Charleston’s East Central
neighborhood sits in downtown Charleston,
approximately two miles from center-city. East Central lies close to and North of Charleston’s Interstate, Highway 26 so residents have easy access in and out of the city. The area features an eclectic mix of residents, both young and old, blue and white collar, and a variety of ethnicities. Revitalization of the area is happening, as more businesses and restaurants move into the neighborhood to accommodate the tastes of its growing population of young professionals. Like most of downtown Charleston, its streets are lined with historic homes,
many built in the 1700s and 1800s.
Restaurants & Nightlife
East Central’s residents enjoy being only a short two-mile drive or ride to the center of downtown Charleston and all it has to offer in the way of restaurants, bars and theaters. However, the neighborhood itself has a few restaurants and bars and an emerging nightlife scene. A big draw for the neighborhood is the Royal American, a music venue hosting a large stage and a variety of music acts. With a cozy atmosphere, a great patio and friendly bartenders, residents are happy to have the Royal American in the neighborhood.
Most of East Central’s establishments sit along a stretch of Morrison Drive, the neighborhood’s main road that lies on the northeast side of the neighborhood. Some of the restaurants have become very popular, very quickly, drawing in patrons from other parts of downtown Charleston. East Central’s main draws are the local watering-hole The Tattooed Moose, soul-food-central Martha Lou’s Kitchen and gastro-pub Edmund’s Oast.
The word of the day at the Tattooed Moose isn’t moose, it’s always duck. Locals keep coming back for Mike's famous duck club and the duck fat fries. The club’s a triple-decker with duck confit, apple-wood-smoked bacon, hickory-smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomato and red onion, served on sweet Hawaiian bread, slathered with garlic aioli. With duck fat fries, what’s there to explain, except that with locals claiming addictive qualities, beware - you’ve been warned.
A few steps down the street from the Tattooed Moose you find Edmund’s Oast, serving up tasty craft brews and succulent wines. At Edmund’s, you won’t want to miss what some say is the best charcuterie in town. You can order it fresh or cured, small or large. Ask for an extra side of spicy mustard; you won’t be disappointed.
History & Culture
East Central’s population has shifted over the years to include more young, urban professionals. You can immerse yourself in history at America’s First Museum, the Charleston Museum, which first opened in 1773 and explores the history of Charleston. Or take in a play at the Woolfe Street Playhouse, a local theater company featuring regular showings of dramatic, comedic and musical plays, also just a mile away. The neighborhood doesn’t feature any annual events, but you won’t want to miss the annual world-renowned events of downtown Charleston, such as Spoleto USA, held in May and the Food and Wine Festival in March.
Most of East Central’s residents make the short drive to neighborhood establishments or down into center-city. Parking in the neighborhood is relatively easy, but if you are visiting be aware that some spots are for residents only. On the weekends, you may find cabs passing through Morrison Drive, but it’s always best to call ahead so you’re not waiting for a pick-up. Uber is also an option, serving all of Charleston, including East Central. If you’d prefer to take the bus, you can catch a ride on Charleston’s public bus system, CARTA, for only $1.75 one way. As for biking, like most of Charleston, bike lanes exist, but the streets are busy and narrow with bikers and cars jockeying for space. If you want to bike, it’s safest to stick to quiet side streets. If you move to the area, getting in and out of Charleston from your place will be a breeze. Charleston’s Interstate, Highway 26, is on the south edge of the neighborhood.
Generally speaking, the cost of living in East Central runs lower than in many other parts of the city. Rental options include two- and three-bedroom
Charleston homes and Charleston’s first high-rise apartment complex, the nearby East Central Lofts. A one-bedroom
rental in the neighborhood averages $1,100. Charleston’s gas prices consistently run about 30 cents lower than the national average, with prices in the East Central area even 10 cents lower than that. You pay about the same for food and drink at restaurants and bars throughout the city, including in East Central, with the price for a pint of craft beer running between $5 and $6. You can always catch a ride on CARTA, Charleston’s public bus system, for only $3.50 round trip.
Neighborhood retail shopping is limited, so residents are grateful for cone 10 studios, a unique ceramic and pottery gallery selling their wares inside the neighborhood. Less than a mile away, you can shop until you drop in Charleston’s famed shopping district, King Street. The stores on King Street range from big-chain, affordable spots such as Forever 21, H&M and Rack Room Shoes to high-end local stores such as Bob Ellis Shoes and the Finicky Filly. In between, you find Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and the Gap. The Bi-Lo grocery store, a full-service grocer, less than a mile away, serves residents well. But if you prefer, you can visit upscale grocer, Harris Teeter, only two miles away. Stroll up King Street on weekends from April to November and you find the Charleston Farmer's Market, which Travel and Leisure Magazine ranked as one of the top 10 farmer's markets in the nation. The market sets up at Marion Square Park, in the heart of the city.
While there are no parks directly inside the neighborhood, East Central sits less than a mile away from the public MLK pool and adjacent Martin Park, complete with playground and sports fields. The park is seasonal though, so you need to check to be sure it’s open. Only 1.5 miles away, you find Marion Square Park, one of the city’s largest parks. Located at center-city, the park is usually full of students and locals laying in the sun, picnicking or tossing a ball. Lacking boundaries or gates, the park is always open and free-of-charge. You can surf the net on your laptop too, as the city provides free Wi-Fi in the park and nearby areas.