Learn where she loves to eat, shop, play, and explore
Shuai and Corrie Wang in front of their celebrated Spruill Avenue eatery, Jackrabbit Filly.
Since moving from New York City to Charleston in 2014, Corrie and Shuai Wang had dreamed of opening a “neighborhood joint”—the kind of place where everyone knows each other. They now see that vision play out daily in their Park Circle restaurant, Jackrabbit Filly. “That sense of community is really important to us,” says Corrie.
It’s so integral that the Wangs, who live around the corner, are looking to open a second restaurant in the neighborhood. “It’s got some of everybody here,” Corrie says. “It’s young families, people who have lived here their entire lives, artists, and a huge queer community.”
The couple chanced upon Park Circle while house hunting in 2017. “Shuai doesn’t have a ton of patience, so we looked at a couple houses, and he was like, ‘Let’s just buy this one,’” Corrie recalls. “I said, ‘That’s not really how you buy a house. We’ll look at one more. It’s in Park Circle.’”
They didn’t know much about the North Charleston historic district, but liked that it seemed walkable and had its own downtown center. As they toured the circa-1940s house, loaded with nooks and crannies, they knew they had found home.
Less than two years later, the Wangs opened their “heritage-driven new Chinese American” eatery in a former Spruill Avenue pool hall. Instantly, the homey space, decorated with colorful string lights, rabbit wallpaper, and family photos, was bustling with devotees of their prior venture, Short Grain food truck. Three months after opening, the pandemic hit, but not only have they stayed afloat, they’ve thrived. In fact, Yelp! ranked Jackrabbit Filly sixth on its 2022 “Top 100 US Restaurants” list.
We asked the busy restaurateur and author to share what makes her love Park Circle and where to stop when you’re in the neighborhood.
(Left to right) The grilled snapper at Three Sirens; Find proper fish and chips at The CODfather; Park Pizza Co.
When they’re not cooking together at home, Corrie and Shuai are Park Pizza people (1028 E. Montague Ave., parkpizzaparkcircle.com). Corrie, who hails from Buffalo, NY, loves the cheesy, doughy house pies there. Their go-to order is the Grinder pizza, plus a large salad (Corrie’s “obsessed” with the cucumber-wasabi dressing), the cheesy breadsticks, and their “gooey and delicious” desserts. “You could spend a very happy year eating through their whole menu,” she says. Another treat is the “super tasty” fish and chips at The CODfather (4254 Spruill Ave., thecodfatherchippy.com).
They’re eager to try Three Sirens (1067 E. Montague Ave., threesirenschs.com), a seafood place opened in December by the owners of Stems & Skins, an acclaimed wine and cocktail bar across the street. “Everyone on our crew who has been has loved it,” Corrie says. She’s also thrilled that they can get The Tattooed Moose’s (tattooedmoose.com) famed sandwiches and duck-fat fries close to home at a new location slated to open in Park Circle by March.
Amid all the high-profile eateries in the area, there are also a few hidden gems, she adds. While just about everyone’s heard of the locally sourced, wood-fired pies at EVO pizzeria (1075 E. Montague Ave., evopizza.com), few know about the bakery behind it where you can sip coffee on the patio and grab a fresh baguette to take home. And it might be easy to pass by the nondescript Olde Village Market & Deli next door (1073 E. Montague Ave.), but it would be a mistake. The corner store’s egg sandwiches remind the Wangs of the Brooklyn delis they frequented in New York.
(Left to right) Park Pets owners Kristine and Tyewhan Luke with their pups, Wolverine and Bentley; Firefly Distillery; Mani-pedis and more at Park Circle Nail Spa.
Corrie’s favorite place in Park Circle doesn’t serve food. She spends much of her scarce free time strolling through the aisles of The Station (4610 Spruill Ave., thestationparkcircle.com), located a few doors down from Jackrabbit Filly. It has booths housing vintage furniture and a wide array of offerings from local artisans, such as pillows and bags by Charleston Cloth Co. “Our whole house is pretty much decorated with things from The Station,” she says.
Next door is Roadside Blooms (4610 Spruill Ave. #102, roadsidebloomsshop.com), “this amazing, quirky plant shop” with everything from mini greenhouses and incense to handcrafted jewelry and journals.
As an author herself—she wrote two young adult novels, The Takedown (Little, Brown; April 2017) and City of Beasts (Little, Brown; September 2019)—Corrie can’t get enough of The Itinerant Literate (4824 Chateau Ave., itinerantliteratebooks.com), which started as a bookmobile and landed in a converted house in the heart of Park Circle. It holds tons of events, such as book club dinners at local restaurants and a feminist market, she says.
When Corrie and Shuai aren’t working, they like to stay close to home with their three “foster fail” hound mixes, Moose, Olive, and Golly. She’s grateful that they don’t even have to leave the neighborhood to replace the occasional chewed leash, thanks to Park Pets (1021 E. Montague Ave. #101, parkpetsparkcircle.com).
(Left) High Water music festival, curated by Charleston’s own Shovels & Rope, returns to Riverfront Park on April 23 and 24; (Right) Riverfront Park’s boardwalks along the Cooper River.
Those leashes come in handy on the frequent walks the Wangs take to the neighborhood’s namesake—the circular park at its center. It hosts disc golf, a community center, a seasonal farmers market, and holiday festivals.
Some days off find them visiting Park Circle Nail Spa (1020 E. Montague Ave., park-circle-nail-spa.business.site). “Every now and then, I’ll force Shuai to go and get a pedicure,” says Corrie. On most other days, they’re out sampling local brews and spirits.
“In our tiny neighborhood, we have two terrific breweries, two distilleries, and Charleston’s only cidery,” she notes. From Holy City Brewing’s expansive marshfront patio—where Corrie says the Jackrabbit Filly staff “always” hangs out (1021 Aragon Ave., holycitybrewing.com)—and Commonhouse Aleworks’ themed Sunday brunches (4831 O’Hear Ave., commonhousealeworks.com) to Firefly Distillery’s weekly food trucks (4201 Spruill Ave., fireflydistillery.com), there’s plenty of bustling hang-out spots. Nippitaty Distillery (4405 Spruill Ave., nippitatydistillery.com) holds private tours and events, and Ship’s Wheel Hard Cider (1033 E. Montague Ave., shipswheelhardcider.com) has frequent pool tournaments, and the family-friendly breweries and distilleries host regular live music and a mix of other events indoors and out.
One area the couple wants to explore more is Riverfront Park (1061 Everglades Ave.), which winds along the Naval base that closed in 1996. While an earlier development project, Noisette, wound up in foreclosure, the area has, over the past two decades, taken on a new life. Last spring, a group of developers announced plans for the “Navy Yard Charleston” development, with more than 1.2 million square feet of shops, restaurants, homes, and offices planned for the next 10 to 15 years.
The scenic area—which already has a boardwalk, fishing pier, dog park, splash pad, event venues, outdoor sculptures, and an amphitheater—hosts a variety of events as well. From March 2 through 6, Charleston Wine + Food’s Culinary Village will be based there for the first time (charlestonwineandfood.com), and the popular High Water music festival returns with a rocking lineup on April 23 and 24 (highwaterfest.com).
The development along Riverfront Park is in keeping with the overall growth of Park Circle in the past decade. “In five years, it’s going to look like a totally different neighborhood,” Corrie says, “but likely will still maintain the charm and the quiet that we love.”
Back in the Day
The concept behind Park Circle was the brainchild of a retired British stenographer, Ebenezer Howard. In his 1898 book, To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Social Reform, he laid out plans for a community that would solve the problems of sprawl and overcrowding borne by the Industrial Revolution. He envisioned a round center city garden with avenues stretching out from the circle. One section would contain homes, another industry, and the entire neighborhood would be surrounded by open space for agriculture. In 1912, inspired by Howard, the North Charleston Corporation began developing the 5,000 acres that would come to be Park Circle.