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.
This seafood market and oyster bar are in the heart of downtown. Nantucket roots with their popular sister restaurant lends to 167 Raw’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. 289 E. Bay St., 843.579.4997
Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar
Anchoring a historic building just a few steps from the Charleston City Market, Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar 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.
You’ll find some of the best oysters in Charleston here. 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. 205 E. Bay St., 843.853.8600
This colorful and stylish restaurant features one of the best selections of East Coast oysters in Charleston. Anson is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner for two or just a quiet dinner with friends and family; start with the oysters and then go for the whole crispy flounder or shrimp and grits with bacon and tomatoes. This is another place to spring for dessert, with pecan pie, chocolate bread pudding, and creme brulee on the menu. 12 Anson St., 843.577.0551
This classic venue (often found with a line out the door) has been open in downtown Chucktown since 1978. Its food is just as good as its A.W. Shucks name (“aw shucks” - get it?). Start with some of the James River raw oysters, and then try one of their fabled oyster fry baskets or an oyster po’boy sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and remoulade. 70 State St., 843.723.1151
Boone Hall Plantation
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 annual festival occurs in late January; with 2021’s last-minute cancellation, you can be sure 2022 attendees and beyond will celebrate with ravenous appetites for all the briny half shell delicacies they missed.
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. 1235 Long Point Rd., Mt. Pleasant, 843.577.4030
Bowens Island Restaurant
Originally opened in 1946 on the tip 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. Bowens Island Restaurant is not for refined diners seeking white covered tablecloths; guests come for the food and stay for the uninterrupted views of the water, wildlife, and sunsets.
Renowned for serving the best oysters in Charleston, Bowen’s prepares them raw and fried, but it’s their traditional steam prep that earns consistent attention. Other popular dishes include fried shrimp, crab cakes, hushpuppies, and savory Frogmore stew—also known as Lowcountry boil—a combination of sausage, shrimp, corn on the cob, and potatoes. 1870 Bowens Island Rd., 843.795.2757
Coast Bar and Grill
Grab a seat outside and enjoy some of the best oysters in Charleston at this local-favorite downtown seafood favorite. Grab some of the daily oysters on the half shell, or try the fried oysters with bacon blue cheese slaw, seasoned fries, and cocktail sauce. Along with the oysters, try some of the local craft beers or a selection from the Coast Bar and Grill’s superb wine cellar. D Hutson Alley, 39 John St., 843.722.8838
Oyster House Seafood Restaurant
What could be better for oysters than a restaurant embracing its name? The Oyster House has a cool industrial-style vibe—it’s in a former warehouse on Market Street—and a big, fun menu of favorites including some of the best oysters in Charleston. Try fire-roasted oysters as an appetizer, done on the half shell with garlic butter, bread crumbs, and parmesan. Another favorite? The East Bay Street tower, with oysters, shrimp, and snow crabs on an ice bed. 35 S. Market St., 843.723.1151
Pearlz Oyster Bar
Calling itself an “eclectic little oyster bar,” Pearlz Oyster Bar has two locations in Charleston, both catering to oyster aficionados. Whether you’re looking to sample a variety of raw oysters or with culinary pizzazz, Pearlz menu is an overpowered slate of options. The signature oyster shooter with pepper vodka is a classic start before diving into the depths; choose 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 for some of the best oysters in Charleston, Pearlz is the ideal hotspot to start your night around town. 153 E. Bay St., 843.577.5755 and 9 Magnolia Rd., West Ashley, 843.573.2277
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 impressive 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, seal the savory deal with 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. 112 N. Market St., 843.723.0700
Rappahannock Oyster Bar
Five hundred miles south of its Virginia headquarters, Rappahannock Oyster Bar’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 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. 701 E. Bay St., Unit 110, 843.576.4693
Shem Creek Crab House
This fun spot is the perfect place for dinner or lunch before or after exploring Mount Pleasant or taking a trip to Fort Sumter. Shem Creek Crab House is a fun, honest-to-goodness old-school oyster bar; grab a strategic seat and watch those bad boys get prepped right before your eyes. Don’t miss the Captain’s seafood platter, with oysters, shrimp, and a flounder fillet. 508 Mill St., Mount Pleasant, 843.884.8102
The Darling Oyster Bar
“Celebrating the bounty of the sea” is the tagline of this upscale King Street location, one of the more stylish oyster spots in Charleston. The Darling Oyster Bar is a must-go for any seafood lover, but especially for their oysters. Settle in with a cold craft beer and start with an oyster shooter with pepper-infused vodka and house-made mix. Baked oysters come with a choice of butter and bread crumbs, Alabama white sauce and bacon, or pimento and sourdough stoppers. On the raw bar, choose from a best-in-town menu of local oysters from the Lowcountry. Go for brunch and knock yourself out with a Captain Bloody Mary; lobster, king crab, shrimp, a hushpuppy and veggie garnishments make this a meal in itself. 513 King St., 843.641.0821
And There’s More...
With hundreds of restaurants in the Lowcountry, whether highlighting oysters and seafood, soulful Gullah food, burgers and beer or upscale steakhouses, there are too many Charleston area eateries to list each one at length. But we want to be sure you’ve got a well-rounded guide so we’re including a condensed list of other terrific places to keep your oyster cravings happy. All are definitely worth your time and appetite. Check out the search tool at the top of the page and use our extensive directory to find more great places to eat, shop, stay and play around Charleston.
- 5 Church - 5 Church offers prime oysters on the half shell along with an intriguing menu of creative cuisine in an elegant, engaging setting. 32B N. Market St., 843.937.8666
- Art’s Bar and Grill - A Mount Pleasant favorite, Art’s Bar and Grill is a laid-back classic seafood joint with a fabled all-you-can-eat oyster roast. 413 Coleman Blvd, Mount Pleasant, 843.849.3040
- Delaney Oyster House - In the middle of downtown Charleston, the Delaney Oyster House is a charming location with a superb selection of oysters from South Carolina and other locales. 115 Calhoun St., 843.594.0099
- Felix Cocktails et Cuisine - Soak up the traditional French vibes with oysters and champagne at Felix, a fun, upscale restaurant with one of the best brunches in town. 550 King St., 843.203.6297
- Fleet Landing - Grab a few oysters and enjoy the waterfront view at Fleet Landing, a local highlight in a revitalized 1940s-era naval building. 186 Concord St., 843.722.8100
- Florence’s Kitchen - Steeped in Lowcountry cooking tradition, Florence’s Kitchen offers the must-have oyster po’boy with creole remoulade and fried oysters served with Charleston red rice and Southern slaw. 90 Folly Rd. Blvd., 843.507.8285
- Gabrielle at Hotel Bennett - Stylish and classically cool, stop into Gabrielle at the Hotel Bennett for their oysters on the half shell with chili pepper mignonette and lemon or roasted oysters with garlic maitre’d butter. 404 King St., 843.990.5460
- Hank’s Seafood - Profiled in our Best Seafood Restaurants in Charleston article, Hank’s Seafood is modeled after the great Charleston fish houses of the 1940s and features a variety of delicious oyster styles - including Oysters Casino with garlic butter, smoked bacon, asiago cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs. 10 Hayne St., 843.723.3474
- High Cotton - Classic Southern cuisine abounds at High Cotton; try the oysters on the half shell, or have them baked with Charleston Cheese House hickory-smoked brie. 199 E. Bay St., 843.724.3815
- Hyman’s Seafood - Another highlight from our Best Seafood Restaurants in Charleston article, Hyman’s is a Charleston institution since 1924 and is known for having the truest of local oysters from nearby Bulls Bay; try the No.1 appetizer, a lightly fried grit cake topped with oysters and smothered in creamy alfredo sauce with a hint of Cajun spice. 215 Meeting St., 843.723.6000
- Leon’s Oyster Stop - Grab some craft beer from local favorites and the “world-famous” char-grilled oysters at Leon’s, a King Street favorite; read more about it in this article. 698 King St., 843.531.6500
- NICO Oysters + Seafood - Let the good times roll at NICO, a French oyster bar in Shem Creek; this acclaimed spot boasts “South Carolina’s largest oyster selection.” 201 Coleman Blvd., Mount Pleasant, 843.352.7969
- The Obstinate Daughter - Mix your oysters with a selection from The Obstinate Daugher’s excellent craft beer menu for one of the best pairings in all of Charleston. 2063 Middle St., Sullivans Island, 843.416.5020
- The Ordinary - The Ordinary is anything but when it comes to food; covered in our live seafood article, The Ordinary boasts South Carolina oysters in the raw bar and delicious oyster sliders along with tremendous cocktails. 544 King St., 843.414.7060
- Prohibition - Prohibition delivers all the 1920s style you could ever need, right in the middle of Charleston; enjoy the sweet sounds of jazz as you dine on oysters on the half shell with pickleback mignonette. 547 King St., 843.793.2964
- Tempest - One of the most celebrated restaurants in Charleston, Tempest offers an extraordinary menu of seafood favorites; stop in for the oysters or the “Tempest tower” of local delicacies. 32C N. Market St., 843.996.4966
Hey, What Happens to the Oyster Shells?
Ever wonder what happens to the oyster shells once you get done eating them? Well, here in Charleston, there’s a very cool thing that happens to those old shells after the meal is over and bellies are full: many of them go to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ “Oyster Shell Recycling Program,” which helps to rebuild oyster reefs and start the natural oyster life cycle all over again. That’s only one use for all of those used oyster shells. Many more find new life as decorative installations in driveways, walkways, or other places; you can find a great example of this in Charleston’s beautiful White Point Garden.
Ever wonder what happens to the discarded oyster shells when you're done eating? Don’t worry they’re inundating the landfills because a cool Oyster Shell Recycling Program through South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources repurposes them to naturally beneficial use. After your meal is over and bellies are full, most shells are hauled to special dumping stations for eventual redistribution back where they came from—into the ocean—to help rebuild oyster reefs and kickstart the crustacean's natural life cycle for the next bivalve crop.
Not all shells go through the state's program though. Some find new life in Lowcountry arts and crafts (like the Oyster Candle Company), while tons more are crushed and used as decorative hardscape installations for driveways, walkways, and other wide-open spaces. Next time you visit Charleston’s beautiful White Point Garden, look down. The shells from someone's oyster dinner are literally at your feet.
Please be sure to contact each establishment to verify opening hours, reservation policies, health requirements, and any other variations as the months progress.