Best Seafood Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina
Photo: Ramon Grosso/Fotolia

Virtually every seaside town has an abundance of seafood restaurants. Charleston, South Carolina, is no exception. Travelers come here to experience some of the finest fresh seafood in the country, served with a Southern, Lowcountry flair. Many of the restaurants not only offer delicious seafood but are also an experience unto themselves with unique and interesting locations and atmospheres.

»Hank’s Seafood Restaurant, Downtown

Hank’s Seafood Restaurant, Downtown

Hank’s Seafood Restaurant is a widely popular, award-winning restaurant in downtown Charleston. The restaurant is open for dinner and features fresh seafood entrees as well as a raw bar. Hank’s is both elegant and sophisticated and is a delightful option for a classy dinner out.

Several of the praise-worthy menu items include the Lowcountry bouillabaisse, roast grouper with lobster risotto, and appetizers such as tuna tartare and fish and shellfish ceviche. The raw bar offers a classic selection of peel-and-eat shrimp, shrimp cocktail, and Gulf oysters. Hank’s offers a nightly fish and shellfish special that is worth trying.

10 Hayne Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-723-3474 Photo: Hank’s Seafood Restaurant

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»Magnolias, French Quarter

Magnolias, French Quarter

Magnolias in the French Quarter has elevated traditional Southern cuisine to a new, refined level. The restaurant has taken classic dishes and reinvented them with modern flair, techniques, presentations, and flavor combinations. Perhaps the dish that guests rave about the most is the simple but refined shellfish over grits. This dish includes shrimp, lobster, and scallops in a butter sauce served with creamy white grits.

On the appetizer menu, the Down South Egg Roll is a Southern twist on an Asian staple. It is a traditional egg roll stuffed with collard greens, chicken, and ham, served with a spicy sauce. Magnolias also sells their very own cookbook for guests who would like to try their hand at replicating the flavors at home.

185 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-577-7771 Photo: Magnolias

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»167 Raw, Downtown

167 Raw, Downtown

167 Raw is the Charleston version of a long-time Nantucket Island favorite of the same name. The store is small and seating is tight around the open kitchen counter, but the fresh, delicious seafood more than makes up for it. Perhaps the most popular option is the lobster roll, which includes large chunks of lobster meat fresh from the sea, tossed with aioli and topped with chives.

It’s all served in a Butcher & Bee bun. Other favorites include the fried oyster, the shrimp and tuna tacos, and the very tasty ahi poke salsa. For the full experience, wash down your meal with a Mexican coke or sweet tea and finish it off with a slice of Key lime pie. The restaurant does not accept reservations.

289 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-579-4997 Photo: 167 Raw

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»Bowen's Island Restaurant, James Island

Bowen's Island Restaurant, James Island

Oyster lovers should certainly add Bowen’s Island Restaurant to their bucket list. This oyster haven has a 13-acre island all to itself. It is located a mere five minutes from Folly Beach and provides the perfect stop on the way back from a day at Folly. Dinner is accompanied by beautiful sunset views which can be enjoyed from the restaurant’s wrap-around deck.

The menu includes a variety of seafood favorites, but most people come for the oysters that have made this place famous. Steamed local oysters are delivered to the table by the shovelful, while cheap local beer and hushpuppies round out the meal. The restaurant walls and tables are covered with graffiti and the restaurant has a very casual atmosphere, perfect for its island paradise location.

1870 Bowen’s Island Road, Charleston, SC 29412, Phone: 843-795-2757 Photo: Bowen's Island Restaurant

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»Seafood Restaurants in Charleston, SC: Charleston Grill

Seafood Restaurants in Charleston, SC: Charleston Grill

Charleston Grill is one of Charleston’s most upscale and opulent restaurants and is a recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award for food excellence. From the moment guests step into the elegant, relaxing dining room complete with pale wood floors and Queen Anne chairs, they realize that Charleston Grill offers more than a meal; it offers a dining experience. Chef Michelle Weaver specializes in New South cuisine with a French influence.

Some of her creations include seared flounder with shrimp and grits, sherry-country ham gravy, or grilled peach salad with country ham and candied pecans. The meal is accompanied by both a live jazz ensemble and wine pairings from the more than 1,300 bottles stocked in the restaurant’s wine cellar. The menu is divided into four sections: simple, lush, cosmopolitan and Southern. The best way to experience all of them is to order from one of Charleston Grill’s nightly tasting menus.

224 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-577-4522 Photo: Charleston Grill

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»Seafood Charleston, SC: Coast Bar & Grill, Upper King

Seafood Charleston, SC: Coast Bar & Grill, Upper King

Coast Bar and Grill is a laid-back restaurant located in a former warehouse space on Upper King. The food is Lowcountry style and the atmosphere is relaxed. Most of the fish is sourced locally and served fresh. Each day, chefs from Coast meet with fishermen and local farmers to purchase the freshest possible ingredients, so the menu changes frequently and features special dishes depending on the season and the availability of seafood and produce.

The restaurant features a wood-burning grill custom-made of hickory and oak. Several of the most popular items on the menu are the wood-grilled fish, fish tacos, and selections from the raw bar. The restaurant is also committed to using sustainable seafood, so dining at Coast is a choice you can feel good about.

39 John Street D, Charleston, SC 29403, Phone: 843-722-8838 Photo: Coast Bar & Grill

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»Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar, Downtown

Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar, Downtown

Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar is a traditional raw bar that also serves a full range of fresh seafood choices and Southern favorites. The restaurant is in the middle of downtown Charleston and is conveniently located near many popular tourist attractions. The restaurant’s interior is classy but inviting and features exposed brick and chandeliers made from oyster shells.

The menu emphasizes fresh, local, and sustainable seafood favorites such as fresh fish, oysters, clams, and shrimp. The raw bar features a variety of fresh oysters from several different suppliers, typically from the East Coast. Amen Street also serves Lowcountry and Southern favorites such as she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, and pirlau.

205 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-853-8600 Photo: Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar

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»Seafood Restaurants in Charleston, SC: Fleet Landing, Downtown

Seafood Restaurants in Charleston, SC: Fleet Landing, Downtown

Fleet Landing is one of the most popular waterfront restaurants in Charleston. The outdoor deck offers beautiful views of the sea and many of the inside tables have harbor views as well. The menu features local freshly caught seafood such as fish, shrimp, scallops, and more. Your choice of main can be ordered pan-fried or seared in a selection of homemade marinades.

Several Southern and Lowcountry-inspired dishes, such as fried Southern flounder with apricot glaze and shrimp ’n grits, provide the perfect meal to enhance your Charleston experience. Fleet Landing welcomes families and provides both a family-friendly atmosphere as well as several kid-friendly choices on the kids’ menu.

186 Concord Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-722-8100 Photo: Fleet Landing

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»Leon's Oyster Shop, North Downtown

Leon's Oyster Shop, North Downtown

Leon’s Oyster Shop is a local favorite on the north side of downtown Charleston. The restaurant’s specialty is oysters and the bivalves appear on the menu in a variety of simple, classic preparations. Whether enjoyed raw with saltine crackers, fried Rockefeller style, or as oysters casino, these oysters are sure to not disappoint.

Other than oysters, some of the more popular items on the menu include fried fish, chicken, and seafood. The popular Fry-Up is a sample platter of fried seafood, including fried fish, served with fried oysters or shrimp. Seating options include intimate indoor tables, a long bar, and an outside patio complete with strings of lights and potted plants.

698 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403, Phone: 843-531-6500 Photo: Leon's Oyster Shop

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»Oyster House on Market, French Quarter

Oyster House on Market, French Quarter

Oyster House on Market is one of the newer restaurants in downtown Charleston. Located in the heart of the French Quarter with a patio overlooking the historic Charleston Market, the restaurant’s convenient location lends itself toward being a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

The restaurant serves fresh seafood and traditional Lowcountry cuisine in a hip atmosphere. The menu includes a substantial raw bar, shareable plates, and a selection of drool-worthy signature entrees. Some of menu items that come recommended are the shrimp and grits, the broiled lobster tails, and the lump crab cakes. The Oyster House on Market’s weekday happy hour features a selection of tapas-style dishes, several items from the raw bar, and local beer and spirits.

35 South Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-723-1151 Photo: Oyster House on Market

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»Pearlz Oyster Bar, Downtown

Pearlz Oyster Bar, Downtown

Pearlz Oyster Bar has been a mainstay on the Charleston seafood scene for quite a while. The restaurant has two locations in Charleston, one on East Bay Street and another on Magnolia Road in West Ashley. Pearlz is well known around Charleston for their oyster shooters, which consist of an oyster with pepper vodka and cocktail sauce.

The menu features a wide selection of oysters from the Carolina coast as well as more exotic sources. Guests can choose to have their oysters raw, steamed, or fried Southern-style and served with blue cheese and Buffalo sauce. In addition to oysters, the menu features crab cakes, seafood tacos, burgers, lobster rolls, soups, and salads.

153 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-577-5755 Photo: Pearlz Oyster Bar

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»Seafood Charleston, SC: Peninsula Grill

Seafood Charleston, SC: Peninsula Grill

Peninsula Grill is an upper-class restaurant serving downhome food with a nation-wide reputation. The restaurant is located in the Relais and Chateau Planters Inn. The beautiful, romantic restaurant has earned itself quite a bit of fame for its Ultimate Coconut Cake, which is the most frequently ordered item.

It is so popular that it has been trademarked and is available for purchase online. This ideal date night restaurant features a selection of seafood appetizers, including oysters several different ways, caviar, and lobster 3 ways. Southern favorites such as she-crab soup and Dixie grits have been elevated to match the beautifully ornate surroundings at Peninsula Grill.

112 North Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-723-0700 Photo: Peninsula Grill

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»The Darling Oyster Bar, Upper King

The Darling Oyster Bar, Upper King

The Darling Oyster Bar is a newcomer on the Charleston seafood scene. It is located in a historical building that has a window-front raw bar and sea-green booths perfect for a large group. True to the name, there are plenty of oysters on the menu as well as crab claws and a chilled crab parfait.

The Geechie Boy hushpuppies are a must to accompany your meal. The menu features many traditional favorites that have been adapted into seafood dishes such as the oyster spaghetti and lobster pot pie. The Southern classic shrimp and grits is a mainstay on the menu as well. For those who don’t prefer seafood, the Darling offers a tasty fried chicken sandwich.

513 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403, Phone: 843-641-0821 Photo: The Darling Oyster Bar

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»The Ordinary, Upper King

The Ordinary, Upper King

The Ordinary is an oyster bar and seafood restaurant located in an impressive historical bank building on the oft-visited Upper King. The restaurant is committed to sourcing high quality seafood from local, sustainable suppliers. In addition to traditional seafood favorites, The Ordinary also serves some more obscure dishes such as Spanish octopus and razor clams.

Head Chef Mike Lata is a perfectionist when it comes to presentation, and all of the plates are artistically presented. Especially impressive are the double and triple shellfish towers, which are perfect for a group celebration. The entire wine list is sourced from coastal regions and they have been selected to complement oysters and rich seafood especially well.

544 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403, Phone: 843-414-7060 Photo: The Ordinary

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15 Best Seafood Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina