The kitchen at Gene’s Haufbrau (17 Savannah Hwy., 843/225-4363, www.geneshaufbrau.com , daily 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m., $6–10) complements its fairly typical bar-food menu with some good wraps. Start with the “Drunken Trio” (beer-battered cheesesticks, mushrooms, and onion rings) and follow with a portobello wrap or a good old-fashioned crawfish po’ boy. One of the best meals for the money in town is Gene’s rotating $6.95 blue plate special, offered Monday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The late-night kitchen hours, until 1 a.m., are a big plus.
For connoisseurs, Bessinger’s (1602 Savannah Hwy., 843/556-1354, www.bessingersbbq.com , prices and hours vary) is worth the trip over to West Ashley  for its Carolina-style mustard-based wizardry. There are two scenes at Bessinger’s, the sit-down Southern buffet (Thurs. 5–8 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5–9 p.m., Sun. noon–8 p.m., $11.50 adults, $5.95 children)—Friday is fried catfish night—and the Sandwich Shop (Mon.–Sat. 10:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., $6.35 for a “Big Joe” basket) for quick takeout. In old-school tradition, Bessinger’s is a dry joint that doesn’t sell alcohol.
(To clarify: Bessinger’s in Charleston was founded by the brother of Maurice Bessinger, who started the Columbia-based “Maurice’s Gourmet BBQ” chain, famous for its ultra–right-wing, neo-Confederate sensibilities. You may safely patronize Bessinger’s in Charleston without worrying that you are supporting anything you may have objections to.)
However, another West Ashley joint, Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ (1205 Ashley River Rd., 843/225-7427, www.hometeambbq.com , Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., $7–20) is even better than Bessinger’s. I cannot say enough about both the pulled pork and the ribs, which rank with the best I’ve had anywhere in the country. Even the sides are amazing here, including perfect collards and tasty mac-and-cheese. Chef Madison Ruckel provides an array of tableside sauces, from hot to indigenous South Carolina mustard to his own “Alabama white,” a light and delicious mayonnaise-based sauce.
As if that weren’t enough, the owners’ close ties to the regional jam-band community means there’s great live blues and indie rock after 10 p.m. most nights (Thursday is bluegrass night) to spice up the bar action, which goes until 2 a.m.
Tucked away on the grounds of the Middleton Place Plantation  is the romantic and Middleton Place Restaurant (843/556-6020, www.middletonplace.org , lunch daily 11 a.m.–3 p.m., dinner Tues.–Thurs. 6–8 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 6–9 p.m., Sun. 6–8 p.m., $15–25). Theirs is a respectful take on traditional plantation fare like hoppin’ John, gumbo, she-crab soup, and collards. The special annual Thanksgiving buffet is a real treat.
Reservations are required for dinner. A nice plus is being able to wander the gorgeous landscaped gardens before dusk if you arrive at 5:30 p.m. or later with a dinner reservation.
Anything on this Northern Italian–themed menu is good, but the risotto—legacy of original chef John Marshall—is the specialty dish at Al Di La (25 Magnolia Rd., 843/571-2321, Tues.–Sat. 6–10 p.m.), West Ashley ’s most popular fine dining spot. Reservations recommended.