well-appointed terraces have plenty of patio seating offering stunning views of the Wando River.
The manager, Jason Bearden, is excited about Charleston residents and visitors coming in by boat for dinner, telling us that they plan to offer a boat valet service.
As we entered the door of The Kingstide Restaurant, I took in the open wood fire grill area and the seafood bar with high chairs where the kitchen staff was busy shucking oysters.
Although sophisticated, this upscale restaurant on Daniel Island is relaxed and pleasantly noisy.
A friendly staff member, Gina, welcomed us at the entrance and led us to our table. We discussed the well-balanced wine list with our attentive server, Jacqueline, and then studied the menu.
The variety and originality of the items surprised us.
This is a premier seafood restaurant on Daniel Island, offering fresh shrimp, oysters, clam, lobster, and much more, all prepared in-house. I was intrigued by the Seafood Towers, playfully called Lowtide, Hightide, and Kingstide.
We chose two items for the table, starting with grilled octopus served with a romesco sauce and field peas. The octopus was firm with a smoky flavor, enhanced by the delicately spiced tomato-based sauce.
My friend was hesitant to taste raw fish, but the tuna tartare soon made her forget her apprehension.
The crunchy sesame milk crackers, made in-house, perfectly accompanied the wonderful mix of tuna, ginger, soy, avocado, chilis, and scallion.
For mains, I ordered the seasonal catch that turned out to be swordfish, served with English peas, pine nuts, and whipped potato. A bowl of surprisingly tasty roasted and charred carrots complemented my dish.
My friend decided to break away from the fish and have a Pub steak. She was pleased with the tender hanger steak, a choice cut of meat prized for its flavor. Chef Kevin Getzewich presented the meat cut in thick slices, charcoaled but pink inside, and served it with bearnaise aioli and chips.
It wasn’t easy to make a final selection from the delicious dessert offerings. I selected the coconut cheesecake drizzled with raspberry sauce. The melt-in-the-mouth portion was perfect, with a great cup of coffee to round off the meal.
My friend pronounced her choice, a Blondie with mesquite ice cream, as “the perfect ending for an excellent dinner.” We both agreed a restaurant of The Kingstide’s caliber was an asset to the area and certainly deserves mention among the best Daniel Island restaurants.
901 Island Park Drive, Suite A//(843) 471-1598
Displayed on the corner of Daniel Island and River Landing Drive, Ristorante LIDI’s eye-catching outdoor murals welcome you to “Little Italy.”
The playful works of art were commissioned from Sophie Nemethy, director of The Creative Canopy, and completed in March of 2014. Red-and-white checkered tablecloths contribute to the atmosphere of an Italian family restaurant on Daniel Island.
I love the Italian proverb quoted on the website: “A tavola non s’invecchia,” meaning “To be at the table with good friends and family does not grow old.”
Travis James, the manager of Ristorante LIDI for nearly the entire seven years of its existence, heartily welcomed us. In response to my question, he told us that one of the two partners in the restaurant has direct Italian heritage.
The restaurant operates as a family business focusing on the community and extended families. The management supports many charity events and works hard to promote the local interests.
Travis added, “As far as the culinary staff is concerned, we all come from different backgrounds and bring many influences to the food here, but our Nonna must approve.
In addition, we work closely with Italian purveyors to bring in authentic ingredients.”
I visited the restaurant twice, once to have a bar lunch with friends and once for dinner. The bar area had a subdued hum going with soft music in the background.
The server recommended the Padua Spritz as an aperitif: “Its unique taste is in a secret recipe unchanged since 1919. We added a touch of citrus later.”
The refreshing Aperol liqueur, bright orange in color, mixed with prosecco sparkling wine with a splash of soda over ice, certainly lived up to its reputation.
We decided to order from the antipasto and panini menu.
We delighted in the different textures and tastes of the small plates, stuffed mushroom, polpette (pork and veal meatballs slow cooked in marinara), topped with marinara, and served on warm sub rolls.
We also shared a tastefully presented dish of ravioli stuffed with chicken, spinach, and parmesan, sauteed with asparagus, peas, shallots, and spinach tossed in lemon butter.
I followed up with dinner a week later, ordering the lump blue crab with cream sherry soup. It was a cold evening, and the richness of the warm, lumpy soup certainly hit the spot. I highly recommend this dish.
While I was looking at the menu, Travis observed, “I think all of our menu items are great, but the Pesce del Giorno, the daily fish special, is amazing. That item is one that changes frequently and allows our culinary team an opportunity to showcase their talents.”
I succumbed to tasting the Dijon mustard-crusted tuna served with grilled marinated eggplant, artichoke hearts, tomato relish, shallots, and cream cheese. The Dijon mustard complemented the perfectly prepared, rare tuna beautifully.
I found the grilled eggplant and chewy artichoke an exciting choice of accompaniment to the fish. The toppings of capers and sweet tomato added a surprising tartness, while the dabs of creamy dotted sauce on the plate blended the tastes.
No meal is complete without some sweetness, and Travis recommended the tiramisu, made in-house. It had never been a favorite of mine, but “espresso-soaked ladyfingers, layered with mascarpone, dusted with cocoa powder” sounded good. This dessert, light as a feather, surpassed all my expectations, and I exclaimed loudly, “Best tiramisu I’ve ever had!”
For a stunning Italian meal, this is one of the best Daniel Island restaurants.
Viva Tacos and Tequila
864 Island Park Dr Suite 101//(843) 876-7975
This newly established Mexican restaurant on Daniel Island is not shy to make a statement.
Colorful, big block letters spelling VIVA stand at the entrance of this family-owned taco and tequila. Four Ayala and Leon families hailing from Los Altos of Jalisco, Mexico, run this authentic restaurant.
With over thirty-five years of restaurant experience, the team offers a new take on traditional Mexican food -one of the best Daniel Island restaurants for that.
It was a pleasant, though slightly cold, evening, so I decided to sit in the large courtyard dotted with customized outdoor furniture.
To my delight, a server, Fabian, lit the fire in the firepit built into my table, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. I ordered the Happy Hour Margarita, a unique house margarita mix on the rocks in a salted rim glass.
The bar offers more than 100 tequilas, mezcals, and sotol.
Viva Tacos & Tequila pride themselves on their craft, handmade margaritas, using fresh juices and 100% blue agave tequila.
The Lunazul Tequila stem from the Tierra de Agaves Distillery Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico, where small-batch tequilas are distilled and bottled with 100% Blue Agave.
A server brought a bowl of crunchy, fresh tortilla chips and lightly spiced tomato and onion salsa. I agreed to try the guacamole, made from avocados imported from Michoacán state in west-central Mexico, a world leader in avocado production.
The appetizer was simply delicious. Freshly cut big chunks of the fruit, lightly spiced with bits of tomato, filled a beautiful pottery bowl.
The service was excellent. Fabian kept me happy and recommended the freshly made corn tacos. Scanning through the menu, I decided on the filet mignon.
Fabian laughed and said it was Mexican style, served with refried beans and pickled onions. The charcoaled steak was tender inside.
The queso fresco (grated Mexican cheese) and tomatillo sauce added to its flavor.
I had to try a Mexican dessert and settled for churros, a type of donut. A delicate stack of six thin sticks of sweetness dusted with sugar, cinnamon, and dripping with chocolate hazelnut sauce arrived. I asked for a take-out box to enjoy the left-over spoils!
For a celebration of Mexican food on Daniel Island, make sure to visit Viva – it’s the best of Daniel Island restaurants for mexican food.
Wasabi of Daniel Island
194 Seven Farms Drive//(843) 388-8828
You can find a few Daniel Island restaurants lined up on Seven Farms Drive, opposite the Volvo Tennis Circle along the edge of Publix Supermarket in Town Center, with ample parking. At the far end, overlooking a body of water, is Wasabi, a long-time popular Asian restaurant owned by Allie Clay.
The large outdoor patio often draws a crowd, especially when there is live entertainment. Indoors, there are separated areas, providing a more intimate dining experience.
Wasabi claims that international chefs designed their original dishes, creating a fusion of traditional Japanese cooking and modern techniques. Indeed, the restaurant offers an extensive menu.
Our attentive waitstaff, Sandor, came to check on us a few times during lunch. We were pleasantly surprised when, soon after ordering, Sandor brought two side salads served in two big bowls.
We enjoyed the unusual combination of crunchy nuts and lettuce, coated with a vinaigrette dressing.
My friend ordered the Pad Thai with tofu, and it reminded me of my favorite restaurants in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Rice noodles, stir-fried in Tamron sauce, eggs, fresh garlic, beans, sprouts, and scallions blended umami, sour and sweet flavors, while the side plate contained salty, fresh ground peanuts and a wedge of lime, adding extra zest to the dish.
It was a cold day, so I decided to order the Thai beef curry, medium-hot with steamed white rice. The cubed meat was tender, although the meat portion was a little sparse.
Delicately spiced, creamy curry sauce, chunks of pineapple, onion, and bell pepper, and spoonsful of rice made for a wholesome dish, however.
For a taste of the Far East in the American South, make sure to visit this classic place out of all Daniel Island restaurants.
Ali Baba Deli & Catering
186 Seven Farms Drive #500//(843) 377-8666
Fancy a Meditteranean or traditional Greek dish? Ali Baba, one of the best Daniel Island restaurants which is on the next corner opposite the Volvo Tennis Circle.
Although mainly catering for take-out orders, this casual restaurant has a big dining room and a few outdoor tables.
The owner, Samir Elzabidi, originally from Jordan, has been living in the United States for 25 years, establishing Ali Baba in 2009. He prides himself on being the only Mediterranean restauranteur on the island.
The cabinet display is a feast for the eyes: tyropita, spanakopita, Moroccan couscous, grape leaves, and more.
He compliments chef Alexander for “giving the traditional cuisine, mostly from countries such as Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, and Spain a modern twist.”
Samir says that the most popular items on the menu are the gyros and the Greek kebabs. “Customers love the lamb.”
My friend ordered the Beef Gyro Platter and raved about the flavor of the marinated meat, served with a side of hummus, tabouli, lettuce, tomato, peppers, onions, tzatziki, and pita.
I did not know that the word “gyro” refers to tightly stacked slices of meat rotating on a vertical spit.
I decided to have the Shawerma. The Lebanese spices, cardamom, and garlic enhanced the flavor of the meat.
Served with onions and tahini sauce, it was a most satisfying meal.
Looking at the menu again, we decided that we wanted to come back for the baker’s specialty, Mediterranean Pizza or Fatayer, and the lamb kebab. For now, however, we rounded off the meal with the mouthwatering Pistachio Baklava.
Biting through the flaky layers of Phyllo dough stuffed with pistachio and drizzled with honey, my friend exclaimed, “This is just so good!” That statement alone should tell you that this is one of the best Daniel Island restaurants.
162 Seven Farms Drive #340//(843)867-6066
Mpishi is one of the Daniel Island restaurants that has been under new management for about two years now. The owners, Alison and Andy Clay, met while working in Tanzania.
They settled in Charleston, opening the aptly named “Mpishi,” meaning “Cook” in Swahili. Andy, originally from Cyprus, serves as the head chef, and Alison is the pastry chef.
Situated on a corner right opposite the Volvo Tennis Center, the restaurant has well-spaced indoor and outdoor seating. The ceiling-to-floor glass windows create a sunny, welcoming atmosphere while allowing unobstructed views of the activity outside.
Mpishi is licensed, offering Holy City craft beers and Starborough Sauvignon wines, but it was lunchtime, and I felt like some hot tea. I was not disappointed in the presentation.
Aaah, a china cup and saucer, small teaspoon, milk jar, and hot water.
Scanning the quite extensive menu, the Cypriot chicken souvlaki with zahtar, pita bread, Halloumi cheese, cucumber, tomato, red onion, and tahini caught my eye.
Since the chef hailed from Cypriot, my friend was keen to try it. We learned that zahtar, indigenous to the Middle East, is generally is a mix of herbs such as oregano, thyme, and marjoram, combined with tangy sumac spice and toasted sesame seeds.
This combination added delicious flavors and textures to the dish.
During the epidemic, I had ordered a delicious take-out Thanksgiving meal from Mpishi, so I was intrigued by The Day after Thanksgiving sandwich on the menu. I had it served so that I could take it home with me.
I was not disappointed. A small bowl of au jus sauce complemented the roasted turkey, stuffing, Swiss cheese, and cranberry sauce on sourdough. The choice of sides included thick French fries, side salad, macaroni salad, Asian slaw, and fruit salad.
This is just one more of the wonderful Daniel Island restaurants.
Dragon Palace Chinese Bistro
162 Seven Farms Drive//(843) 388-8823
The Dragon Palace, Charleston’s first Imperial Garden Chinese Bistro, has been a feature on Daniel Island for more than seventeen years.
Builders, in consultation with master artisans, constructed the entire restaurant in Taiwan. They then dismantled and shipped all the pieces to Daniel Island, where the building was re-assembled.
When you step into the Dragon Palace, you will see the fascinating artwork, paintings, sculptures, and stained-glass windows reflecting the ancient Qing Dynasty of Imperial China.
Mr. Cheng traveled to Hong Kong to bring fresh ideas to the extensive menu, including exotic names such as Buddha’s Feast.
The Chinese porcelain plates enhance the cultural experience. The establishment sections off areas for family-style dining on demand while maintaining its elegant serving at more intimate tables. Soft music and lighting add to the ambiance.
The cashew chicken dish on the menu looked delicious. It was a good blend of fresh greens and the piquant flavors of salty nuts, ginger, and soy sauce.
My friend was not disappointed with the braised Chinese Five Spice Duck, served on a layer of asparagus, shallots, and flavored with soy. We enjoyed the unusual combination of ingredients in the dishes of one of the best Daniel Island restaurants.
224 Seven Farms Drive #101//(843) 881-0101
One of the most popular Daniel Island restaurants is Vespa Pizzeria.
The restaurant has a lovely, shaded courtyard with big red umbrellas, with plenty of seating indoors as well. The younger crowd loves the vibes at the bar. Vespa Pizzeria is a restaurant for all occasions, from casual to fine dining.
Owners Gerry and Tammy Haight pride themselves on the variety of authentic, wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas they offer.
The combination of figs, mozzarella, and goat cheese sold me on the prosciutto pizza. I liked the thin-crust with the artfully drizzled balsamic reduction on the topping.
The Salad Special had an excellent combination of mixed greens, diced tomatoes, onion, corn, avocado, and cilantro.
The champagne dressing added zest to the dish.
I was intrigued to see Zeppole on the menu. These sweet, powdery Italian donuts are like beignets, except they are oblong, not square – an excellent dessert to share and round off any meal.
You know at some point you are going to want pizza on Daniel Island, and Vespa is the best place to get it out of all Daniel Island restaurants.
Blondies Bagels and Coffee
245 Seven Farms Drive #130//(843) 377-8671
Blondies Bagels and Coffee is a trendy, local hang-out near the fire station on Daniel Island. But that’s not the main reason why it’s one of the best Daniel Island restaurants.
The eatery has an impressive array of fresh bagels, and excellent coffee, keeping early morning commuters and other customers in good spirits throughout the day.
Blondies Bagels and Coffee is an unpretentious eatery, with long and small tables scattered around indoors, as well as limited seating outside.
It is advisable to pre-order before arriving since this place is always buzzing with a long line of customers waiting. My personal favorite is the everything bagel with lox, in-house cream cheese, capers, red onion, and sliced tomato.
Blondies Bagels has become so busy that they stopped serving lunch sandwiches on the weekends.
Besides the bagels, sandwiches, and delicious coffee, they offer a mouthwatering choice of baked goods, such as strawberry shortcake, chocolate chip cookies, blondies, cinnamon rolls, cranberry orange, and blueberry muffins, all prepared on the premises.
For fresh baked goods and a great breakfast on Daniel Island, may sure to try Blondies – one of the best Daniel Island restaurants.
Daniel Island Grille (DIG)
259 Seven Farms Drive//(843) 377-8750
I was pleasantly surprised to find a Daniel Island restaurant that offered a seasonal oyster roast.
One can dig in and shuck some oysters at the Daniel Island Grill on Friday nights.
Located next to a beautiful pond, this sports bar boasts that “with over twenty big screens and outdoor and indoor patio bars, there’s not a bad seat in the house.”
Indeed, there is plenty of entertainment to enjoy, Tuesday Wine night, Wednesday Trivia, Thursday Flights of Beer, and Friday Live Music and Karaoke.
We took our seats at the outdoor bar one chilly February evening, leaning into a heater circulating hot air. Keen to join in the Oyster Roast, we gathered different sauces, condiments, saltine crackers, shucking knives, and gloves.
As the oysters roasted on an outside fire, servers brought in buckets of the steaming, hot delights and placed them on the tabletops.
All conversation stopped as we climbed in, prying open the shells to get to the juicy morsels. We dipped each salty oyster in the sauce and munched the accompanying crackers with satisfaction.
My eye caught a Bavarian pretzel on the menu. That sounded too good to miss and complemented the oysters.
My friend ordered a Chili Cheese dog and fries to share. We will be back for another Southern favorite, a Lowcountry Boil, with shrimp, corn on the cob, smoked sausage, and potatoes.
For classic Southern food on Daniel Island, you will really DIG this place! One of the best Daniel Island restaurants.
So there you have it. Eleven of the best places to eat on Daniel Island. You can have cuisine from around the world – Italy, Japan, the Middle East, China – all within the Daniel Island restaurants.
Elsa Dixon, a South-African born U.S. citizen, is a part-time piano teacher, freelance travel writer, photographer, food and wine-lover. She is the author of a biography of her father who was a famous South African comedian.