Tradition holds that any month with an “R” equals prime time for oysters in Charleston. These fresh, briny bivalves feature the unmistakable taste of the sea. Seafood restaurants in Charleston boast extensive raw bar selections and unique cooked preparations featuring these salty delights. Oyster lovers enjoy the bonus of charming historic buildings or breezy waterfront views at many of these beloved spots.
Discover the Best Oysters in Charleston
Whether you prefer them raw on the half shell, fried and piled high, char-grilled and swimming in butter, or playing a starring role in a savory stew, the best oysters in Charleston are found at these top-notch restaurants.
Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar
205 East Bay Street, Charleston | 843.853.8600
Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar anchors a historic corner just a few steps from the Charleston City Market. The building retains its 1800s architecture while housing a contemporary, comfortable dining atmosphere. The menu features a variety of seafood dishes, but the raw bar is where oyster enthusiasts will want to linger.
The fresh oyster selection changes daily, but Amen consistently offers nearly two dozen varieties at a time. East coast provenance ranges from South Carolina to New York, Rhode Island, and Maine. Cooked oyster offerings include fried with sweet corn and green tomato chow-chow, baked with spinach and Tasso Rockefeller sauce, or fried and tossed on a salad.
289 East Bay Street, Charleston | 843.579.4997
This seafood market and oyster bar are in the heart of downtown. Nantucket roots with their popular sister restaurant lends to 167’s cool ocean vibe. A pleasant alternative to the more upscale seafood restaurants in Charleston, this is casual and low-key, hosting locals for lobster rolls and tuna burgers, to dine inside or on the enticing outdoor patio.
The raw bar is the real draw, with clams, shrimp, and crab claws. The oyster selection changes daily featuring Mid-Atlantic and local oysters. With its vibrant atmosphere and vast oyster selection, 167 is a must-do again…. and again.
153 East Bay Street, Charleston | 843.577.5755 | 9 Magnolia Road, West Ashley | 843.573.2277
Calling itself an “eclectic little oyster bar,” Pearlz has two locations in Charleston catering to oyster lovers. Whether you’re looking to sample a variety of raw oysters or with creative preps, Pearlz menu is an overpowered slate of options.
The signature oyster shooter with pepper vodka is a classic start before diving into other delights; from a selection of raw oysters, fried oyster dinner with corn fritters, oysters Rockefeller, New Orleans-style charbroiled, or try them fried with bleu cheese and buffalo sauce. Popular with the happy hour crowd, Pearlz is the ideal hot spot to start your night around town.
112 N. Market Street, Charleston | 843.723.0700
If “Go fancy or stay home” is your motto, head to Peninsula Grill, where the dining room boasts velvet walls and custom-made chandeliers, among other jaw-dropping details that earn the restaurant’s AAA-four-diamond rating. A lush courtyard entry sweeps you off bustling Market Street into a private oasis. Cuisine meets Relais & Châteaux standards with a variety of traditional bivalve selections offered on their elegant Champagne Bar Menu—Oysters on the Half with Champagne Mignonette, Oysters Rockefeller with Arugula and Asiago, or Oysters Casino with Smoked Bacon.
Though we’re all about these ocean aphrodisiacs, after you’ve indulged, don’t pass up a decadent slice of their famous 12-layer coconut cake—a staple since their second night of service, Valentine’s Day 1997. Don’t miss their longstanding dusk tradition when the stunning courtyard’s carriage lanterns are lit by hand.
1870 Bowens Island Road, Charleston | 843.795.2757
Originally opened in 1946 on the tip end of a remote 13-acre island, just a few minutes from Folly Beach, this seafood dive—and proud of it—is a go-to casual counter-service eatery for Charlestonians many generations past. Not for diners who require tablecloths, guests come for the food and stay for the undisrupted views of the water, wildlife, and memorable sunsets.
Renowned for serving the best oysters in Charleston, Bowen’s prepares them raw and fried, but steamed earns them consistent attention. Other popular dishes include fried shrimp, crab cakes, hushpuppies, and savory Frogmore stew—a Lowcountry boil combining sausage, shrimp, corn, and potatoes.
701 East Bay Street, No. 110, Charleston | 843-576-4693
Five hundred miles south of its Virginia headquarters, Rappahannock’s Charleston outpost is nestled along the Cooper River in a 19th-century cigar factory that serves as one of the Holy City’s liveliest destinations for fresh bivalves. The sprawling complex covers over 4,000 square feet, with ample outdoor seating and a handsome, sprawling 40-seat copper bar that’s perfect for sipping on craft cocktails or glasses of well-chosen wines.
Serving the reliable ‘oysters on the half’, along with many other traditional preps, the kitchen elevates classics to new levels. Fill up on the raw bar, then try something new. Signatures include grilled oysters with smoked jalapeno butter, baked clams with Thai sausage and coconut reduction, and shrimp and grits made with black garlic, piquillo peppers, shellfish butter, and Geechie Boy grits. You’ll also see vegan and meaty options that are sure to please.
Boone Hall Plantation, 1235 Long Point Road, Mt. Pleasant| 843.577.4030
Take your appreciation of oysters to the next level during the annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival. The world’s largest oyster festival is held annually at Mount Pleasant’s Boone Hall Plantation historic site. The 2021 festival is currently set for January 31 with mask-wearing mandates and social distancing requirements.
Highlights include live music on the main stage, wine, a selection of domestic and imported beer, a children's area, and a food court showcasing a variety of local favorite restaurants to satisfy everyone’s taste. General admission tickets don’t include food or drink; treat yourself to VIP access, which includes unlimited oysters, food, beer and wine, and more. As a charitable fundraiser, the event benefits a myriad of local charities.
DECEMBER 19, 2020 UPDATE: THE 2021 LOWCOUNTRY OYSTER FESTIVAL HAS BEEN CANCELED BUT DON'T FRET YOUR OYSTER LOVING TASTE BUDS. THE INAUGURAL BEAUFORT OYSTER FESTIVAL—WITH MANY COVID-SAFETY CONSCIOUS MINI FESTIVAL EVENTS—IS STILL SCHEDULED FROM JANUARY 7-21. MORE INFO AVAILABLE HERE.
Please be sure to contact each establishment to verify opening hours, reservation policies, health requirements, and any other variations as the month progresses.