For three seasons, viewers have watched Landon Clements and her Southern Charm pals live, laugh, and love (and sometimes get into some epic fights) in the lovely city of Charleston. It's a place that the crew has certainly made their own. Fans are getting to see even more of the city every week as Cheftestants vie for the chance to be the king or queen of the kitchen during Season 14 of Top Chef.
The Daily Dish recently caught up with Landon (via email) to get her top picks for places you might want to check out the next time you're in Chucktown.
The Daily Dish: What makes the Charleston food scene so unique?
Landon Clements: I think the food scene is unique because Charleston has so many different cultures blending together to create a flavor of its own. Also many of the local chefs care deeply about the farming and cultivation process and I think that passion comes out in the dishes and over all dining experience.
The Daily Dish: What are some of the dishes that are special to the area?
Landon: Shrimp and Grits is a pretty classic dish and is a Sunday brunch go-to. I love Gospel Sunday at Hall's. They really do it right.. Oysters are currently in season. I love sitting around on the various docks and eating them with friends. We always have so much fun. Really I just love fresh-caught fish and salads with local greens. We have several great farmers markets in the area and something is always in season.
The Daily Dish: What are your top three restaurants in Charleston and why?
Landon: Just three is tricky. You have upscale, but then there are some of the best "dive bars" that you have ever been to like Top Notch Halls, Fig, Charleston Grill. Other fun spots include The Tattooed Moose, Martha Lou's Kitchen, and Bowen's Island.
The Daily Dish: Where is your favorite restaurant to go to on a date?
Landon: A date, ha! It’s been a long time since I went on one of those in Charleston. But Circa 1886 behind the Wentworth Mansion would be a good start. (Sit at the bar so it's less pressure and if you want to be real adventurous get a room so you can climb the cupola for a kiss.)
The Daily Dish: Which bar do you love to hang out in?
Landon: So many good ones but we always end up at the Commodore late night. I was there Saturday and ran into my sister. I didn't even know she was out. Shep [Rose] is partners in it, so it sort of has this cult following now, and it's a great place to dance the night away.
The Daily Dish: Is there a cocktail that all the locals consider the hometown beverage?
Landon: I would say Mint Julep but I also love a Vieux Carre. It's a big beer-drinking town, but there is also a great local vodka called Firefly that I love for the summer. It is tea flavored and perfect over ice with water and lemon.
The Daily Dish: Clearly you've been busy traveling a lot lately. What makes Charleston different from most cities?
Landon: Charleston has such a rich history and the people who live here really cherish and respect it. Each building has a story to tell and there is even a special paint palette for the historic district. I also think the port is what has kept Charleston so interesting. We have always had people from all over the world coming and going, sharing ideas and cultures. I am so proud to live here and really excited for the way the city is growing and changing.
Don't forget to check out more Charleston on Top Chef every Thursday at 9/8c. Check what's to come, below.