Where to Go for Great Seafood in Charleston


By Barry Waldman

Any restaurant in Charleston that purports to serve Lowcountry fare has to have good seafood dishes on the menu. In a culinary jewel like Charleston, nearly any seafood or Lowcountry restaurant that’s not a national chain will delight your taste buds – or it won’t stick around.

Erin Perkins, editor of Eater Charleston, says there are so many great choices that picking a few winners seems unfair. We asked her to give it a shot anyway.

For an oyster roast, head to Bowens Island Restaurant – a ragged pile of wooden tables inside a rickety shed down a dirt path miles out of town. Locals agree: it’s worth the drive. Plus, it’s on the way to Folly Beach.

For fried seafood, visit Nana Seafood and Soul, 176 Line St. in Charleston. Gullah food handed down to Nana by her generations of family and then to Carolyn McNeil, the proprietor.

For more adventurous seafood, like barbecue shrimp, whole fried fish and even shark, try Ravenel Seafood on Savannah Highway in Ravenel (about 20 miles west of Charleston).

For high-end seafood, there’s the place that put the “extra” in ordinary, James Beard award-winning chef Mike Lata’s The Ordinary.  Fancy seafood and raw bar in a 1927 bank building at 544 King St.

Candice Herriott, a food blogger at #CHSFoodWriter and author of “Provisions to Plate,” which highlights the local food scene from a seasonal perspective, takes special aim at The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island, which serves oysters with “amazing strawberries mixed in with shallots and vinegar. It had literally come from within five-mile radius of the restaurant.”

She also recommends Darling Oyster Bar (513 King St.). “They are exceeding everyone’s expectations,” she said. Plus, check out 167 Raw at 289 East Bay St. Herriott says, “Super great food, no nonsense, good stuff, done right, worth the wait and every dollar you’re going to spend.”

Other can’t-miss spots include the four-diamond Peninsula Grill on Market Street, Coast Bar and Grill on Hutson Alley, Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar on East Bay, Leon’s Oyster Shop on upper King Street, Oyster House on Market Street and Hank’s Seafood on Church Street. Also check out the Charleston Crab House with locations on James Island and right on Market Street in downtown Charleston.

But really, if you walk into any seafood restaurant in the Charleston area that has survived more than a year, you’re probably in for an epicurean delight.

Any restaurant in Charleston that purports to serve Lowcountry fare has to have good seafood dishes on the menu. In a culinary jewel like Charleston, nearly any seafood or Lowcountry restaurant that’s not a national chain will delight your taste buds – or it won’t stick around.

Erin Perkins, editor of Eater Charleston, says there are so many great choices that picking a few winners seems unfair. We asked her to give it a shot anyway.

For an oyster roast, head to Bowens Island Restaurant – a ragged pile of wooden table inside a rickety shed down a dirt path miles out of town. Locals agree: it’s worth the drive. Plus, it’s on the way to Folly Beach.

For fried seafood, visit Nana Seafood and Soul, 176 Line St. in Charleston. Gullah food handed down to Nana by her generations of family and then to Carolyn McNeil, the proprietor.

For more adventurous seafood, like barbecue shrimp, whole fried fish and even shark, try Ravenel Seafood on Savannah Highway in Ravenel (about 20 miles west of Charleston).

For high-end seafood, there’s the place that put the “extra” in ordinary, James Beard award-winning chef Mike Lata’s The Ordinary.  Fancy seafood and raw bar in a 1927 bank building at 544 King St.

Candice Herriott, a food blogger at #CHSFoodWriter and author of “Provisions to Plate,” which highlights the local food scene from a seasonal perspective, takes special aim at The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island, which serves oysters with “amazing strawberries mixed in with shallots and vinegar. It had literally come from within five-mile radius of the restaurant.”

She also recommends Darling Oyster Bar (513 King St.). “They are exceeding everyone’s expectations,” she said. Plus, check out 167 Raw at 289 East Bay St. Herriott says, “Super great food, no nonsense, good stuff, done right, worth the wait and every dollar you’re going to spend.”

Other can’t-miss spots include the four-diamond Peninsula Grill on Market Street, Coast Bar and Grill on Hutson Alley, Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar on East Bay, Leon’s Oyster Shop on upper King Street, Oyster House on Market Street and Hank’s Seafood on Church Street. Also check out the Charleston Crab House with locations on James Island and right on Market Street in downtown Charleston.

But really, if you walk into any seafood restaurant in the Charleston area that has survived more than a year, you’re probably in for an epicurean delight.