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.Read More
11 Seafood Restaurants for a Fresh Catch in Charleston
From fried shrimp to seafood towers
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.
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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.
Neighborhood restaurant Chubby Fish doesn’t take reservations, so show up early for a chance to try chef James London’s fare. Oysters and a caviar sandwich are a good way to start the evening and then onto chili shrimp and smoked wahoo curry.
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 pate, and the New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp. Imbibers should finish the night with a few rum drinks and go home very happy.
The Darling Oyster Bar
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.
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.
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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.
Delaney Oyster House
Located in a historic Charleston home, Delaney Oyster House is a handsome space for seafood dining. 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.
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.
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 the wall of grandmas — how adorable is that?
Bowens Island Restaurant
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.
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