The 13 Best Seafood Spots In South Carolina

South Carolina's food scene is a melting pot of many different culinary traditions, including Gullah Geechee cuisine and both Southern and Lowcountry cuisine. Despite the significant overlap, each of these has unique techniques, flavors, and dishes to call it's own. Yet, across all of South Carolina's distinct cooking cultures, there remains one common denominator; the skilled use of fresh, local seafood.

South Carolina is home to a coastline that spans 187 miles. An abundance of marine life lives off this coastline, as well as in estuaries and amongst the many salt marsh tidal creeks that dot the state. From shrimp to blue crab, oysters and grouper, the bounty of these nearby bodies of water is a chef's dream and a diner's delight. 

With such great produce on South Carolina's doorstep, it's no surprise that the state is home to some of the best seafood spots in the entire country, be they Gullah Geechee, Lowcountry, or Southern establishments. The following are just a few of our favorites but rest assured, many more excellent seafood restaurants are currently open across the Palmetto State.

1. The Ordinary, Charleston

Located on Charleston's King Street, The Ordinary is a stylish and bright seafood hall where brilliant quality seafood is treated in a reserved and skilled manner. The Ordinary's restrained approach is typified by its extensive raw bar, where numerous varieties of oysters are delicately prepared. 

On the cooked side of things, fish cakes, chowder, and grilled Wahoo are all on offer. However, it is the restaurant's oyster sliders that are the favorite of many who visit. Another huge draw for seafood lovers is The Ordinary's three seafood towers, made from a variety of seafood, both cooked and raw. 

These showstoppers are the perfect way to celebrate South Carolina's unrivaled marine bounty, as one customer highlighted on TripAdvisor: "We always leave delighted with the freshness of the seafood, the care with which it's prepared, and the helpfulness and attentiveness of the staff. The ceviche in the shellfish tower had complex, subtle flavors that complemented the more simple, briny oysters and clams." Cut through the seafood with a variety of The Ordinary's rum-forward cocktails. Failing that, choose a crisp wine from the restaurant's extensive and impressive list.

2. Bowens Island Restaurant, Charleston

Home to one of the best views in South Carolina, Bowens Island Restaurant compliments the area's pink-hued sunsets with mountains of delicious seafood. The menu is small but jam-packed with classics, including the ever-popular Frogmore stew. Oysters by the tray, seafood platters, and hushpuppies typify Bowens Island Restaurant's laid-back approach to dining. Such simplicity not only works but makes complete sense when the seafood is this fresh.

The ability to enjoy high-quality seafood in a setting devoid of a stuffy atmosphere — or incredibly high prices — is a welcome relief. One customer echoed this sentiment via Yelp: "If you've never been then you are missing out on an iconic Charleston area destination. Sunset is the perfect time to be there — the views are spectacular when the sun is setting," 

Bowens Island Restaurant was the winner of a James Beard America's Classics Award back in 2006. Thanks to the chilled-out, yet excellent food, we would struggle to name a more deserving recipient.

3. The Crab Shacks, Various

There are three locations of South Carolina's The Crab Shacks: West Ashley, Folly Beach, and Coosaw Creek. Each site boasts a well-designed menu, including the usual offerings of oysters, seafood platters, and peel-and-eat shrimp. However, a large part of The Crab Shack's appeal is to be found elsewhere on the menu; these rarer options include a highly praised she crab soup, blue crab stuffed flounder, and shrimp and scallop casserole served with tomato pie.

The breadth of dishes on offer elevates The Crab Shacks from a restaurant that serves good seafood to a culinary destination worth traveling to. For those who live locally, The Crab Shacks offers a means of enjoying top-quality seafood without diving into the state's more expensive — and reserved — restaurants. 

One local described their experience on TripAdvisor as follows: "The special of she crab soup, choice of shrimp, flounder, or shrimp and flounder, plus Key Lime pie for dessert was stupendous...very generous portions."

4. See Wee Restaurant, Awendaw

Located in the small town of Awendaw, See Wee Restaurant has been a fixture for decades, first as a general store and then as a restaurant. Since opening as the latter in 1993, See Wee has consistently served the people of Awendaw fresh, local produce cooked in a heartfelt way.

See Wee's use of local produce supports Awendaw's community while also allowing its chefs to keep the food simple. This was highlighted by Marketing Director Shari Allison: "The fried shrimp is like no other. It is hands-down our best seller and it is so basic. We don't use batter. Just flour with salt and pepper," per Lowcountry Cuisine.

As Allison alluded to, many customers wax lyrical about the shrimp, although the flounder is also popular. Both dishes contributed to the restaurant being awarded a TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Award in 2022. Further proof that See Wee is a gem of a seafood restaurant hidden in the Lowcountry.

5. Hank's Seafood Restaurant, Charleston

Hank's Seafood Restaurant is a highly lauded restaurant based in the state's famous port city. Hank's reputation has been well established for decades. A fact for which ex-executive chef, and current Culinary Operations Manager, Frank McMahon deserves a great deal of credit. 

McMahon's emphasis on using brilliant produce remains the defining feature of the restaurant, an approach he described to Reuters: "Fresh fish, great vinegar, great oils and simple, fresh vegetables. We use at least 10 to 15 purveyors. One guy just gives us cucumber and lettuce. Another fisherman lets us know what's on his boat so he can pull up and deliver the stuff. One guy might have fantastic cherry tomatoes so we'll source from him just for that ingredient."

Current executive chef Tim Richardson continues the celebration of South Carolina's natural bounty through a menu that spans grilled swordfish and tuna tartare. What's more, Hank's Seafood Restaurant is a South Carolina Aquarium Good Catch partner. This means that Hank's only serves local fish pulled from the waters spanning between North Carolina and East Florida that are of the requisite size and age. This helps to ensure that South Carolina's wonderful water bodies are managed sustainably.

6. Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, Isle of Palms

Checking out restaurants on review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor is a confusing practice. Contradictory reviews abound, and it is impossible to know which ones to trust. Fortunately, this is not an issue for Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, a restaurant that boasts over 3000 five-star TripAdvisor reviews versus a measly 36 one-star reviews. So overwhelmingly positive are the reviews that Acme Lowcountry Kitchen was one of TripAdvisor's 25 highest-rated restaurants in the entire United States in 2022.

Even a cursory glance at the restaurant's menus — brunch or dinner — tells you why Acme has proved so popular. At brunch, inspired dishes like short rib grits to sit alongside classics such as succotash. But it is the dinner menu where seafood really starts to dominate, with dishes like blackened swordfish served with cornbread and collard greens catching every diner's eye. 

A whole section is even dedicated to different takes on shrimp and grits, all made with local shellfish. In place of overly extensive wine lists, Acme Lowcountry Kitchen offers a huge range of South Carolina craft beer, the perfect accompaniment to seafood of such a high standard.

7. Hyman's Seafood, Charleston

Hyman's Seafood restaurant was launched way back in 1987 and has been a fixture of Charleston's dining scene ever since. Over this time, what it means to be a restaurant owner in Charleston has changed as increasing numbers of tourists visit the city. Like every other business, restaurants have had to adapt to this influx by finding a balance between catering to locals as well as tourists.

Hyman's — which is still family-owned and run – has managed this difficult balancing act by providing impeccable customer service while also prioritizing the quality of the produce the restaurant uses. Eli Hyman explained how important this was to Eater Carolinas: "I'm pretty confident that if I can get people in the door, I can't say 100% of the time, because of biases, but 80% of the time, I'm pretty confident that people will be genuinely surprised at how good the food is — for what we charge, and the freshness of our food."

The extensive menu offers diners plenty of opportunities to sink their teeth into those premium quality scallops. Other standouts include crab cakes and shrimp – dishes that will keep both locals and tourists happy.

8. Mr. Fish Restaurant, Myrtle Beach

Mr. Fish is a seafood market and restaurant that was opened by the father-daughter duo Ted and Sheina Hammerman. The former has been a staple of Myrtle Beach's fishing scene for decades, both as a market and restaurant proprietor, fishing equipment seller, and avid fisherman himself. As a culinary degree graduate, Sheina brought her cooking expertise to the restaurant which they opened together in 2008.

The duo's combined skills have seen Mr. Fish Restaurant become a fixture for locals, as one Yelp reviewer highlights: "Came down to visit my parents, and they wanted to take me here, saying that it was a local staple that they visit almost every week. I can see why, as everything about this place is great. Great and friendly service, and the food tasted super fresh."

With the Mr. Fish market only a couple of doors down, the seafood at the restaurant is incredibly fresh. Sheina uses brilliant seafood to make the usual Lowcountry fare of seafood boils and shrimp and grits. However, she also offers other options, such as tacos meaning seafood lovers of all tastes can find something to enjoy.

9. The Darling Oyster Bar, Charleston

Another eminent seafood restaurant in the Holy City, The Darling Oyster Bar is seafood chic personified. Fortunately, the food can more than keep pace with the decor. Lobster rolls, blue crab pasta with spring peas, and fried clam strips are just some examples of cooked fare. Yet, it is the raw bar — in particular, the oyster section — where the restaurant's best action happens. Here, diners can choose from six types of oysters, including Roddy Rocks and Port Royal Wilds, two local varieties.

The Darling Oyster Bar is also home to one of the best happy hour deals in the city. During the allocated time periods — all of which end at 7:00 p.m. – draft beer and draft cocktails are sold at a reduced price, while some oysters are sold at an incredible $1 a piece. This, combined with the quality of the mollusks on offer, makes happy hour at The Darling incredible value for money. 

One customer described their experience on TripAdvisor: "The only oysters on sale were the St James which we never had — they were $1 an oyster so we started with 1 dozen and ended up eating 3 dozen — they were so good! The bartenders were very nice and the atmosphere was fun."

10. The Sea Shack, Hilton Head Island

The Sea Shack markets itself as a no-nonsense, local restaurant that prioritizes fresh, affordable seafood. This is no better exemplified than through the Shark Attack Combo platter, which includes crab cakes, fresh fish, scallops, and oysters, all cooked as requested for under $20. Such good value has also attracted the food media — Rachel Ray once recommended The Sea Shack in an episode of "$40 a Day" on Food Network.

As a popular spot, the line at The Sea Shack can get long. This honest seafood is worth the wait, as one customer highlighted on TripAdvisor: "My wife and I both ordered the combo plates, hers with shrimp and oysters, mine with flounder and clam strips. Two sides and hush puppies come with the meal which is plenty of food for one person to eat. Very friendly and personable staff and good pricing. If you like fried seafood, this is the place to be."

11. Gillie's Seafood, Charleston

The concept behind Gillie's Seafood is a uniquely comforting one. Chef and owner Sean Mendes wants all customers to feel like they are at their Grandma's house. While a wall covered in framed pictures of Grandmothers helps set the tone, it is the rich, nourishing food which does most of the leg work.

Everything is made from scratch, and Mendes takes great pride in what he serves as he explained to Red Clay: "I would say you have to try the Fried Shrimp — we've been told they are the best in Charleston. The She-Crab Soup is wonderful. We also have a southern-inspired Catfish Charleston, which is a blackened catfish fillet over dirty rice, then topped with crawfish, crab and shrimp and a cajun cream sauce. But you know I'm partial – everything in this place is amazing."

As a previous Chef Ambassador for South Carolina, Mendes is a fervent supporter of local produce. Both vegetables and seafood are bought from local suppliers. The quality of the produce is allowed to shine through Mendes skilled, traditional cooking. The result is delicious, comforting, and unpretentious food.

12. Charleston Crab House, Various

Charleston Crab House is another successful restaurant that has opened multiple branches in South Carolina. In this case, the sites are found on Charleston's Market Street, Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant, and James Island. As the name suggests, the main draw across all these restaurants is crab, with two species — dungeness and Alaskan snow crab — featuring prominently on the menus.

Both the dungeness and Alaskan snow crab are the focal point of the Charleston Crab House's signature dish: The Crab House crab pot. This dish is a firm favorite of diners who love the mix of flavors and textures, as one person highlighted on TripAdvisor: "The crab was perfectly cooked and easily came free from the legs. The Flounder was fried to perfection — I don't think I had ever had fish that had been so light and flaky and moist. The entire dinner was extremely enjoyable."

Another attraction of Charleston Crab House is that all of its sites offer to cook any fish that customers bring in themselves. This makes the restaurants brilliant to celebrate a successful day on the water.

13. Whaley's, Edisto Island

Located in an old gas station, Whaley's has slowly earned a reputation as an interesting restaurant that serves local seafood alongside chicken wings and an array of sandwiches and burgers. While the usual offerings of oysters and fried fish abound, Whaley's is also home to a few secret recipes that stand out from other options on the menu. 

Perhaps the best of these is the shrimp and crab bisque, a dish that surprisingly includes a hint of sherry. Other solid choices include Whaley's sushi nachos which are made with pan-seared ahi tuna. The restaurant's ingenuity is repeated at the bar; Whaley's serves a variety of homemade cocktails, including alcoholic grape soda.

All too often, diners write Whaley's off before even sitting down, thanks to the restaurant's unashamedly dive-like style. We would avoid joining the people who leave without trying; those who persevere will be rewarded with some of the best seafood South Carolina has to offer.