Earlier this month I went to Charleston for the day to do a recipe demonstration at the Mount Pleasant Whole Foods, but what I didn’t mention was all of the other awesome things I ate and drank while on that day trip. I went down there looking for newness, since life in Columbia was getting a bit rote. When I head down I-26, I always plan to eat at new places, and visit at least some of the same shops down on King Street, and usually find something new each time too.

With my demo in the middle of the afternoon, I decided to find somewhere close by on Mt. P to eat and used Yelp to find Sesame Burgers and Beer, a little burger bar on Johnnie Dodds Blvd. that was also marked with a “vegetarian” tag on Yelp. I went not even a mile from the WFM and found it fairly easily, thanks to the glowing neon sign out front.

I sat at the bar with a Charleston City Paper to read while I ate and immediately became lost in the many different burger topping combinations they offer on the menu, when my eyes came to the “choose three sliders” option and silently thanked them for not making me choose. I went for the Hawaiian (minus the ham), the South Carolina, and the Italian on black bean patties. Because they were advertised as being the Best Onion Rings in Charleston, I also ordered a side of those as well.

You can read my full review here on Yelp, and know that I 100% recommend this if you’re looking for somewhere fun that isn’t in peninsular Charleston that will more than likely have a parking spot waiting for you. They also have a whole menu devoted to “adult milk shakes” that I look forward to trying next time I find myself in Mt. P!

Sesame Burgers & Beer on Urbanspoon

After a smooth and icy shot of vodka, I headed to Whole Foods to do the recipe demo, and then found a parking spot on Upper King to walk around a bit before my dinner destination opened. Once I was back in the car I cruised around the residential area to find a parking spot for Xiao Bao Biscuit, the hot spot for Asian food in town, and was having THE hardest time. I really, really wasn’t in the mood to get towed so I was being extra careful on this. Finally I found out that the three spots in front of XBB were actually for parking, and secured myself a safe (in more ways than one) spot.

Again, I sat at the bar to dine, only this time I decided to read an issue of Charlie magazine that was within arm’s reach. I started off by ordering a lemongrass ginger beer which was refreshingly tropical, but not as lemongrassy as I imagined it might be. The menu is brief, so I asked the server for her opinion on what I should order. She talked me out of ordering the Mapo Dofu, letting me know that it was incredibly hot. She advised that I order the Tu Dao Si, a Sichuan style fried potato dish, and also the Okonomiyaki as my entree. The Tu Dao Si came out as a pile of little shreds of potatoes, piled high in a bowl and garnished with chilies and peppercorns. It wasn’t noted as hot on the menu, but the heat from this dish nearly took my face off.

Polishing off the ginger beer, and another glass of water that they provide by the carafe probably for just this reason, I dove straight into the fried vegetable pancake, hoping for some relief. As I broke the golden yolk from the fried egg on top (essential, don’t get one without), the eggy liquid spread across the uneven surface of the pancake, settling in to provide bite sizes surprises throughout the experience. The yolks did provide some degree of heat tempering, but what did the real trick was the coconut milk that I hurriedly ordered when I realized that I wasn’t really able to taste my entree.

With the fire in my mouth put out, I was able to more thoroughly enjoy the Okonomiyaki, and spoke with one of the owners, who was talking to diners and pouring extra water. She told me that the Tu Dao Si wasn’t supposed to be that hot, so next time I am in the area, I might try it again to see if it was just a crazy batch, or if I’m just that wimpy in the face of spicy foods.

Xiao Bao Biscuit on Urbanspoon

Luckily, the coconut milk came in a can, so I took it with me to finish on the ride to my next stop- the Tanger Outlets! There were a ton of sales there and I got a few pairs of jeans, dress pants, a cardigan, and a shirt. This, after not being able to find a thing in stores all summer. Now we know where the good clothes are hiding, and for the good prices too!

All in all, this was an excellent trip to the only other city I’d ever consider living in, and it was a great reminder that the best place to find inspiration for everyday life is always away from the same old places that you normally look.