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Fried shrimp and french fries.
Fried shrimp platter at Bowen’s Island.
Mike Ledford

Top 13 Seafood Restaurants for a Fresh Catch in Charleston

From fried shrimp to seafood towers

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Fried shrimp platter at Bowen’s Island.
| Mike Ledford

Every year millions of visitors come to Charleston with one question, “Where can we get good seafood?” While many locals are inclined to shuffle tourists off to a Market Street crab house, we wouldn’t maintain our reputation as the most polite city in America if we did that. The following is a guide to everything seafood in Charleston. Look beyond the Lowcountry boil, and stop at one of these establishments for a real Holy City experience.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Nana's Seafood & Soul Uptown

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For those looking for seafood, soul, or real-deal Gullah-Geechie menu items, Nana’s is the place to be. Mother and son team Carolyn and Kenyatta McNeil create Lowcountry classics, with local products. For a reasonable price, patrons can score a giant piece of perfectly-fried whiting, fried cabbage on rice, lima beans, and a sweet piece of cornbread — really, it’s enough for two people. The trick is to keep up with the restaurant’s Instagram feed to check when crab rice or garlic crabs are on the menu (two of the most popular dishes).

Gillie's Seafood

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Gillie’s Seafood is dedicated to chef/owner Sean Mendes’ grandmother LaReese Gilliard, so patrons are treated like family when they sit down at a table. There’s plenty of Southern seafood favorites here, from shrimp purloo to fried flounder to shrimp and grits. Fun note: if you bring in a framed photo of your grandmother, the staff will hang it on their wall of grandmas — how adorable is that?

Gillie’s Seafood
Mike Ledford

Bowens Island Restaurant

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Any visitor Charleston must trek out to Bowens Island at least once. The experience of non-stop steamed oysters, cheap beer, and creekside views makes for lasting memories. It’s rustic (some say “dive”), and a bit hard to find, but as former Eater restaurant editor Bill Addison said, “It has been a draw for decades and remains luring both for its ramshackle funkiness and the gut-level goodness of its food.” And if you’re searching for a Lowcountry boil, a combination of corn, sausage, shrimp and potatoes, this is the place to find it.

Bowens Island Restaurant
Mike Ledford

Leon’s gives fried-fish goodness with a side of crispy chicken and freshly-shucked oysters. This North Central hangout is the spot to be if you prefer perfectly-battered bait with a glass of rosé and New Orleans soul pumping out the speakers. The outdoor patio is the place to be if the weather is nice.

Fried seafood platter at Leon’s
Andrew Cebulka

Dave's Carry-Out

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Dave’s Carry-Out has somewhat unpredictable hours, but if visitors can find the Morris Street dining room open, then they are in for some of the best fried fish around. Most people take their food to go, but there’s a few tables scattered about and a television on, so folks like to hang out and discuss the day in between bites. The popular seafood platter allows diners to sample fried shrimp, scallops, fish, and a deviled crab.

Shrimp and fish from Dave’s
Mike Ledford

The Ordinary

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What can be said about The Ordinary that hasn’t already been printed in hundreds of other publications? The hype is real. Gather friends and family, make a reservation, and luxuriate in the two-story dining room housed in a former bank from 1927. Standouts include a selection of local oysters, king mackerel pâté, and the New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp. Imbibers should finish the night with a few a rum drinks and go home very happy.

Lobster roll at the Ordinary
Robert Donovan

The Darling Oyster Bar

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Upper King hot spot the Darling keeps a lively dining room full of guests seeking fry baskets, Hawaiian-influenced poke, and clam chowder poutine. The attractive space draws in crowds night after night. Go early for happy hour and sit at the window-facing raw bar to watch the hustle on King Street in between shucks.

Lobster and King crab roll at the Darling 
Robert Donovan

167 Raw

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Seafood house 167 Raw started as a small storefront on East Bay Street and has since upgraded to a multi-dining room space on King Street, but that has not diminished the crowds vying to grab a seat for perfectly shucked oysters, little neck clams, or a jumbo shrimp cocktail. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but it does offer online ordering. The lobster roll with a buttery, buttery bun is the stuff of legends. Don’t sleep on the shrimp taco or the frosé.

A blue and white bar at i67 Raw.
Bar at 167 Raw
Leslie Ryann McKellar

Delaney Oyster House

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Located in a historic Charleston home, Delaney Oyster House is a handsome space for seafood dining. Chef Chef Shamil Velazquez combines his Puerto Rican heritage with Lowcountry products. The menu offers crab claws, oysters, Caribbean fish empanadas, crab rice with sofrito, caviar service, a daily catch, and more.

Hank's Seafood Restaurant

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Hank’s is the OG fine dining fish house in Charleston. The menu stocks Charleston legends like seafood a la Wando and she-crab soup. The servers wear white dinner jackets and black ties, the dining room is old-school polished, and the seafood tower and whole lobster are always a good idea.

Seafood tower at Hank’s
Hank’s Seafood Restaurant/Facebook

The Kingstide

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The Kingstide sits on the Daniel Island waterfront, which is prime seating when the weather is nice. Diners stop in for a chance to sample chef Kevin Getzewich’s menu of creative fish dishes like swordfish with nage, English peas and whipped potato or a trout rueben. There’s also more traditional dishes, like a packed lobster roll, and plenty of items to choose from at the raw bar.

Open kitchen at Kingstide
Mike Ledford

Wreck of the Richard & Charlene

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The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene is a dive of a restaurant on Shem Creek. Customers sit on mismatched patio furniture on the expansive porch overlooking the water as they dine on fried shrimp, red rice, hush puppies, and deviled crabs.

Coda Del Pesce

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If you wish for fine dining by the sea, then Coda del Pesce can satisfy your needs for Italian plates — heavy on the frutti di mare — on the beach. Chef Ken Vedrinski offers a taste of the Italian Coast closer to the Lowcountry with grilled octopus, snapper crudo, and fusilli with blue crab. Enjoy a dinner and then go for a walk on the Isle of Palms sand.

Code del Pesce
Coda del Pesce/Facebook

Nana's Seafood & Soul Uptown

For those looking for seafood, soul, or real-deal Gullah-Geechie menu items, Nana’s is the place to be. Mother and son team Carolyn and Kenyatta McNeil create Lowcountry classics, with local products. For a reasonable price, patrons can score a giant piece of perfectly-fried whiting, fried cabbage on rice, lima beans, and a sweet piece of cornbread — really, it’s enough for two people. The trick is to keep up with the restaurant’s Instagram feed to check when crab rice or garlic crabs are on the menu (two of the most popular dishes).

Gillie's Seafood

Gillie’s Seafood
Mike Ledford

Gillie’s Seafood is dedicated to chef/owner Sean Mendes’ grandmother LaReese Gilliard, so patrons are treated like family when they sit down at a table. There’s plenty of Southern seafood favorites here, from shrimp purloo to fried flounder to shrimp and grits. Fun note: if you bring in a framed photo of your grandmother, the staff will hang it on their wall of grandmas — how adorable is that?

Gillie’s Seafood
Mike Ledford

Bowens Island Restaurant

Bowens Island Restaurant
Mike Ledford

Any visitor Charleston must trek out to Bowens Island at least once. The experience of non-stop steamed oysters, cheap beer, and creekside views makes for lasting memories. It’s rustic (some say “dive”), and a bit hard to find, but as former Eater restaurant editor Bill Addison said, “It has been a draw for decades and remains luring both for its ramshackle funkiness and the gut-level goodness of its food.” And if you’re searching for a Lowcountry boil, a combination of corn, sausage, shrimp and potatoes, this is the place to find it.

Bowens Island Restaurant
Mike Ledford

Leon's

Fried seafood platter at Leon’s
Andrew Cebulka

Leon’s gives fried-fish goodness with a side of crispy chicken and freshly-shucked oysters. This North Central hangout is the spot to be if you prefer perfectly-battered bait with a glass of rosé and New Orleans soul pumping out the speakers. The outdoor patio is the place to be if the weather is nice.

Fried seafood platter at Leon’s
Andrew Cebulka

Dave's Carry-Out

Shrimp and fish from Dave’s
Mike Ledford

Dave’s Carry-Out has somewhat unpredictable hours, but if visitors can find the Morris Street dining room open, then they are in for some of the best fried fish around. Most people take their food to go, but there’s a few tables scattered about and a television on, so folks like to hang out and discuss the day in between bites. The popular seafood platter allows diners to sample fried shrimp, scallops, fish, and a deviled crab.

Shrimp and fish from Dave’s
Mike Ledford

The Ordinary

Lobster roll at the Ordinary
Robert Donovan

What can be said about The Ordinary that hasn’t already been printed in hundreds of other publications? The hype is real. Gather friends and family, make a reservation, and luxuriate in the two-story dining room housed in a former bank from 1927. Standouts include a selection of local oysters, king mackerel pâté, and the New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp. Imbibers should finish the night with a few a rum drinks and go home very happy.

Lobster roll at the Ordinary
Robert Donovan

The Darling Oyster Bar

Lobster and King crab roll at the Darling 
Robert Donovan

Upper King hot spot the Darling keeps a lively dining room full of guests seeking fry baskets, Hawaiian-influenced poke, and clam chowder poutine. The attractive space draws in crowds night after night. Go early for happy hour and sit at the window-facing raw bar to watch the hustle on King Street in between shucks.

Lobster and King crab roll at the Darling 
Robert Donovan

167 Raw

A blue and white bar at i67 Raw.
Bar at 167 Raw
Leslie Ryann McKellar

Seafood house 167 Raw started as a small storefront on East Bay Street and has since upgraded to a multi-dining room space on King Street, but that has not diminished the crowds vying to grab a seat for perfectly shucked oysters, little neck clams, or a jumbo shrimp cocktail. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but it does offer online ordering. The lobster roll with a buttery, buttery bun is the stuff of legends. Don’t sleep on the shrimp taco or the frosé.

A blue and white bar at i67 Raw.
Bar at 167 Raw
Leslie Ryann McKellar

Delaney Oyster House

Located in a historic Charleston home, Delaney Oyster House is a handsome space for seafood dining. Chef Chef Shamil Velazquez combines his Puerto Rican heritage with Lowcountry products. The menu offers crab claws, oysters, Caribbean fish empanadas, crab rice with sofrito, caviar service, a daily catch, and more.

Hank's Seafood Restaurant

Seafood tower at Hank’s
Hank’s Seafood Restaurant/Facebook

Hank’s is the OG fine dining fish house in Charleston. The menu stocks Charleston legends like seafood a la Wando and she-crab soup. The servers wear white dinner jackets and black ties, the dining room is old-school polished, and the seafood tower and whole lobster are always a good idea.

Seafood tower at Hank’s
Hank’s Seafood Restaurant/Facebook

The Kingstide

Open kitchen at Kingstide
Mike Ledford

The Kingstide sits on the Daniel Island waterfront, which is prime seating when the weather is nice. Diners stop in for a chance to sample chef Kevin Getzewich’s menu of creative fish dishes like swordfish with nage, English peas and whipped potato or a trout rueben. There’s also more traditional dishes, like a packed lobster roll, and plenty of items to choose from at the raw bar.

Open kitchen at Kingstide
Mike Ledford

Wreck of the Richard & Charlene

The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene is a dive of a restaurant on Shem Creek. Customers sit on mismatched patio furniture on the expansive porch overlooking the water as they dine on fried shrimp, red rice, hush puppies, and deviled crabs.

Coda Del Pesce

Code del Pesce
Coda del Pesce/Facebook

If you wish for fine dining by the sea, then Coda del Pesce can satisfy your needs for Italian plates — heavy on the frutti di mare — on the beach. Chef Ken Vedrinski offers a taste of the Italian Coast closer to the Lowcountry with grilled octopus, snapper crudo, and fusilli with blue crab. Enjoy a dinner and then go for a walk on the Isle of Palms sand.

Code del Pesce
Coda del Pesce/Facebook

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