Long before he agreed to take over as host of the Late Show, Stephen Colbert was just another Charleston boy—swimming, fishing, and skateboarding down the quiet streets of what he recalls as a “sleepy Southern town.” Today, the South Carolina city is still one of his favorite vacation spots. Read on for Colbert’s down-home haunts.
Stay: Growing up, Colbert helped his mother run a now-defunct B&B in their house in the South of Broad neighborhood. “Back then, if I booked a guest, I got ten percent. A kid could have a whole weekend of fun on fifteen bucks.” Hotels he remembers from boyhood: the Francis Marion Hotel ($)—with views of the harbor—and 1853’s Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel ($).
Eat: “I want shrimp and hominy when I’m in Charleston, at whatever place doesn’t call hominy grits,” Colbert declares with the emphatic authority of his Colbert Report persona. He gets that or the catch of the day at Hominy Grill ($$). Another pick? “Husk ($$$) has fantastic fried chicken skin and a watermelon salad that’s really delicious. I like that everything there is focused on being from south of the Mason-Dixon Line.”
Shop: King Street is the de facto center of retail and antiques stores. “In the past, it had no chains,” Colbert says. One of the oldest merchants, George C. Birlant & Co., has carried 18th-century furniture and silver since 1922.
Do: Colbert spent most of his salad days outside. “We’d go swimming off Sullivan’s Island. Afterward, we’d walk in to local bars with any kind of fake ID—a piece of paper that just about announced you were 18—and they’d serve you a beer.”
Three More Charleston Hot Spots
Charleston Distilling Co.: The place for only-in-South Carolina tastings (local corn and rye vodka) and barrel-aged gin. $
Chez Nous: Francophile dishes—saffron-and-fennel mussel salad; pan-roasted chicken—in a revamped 1835 house on Payne Court. 843/579-3060. $$
Edmund’s Oast: The brewery is laser-focused on its farm-to-fork menu, with tobacco-and-peach-tree-smoked charcuterie and pickled shrimp on grilled rye bread. $$$
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