Timeless Lowcountry Discovery

Looking for the best places to eat seafood in Charleston?
Check out these 9!

Experience fresh, local seafood at these hand-picked favorites.

Seafood is a savored delight for foodies ‘round the world, but no place makes it a holy grail like the Holy City. Take a heaping serving of creative cuisine, add plenty of coastal charm and a heavy dash of quaint locations into the mix — you’ve got the perfect recipe to elevate seafood dining to delectable heights at the best places to eat seafood in Charleston. 

The proximity and benefit of the Atlantic ensures Charleston’s tidal creeks team with shrimp, oysters, clams, and fish. Early rising anglers haul their catch to trusted purveyors, whose tasty fresh fare is often pre-purchased by restaurants via cell phone before the boat ties off at the dock. You can’t find a fresher catch unless you net or reel it yourself.

Whether you’re looking for a casual experience to shuck your own oysters, acclaimed fine dining with unparalleled wine lists, or the local’s favorite lively bar serving bodacious seafood towers, all eateries share the desire to serve the freshest, tastiest available. 

The freshest shrimp is served at the best seafood dining in Charleston, South Carolina.
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina peeling boiled shrimp!

Come, discover the heart of southern seafood at the best places to eat seafood in Charleston SC.

Tackle a mound of peel-and-eat shrimp, savor the infamous She-Crab soup brimming with creamy crab roe, and sweet Sherry — a recipe credited to William Deas, butler at the historic John Rutledge Inn, created in honor of President Taft’s visit — or sample the catch of the day; your seafood cravings will be fully satisfied at these must-try establishments.

Nationally renowned and locally known chef’s demonstrate patient restraint in letting Charleston’s fresh seafood shine alongside flavorful Lowcountry accompaniments, infusing their unique flavor profiles into classic southern dishes. When you’re looking for the best places to eat in Charleston, no one will bat a judging eye if you savor different versions at more than one place.

The best seafood restaurants in Charleston SC serve only the freshest shrimp, caught daily along the Carolina coast by traditional shrimp boats.
No matter where you dine, if you order shrimp, you can be sure it’s fresh caught on a traditional Lowcountry shrimping boat. Courtesy @wsumrell

Savor Every Bit of Ocean Freshness In Carolina’s Harborfront Holy City

As if delectable oysters, shrimp, crab and fish aren’t enough of a draw, these culinary institutions delight with their Southern cooking flair and hospitality. Charming neighborhoods and districts lend a quintessential air as you pass historic homes, quaint alleys, and breezy waterfront views en route to an authentic southern supper. From formal to casual establishments, Charleston is ready to spoil any foodie’s seafood appetite

Food is Good at FIG restaurant in Charleston South Carolina where seafood reigns supreme.
With attentive mis en place prep, award winning Chef Lata whips up some of the best seafood in Charleston. ©FIG @EatAtFig

FIG

Acronyms have special meaning and in FIG’s case, ‘Food Is Good’ fits to a tee. Oh yes, it is good and FIG sets the bar to do it right. Combining pure flavors and quality ingredients in a convivial atmosphere, James Beard Award winning Chef Mike Lata and front of house pro Adam Nemirow ensure you’ll experience some of the Holy City’s savory best. 232 Meeting St., Charleston.

The menu changes often, fluctuating seasonally to capture the freshest of fresh. Recent creative dishes include Lowcountry Bourride, a simple fish broth thickened with garlicky aioli, brimming with white shrimp, mussels, garlic sausage and Carolina Gold rice; or perhaps the Guinea Flint Crusted Amberjack and Prosciutto Baked Wreckfish will be available when you dine.

Indulge after dinner in their unique desserts, such as the recently added Sticky Sorghum Pudding with amaretto ice cream. The neighborhood-style-cafe decor is inviting and unpretentious, making it a local favorite — translation: dining reservations are highly recommended.

Looking for waterfront dining in historic Charleston? Fleet Landing is one of a rare few.
For some of the best waterfront dining in the Charleston area, head to Fleet Landing on the harbor where seafood and views vie for your attention.

Fleet Landing

Boasting a pier side location in an old naval building, expansive views of Charleston’s heritage waterfront prevail from the wrap-around deck and stylish multi-windowed dining room and bar at Fleet Landing. This is where the living is easy; ocean breezes, warm sunshine, classic cocktails and tasty southern cooking. As many eateries insist, sustainable seafood is locally sourced; Fleet’s culinary team magically melds classic Lowcountry comfort foods with New American fare.

Local favorites include She Crab soup, Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp n Grits, and Lowcountry Boil (a medley of jumbo shrimp, smoked sausage, and corn on the cob simmered in lager broth.) New to the menu are fried calamari tenders that are so moist and flavorful you’ll wonder if it is squid. 186 Concord St., Charleston.

TIP: Located just a few blocks from The City Market, Fleet Landing is a great place for a cocktail and nosh to wind down after sightseeing and souvenir shopping.

Nothing beats crispy fried flounder from the best seafood restaurants in Charleston.
Crispy, fried delicate flounder; sourced locally from Charleston waters and expertly prepared.

Florence’s Lowcountry Kitchen 

Take the short drive from downtown Charleston and treat yourself to the classic Lowcountry cuisine of Florence’s Lowcountry Kitchen. Recipes are the provenance of Florence Powell, great-grandmother to renowned Charleston restaurateurs Jonathan and Patrick Kish. The laid-back atmosphere is ideal for indulging in fried green tomatoes and crispy fried chicken alongside an impressive wine and cocktail selection.

The seafood dishes however, stand apart from the crowd. She Crab soup, crab cakes, and shrimp and grits are all standout versions of the classics. Try crispy fried flounder perfectly flavored with red pepper jam, or fried oysters with Charleston red rice and southern slaw. Whatever you choose, be sure to leave room for a decadent dessert — Florence’s sweet tooth cooking is not to be missed. 90 Folly Rd., Charleston.

The best seafood in Charleston South Carolina includes southern staples like shrimp and grits.
Shrimp and grits are a Lowcountry tradition for Sunday brunch. Courtesy Discover South Carolina

Hank’s Seafood

Regularly lauded as one of the city’s best seafood restaurants, Hank’s Seafood offers excellent versions of local tried-and-true favorites. Set in a turn-of-the-century warehouse, this charming spot merges classic Charleston with modern South. Schmoozy dark wood accents, plank floors, and eye-catching murals create an elegant atmosphere.

Classics like She Crab soup, shrimp and grits with smoked andouille sausage, and Adluh stone ground grits are excellent takes, but Hank’s other signatures are well worth a try: roast grouper with risotto-style Carolina Gold rice, oyster stew enhanced with potato and bacon, exceptionally crispy fried seafood platters, and an impressive bouillabaisse that combines local delights into one flavorful bowl — spoon required, forks optional. 10 Hayne St., Charleston.

When looking for the best must-try seafood in Charleston, don’t miss the Carolina blue crab.
Carolina crab cakes peak the sublime, especially when served over sweet local corn relish.

Hyman’s Seafood And Aaron’s Deli

Hyman’s Seafood and Aaron’s Deli historic downtown restaurant is an iconic go-to joint for local seafood. Though a cued line usually trails the sidewalk outside, guests patiently wait; accumulated accolades and celebrity visits reinforce how Hyman’s satisfies as thoroughly today as it has since 1990. With an adjacent deli for takeout and a shop with souvenirs, Hyman’s is a one-stop destination.

From award-winning crab cakes and classics like shrimp and grits to signature and build-your-own seafood platters, Hyman’s is likely to have whatever seafood dish you crave. For the non-traditional types, there are enticing creations like spicy feta shrimp dip, buffalo oyster tacos, and the Carolina Delight — a shrimp and grits twist featuring a fried grit cake topped with shrimp, salmon, or salmon croquette, plus cheese and bacon. 215 Meeting St., Charleston.

TIP: After dinner, stroll up Meeting Street to the old City Market and explore more of Charleston’s charm.

For serious chowhounds, there’s no better place for the best seafood in Charleston, South Carolina than Leon’s Oyster Shop.
An old mechanic’s tool chest serves as the entryway hostess stand, resonating Leon’s Oyster Shop’s cool vibe. Courtesy Charleston Wine + Food, @alinatyulyu

Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop

Housed in a former auto body shop, Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop is an industrial but homey joint serving fresh oysters and top-notch seafood dishes. Their goal is to provide delicious food in an unpretentious atmosphere; think of it as upscale seafood with hole-in-the-wall vibe. Start with a local craft beer on tap, a delightful frozen G&T, or a rosé slushie and you’ll be prepped for seafood indulgence.

Leon’s fried chicken might be locally famous, but it’s the oysters that keep regulars coming back for more. Served raw, char-grilled, or fried in a sandwich, each preparation is worth a try. Dive into their famous Char-Grilled Oysters — tangy, and buttery with just the right amount of crusted parm. The substantial fish fry includes catfish, clams, shrimp, and addictive hush puppies, while crab salad, grilled whole fish, and peel-and-eat shrimp keep things lighter. The casual atmosphere and easy pace mean you can come as you are; one thing’s for sure, you won’t leave hungry. 698 King St., Charleston.

Charleston SC offers some of the best oysters in the south, especially at NICO on Shem Creek.
A quick drive from the peninsula lands you at NICO Oysters & Seafood where Chef Nico offers Private Oyster Classes and wine pairings; shucking how-to’s included. ©Andrew Cebulka

Nico Oysters + Seafood

French flair and Lowcountry roots collide in delightful style at NICO Oysters + Seafood. Take a jaunt across the Cooper River’s Ravenel Bridge to iconic Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant, where you’ll discover an outstanding brassiere with a focus on oyster and raw bar offerings. The sleek exterior gives way to a welcoming atmosphere where the partially open kitchen lets you glimpse meal prep in action. A large, covered patio offers an outdoor option just steps from Shem Creek, where you can stroll boardwalks and perhaps glimpse dolphins playing between the tides.

Boasting an extensive oyster selection sourced from up and down the East Coast, along with periwinkles, octopus, and caviar, NICO ensures its guests sample a bounty of ocean fare. Don’t fret if you don’t know the difference between the briny flavor of a Sweet Lady or the creamy saltiness of a Glidden Point; well-informed servers help match the perfect bivalve to your palette. If raw isn’t your forte, Nico’s has you covered with wood-fired, fried, and roasted seafood selections too.

Not sure how to handle those oysters you’ve ordered? Grab a couple of friends for the educational and entertaining Private Oyster Class with Chef Nico himself. Learn about different oyster farming techniques while mastering how to shuck, then dive into a dozen curated delights paired perfectly with a couple of glasses of wine. 201 Coleman Blvd, Mt. Pleasant.

Named a top Charleston restaurant upon opening in 2020, Tempest continues wowing to rave reviews.
A canopy of stained glass sea delight illuminates your visual feast at Tempest. Courtesy Tempest

Tempest

Taking up residence that once housed the historic Harriott Pinkney Home for sailors, Tempest presents seasonally sustainable seafood that justifies its award winning status as 2020’s Best New Restaurant in the country by USA Today readers.The first sensation upon entering is a visual ceiling explosion, coaxing you in like the Charleston tide flowing ashore. The custom designed stained glass sensation by local artist Honey McCreary contains over 10,000 pieces of glass, hand crafted one piece at a time.

After marveling up, settled at quaint table or cozy up to the bar — a small but charming spot — and order a glass of fine wine from the hand-selected menu, or specialty craft cocktail like ‘The Calm Before’ with rum, blueberry mint, and rose water. Working with local purveyors sourcing oysters, fish and crab, Tempest’s menu selection is insanely fresh. Spanish Octopus and Umami Tuna Bomb appetizers dazzle alongside their marvel of a Seafood Tower. Dinner entree selections include flounder with salsa roja, capers, and sunchoke; snapper with rice, macadamia, and mushroom; and confit swordfish with allium crunch, umami béarnaise, and spinach.

Brunching it with friends? The deconstructed lobster roll is so tasty it’ll transport you to a coastal Maine lobster pound in one bite. Other house favorites are the souffle pancakes and lobster benedict topped with caviar and champagne hollandaise. Dining with a non-seafood lover? The small plate selections exceed most diner’s expectations. The ribeye served with hash browns and sous-vide egg yolk is a savory sensation.

Regardless of your time of day, or day of week, prepare yourself for an exceptional culinary journey. 32C N. Market St., Charleston.

When looking for the best seafood restaurants in Charleston SC, there’s nothing ordinary about The Ordinary.
The Ordinary’s sleek, elegant interior enhances its lavish seafood experience. Courtesy The Ordinary

The Ordinary

This atmospheric former bank on upper King Street offers a far from ordinary seafood experience. With 22-foot ceilings, black wood accents contrasting against gleaming white walls, and a cozy raw bar, The Ordinary’s elegant, sophisticated environs checks all the boxes for a visually impressive dinner. Don’t be fooled by the glamorous appeal, it’s the food that makes you want to come back for more.

With its modern take on Coastal Carolina seafood, complemented by a variety of unique local ingredients, this self-proclaimed seafood hall is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. Local fishermen, crabbers, and oystermen are the foundation for The Ordinary’s signature dishes. Choose from a daily selection of oysters, perfect for slurping straight from the shell, or dive into a shellfish tower that offers both raw and cooked options with house-made accompaniments. Don’t miss the oyster sliders — they take their kick from Nước chấm and Fresno chile mayonnaise. 544 King St., Charleston.

The Lowcountry’s best seafood is caught early in the day on traditional fishing and shrimping boats.
Local fishermen, oystermen, crabbers, and shrimpers rise early so you can savor the flavor of truly fresh Lowcountry seafood. ©Charleston Gateway

Whether you’re a native Charlestonian or a new resident, visiting college kids or on a romantic getaway, when the dinner bell rings in the Holy City you’re sure to find yourself seated before a plate of savory local seafood. Our advice? Dine at several places to be sure you get your fill of the best seafood in Charleston. 

For handy reference, please refer to our most current map guide to locate the restaurants in this article — and others you think are worthy. Tag us with your photos for a chance to be featured: Instagram @charleston_gateaway | #chsgatewayloves2share | FB @GatewayPub


Please be sure to contact each establishment to verify opening hours, reservation policies, health requirements, and any other variations.