by June 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]


Since I can’t go back to Charleston anytime soon, I’m bringing Charleston to me. (Rachel Nania)

Despite a tropical storm aiming straight for the southern part of the East Coast this weekend, I braved my way down I-95 and took a road trip to Charleston, S.C.

Yes, ma’am — I had plans for sun, paired with Southern cuisine and a side of Seersucker.

Boy, was I disappointed.

What I always remembered as a traditional, southern little city did not live up to my “leave your pinkie out while you sip your tea” and “remember to tie your bow” expectations.

In fact, it was quite the opposite. Charleston has transformed into the capital of cool.

Sure, the Seersucker, manners and bows are still around — and will always be preserved — but on top of all that is a top-notch local food movement, a booming boutique business, a cocktail scene like no other, skateboarders, and, oh yeah, beaches.

The whole trip home I was wanting to turn around and just head right back to Charleston. But since I can’t get back there for a few more months, I’m going to do my best to find a bit of Charleston in DC.

That’s right, I am on a mission to get southern in Borderstan.

Bourbon: One thing they take very seriously in Charleston is bourbon. And thankfully, so does Bourbon on 18th Street. Not only does this place have lots of — well, bourbon — it also serves bowls of tots, fish and chips and grilled BBQ salmon. 14th Street’s Back Whiskey also has you covered in terms of beverage selections and locally sourced small plates.

Locally-Sourced Southern Food: Shrimp and grits, crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies — I could keep going. But I’ll stop. Thankfully, there are several places in the area that serve up some great southern food. Next time you have a hankering, try the cornmeal fried oysters and Spoonbread at The Pig.

Still hungry? Eatonville has Hushpuppies, po boys and catfish and grits. And we absolutely can’t leave off Oohs and Aahs on U Street. The fried chicken will make you say more than “ooh.”

Chic Boutiques and Local Businesses: Finding chic designs isn’t too difficult in Charleston — and it’s pretty easy to find the same in Borderstan. Classy outfits? Check out Ginger Root Design. Something a little more edgy? Redeem. Home decor? Good Wood.

Greenery and Gardens: One of my favorite parts of Charleston is the courtyard gardens, visible from the streets in downtown Charleston. While the gardens in DC. are not as popular as the ones in Charleston, you can catch some great greenery up and down the side residential streets in Dupont Circle or at Meridian Hill Park.

Surfers: Sorry. Charleston still wins on this one.

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