Featured Foodie On a Budget

This page is dedicated to my blog series, “Featured Foodie on a Budget”. Every other week I will be featuring a fellow foodie with all the best intel on cheap eats in Charleston. If you are interested in being featured in this blog series, please contact me at chsfoodiesonabudget@gmail.com.

Week of March 22-26

Feature Foodie on a Budget is back with a brand new interview with Charlotte Berger of @CharlotteBergerPR and @TastemakersCHS! Read on to see what she knows about cheap eats in Charleston!

Q. Many know you as the creator of #TastemakersChs. What inspired you to start this group? What is the group all about?

A. I started TastemakersCHS in 2016 with the goal of connecting influencers, nonprofits and restaurants together under the same umbrella. We now have 25 members with a combined following of over 300,000 on Instagram. We meet twice a month at Charleston restaurants, bars, distilleries and breweries to help provide them with much deserved attention in the social media space. We also partner with a different local nonprofit every month through our TastemakersCHS Charity Partnership Program for a giveback. We have partnered with over 18 nonprofits to date, raising over 20k in funds for missions ranging from feeding the homeless and fighting human trafficking to supporting children with cancer and protecting our Charleston waterways.

Q. If you had to choose one place in Charleston to go for happy hour right now, what would be your pick?

A. Probably Jalisco on James Island for some tacos, queso and margaritas!

Q. Amidst the current pandemic, what is the best and most affordable take-out meal you’ve had?

A. I really love the family meals from Florence’s, or the taco platter from Pink Cactus downtown – both of which are an amazing deal. My clients at @CharlotteBergerPR truly are my favorite places in town, and I’m not just saying that.

Q. Do you enjoy cooking at home? If so, what is your go-to meal to make at home?

A. I love cooking at home and used to have a food blog in college! When I can find the time, I absolutely love making homemade pasta with my Kitchen Aid pasta press, along with homemade dumplings made with ingredients from H+L Asian Market!

Week of October 5-9

Life once again has gotten ahead of me, so I apologize for the long delay for the next featured foodie. This week you’re in luck, because Lauren Furey, Charleston famous home chef is bringing Featured Foodie on a Budget back with some great intel on cheap eats in Charleston! Keep reading to find out how her career as a chef started and all about her cheap eats secrets..

Photo taken by Paul Cheney

Q. When did your career as a chef begin? What inspired you to get started in the culinary field?

A. I was inspired by my love of feeding people at a very young age! When my mom said she was having company over, I always got so excited, as I associated it with cooking for our guests and creating little surprises for them to enjoy. At 15, I had an opportunity to pursue an internship at my favorite restaurant in Philadelphia, 333 Belrose, with Chef Carlo Demarco. Chef Bob Waggoner, previously the Executive Chef at the Charleston Grill, who currently owns “In the Kitchen with Bob Waggoner” was kind enough to hire me when I first landed in Charleston. Working with other amazing, high-profile chefs at local restaurants taught me the techniques necessary to thrive in high-pressure environments and the many ways I could deliver thoughtful cuisine, seasoned with plenty of love.

Q. What are your favorite meals to cook?

A. My favorite meals to cook are the ones that utilize the freshest ingredients from local purveyors, such as Miss Paula’s shrimp, local olive oil from Olinda Olives and produce from Veggie Bin. I cook a lot of Italian and Southern food. I enjoy making crudo with fresh fish, pastas, and I love making biscotti. Sometimes biscotti even make their way into a tiramisu!

Q. What is your go-to restaurant in Charleston for happy hour?                 

A. Vintage Lounge for ½ off cocktails! I love scoping out the scene on King Street. Stellas offers delicious eats during their “meze ora” and I dream about their grilled octopus.

Q. In your experience working with chefs in Charleston, which was your most memorable experience? (feel free to talk about your experience!)                                                                                                               

A. My most memorable experience in Charleston was working with Nathalie Dupree during a year-long apprenticeship. We met through Les Dames d’Escoffier, a philanthropic organization of women in the food, beverage and hospitality industries, who have awarded me 3 scholarships, which were instrumental during my studies at the College of Charleston. I most recently apprenticed with Nathalie Dupree, a James Beard award-winning chef, author and cooking show host who works primarily with American Southern cuisine. Nathalie taught me to always season with love and is instrumental to my confidence in the culinary arts.

Week of August 17-21

This week I chatted with Elise DeVoe, of Cookin’ With Booze. She’s got all the secrets on cocktails and food on the cheap in Charleston, as well as cocktails you can make at home. Keep reading to see what she’s got to say!

Q. What is your name? What is the inspiration behind “Cookin’ With Booze” and when did your blog begin?

A. My name is Elise DeVoe and I started Cookin’ with Booze when I graduated from College of Charleston in 2017. I was writing for a food publication called Spoon University all through college and loved it, so when I graduated I created my website and Instagram. 


Q. Since booze is your thing, what is your go-to cocktail to make at home? Do you have a favorite meal that you like to incorporate booze into?

A. My go-to cocktail at home is a paloma. Tequila is kind of my thing. If I don’t have fresh grapefruit juice sometimes I switch it up by using grapefruit seltzer and adding fresh basil or mint from our porch garden. When I cook, I love using wine. I always put a big splash of red wine in my pasta sauce and if I’m cooking seafood for pasta or for shrimp and grits I often add white wine for a touch of acidity. 


Q. What is your favorite spot for happy hour in Charleston?

A. If I’m just going for drinks and no food, Faculty Lounge is my go to. Their prices are unmatched and it’s more of a laid-back atmosphere. I usually get a tequila grapefruit for $3 or their Dealer’s Choice cocktail for $6. If I’m getting food as well, I love Barsa. Their paella is amazing and the glasses of wine are on the cheap during happy hour! 


Q. What is the best, affordable take-out meal you’ve had during the current pandemic?

A. When we are craving sushi, we normally go to Poke San. They have half off rolls Tuesday-Saturday from 5-7pm. We love the Spicy Combo Roll and the Tropical Tempura Roll. Between the two of us we normally get 5 rolls and our total is around $30 with tip! 

Week of June 27-July 3

Q. What is your name? How did “Girl Eats Charleston” come about?

A. My name is Emma, and I started Girl Eats Charleston a little over two years ago (March 2018). Because Charleston’s culinary scene is so amazing, I found myself constantly taking pictures of my food any time I would go out to eat. Not wanting my personal Instagram account to be overrun with food photos, I decided to create a dedicated space to document my foodie adventures in the city.


Q. What is your go-to spot for happy hour in Charleston?

A. Edmund’s Oast’s Happy Hour is incredible and such a great deal. Each dish and drink is four bucks – I love the rose cider and burger. The Macintosh’s Bacon Happy Hour is also a winner – everything is $5 – the poutine is my favorite!

Q. What is the best affordable take-out meal you’ve had while quarantined?

A. The Pink Cactus Family Taco Platter. The size for 4-6 people is $50, and we ate for days off of it. Plus everything is super flavorful.


Q. What is your favorite thing to make at home?

A. I am pretty low-maintenance when it comes to cooking for myself. My go-to is breakfast for dinner – a few scrambled eggs, avocado and some toast and I am happy!

Week of May 17-22

This week’s featured foodie is Karmin of @hangry.mess. Keep reading to see what she’s got to say about great, affordable happy hour spots and cheap eats!

Q. What is your name? What inspired you to create @hangry.mess?

A. My name is Karmen and I created hangry.mess when I moved to Charleston because I was trying a lot of new foods I had never had before. I’m from Alabama and our cuisine was a bit different. It was fun to branch out and explore other foods.


Q. What is your go-to happy hour spot?

A. Hands down my favorite go to happy hour spot is Burwells! Sit at the bar and order a hot rock, you’ll thank me later.

Q. What is the best affordable take-out meal you’ve eaten while in quarantine?

A. While in quarantine my go-to take outs were Daps (give me all the fruity pebble pancakes), Pink Cactus (tacos, duh), Shiki (I crave sushi all day everyday), and Nosh (who doesn’t like smoothies and fancy toast).


Q. What restaurant did you miss going to the most during quarantine and what is your favorite thing on their menu?

A. Honestly, I missed soooo many restaurants during quarantine!! But if I had to pick one I would probably say MESU. Their Lobster Rangoon roll is delicious and I can’t wait to have it again!


Week of April 27-May 1

This week, I chatted with Katherine and Ashley, creators of the Instagram account, “Charleston Unknown”. Katherine and Ashley shared with me some of their favorite quarantine meals to-go, as well as their favorite happy hour spots! Keep reading to see what they’ve got to say.


Q. What is your name? What is “Charleston Unknown” all about?

A. The two of us, Katherine and Ashley, are best friends that started Charlestonunknown as a way to show our love for this city. We want visitors and locals to explore all of the food, fashion, and fun that Charleston has to offer. Our goal is to share our favorite parts of CHS so that others can enjoy and adore this city as much as we do!

Q. What restaurant do you ladies miss eating at the most?

A. One of the great things about Charleston is that there are so many amazing restaurants to choose from. It would be impossible to pick just one that we miss the most during quarantine, but we definitely miss Harold’s Cabin, Wild Olive and Zen.


Q. When we aren’t in quarantine, what is your favorite happy hour spot?

A. There are so many great choices for happy hour, but our favorite happy hour on a budget is definitely at Ristorante LIDI on Daniel Island. The food and wine offerings are amazing with unbelievable prices.

Q. What’s the best, affordable take-out meal you’ve had while in quarantine?

A. Katherine has been to Italy multiple times and Antica Napoli Pizzeria is the closest to authentic Italian pizza as you can get she is so glad they are doing takeout. Ashley’s favorite is Mex1, not only do you get delicious food but you can enjoy a variety of drinks to go from margaritas to mimosas to frozen drinks to signature cocktails!


Week of March 16-20

This week’s featured foodie is Dominique Mackins of Charlestonfitfoodie. Dominique is a Whole 30 coach, as well as a wellness blogger. She is also known to create the most beautiful avocado roses! Keep reading to see what her go-to’s for healthy cheap eats are.

Q. What is your name? How long has “Charleston Fit Foodie” been around and what inspired you to start it?

A. Hi! I’m Dominique Mackins, a Cardiac Nurse Manager here in Charleston, SC. When I moved to Charleston 5 years ago from California, I noticed the health scene was not as prominent as it was where I lived before. I started Charlestonfitfoodie in 2016 in an effort to promote the health and wellness that I found in Charleston.

Q. What is your favorite place to eat affordably in Charleston?

A. I love going to Verde! You can get a huge salad for around $9, and it’s actually big enough for two meals. Verde is probably one of the most affordable options for a nutrient dense meal here in Charleston.

Q. What is your favorite happy hour spot?

A. I really enjoy The Watch Rooftop! Not only is the view amazing, but the truffle fries and rosé selections are top notch!

Q. Since you are all about being “fit”, What is your go-to healthy home-cooked meal?
A. I have two! My sweet potato noodle skillet and buffalo spaghetti squash casserole. Both recipes are found on my blog!
You can find all of Dominque’s home-cooked healthy recipes on her blog by clicking here:

Week of Feb. 17-21

This week’s featured foodie is Victoria McMillin, creator of the wellness lifestyle blog, A Penne for my Thoughts. Keep reading to find out what inspired her to start her blog, as well as her go-to spots for cheap eats in Charleston!


Q. What is your blog, “A Penne For My Thoughts” all about?

A. “A Penne” is a Wellness Lifestyle blog that focuses on my wellness journey. It is really about how I live my life and my journey to living a wholesome lifestyle. It includes everything from what I buy at the grocery store and why, to food facts about the nutrition content, to how I work out and what I read. I try to provide content that is helpful and fun, and worth peoples time!

Q. What inspired you to start your blog?

A. I moved from Colorado to Charleston 3 years ago and wanted a way to connect with people in the Charleston community that were like-minded and be able to share what I have learned through researching as well! It has introduced me to what are now some close friends of mine, and made Charleston feel like home. It is a labor of love, but I love what it has brought to my life and the support that I have received because of it!


Q. What is your go-to affordable meal in Charleston?

A. Oh, this is a tough one. Do I have to choose just one? I love “The Main Squeeze” in Belle Hall for clean juices, easy wraps and avocado toast. Locals in Mt. Pleasant is such an easy and fun spot to grab some affordable tacos and sushi (it’s easy to love a place that does both sushi and tacos well). Downtown, I love Stella’s! You can get one pasta dish and make it super affordable, or you can order a bunch of plates to share and make it a bigger meal. That place is a gem.

Q. What is your go-to happy hour spot in Charleston?

A. Barsa, downtown! The drink menu is wonderful but from 4-7 Mon-Friday they also do half-off paella and specials on certain tapas. It really is a steal, and I regularly crave their food!

Week of Feb 3-8

This week, I chatted with Brooke Ellis, creator of foodie Instagram account, Forkn’ Hungry. Read on to find out more about who she is and all her secrets to eating on the cheap in Charleston!


Q. What is your name?

A. Fork N’ Hungry’s alter ego, Brooke Ellis.

Q. What is Fork N’ Hungry all about?

A. Growing up, me and my Busia spent our time bopping around Rochester, NY, trying and talking about local restaurants and the food they served. After she unexpectedly passed, I created Forkn’ Hungry as a tribute to her – sharing the joys of food with the world as a way to honor her memory. Now, I strive for Forkn’ Hungry to be that, and so much more..a resource to the Charleston community that can be used to determine the best and most scrumptious places to eat and drink in town.


Q. How long have you lived in Charleston and if you are a transplant, what brought you here?

A. My aunt moved to Charleston 26 years ago, so I have been visiting Charleston every year since I was 5 months old – it has always been like a second home to me! After high school, I wanted to make it a permanent thing so I moved to Chucktown to attend College of Charleston. I have always loved food but it wasn’t until I went to CofC that I got involved in wanting to try different cuisines and trendy restaurants! After graduating, I moved to NYC for a couple of years, but I knew that I couldn’t stay away. Deep down, Charleston has always been home to me. I returned back in May of 2019 and am staying here for good!


Q. What is your go-to affordable meal?

A. Mex-1 has forever been my go-to spot for a great deal and a great meal! All of their dishes are under $15 and they never skimp on portion sizes. They also have a variety of mouth-watering delicious tacos with mix and match options that I’m especially fond of – I can’t just choose one! To top it off, they have a great assortment of libations. The Frozen Margarita with a sangria swirl is my personal favorite. I am also a huge fan of Basil, Boxcar Betty’s and HomeTeam BBQ (perfect for sharing IMO).

Q. What is your favorite happy hour spot?

A. I love a good place that has bites included in their happy hour. Triangle Char + Bar is an after work spot that I frequent and does just that. I recommend the Tot Poutine and Brisket – Mac Lollipops – both $5 on special. I also LIVE for Indaco’s half-off pizzas (their Brussel Sprout Pizza is the LOML) and O-ku’s half priced sushi rolls select nights of the week.


Week of Jan 19-25

This week’s featured foodie is Sarah Lefebvre, the creator of The Charleston Meatball. This lover of all things Italian and active Instagrammer (make sure you give her a follow – @the.charleston.meatball !) shares her favorite ways to eat on the cheap in Charleston.

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Q. What is your blog all about? What inspired the name, “Charleston Meatball”?

A. I have always loved food. Some people eat to live, but I live to eat. I figured that I could start a blog doing something that I already enjoy, and I had been taking photos of my food for years. I thought everything out and took a while to finally launch my Instagram account. I knew I wanted a name that would stand out against the rest, and finally landed on the Charleston Meatball. I love Italian food and I have always thought of meatballs as being so cute! I have fond memories growing up and making them with my family, too. Now, the Charleston Meatball “rolls around from one restaurant to the next.”

Q. What is your go-to affordable meal?

A. I eat cheap all the time! If I’m going out and don’t want to spend a lot of money, I usually go Mexican. Tacos are my favorite. There are countless places you can go around here and get a few tacos for $10 or less. Carmen Y Juan’s, Mex 1 Coastal Cantina, and Agaves Cantina are some of my favorite affordable spots!


Q. What is your favorite happy hour spot?

A. Barsa! I personally think Barsa has the best happy hour in town. Their drinks are reasonably priced (and delicious) to begin with, then happy hour prices make them even better. You’ll get $1 off beer, $2 off wine, and $3 off house cocktails. I get an aperol spritz for just $5! Their delicious paella is on happy hour too. Plus, they have an adorable outdoor courtyard and plenty of parking, which is a rarity for downtown!

Barsa’s chicken and chorizo paella

I couldn’t agree more with Sarah that Barsa truly has one of the greatest happy hours in town. You really can’t go wrong with a $3-$5 cocktail and some of the most plentiful, affordable, and authentic paella in town.