In June, we traveled back to our favorite city in South Carolina, Charleston, and decided to look for a place that served local Lowcountry cuisine. Since we've been to the city a number of times, we were familiar with a few areas, particularly around Mt. Pleasant, and were lucky enough to find a restaurant with traditional local food that satisfied our palates as well as our checkbook. Because of Charleston's seafaring ports and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, you're almost guaranteed to find the freshest seafood dishes which include shrimps, crabs, crayfish, and fish. Showcasing some of the city's culinary supremacy in seafood and Lowcountry cuisine, Locklear's Lowcountry Grill in the Mt. Pleasant area is a fine place to start in the city. The menu consists of seafood, sandwiches, pastas, soups, and a good sized menu for children. What I did like about the restaurant was that it was low-key without all the fuss and snobbery associated with more upscale places I've been to. True to the Southern hospitality often found throughout South Carolina, their waitstaff and hostess were incredibly friendly and accommodating, which is what I love and miss most about the region.
No visit to Charleston would be complete without having a bowl of their she-crab soup, a delightfully rich, milky, and creamy bisque filled with bits of potatoes and fresh Atlantic blue crab meat. Both my husband and I ordered a small cup to start as an appetizer and we didn't leave a lick of soup left in the cup once we were done. It was that good. The soup is very flavorful and tastes so fresh, you would think that the chef had hauled the day's fresh crab catch into his kitchen to prepare it. Also, if you're ever in the Lowcountry area, the she-crab soup is a must and one of the region's signature dishes. More often than not, you'll find most Lowcountry restaurants in the Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia regions offering a bowl of the soup.
For my entree, I ordered the Rockville shrimps and hominy, which was absolutely heavenly---it was one of THE best shrimp and grits variation I have ever tasted in the South and, let me tell you, they know their shrimp and grits here. Medium sized chunks of shrimp were sautéed in a slightly spicy Cajun-type sauce which was drenched over Old Mill Hominy grits and served with a side of corn fritters and tomato jam. The tomato jam paired with the corn fritters is ridiculously delicious. If I wasn't so intent in finishing the shrimp and grits, I probably would've asked for more. The flavors just explode in your mouth and, if you don't pace yourself, you're going to get full very fast and easily (which is what happened in my case). For those who haven't had grits, it's coarsely ground corn kernels that have slightly thick consistency, depending on how much liquid is used. Grits to Southerners is like rice to Asians; it's common in the area and they sure as hell know how to prepare it.
Another great aspect of the restaurant is that it's located in an area with easy access to a number of tourist hot spots and just minutes away from the historical district of Charleston. Also, the Mt. Pleasant area is right around the corner from the Isle of Palms, an area known for its sand dunes, pricey beach houses, and beaches, of course. Locklear's is in a plaza that's off one of the main roads in Mt. Pleasant and close to the area hotels, so I think it's fairly easy to find. You'll also find a few other restaurants, notably seafood, that offer Lowcountry cuisine, but I think that Locklear's is definitely worth a visit. It's not busy, even during the peak of lunch hour and, as I've mentioned earlier, the staff is super friendly and attentive. Our son loved looking at the fish in the tank by the hostess' stand and I was worried that he'd be a bother to the patrons eating by the table nearby, but the people were just delighted with Rome and didn't mind that he was oogling the tank.
Locklear's is also a very kid-friendly restaurant, which is always something my husband and I typically take into account when we travel and look for places to eat. The interior is painted with bright yellow paint and has ample seating space. Outside, you'll find plenty of outdoor seating, but since Locklear's located beside a main thoroughfare, it may be a little noisy with the passing traffic. As for pricing, I found Locklear's to be fairly moderate with dishes averaging between $8 - $12, with items on the kid's menu about half of that.
Verdict for Locklear's? A resounding YES. Also, you've just got to try their shrimp and grits.