A Local’s Guide to Late Night Food in Charleston

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    A Local’s Guide to Late Night Food in Charleston
    Published: January 26, 2020

    Here at Extra Chill, we’re all too familiar with late nights in Charleston, SC. No matter where you look, and on what night of the week, there is always debauchery to be found, whether in Charleston’s dive bars or elsewhere. That leads to a lot of hungry people on the streets after midnight, either headed home or headed to the next bar, and looking to get some late night food along the way.

    Charleston’s businesses know all about the city’s late night scene, and many of them take full advantage of it by keeping their kitchen open past midnight and catching the bar crowd, or the Food & Bev crowd who are just getting off work (who often overlap with the bar crowd). The city is already known for its spectacular food, so you know it wouldn’t leave you hanging in the late night category. You don’t even have to go to Waffle House to get your fix, although there are plenty of them in the Charleston area, if that’s your style.

    We gathered up some of our favorite options for late night food in Charleston, SC, and broke them up into categories of bar food, pizza, breakfast, barbecue, and other gems. The establishments under each category are listed out in ABC order, and we’ve also included a few of the best menu items to give you an idea on what these places are slinging up after midnight, and how much you can expect to pay. Most of our choices are in downtown Charleston, but there are a few restaurants included that are outside of downtown.

    Late Night Bar Food

    AC’s Bar & Grill

    Oh, AC’s. You hold a dear place in the hearts of many College of Charleston students, graduates, and longtime Charleston residents alike. This is the party dive, packed until 2am on weekends with Charleston’s crazies, with surprisingly good food that is served hot until 1:30am. They’re known for $2 Champagnes (Miller High Life) and for having perhaps the best philly cheese steak in Charleston, though there isn’t all that much competition. Either way, if you’ve had a wild night, or if you’re looking for a wild night, just go to AC’s, and don’t forget your cheese fries on your way out the door.

    Kitchen Closes: 1:30am

    Moe’s Crosstown Tavern

    During the daytime, the Rutledge Ave-located Moe’s Crosstown Tavern has some of the best burgers in Charleston. They serve up those same delicious burgers every single night until 1am with a special late night appetizer menu on weekends to boot, which places Moe’s firmly in the ranks of Charleston’s best late night food. Plus, it’s a good crowd in there late at night, mostly locals, and pretty low-key. They’ve got a pool table, cheap beer, and a laid-back atmosphere. Moe’s Crosstown is a great final stop in your evening agenda, for one more drink and some great late night burgers.

    Kitchen Closes: 1:30am

    Palace Hotel

    In addition to being one of Charleston’s most fun bars, the East Side dive Palace Hotel is also known for serving up a commendable late night food menu, and an extra special late night brunch on Mondays. This is one of the Charleston late night food spots on this list that doubles as one of the best places to end up after a night out downtown. The beer is cheap, just the way we like it, and the food is good and greasy. The kitchen is open until 1:30am every night, serving up gourmet hot dogs, boiled peanuts, and more. We’re hesitant to mention, but Palace Hotel is also co-owned by Bravo TV’s Southern Charm star, Shep Rose.

    Kitchen Closes: 1:30am

    Recovery Room Tavern

    The Recovery Room is the best dive bar in Charleston, which is part of the reason why they made it into our late night food guide in the first place. The main calling card of Rec Room is the fact they they sell more 12oz cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon than any other establishment in the world. Naturally, their kitchen is open until 1am, and the late night menu is packed with just the grease you need to keep going for a few more PBRs. We won’t lie, the food is really nothing special, but if you’re doing Rec Room right you won’t care, as long as it’s hot, salty, and ready to be doused in ketchup. And in that regard, Charleston’s Recovery Room Tavern delivers the goods.

    Kitchen Closes: 1am

    The Royal American

    We have to admit we’re a little biased toward The Royal American around here, because we host concerts there all the time, but nobody can deny that they serve up some quality late night food. The Royal American has always been known primarily as a music venue, but it’s also a dive bar and a great place to get some late night food. It being on the outskirts of downtown means that the late night crowd is mostly locals, and most of them are there for the music. The drinks are cheap, the crowd is chill, and the kitchen’s open until 1am. You can’t go wrong with a night out at The Royal American.

    Kitchen Closes: 1am

    Late Night Pizza

    Benny Ravello’s Pizza

    The two biggest things that Benny Ravello’s has going for it are its location, and literally its slices of pizza. Located right in the center of Upper King Street, not far from popular bars like Stars, Uptown Social, and AC’s, Benny’s has constant foot traffic to benefit from, and the prospect of a huge slice of pizza is more than enticing when you walk past and truly see the size of it. They keep the menu nice and simple, too, offering slices of cheese, pepperoni, or sausage pizza, plus a special slice or two. Then they have 28-inch pizza pies, with the same limited choice of toppings. No frills, just one big slice of pizza dreams, open late every single night.

    Kitchen Closes: 2:30am Thurs-Sun, 1am Mon-Weds

    Gilroy’s Pizza Pub

    This Irish pub-inspired pizzeria has grown infamous over the years for being a seedy little blip on the mostly-pristine lower King Street. The pizza isn’t bad, but it’s not great, or even really that good, but Gilroy’s is open until 4am and they offer a late night food option when literally everything else is closed. Plus, if you’re up at 4am and looking for pizza, you won’t really care how it tastes. Gilroy’s is also the kind of place where everyone is welcome, so you’ll feel right at home when you stumble in long after the bars close looking for some sustenance.

    Kitchen Closes: 4am Fri-Sat, 3am Sun-Thurs

    Pizzeria Di Giovanni

    Much like Benny Ravello’s, Pizzeria Di Giovanni is known for its huge slices of pizza. Pizzeria Di Giovanni, though, is tucked away off Market Street, in what is increasingly becoming known as the tourist part of town. It is located in a small shopping center called the Rainbow Market, and the restaurant itself is also tiny. But if you find yourself in that corner of town, damn those slices are good. They also offer a decent variety of toppings, and a few different pie sizes (all huge). They’re open until 3am Thursday through Saturday, so it might even be worth the trek at closing time, if you have the presence of mind and the determination of hunger.

    Kitchen Closes: 3am Fri-Sat, 12am Sun-Thurs

    Sabatino’s NY Pizza

    Sabatino’s takes a page out of NYC pizzerias on more than one level. Not only is the pizza itself pretty close to authentic New York pizza, it’s also open until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights, with a line out the door of hungry late-night goers looking to cap off the evening with some pizza. This place is one of the closest restaurants to the College of Charleston campus, and the crowd there after midnight certainly reflects that. Sabatino’s is late night fuel for the College of Charleston, and if you can fight your way through the herd, it can be your late night pizza haven as well.

    Kitchen Closes: 3am Fri-Sat, 10pm Mon-Thurs, Closed Sundays

    Late Night Breakfast

    Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

    Known far and wide for delicious biscuits and biscuit sandwiches, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit on King Street has also ventured into Charleston’s late night food game. The restaurant opens early in the morning for breakfast, and closes just after lunch, but on Friday and Saturday nights they re-open at 10pm to serve late night biscuits until 2am. You have to catch Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit at the right time of year, though, because they only open for late night food during Charleston’s busy season of March through November.

    Kitchen Hours: 10pm to 2am Fri-Sat, March thru November

    Early Bird Diner

    One of the few restaurants in this guide that is not located downtown is the famous Early Bird diner. Open until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, Early Bird ties with Gilroy’s as the Charleston restaurant that is open the latest. The place is immensely popular, as it was featured alongside Fuel and Tattooed Moose on the Charleston episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Find it on Highway 17, a few miles into West Ashley, and pull up a chair to melt into their delicious plate of chicken and waffles.

    Kitchen Closes: 4am Fri-Sat, 10:30pm Mon-Thurs

    The Rarebit

    Known as a cocktail bar and a semi-upscale restaurant, The Rarebit is probably the fanciest establishment in this guide. It’s nice, but it’s not pretentious, and they brew their own ginger beer to make possibly the best Moscow Mules in town. Their menu consists of Southern-style comfort food and breakfast served all day, including, of course, chicken and waffles. They hit the late night food jackpot at 10pm, when they stop service for their dinner menu and switch over to just the breakfast menu until 1am. For an upscale place, the breakfast menu at The Rarebit is actually priced pretty reasonably, which makes The Rarebit low-key one of the best stops for late night food in Charleston, SC.

    Kitchen Closes: 1am Tues-Sun

    Breakfast Only: 11pm to 1am

    Late Night BBQ

    Home Team BBQ Downtown

    The downtown location of Charleston’s popular Home Team Barbecue stays open until 2am, with a full bar and a late night menu that is served from 10pm until 1am. Home Team is known for having some of the best wings in Charleston, and the fact that the smoked chicken wings are on the late night menu is your ticket to BBQ heaven. We know barbecue food is heavy for late night consumption, but so is an entire 28 inch pizza, and we all know what you did last weekend. So douse that ish in sauce and go to town!

    Late Night Menu: 10pm to 1am

    Smoky Oak Taproom

    James Island’s Smoky Oak Taproom is known not only for its phenomenal barbecue food, but also for having an impressive selection of 40 rotating craft beers on tap. Smoky Oak’s location in the heart of James Island makes it more of a destination than a place you can stroll past after walking out of a King Street bar, but the beer list is plenty long to keep you busy for the whole night. With large portions and plenty of variety on the menu, Smoky Oak Taproom can satisfy even the biggest, most drunken appetite.

    Kitchen Closes: 1:30am

    Other Late Night Gems

    Platia Food Truck

    The only food truck in our guide to late night food in Charleston, Platia serves up delicious Greek food, with some of the only healthy-ish options on this list. They post up in a semi-permanent spot around 584 King Street Thursday thru Saturday from 9pm to 3am. Platia does Greek food right, and slings it to you nice and quick, just like a good food truck always does. and since they stay out on the street until 3am, and even later depending on business, you can stumble right over after closing time and get just what you need for the walk home, or the wait for your ride.

    Food Truck Hours: 9pm to 3am Thurs-Sat

    Carmella’s Desert Bar

    Carmella’s is a unique, Italian-style dessert bar located on East Bay Street, not far from the Charleston City Market. Open until 1am on Friday and Saturday nights, and midnight every other night, Carmella’s hooks it up with the pastries, ice cream, and even some alcoholic dessert cocktails. It’s a super popular place but that’s mostly tourists and during the day. Late night Carmellas is more low-key, and the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth and maybe even get some caffeine to keep you going, if that’s how you roll.

    Kitchen Closes: 1am Fri-Sat, 12am Sun-Thurs

    Street Meat

    If you’re feeling frisky, Charleston has some great anonymous streetsid food vendors scattered about Upper King Street. All of them are open well past 1am, cooking up Middle Eastern delights, hot dogs, and more for your drunken enjoyment. It’s cheap, quick, and easy, and the street meat vendors are always fun to converse and haggle with after you’ve had a few. We won’t recommend a specific one, but we will vouch for almost all of them as being worth your money. It’s cooked up right in front of you and tossed sloppily into a styrofoam container, kind of like the way you’ll sloppily collapse into bed later.

    Key menu items: Street Meat (mkt price)

    Service Hours: 11pm – ???

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