ELLINGTON: The women's apparel store — named after Duke Ellington — offers brands like Babette, Crea and Kathleen Summers. Shoppers get design services as well, and can stop in on most Saturday nights for live jazz.
BLUE BICYCLE BOOKS: Stacks of used, rare and children's books line the walls in the narrow rooms of Blue Bicycle. With a bike in almost every room, plenty of comfortable chairs and a gray cat lurking about, it's a good place to hang out downtown when South Carolina's weather gets steamy.
KUDU COFFEE: Offering African coffees and sweets from local bakeries, two-year-old Kudu Coffee features extras like a WiFi zone, book exchange, live performances, screening room for documentaries and an open-mike night most Thursdays.
FUEL: This new Caribbean cantina is housed in an old gas station that's been remodeled and decorated with brilliant oranges and aqua blues from the islands. The menu is simple, featuring local fish tacos and house-ground burgers. It's a great bar for the college crowd and perfect lunch spot for anyone else. The outdoor bocci court is a major attraction.
BASIL THAI CUISINE and CHAI'S LOUNGE AND TAPAS: Crowds line up early at Basil Thai Cuisine. But diners on the waiting list can grab a drink next door at Basil Thai's sister emporium, Chai's, with its outdoor bar and live music. The two King Street eateries have indoor and outdoor dining. Basil Thai chef Suntorn Cherdchoongarm, a Bangkok native, also provides the tapas menu for Chai, and he has tempered the heat to suit his American clientele.
TORCH VELVET LOUNGE: Torch's hookah bar offers one of the few places in Charleston's nonsmoking city where visitors can light up. It specializes in Champagne, sparkling wines and martinis while offering a tapas menu. DJs take over the music system at 10 p.m.