After nearly a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the ninth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.
Here now are the establishments — from pizzerias to wine bars to a restaurant with “cheese ice,” — that have taken the Charleston food world by storm.
Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editor’s Choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.
Restaurant of the Year
When Xiao Bao Biscuit co-owners Josh Walker, Duolan Walker-Li, and Joey Ryan opened Tu, the refrain about the restaurant was “unlike anything in Charleston.” In the land of shrimp and grits, the trio brought eclectic flavor combinations from across the globe, like crudo with guava, “cheese ice,” and habanero. While the menu might be a bit out there for less adventurous diners, the undefinable food and festive space attracts plenty of Charlestonians and out-of-town visitors.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Chubby Fish
Chef of the Year
Renzo, North Central
Chef Evan Gaudreau helms the kitchen at modern, buzzing pizzeria Renzo. his Neo-Neapolitan pie is a riff on the classic — it’s similar in style but not quite traditional. The main difference is his addition of a savory natural levain, which leads to a fermentation of the dough — the entire process takes about 60 hours. He’s also the mind behind the wild toppings, savory starters, and Fernet ice cream. Gaudreau keeps it weird, yet approachable.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Orlando Pagán (McCrady’s Tavern)
Design of the Year
Tradd’s, French Quarter
Any hints of this East Bay Street building’s former life as fine-dining establishment Cypress are long gone after extensive work by local design firm Workstead and Charleston-based Lennon Construction. The bright dining room is refined yet unpretentious, with local art adorning the walls, brass fixtures, a long marble bar, and hints of animal prints. Tradd’s is now a sleek spot to sip champagne and meet well-heeled friends.
Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Basic Kitchen
Bar of the Year
Graft, North Central
Graft comes from advanced sommelier Femi Oyediran and sommelier and winery vet Miles White. Patrons expect interesting bottles and wines by the glass in a fun, hip hangout — maybe with LL Cool J or Prince on the speakers. It’s one part wine shop and one part chill bar. They took the stuffiness out of wine. Also, there’s always a killer pop-up or DJ party happening.
Bar of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Graft
Pizza of the Year
Melfi’s, North Central
While Melfi’s serves far more than pizza, the pies from chef John Amato really know how to bring a table together. Thin-crust pies come with fun names like Mr. Wally, Prosciutto Party, and Optimistic Chicken. Gather a party of four and let the merriment unfold over a few Negronis and a mid-course of pizza among the wood-fired sweet peppers and steak Florentine.
Pizza of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Uptown Social