The One Who Keeps the Book Charleston
How to Get Into Halls Chophouse, and What to Order Once You’re There
It doesn’t quite seem right that Halls Chophouse only opened in 2009.
No, the vaunted steakhouse feels like it’s been a part of Charleston’s dining scene and lore, if not forever, then much longer than 14 years. Such is the power of gospel brunch, excellent service, and a steakhouse formula expertly done, which also explains why the elegant family-owned space is perpetually packed, having seduced locals and visitors alike.
Can’t seem to get a prime-time Resy? You’re in the right spot. In this installment of The One Who Keeps the Book, we talk to general manager Sara Faienza who dishes on the best time to make a Resy, her favorite seats in the house, must-order dishes, and so much more.
When do reservations drop on Resy?
Faienza: 90 days prior to the booking date, at five in the morning.
And how quickly do the prime-time tables tend to get booked out?
That’s a loaded question. I’d say they get booked up almost immediately. At certain times, we’re booked out up to two months in advance. But it can be season-based: bookings are going to get filled up faster in the spring, summer, and fall months as opposed to the winter. If you’re coming during a certain season, you might want to jump on that train and go ahead and book right away.
I do always recommend our guests call. We will book over the phone, no matter how long in advance — I have people that book a year and a half in advance! Our phone number is (843) 727-0090.
Are any of the seats held for walk-ins?
Yes, we have several available options for walk-ins. We have one 16-seat bar and another nine-seat bar that serve our full dinner menu in addition to some bar items. And then we have a total of eight high tops that are clothed that appeal to a more formal style of fine dining. Halls prides itself in our hospitality and service standards — we want to make sure it’s extended to everyone and be able to accommodate all of our guests.
What You Need to Know
Plan Ahead: Reservations drop at 5 a.m., 90 days in advance.
The Layout: There are 365 seats total spread across two floors. On the first floor, expect the nightly live band, two bar areas, dining rooms, and the stunning Bill Hall room. On the second floor, you’ll find the large main dining room (which can get loud).
Walk On In: Bar seats are held for walk-ins as are eight high-tops. If you do walk in, showing up right when they open at 4 p.m. (on weeknights) or 4:30 p.m. (on weekends) is recommended.
Must-Orders: The Lowcountry fried green tomatoes, French onion soup, Halls chop salad, bison filet, and creamed corn.
Pro Tips: Call (843) 727-0090 and make your reservation far in advance — the Halls team will happily book you in (even if it’s a year out from now!). And do write in guest notes in the Resy app, whether it’s table preferences or desired acoustic levels. Check the Resy app day of for last-minute inventory, and most importantly: trust your server, you’re in the best of hands.
What’s the best time for a walk-in to come by to get seated promptly?
I’d recommend walking in right when we open. If you’re looking for that early dinner, we might be able to get you sat right away. We open at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and then 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. We stay open till 11 o’clock at night and midnight on the weekends, so try walking in at a later time, too. We have a lot of flexibility.
And when is your busiest night?
Friday night, although Thursday night’s becoming the new Friday. [We’ll do] 500 covers on average.
Are there certain days or times when there’s a better chance to score a prime-time reservation?
Sunday evening through Wednesday allows for a little bit more flexibility on those prime-time reservations. For Charleston, prime time tends to be 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Do you use the Resy Notify list?
At times, I’ve had 500 people on the Notify list. On holidays, I’ve had over 1,000 people. It just fills up so fast. Honestly, those people are almost better off just walking in.
Can you book tables for large groups?
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, absolutely no party over eight! Otherwise, you’d be crammed and it’s not going to be a good experience for your guests. But we will book parties up to 12 Sunday night through Wednesday. And if it’s a rather large group, like over 20 people, we’ll try to extend them to our separate dining event space that does catering and on-premises dining.
Are there any other ways to snag a table?
For those who want to book through Resy, one big trick to getting a coveted spot is just checking the day of, because we do our confirmations for tables 24 hours in advance. Our p.m. receptionist calls our guests 24 hours prior to just ensure that they’re still planning on dining with us. So, there’s an opportunity for us to drop in a lot of covers, and it’s happened before. And if that’s the case, I pop the books back online, and I open up some slots on the Resy portal so that our guests can book.
What’s the best seat in the house?
In the bar area, there’s one long booth in an alcove in the shape of an arch that’s divided into two tables. And not only are those booths extremely comfortable and cushy and lush — you just want to sink into them — but you get to enjoy the ride of Halls. It’s great people-watching. If you enjoy that environment, you’re just going to be captivated by all of the Charlestonians coming in, the buzz and the energy of the steakhouse, the staff working in unison, almost organized chaos, sort of speaking. It’s quite beautiful and it actually is my favorite place to sit, because it can be a fun, exciting table, but it can also be an intimate and romantic table.
Can guests request a specific table in the guest notes on Resy?
Absolutely. And I actually recommend that [people put in] general requests as well, because our restaurant can be kind of loud. We do our best to manage our acoustics as much as we can, but we do have live music every night, and that kind of filters throughout the dining rooms, both downstairs and upstairs. Some rooms are a little quieter, some rooms are really energetic, so I really recommend our guests to put those notes when they’re booking on Resy so we can make sure we are accommodating you the best we can.
What are the dishes first-timers should absolutely order?
They should start with our Lowcountry-style fried green tomato. You don’t really get it the way we prepare it in a lot of Charleston spots — here, they’re dusted in rice flour. They’re crunchy, fried perfectly, and topped with a wonderful Lowcountry succotash that has crab meat, shrimp, bacon, corn, and tomato, and it’s served over a spoonful of soft buttermilk ranch. It’s just a wonderfully balanced dish and I think all guests should try it once.
Then, if they wanted to go into a soup or salad course, they should get our French onion soup, it’s the best I’ve ever had. And if they’re more of a salad person, they should get our signature Hall chop salad — it stands up high on the plate and it’s a beautiful presentation.
Moving into the main event: our steaks. We have wonderful options for steaks, but if they wanted to try something different, they should go for our bison filet. Our bison comes in from Wyoming; it’s a very lean cut of meat and it’s served over a bed of wild mushroom risotto, topped with decadent truffle butter, and finished with a red wine bordelaise sauce. It’s truly spectacular. And they have to try the creamed corn, one of our signature side items. They roast the corn husk in house and shave it off the cob, fold in a pepper jack cheese Mornay sauce, put it in a nice cast iron skillet, top it with bread crumb, and pop it in the oven. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
Any other tips or tricks for making the most out of a night here?
Let us guide you through your evening. Trust us and know that we’re going to give you the best experience. A lot of people come in and have a plan in mind. But I stress to our servers not be “order takers,” to create an experience for somebody who might never eat here again, have them leave, and say that was the best meal they’ve ever had. I think if guests can allow themselves to do that and take a step back, you’ll truly get the most out of what Halls has to offer.
Halls Chophouse is open Mondays through Thursdays from 4 to 11 p.m., Fridays from 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 11 a.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Noëmie Carrant is Resy’s senior writer. Follow her on Instagram. Follow Resy on Instagram and Twitter, too.