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Driving around a city you’ve never visited before can be a little daunting; throw in an out of date GPS map and an epic crap-ton of construction, and you have the makings for a truly frustrating adventure. Our journey to track down Gnome Cafe was probably the worst part of our time in Charleston. Finally, we broke down and called the cafe, and the owner, who is such a sweet person, helped us make sense of all of the detours and construction and guided us safely to their parking lot.
I felt so optimistic just standing outside of this place. Everything was clean and crisp, inviting, and a touch whimsical. I knew it was going to make all of the driving drama worth it. Something you have to understand about people with dietary restrictions is that we don’t often have more than two or three options to choose from when dining out. So when you find a place that has a menu where you can eat anything you want, your brain short circuits a bit. This was the glorious situation we found ourselves in at The Gnome.
Everything on the menu was vegan, and let me tell you it felt down right decadent to leisurely peruse and decide how we wanted to start our day. On our way to the table, we were distracted by the baked goods. After a very short discussion, we decided that we would in fact be getting dessert to go and quickly purchased a Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oreo Cookie and a piece of their Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. *Spoiler Alert* They were AMAZING!!!! While sipping my London Fog (Earl Grey Latte with Almond Milk), I took mental stock of the decor, loving the contrasting black and white theme that continued inside the restaurant and appreciating how they softened what could have been a very cold color combo with tons of green plants and bowls of fresh produce. When our food arrived… man, it was so difficult to remember that we needed to take picutres before diving in. We both went for an Everything Bagel Sandwich with scrambled tofu, shitake bacon, and the most delicious melty vegan cheese I have ever encountered. The potato hash was awesome, cheddar grits were some of the best I’ve ever had. We cleaned our plates and thanked God that we’d had the foresight to wear yoga pants. I didn’t want to over do it with the pictures, but we also went back the next morning just to try the Southern Grit Bowl and the house made Sausage Biscuit. Just as delicious as what we’d had the day before. The other thing I thought was cool was that the place wasn’t just full of vegans: the gentlemen behind us in line were discussing meat lover’s pizza, and the couple at the next table were talking about getting BarBQ later. It’s a true testament to the quality of the food. I would hit this place for breakfast every morning if I lived in Charleston.
Travel food can be a bit hit and miss, but sometimes the stars align and you find that gem of a place that not only provides an excellent meal but makes you lament that there isn’t a place like it in your town. Dell’z in Charleston was one of those places for me. We rolled into Charleston late Thursday afternoon, and after checking in with our host, food was very much a priority. After getting lost with our GPS and doing some serious navigating around detours and construction, we finally pulled into the small gravel lot behind the restaurant. Getting out of the car, we were immediately optimistic when we saw the colorful murals and the small garden at the back of the establishment. Our optimism continued to grow as we took in the colorful decor and chatted with the sweet and very informative cashier (Hello, Caroline!). She helped us navigate the menu and gave us lots of recommendations for our dietary restrictions and culinary preferences. The place was so laid back, and the decor was fun and eclectic. We both loved the found treasures displayed on the walls and the chairs that had been reupholstered with coffee and produce bags. The food…oh, my goodness, the food. I had their vegan chicken cordon bleu wrap, and it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, vegan or other wise. There was crunch from the veggies and melty from the “cheese” and sauce! I let Stefanie try it since my food came out first, and there was a brief but very real moment where I was unsure if I’d be getting my food back or not. Of course, this only lasted until her thai bowl came out, and then she was very interested in her own meal (and rightly so, it was awesome!). The last thing I want to talk about is the green goddess dressing/dipping sauce that they make in house. Both our orders came with a side of it, and even though we were both stuffed, you can bet your ass we ate every last chip and piece of pita bread just to justify eating the dressing.I can honestly say if there was a Dell’z in Tallahassee I would be there at least once a week. Grab a wrap on the way home; go out for a low key dinner. I’d probably even have my very own table. Who knows, maybe the owners will someday feel the need to retire to the unrelenting heat of Florida.
After leaving Bottany Bay, we headed to the final destination on our Frienaversary trip, a place neither of us had visited before: Charleston, South Carolina.The excitement level going over this cable bridge was ridiculous. We crossed it twice because we were lost, and it was completely awesome both times. The first place we hit up Friday morning was the Charleston City Market. This place was recommended in every guide book, blog, and website I visited during our trip planning. To be completely honest, it was a bit of a let down. The idea was cool, but it was straight up tourist with very little local flair. When we were telling our Air BnB hostess about it later that day, she recommended going to the night market instead next time. She said that was when the local artisans sold more of their goods. After we finished up at the market, we walked around the surrounding area a bit, lots of kitschy little shops. Still pretty touristy, but a lot closer to the Charleston we’d wanted to see. Our Air BnB hostess was amazing; we had the best time hanging out with her and her adorable pups Mia & Loretta Lynn. This is going to sound really strange, but one of my favorite parts about her home was the outdoor shower. It was absolutely wonderful, and I really want one of my own now. Her backyard also had a cute seating area and a fire pit. There has already been some discussion about staying here again in cooler months so we can take advantage of the backyard. For our first ever pedicab ride, we hit the jackpot with our driver Lee. He was super sweet and very helpful when we told him that we only had a vague idea of where we needed to end up. He recommended some things for us to check out, and we were quite sad when we had to say goodbye. The evening found us wandering past the shops and bustle around King Street and into the majestic solitude of the Charleston College campus. Everything was pretty empty since it was summer, but it was lovely walking down the streets and marveling at the architecture. All too soon it was time for us to head back to Tallahassee. We had so much fun, but there were so many more things we wanted to do. Looks like we’ll just have to go back next year.