Shem Creek by Taylor Franta

Your Guide to Charleston Waterfront Dining

By Barry Waldman

Here in Charleston, dinner and a show means waterfront dining where your seafood platter and sweet tea are enjoyed with views of the beach, dolphins playing in the creek or the sun setting over the Cooper River. Here’s our guide to dining with a water view. Try some of these terrific restaurants and be sure to snap a photo and share with us using hashtag #CharlestonTraveler.


The Boathouse at Breach Inlet: Perched on the Intracoastal Waterway, The Boathouse of-fers views inside, outside and plateside. Inside, the all-wood design is crafted from 10 species – mahogany to teak – and adorned with boats hanging from the rafters. Outside, the passing trawlers are traveling the East Coast while, on the table, your dinner or brunch has been pulled from the very waters you’re viewing. Enjoy chef specialties like shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, pan-roasted scallops and seafood fettucine. 101 Palm Blvd. |

Coconut Joe's on Isle of PalmsCoconut Joe’s Beach Grill: Stash your family on the covered deck and witness the Atlantic Ocean from which you just emerged, or take the kids to the rooftop for food and fun. A great place for lunch, with fish tacos or burgers like the BMOC, dripping with jack cheese, bacon, mushrooms and grilled onions. The kids’ menu features corn dogs and cheese quesadillas. For after lunch fun, toss some beanbags in a friendly game of cornhole. 1120 Ocean Blvd. |

Coda Del Pesce: Italian for “fish tail,” this restaurant feels more like Windows on the World, but at sea level. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer sweeping views of the Atlantic with a contemporary Italian feel inside. Owner and Executive Chef Ken Vedrinski is serious about his food, wine and décor, so leave the kids behind, order one of the seafood specialties, pair it with a bottle of wine and savor the evening. 1130 Ocean Blvd. |

Morgan Creek Grill: You’ll soon figure out why this restaurant is always hopping – especially on weekends and for Sunday brunch – when you see the panoramic views of the In-tracoastal Waterway and surrounding marshes. Order anything from fried oyster mac and cheese to an assortment of freshly-caught fish. It’s more informal on the upper deck where the views are grand, and the kids have their own menu. 80 41st Ave. |


Water’s Edge: Fine dining on Shem Creek means one of 450 choices of wine, cloth napkins and rowdy terns firing past like missile-shaped avians. Lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch on Shem Creek offers a more intimate view of the water and its occupants: boaters and paddle boarders close enough to say hello and an occasional manatee lolling beneath a water spigot. 1407 Shrimp Boat Lane |

Vickery’s Bar & Grill: Pull your boat up to the dock and climb into Vickery’s, a Shem Creek staple of casual dining and 270-degrees of water views, so that every table is a good location. Hang out with fellow boaters at the Shark Bar and quaff a brew or sit down for a meal. Vickery’s is a popular stop on the way to or from the Charleston Harbor. 1313 Shrimp Boat Lane |

The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene: Indigenous seafood in Mount Pleasant’s charming Old Village on the cusp of the Intracoastal Wa-terway. “The Wreck” is a paean to 1989’s devastating Hurricane Hugo, which tossed the fishing trawler Richard & Charlene into the pilings of a neighboring dock, where its skeleton sat, impaled, for months. Shirts, shoes and appetite required. 106 Haddrell St. |

Shem Creek Bar and Grill: Beef, chicken and burgers are on the menu at this casual seafood house and oyster bar with a side order of Shem Creek. Kitschy in all the right ways, with a boat-shaped bar and fried anything-that-swims, along with Lowcountry staples like Frogmore stew and shrimp and grits. In-teresting beers include Hobgoblin, Flying Dog, Palmetto Amber and Blue Moon. 508 Mill St. |

Red’s Ice House: An old shrimp-packing shed, now a rambling restaurant and bar overlooking Shem Creek where buffalo wings, fish and chips, and fried po’ boy – and of course frosty refreshments – sustain the crowds cheering screens of gridiron heroes. This is the kind of place where you meet friends and bring your four-legged ones where dogs are welcome on the patio. 98 Church St. |

R.B.’s Seafood Restaurant: Dating to 1979, when Ronnie Boals first established R.B.’s on Shem Creek, the place hasn’t lost its relaxed setting and reasonable prices while offering the waterfront bustle of the creek. Lunch, dinner and kids’ menus focus on aquatic delicacies, but there are plenty of burgers, pasta, salads and soups to satisfy any mood. The Salt Water Bar & Grill upstairs is newly remodeled. 97 Church St. |

Charleston Fish House

Charleston Fish House

Charleston Harbor Fish House: Airy and open with great views of the iconic Cooper River Bridge and USS Yorktown, the Fish House offers a rooftop bar with a view of the entire Charleston skyline. Wow up to 500 guests here in one of the banquet rooms or enjoy a cozier breakfast, lunch or dinner, each with an extensive seafood-plus menu. 32 Patriots Point Road |


Blu Restaurant & Bar: Dead center of the Edge of America, Blu is located in the Tides Hotel next door to the historic Folly Beach fishing pier. Opt for fine dining with linen napkins and a view nearly to Portugal from inside, or grab a beer from the bar and kick up your flip-flops outside by the beach. 1 Center St. |

Bowen’s Island Restaurant: Off the beaten path, not quite to Folly but beyond James Island, down a dirt path until you can’t go any farther, it’s a wonder anyone visits … until you do. Casual oyster roasting and Frogmore stew-ing on weathered wooden tables next to walls denoting who loved whom back in ‘87. Charming Bowen’s is a local staple that describes itself as an “oyster joint…an aging pile of cinder block and boards” that’s the home office for spectacular sunsets and fresh bivalves. 1870 Bowens Island Road |

Pier 101 Restaurant: Nothing frou-frou here at the Lowcountry’s newest waterfront eatery. “Casually simple” menu items put the premium on your view of the Atlantic Ocean. Replacing beachside icon Locklear’s, Pier 101 has a throw-back 1950s vibe in the middle of Folly’s alt-rock buzz. 101 East Arctic Ave. |


Fleet Landing: Not beside the Cooper River, but actually on it, Fleet Landing offers a view of the port, the river, Mount Pleasant and the iconic Cooper River Bridge. Upscale rustic, the blue plate specials mix with business at lunch, and shirts with sleeves are required while enjoying the day’s fresh catch for dinner. 186 Concord St. |

California Dreaming in Charleston, SC

California Dreaming

California Dreaming: Standing sentinel in the middle of the Ashley River, with the Charleston Marina in your sights, California Dreaming is the best of chain dining. It features a wrap-around deck and bar with views across the Ashley and a family style menu that covers every palate – whether your preference is an-imal, mineral or vegetable. Getting there is tricky, so make sure you have good directions. 1 Ashley Point Drive (West Ashley) |

Charleston Crab House: Pull up your boat from the Intracoastal Waterway, climb up the dock into the shambling Charleston Crab House, and soak up a laid-back atmosphere and fresh seafood. Enjoy waterfront dining in the salty air or on the other side of the windows. A great place for a crowd because a little of everything is on the menu, from salads to burgers to seafood to raw bar. 145 Wappoo Creek Drive (James Island) |

Ellis Creek Fish Camp: Hugging Ellis Creek and the marsh beside it, this fish camp is a casual dining experience inside and out. Start with shrimp, oyster, scallop or grouper and have a plate, basket, taco or sandwich with a side of collards. If you prefer a burger, they have those too and it all comes with a side dish of pluff mud just beyond your table. 1243 Harborview Road (James Island) |


SpiritLine Dinner Cruises, Charleston SC

SpiritLine Dinner Cruises

The pure definition of waterfront dining is a dinner cruise. These companies offer various dinner cruise options during the spring and summer season. Check their websites for details on special offerings and reservations.

Charleston Harbor Tours: The folks that bring you narrated harbor tours also offer periodic dinner cruises with views of the Charleston peninsula, the Cooper River Bridge, Fort Sumter, the Battery and more. Check their website for schedules and special event cruises.

SpiritLine Cruises: How about dinner on the water with live music playing in the back-ground and views that change over time? The 150-minute cruise through the harbor offers three- and four-course meals aboard the Spirit of Carolina as you glide past Fort Sumter, around the Battery and beneath the Cooper River Bridge. Reservations begin at $55 plus tax per person, not including the cash bar, and depart from Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant.

More Suggestions:

Be sure to checkout our Charleston restaurants page and also see if there are any Charleston coupons that interest you!