Charleston Seafood Guide – Charleston Seafood Restaurants Downtown and Beyond
Charleston is known for its seafood. From oysters to she crab soup to shrimp in Shem Creek, there’s no reason to shy away from seafood while visiting. Read our Charleston seafood guide for the best restaurants, where to purchase the freshest catch, and to learn the history of Charleston’s signature cuisine.
Check out Charleston seafood restaurants in Downtown if you don’t want to venture too far away, or find fresh fish as far away as James Island if you’re feeling adventurous.
Charleston Seafood Restaurants
Charleston is blessed with an abundance of seafood restaurants. Each with a unique location and history, these Charleston spots will offer a taste of the best of the city’s seafood.
Charleston Seafood Restaurants Downtown
Staying Downtown? Want fresh seafood without taking a taxi to the beach? These Charleston seafood restaurants in Downtown will satisfy your craving for crab, oysters, and more.
When you ask about seafood in Charleston, the first recommendation you’ll get from any local is Hank’s Seafood Restaurant. From ceviche to peel ‘n eat shrimp, Hank’s menu highlights crabs, oysters, shrimp and tuna.
Looking for oysters? Delaney Oyster House offers oysters in a traditional oyster house with a Lowcountry twist. This downtown spot serves a full raw bar for lunch and dinner. Check this out when your oyster craving hits.
Coast Bar and Grill is known for their local fish and fresh seafood. Find a variety of favorites on their menu including wood-grilled fish, fish tacos and shrimp and grits. This is a great place for larger group dinners and those looking for a variety of dishes.
Charleston Crab House lives up to its name on our Charleston seafood guide, serving she crab soup and seafood in steam pots. Enjoy it all at their waterfront location. A great spot for a more casual seafood supper.
Need a happy hour seafood stop in the Holy City? Find comfort in Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar. During happy hour, they offer crab cakes, calamari and fresh oysters. Stop here while touring Charleston’s historic district.
Famous for its focus on Charleston’s history, check out Revival for authentic Charleston seafood dishes in a modern setting. This is another great spot to try she crab soup.
And for the final Charleston seafood restaurants downtown, visit Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar. Popular for lunch, this Charleston haunt offers a splendid variety including seafood salads, fresh fish and fried platters. Try it for a lunch break with a waterfront view.
James Island Seafood Restaurants
Touring James Island? Make a point to stop at Gillie’s Seafood. Known for Charleston specialties including shrimp purloo and catfish tacos, this restaurant is sure to staunch your seafood craving.
Seafood West of the Cooper
Southern Living hails this as “One of the 10 Best Seafood Spots in South Carolina.” With multiple locations, The Crab Shacks offers seafood trays, fried seafood and an abundance of seafood appetizers. Try it if you’re near Folly Beach and go for the Charleston Steamed Seafood Tray.
Where to Buy Your Charleston Seafood
No Charleston seafood guide is complete without the best options to purchase wholesale seafood. Check out our favorites below to pick up shrimp, fish and oysters for your next lowcountry boil.
Crosby’s Fish & Shrimp Co. is consistently listed as one of the best places to pick up fresh seafood in Charleston. They offer multiple varieties of seafood including shrimp, oysters and flounder alongside accouterments like seasonings and cocktail sauces.
Capt. Don’s Seafood in West Ashley has been in business since 1977. They sell crabs, shrimp, oysters and other select seafood. Check out this place for fair prices and consistent quality.
Throwing a party and need some oysters? Huff’s Seafood offers a wide variety of seafood for sale on James Island. Check out their selection of crab, scallops and flounder.
Famous Seafood Dishes and Their History
Charleston is home to amazing seafood dishes, such as she crab soup, shrimp and grits and crab rice. The rich history of each of these dishes contributes to Charleston cuisine as we know it today.
She Crab Soup is a creamy soup filled with crabs. She crab soup was brought to Charleston by Scottish immigrants in the 1700s. Their partan-bree, a crab and rice soup, was changed in Charleston to include blue crabs. In the 1900s, the mayor of Charleston was entertaining President Taft at home. To fancy up the traditional crab soup, Rhett’s butler added orange crab eggs to the top of the soup. The delicacy from these “she-crabs,” gave the soup its official name. Find it today at many Charleston restaurants.
Crab rice is another highlight of our Charleston seafood guide. Charlestonians love their crustaceans, especially in this version of fried rice. Like other southern cuisines, this dish has its roots in western Africa. Crab rice was first made by the Gullah-Geeche, descendants of slaves that lived in the lowcountry. Gullah-Geeche cuisine is focused on rice, a staple that was once South Carolina’s largest export. Crab rice is a flavorful local specialty.
It wouldn’t be a highlights list without shrimp and grits. Don’t leave Charleston without trying it. Popular across the South, shrimp and grits was a standard breakfast dish in the lowcountry, made by sauteing grits and shrimp. In the 1980s during the “New Southern” culinary movement, local chefs began melding traditional ingredients with European-inspired techniques. The result is a “dressed up” shrimp and grits that includes herbs, bacon and expensive cheese. This is the version is found across Charleston today.
Frogmore Stew is another Charleston favorite that tastes more delicious than it sounds. This stew is a mix of potatoes, corn and seafood. Named for the Gullah hamlet Frogmore, the dish is another historical Gullah preparation. Usually served communally, it is perfect for a seafood boil.