Lowcountry Fresh Catch: Charleston's Best Seafood & Raw Bars

The soul of any great harbor town dwells in the finest fresh seafood of its own waters. In Charleston, SC, expectations of excellent seafood abound in the anticipations of eager travelers and lowcountry locals alike. Charleston chefs and restaurants proudly serve the very best in traditional and contemporary styles of classic seaside dishes.

Think good seafood means frozen, flash-fried fish from continents away? Well, bless your heart. Thankfully, Charleston's seafood restaurants will forever change your beliefs. Leon's Oyster Shop, for example, is often hailed for serving up one of the best seafood restaurant experiences in the country–according to both locals and visitors alike.

Several other Charleston seafood restaurants are also known just as well for their atmosphere as their fresh, local fish, shrimp and oysters. The Ordinary, housed in a historic old bank building, offers an impressive daily selection of local and exotic raw bar delicacies. Enjoy the outdoor waterfront deck on a summer night at Fleet Landing or the pristine marsh views from Bowen's Island Restaurant.

There's nothing like a fresh, beautifully presented lunch or dinner to refuel dedicated shoppers on a mission along Charleston's famous streets. While strolling along Upper King, stop by Fish for small and large plates, an impressive wine selection, attentive service, and the streetside patio–perfect for people watching. Another centrally located lunch or dinner option is the small, but flavor-packed 167 Raw, a mini-market and seafood joint specializing in New England style po' boys and lobster rolls. At Hank's downtown, an elegant setting and old world service come together for a truly authentic Charleston seafood meal. 

COAST Bar and Grill
Photo courtesy of Coast Bar & Grill


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...  Read More



Amen Street Fish & Raw bar is a street corner seafood gem in the historic district of downtown Charleston. While Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar offers a full menu of starters, salads, entrees, raw bar, and dessert, it is best known for its...  Read More



If you ask around for a downtown seafood restaurant with waterfront dining, you'll find Fleet Landing the most popular recommendation. Fleet Landing's outdoor deck is refreshing after a long day of walking and exploring, and even the indoor...  Read More

Bowens Island Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Rodney Hammond


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...  Read More

North Downtown


Many a local will recommend Leon's Oyster Shop for many a reason. As its name implies, Leon's specializes in oysters, and the shellfish appear on the menu raw with saltines, char-grilled, fried Rockefeller, and as oysters casino. Indeed, Leon's...  Read More



Opened February 2016, The Darling Oyster Bar has given an old building a fresh new face, serving a lot more than just oysters. There are oysters a plenty, of course, along with crab claws and the like at The Darling's window-front raw bar, but...  Read More



Voted the "Best Seafood Restaurant" in Charleston 13 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,...  Read More



Head to Charleston's newest New England influence 167 Raw's charming seafood mini-market and restaurant for fish and chips, lobster rolls, seafood tacos and more. Undoubtedly, 167 Raw is the long-awaited New England answer to Charleston's...  Read More



Housed in a grand old bank building on Upper King, this downtown oyster bar and seafood restaurant serves only the highest quality fish and shellfish, sourcing locally and sustainably. The Ordinary also offers a few 'exotic' (or at least...  Read More


Meet Clare Sweeney

A South Carolina native and avid locavore, Clare is always venturing between traveling abroad and her beloved Lowcountry. 

Clare works and plays in downtown Charleston, spending her days...  More About Clare