Charleston Oyster and Raw Bars a Local Indulgence
By Clare Sweeney
Charleston Local Expert
As soon as you arrive in Charleston, you know you're in a special place - unique with its own southern, coastal graces and charms. And if you're a foodie, and especially an oyster lover, you'll feel right at home in any Charleston seafood restaurant. In the lowcountry, with seafood dining comes incredible sunset and ocean views, outdoor patio and shady courtyard seating, and nightly fresh catch and entertainment specials. Try casual downtown spots like The Noisy Oyster or A.W. Shuck's with the family after a long day of sightseeing and shopping at the Old City Market, or get your oyster fix at neighborhood newbie Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar. Do you like your oysters upscale? Head to Hank's for Gulf Oysters by the dozen in a sophisticated and elegant atmosphere. Prefer your oysters with a view? Sample Oysters McClellanville on the waterfront patio at Charleston Crab House in James Island. If you want to enjoy Charleston's nightlife and local oysters at the same time, look no further than Pearlz "eclectic little oyster bar," and knock back one, (or two...or three), of their traditional Oyster Shooters. No matter how you like your oysters, Charleston's oyster, raw bar and seafood restaurants are sure to satisfy your shellfish cravings!
10 Folly Beach Crab Shack
Folly Beach Crab Shack is a classic seafood joint at home in the heart of downtown Folly Beach. Located just blocks from the shore, this laid back neighborhood restaurant offers sandwiches, grilled and fried seafood plates, a raw bar menu, and seafood buckets in a beach casual environment. Try the Flounder Crunch Sandwich, domestic Shrimp and Crab Pot Pie, or the Charleston Steamed Seafood Bucket of shrimp, oysters, and crab legs for the table. Folly Beach Crab Shack is a great midday break from the beach, with kids and beverage menus available and $6.99 lunch menu specials all week. (843-588-3080)
9 Water's Edge
An extensive menu, waterfront outdoor dining overlooking Shem Creek, and laid back atmosphere make Water's Edge a popular off the peninsula seafood spot. While by no means a full raw bar, Water's Edge does offer the perfect setting for its oysters, fried or on the half shell, steamed mussels, and local little-neck clams. The Water's Edge boasts a wine list of over 450 choices, and budget friendly happy hour food and beverage menu until 7 p.m. (843-884-4074)
If you can seek out COAST, elusively situated on a short path off of John Street, you will be generously rewarded with fresh seafood, an upscale menu in a laid-back beachy atmosphere, and an extensive wine and beverage list. The generous menu features appetizers of Crab & Avocado Ravioli and Baja Fish Tacos, and such entrees as the Snapper Almondine, Carolina Lump Crab Cakes, and Seafood Paella. Your choice/any style wood grilled fish and fried seafood plates, served with blue cheese slaw, allow diners to customize their COAST seafood experience. (843-722-8838)
7 AW Shucks
At home on South Market Street across from the Historic City Market, A.W. Shuck's inhabits an old warehouse building that was once the location of a Prohibition era speakeasy. This casual and family friendly seafood restaurant and raw bar offers a kids menu and seating for large groups of Charleston visitors. Apart from its large menu of starters, salads, and seafood entrees, A.W. Shuck's raw bar includes such staples as Gulf Oysters by the dozen and half dozen, Garlic Mussels, and Snow Crab Legs. The popular Ivan's Steamed Pot with oysters, mussels, clams, crab legs, sausage, corn and potatoes is a lowcountry style boil that satisfies all of your shellfish cravings. (843-723-1151)
6 Noisy Oyster Seafood Restaurant
The Noisy Oyster on the corner of East Bay and North Market street is hugely popular with visitors to Charleston looking for casual seafood dining. Situated in the midst of the Market Street shopping district, the half indoor half outdoor atmostphere of the Noisy Oyster makes it a great post shopping recovery spot! Enjoy a Crab Stuffed Green Tomato Tower or and order of Shrimp and Grits Spring Rolls for starters, and try the Fried Oyster Po Boy, Shrimp Okra Gumbo, or Mediterranean Shrimp Pizza for your meal. Raw bar and kids menu available, and reservations accepted. (8437230044)
5 Charleston Crab House - James Island
Charleston Crab House's James Island location has the perfect seafood-on-the-water setting that you'd expect on the South Carolina coast. The waterfront, outdoor patio dining and its views only adds to the local seafood experience with such menu items as the Lowcountry Shrimp Boil, Carolina Deviled Crab fried seafood platter, and Stuffed Baked Flounder. Make your own combo seafood platters, "Crab-a-tizers" like Crab Stuffed Mushrooms and Fried Green Tomatoes, salad and pasta options bring variety to the Crab House menu. Try the World Famous Charleston Crab House Crab Pot to satisfy all of your crabby cravings! (843-795-1963)
4 Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar
Amen Street Fish & Raw bar is a street corner seafood gem in the historic district of downtown Charleston. While Amen Street is offers a full menu of starters, salads, entrees, raw bar, and dessert, it is best known for its fresh raw bar and savory fried seafood platters, po boys, and seafood pastas. Warm up your appetite with a bowl of She Crab Soup or Amen Street's Famous Shrimp Corndogs. Raw Bar items include local oysters, clams, and Tuna Carpaccio. Amazing seafood choices, cozy booths, and a brick walled interior - can I get an AMEN? (843-853-8600)
3 Hank's Seafood Restaurant
Voted the "Best Seafood Restaurant" in Charleston 12 years in a row, Hank's on the corner of Hayne and Church street serves up fresh seafood entrees and raw bar items for dinner 7 days a week. Hugely popular with locals and visitors alike, Hank's elegant, sophisticated atmosphere compliments top-notch entrees like the Lowcountry Bouillabaisse, Rare Seared Tuna, and Roast Grouper with Lobster Risotto. Appetizers include Fish & Shellfish Ceviche, Tuna Tartare, and Oyster Stew, while the Raw Bar serves up classic items such as Gulf Oysters, Peel 'n Eat Shrimp, and Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. When in Hank's stick to seafood entrees, and ask about nightly fish and shellfish specials! (843-723-3474)
2 Bowens Island Restaurant
Bownen's Island Restaurant is the only restaurant on it's own 13 acre island, and is self-described as an, "island, restaurant, and state of mind," all at once. Founded in 1946 by May and Jimmy Bowen, this seafood and oyster joint on James Island is only 5 minutes from Folly Beach, and offers up fantastic sunset and salt marsh views from its wrap-around porch deck. While Bowen's Island Restaurant offers fried seafood options, the all you can eat steamed oysters, served to the table by the shovelful, are the shining stars of the menu. Inexpensive beers, hushpuppies, and fires go perfectly with your sunset water views and steamed local oysters in this ultra casual island joint. (843-795-2757)
1 Pearlz Oyster and Raw Bar
Pearlz is self-described as, "Charleston's eclectic little oyster bar," and does it's best to live up to the title. A fresh seafood, raw bar, and late night menu are offered, starring starters like the Crispy Ahi Tuna Roll, and Crab Bruschetta, and such entree options as Shrimp, Mahi, or Tuna Tacos, and a Daily Fresh Fish Catch, served any way you like it. Pearlz Raw Bar serves up classic oysters raw or steamed, southern-fried, and baked Rockefeller style. Pearlz atmosphere is trendy and up beat; the perfect beginnings to your night on the town! (843-577-5755)
About Clare Sweeney
A South Carolina native and avid locavore, Clare also ventured abroad to Spain and north to Boston before returning to Charleston and her beloved Lowcountry.
Clare works and plays in downtown Charleston, spending her days enjoying the city’s perpetually sunny weather, nearby beaches and ever-growing food and craft beer scene. Follow Clare on Twitter @LocalExpertCHS for the latest in local happenings!
Read more about Clare Sweeney here.