Food & Drink

The Best Oyster Happy Hours in Charleston

Published On 11/21/2016 Published On 11/21/2016
Andrew Cebulka

The Darling Oyster Bar

King Street Historic District

King Street newcomer The Darling definitely puts a lot of time and energy creating the perfect oyster bar. Grab a chair at the 14-seat raw bar that overlooks King Street for some fun people watching and be sure to stop by during happy hour (4 - 7 pm, seven days a week) for $1 house oysters. You’ll also find $1 off draft cocktails and draft beers if all that slurping makes you thirsty.

Pearlz Oyster Bar

French Quarter & Avondale

The self-proclaimed “eclectic little oyster bar” has two locations in Charleston, and both feature a pretty hearty list of happy hour specials for that glorious period between 4 -7 pm during the work week. Try the southern fried oysters for $7.95, $3.50 oyster shooters, and -- the piece de resistance -- a dozen oysters on the half shell for $10.95. Both restaurants always seem to be packed, so get there early if you want a seat at the raw bar.

Oyster House on Market

Oyster House and O-Bar

Market Street

Although many locals were sad when Market Street staple A.W. Shucks closed after 37 years, the new, more upscale concept seems to be doing well with locals and tourists alike. O-Bar, the raw bar on State Street, features a diverse happy hour menu (available Monday - Friday from 4 - 7 pm) with a number of oyster favorites. A dozen Gulf oysters on the half shell are just $10,  opt for a fried oyster taco with sriracha ranch for $4, or a fried oyster slider with seaweed salad for $7. Pair that with a $3 oyster shooter or glass of champagne to really put the “happy” in happy hour.

Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar

Amen Street

French Quarter

Just a few steps from Market Street and Waterfront Park, you’ll find Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar. The raw bar menu changes daily, but it has been known to offer up to 20 different oysters at a time. A regular dozen of house oysters at Amen Street will cost you about $19, but at happy hour (4 - 7 pm during the week), they’ll only set your wallet back $9.95. You can also try Amen’s award-winning oyster shooter made with house- infused lemon & pepper vodka, bloody mary mix, hot sauce and fresh shucked oyster for just $3.50.

The Ordinary

The Ordinary

King Street Historic District

Owner and James Beard award-winning Chef Mike Lata does amazing things with seafood in his kitchen, which is housed in a building that was once a bank. The menu is full of inventive and fresh seafood options, and happy hour at The Ordinary is anything but: nosh on oysters for just $1.50 every Tuesday - Friday from 5 - 6:30 pm. This restaurant is also one of the only places in the city where you can get a shellfish tower.

Courtesy of Coast

Coast

John Street

With a name like “Coast,” you can rest assured that the seafood you’re getting is up to snuff. The chefs meet with local fishermen and farmers on a daily basis, to ensure they’re bringing you the freshest, most quality ingredients. Stroll down Huston Alley to the front door of the ivy-covered brick building and sit yourself in the bar area Monday through Thursday from 5 - 7 pm to take advantage of a half dozen oysters (raw, steamed or fried) for $6.99 and $4.99. There’s drink specials, too, so don’t forget to stay hydrated during your evening at the Coast.

Courtesy of Victor Social Club

Victor Social Club

John Street

A little further into Hutson Alley at Cuban-inspired Victor Social Club, you’ll find a cozy bar filled with leather couches, Guy Harvey-looking fish paintings, and the highest ceilings of any bar in Charleston. Stop by for happy hour and get $1.50 Oysters, served with cocktail sauce, house mignonette, and hot sauce. Stop by on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday for live music and Cuban-themed cocktails, the best you’ll find this side of Havana.

Old Village Post House Inn

Mount Pleasant

Old Village Post House Inn is a hidden gem tucked inside the Old Village in Mount Pleasant. While the regular menu is chock full of Lowcountry-inspired dishes like Shrimp & Grits, stop by for happy hour Monday through Friday 4 -7 pm to take advantage of Benne Seed Fried Oysters for $12. The benne seeds add a nice touch of sweetness to the fried oysters, and you’ll find yourself devouring the mollusks like popcorn.

Oak SteakHouse

Oak Steakhouse

Broad Street

Not many people think to visit a steakhouse for oysters, but Oak should definitely be added to your list of oyster hotspots. Enjoy fantastic deviled eggs with fried oysters for just $12 at the bar from 5 -7 pm during the week. In the dining area, you can get oysters rockefeller for just $3 each or on the half shell at market price.

Stereo 8

Stereo 8

James Island

Stereo 8 is by far one of the grooviest places to hang out on James Island, with live music and entertainment every Friday night, Latin brunch on Sunday mornings, and all kinds of fun in between. At happy hour Tuesday - Friday nights from 4 - 7 pm, Stereo 8 offers $1 oysters, $2 domestic bottles, and $6 cocktails. With cooler weather on the way, be sure to take advantage of the fire pits on the patio for a little more ambiance with your shellfish.

Warehouse

Cannonborough

Stop by during happy hour to try one of Warehouse’s life-changing fried-oyster deviled eggs for just $1.50 each. Pair it with a $5 pint or house cocktail (we recommend the Employees Only with jalapeno tequila and pink grapefruit juice) and a game of pool to help you truly unwind from a hard day. You may even have a celebrity spotting -- Chef Emily Hahn on the newest season of Top Chef on Food Network.

Cannon Green

Cannon Green

Cannonborough

In addition to drink specials, Cannon Green offers $1 off oysters during happy hour, Tuesday - Friday from 5-7 p.m. Even without the discount, a visit to Cannon Green is worth it for the ambience alone. The restaurant features bright, natural light, lots of greenery, and a fountain-lined courtyard that practically oozes tranquility.

Bowens Island

James Island

Every hour is happy hour at Bowens Island when you can get $30 all-you-can-eat steamed oysters, anytime. This Charleston institution is off the beaten path right on the edge of James Island, down a dirt road that you’re likely to miss if you blink. Be sure to visit right at sunset, as its marshfront location offers some of the best views in Charleston.

167 Raw - Charleston

167 Raw

Ansonborough

The cozy unassuming brick building on East Bay street doesn’t look like much, but inside, you’ll find some of the freshest seafood in all of the Holy City. The sister restaurant of a Nantucket favorite, 167 Raw features seafood fare that’s much more common up north -- dishes like lobster rolls, clam chowder, and tuna burgers. If you’re lucky enough to score a table after work, you can enjoy $2.75 oysters from their vast daily selection.

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1. The Darling Oyster Bar 513 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Housed in a 115-year-old storefront, this gorgeously designed space has a 14-seat raw bar and rich leather green booths, where any seat is perfect for slurping bivalves and sipping cocktails. The Darling blends classical preparations with exciting new flavors with devoted attention to local ingredients and sustainability. For those without their seafood-legs, The Darling also offers non-aquatic options like fried chicken and burgers.

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2. Pearlz Oyster Bar - West Ashley 9 Magnolia Rd, Charleston, SC 29407

Pearlz Oyster Bar is a casual seafood bistro known for its vibrant bar scene. While Pearlz is oyster-centric, serving up the pearl-bearing mollusks both steamed and fresh on the half shell, the Charleston restaurant also offers coastal southern fare, like Angus burgers and crab cake sandwiches. At the bar, you can find local craft brews on tap and nautical-themed cocktails, like the East Bay Horizon, with Altos Reposado Tequila, Ancho Reyes, Dolin Genepy, Cucumber-Cilantro Juice, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup.

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3. The Oyster House 35 South Market Street, Charleston, SC

Oyster House and O-Bar is a shellfish haven in the heart of Charleston’s French Quarter, boasting a dining room and an attached raw bar. The menu features fresh seafood and low-country favorites, divided into oysters and chef’s signatures. If you’re a purist, you’ll want to try a flight of oysters; but for rogue mollusk lovers, opt for the fried oysters on a bed of house pork sausage, corn, Old Bay seasoning, and garlic aioli. Signatures include shrimp and grits with tasso gravy, a cedar plank salmon, and the S.O.B. burger, with Angus beef, applewood smoked bacon, and pimento cheese, all layered onto a brioche bun. Leather upholstered seating, vintage photographs of Charleston, and mother of pearl and copper lighting fixtures all amount to an upscale, comfortable dining experience at Oyster House and O-Bar.

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4. Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar 205 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401

Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar in historic downtown Charleston celebrates southern coastal seafood in a contemporary, if slightly nostalgic, atmosphere. Oysters are offered baked, fried, or raw, while the menu of starters, salads, sandwiches, and house specialties boasts highlights like seared scallops, shrimp corndogs with lemon pepper ketchup and Carolina spicy mustard, and fried green tomatoes, poised with homemade hot ‘n’ sour pickled okra and a side of pimento cheese. While classic dishes are revised with fresh ingredients, décor at Amen Street hearkens back to an earlier Charleston, namely with authentic maps and documents peppering the walls and art that touts jazz’s influence on the city’s history.

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5. The Ordinary 544 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Situated inside an old bank, this seafood hall and oyster bar is full of creative and tasty Southern twists on classic ocean fare, offering both large and small plates. It is the sister restaurant to FIG and maintains equal focus on seasonal and local ingredients to create delicious and fresh dishes every day. Some menu items, however, are so lauded that they have become mainstays, like the oyster sliders.

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6. Coast Bar and Grill 39 John St, Charleston, SC 29403

Coast Bar and Grill’s creed is to serve whatever the sea is offering, and to adhere to its catch of the day policy, chefs meet daily with local farmers and fishermen to dish up the freshest of fish that are seasoned and prepped in the Charleston restaurant’s hickory and oak custom-made wood-burning grill. While the menu changes daily, fish like tilapia, swordfish, and salmon make recurring appearances, and if you opt for a fried seafood dish, you’ll indulge in the bacon bleu cheese slaw, seasoned fries, house cocktail, and tartar sauce that accompany it.

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7. Victor Social Club 39-F John Street, Charleston, SC 29403

Victor Social Club in Hutson Alley pays homage to Charleston’s gentleman’s clubs of yore, with black-and-white tiled floors, soaring ceilings, dark leather banquettes, and pristine white marble bar. The beverage program boasts draught beers, bottled beers, European and domestic wines, and a distinct roster of Hemingway-inspired, rum-heavy cocktails, like “The Sun Also Rises,” with tequila, passion fruit, and chile, all enhanced by a selection of cigars. The food menu is appropriately comprised of small Cuban plates like ceviche, frita cubana burger, and tequila marinated steak.

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8. Old Village Post House 101 Pitt St, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

The Inn at Old Village Post House boasts an in-hotel restaurant highlighting southern delicacies on a menu of soups and starters, salads, steaks, and chef specialties, like crab cakes with creamed corn, leeks, and crispy truffle potato strings sweet potato gnocchi with spinach, dried cherries, goat cheese, pecans, and brown butter sauce. The dining space is elegant in its décor, lit by brass chandeliers and wreathed with Impressionist oil paintings of landscapes.

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9. Oak Steakhouse 17 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401

Located inside an old bank, Oak Steakhouse has a contemporary atmosphere featuring specially designed chandeliers and local artwork. The old vault was turned into a gorgeous wine cellar with bottles from all over the world, not to mention over 25 kinds of pinot noir. This steakhouse prides itself on sourcing ingredients from local purveyors and has a great selection of seafood on the menu as well, lobsters and oysters.

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10. Stereo 8 951 Folly Rd, Charleston, SC 29412

Stereo 8 brings a globe zig-zagging menu to James Island with Latin/Asian fusion plates in modern space with a huge, funky patio. Pad thai and tacos are presented on the menu next to a classic cheeseburger, attesting to the wide culinary scope. Culturally, it’s all about music and art, with DJs in the back, a gallery space for local artists and live tunes hosted on the deck. Fusions continue in the cocktail and dessert options, with yuzu-kissed gin sips and a churro cheesecake.

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11. Warehouse 45 1/2 Spring St, Charleston, SC 29403

This industrial-chic bar garners lines with artisanal cocktails and New American cuisine served in a dark-hued space made edgy with exposed brick. The bar serves plenty of wine and cocktails (as represented by a sleekly designed menu), but PBR and a pool table also caters adequately to the casual post-work crowd.

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12. Cannon Green 103 Spring St, Charleston, SC 29403

Enjoy seasonal Mediterranean and Southern fare in this bright space with an amazing Caribbean-inspired courtyard in Cannonborough. Cannon Green is a full-service restaurant in addition to an event space, with communal tables and a full-service bar. The food highlights an emphasis on in-house production, with pastas, breads and curated meats all made in the kitchen. Brunch is particularly popular on warm days in the courtyard.

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13. Bowens Island Restaurant 1870 Bowens Island Rd, Charleston, SC 29412

Bowen's Island Restaurant takes advantage of its waterfront locale both by devoting its menu to ultra-fresh seafood. This graffiti-and-barnacle-covered seaside shack boasts picturesque views of King Flats Creek at the downstairs all-you-can-eat oyster bar, where you can slurp fresh oysters next to the guys who caught them. The menu emphasizes seafood platters of shrimp, fried fish, and crab cakes to be shared among you and your friends. These will pair excellently with entrees like Fragmore Stew, AKA the “Low Country Boil,” with sausage, shrimp, corn, and potatoes.

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14. 167 Raw 289 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401

In a city that has plenty of seafood, 167 Raw still makes a splash on the Charleston scene. Why? Because it's ultra-fresh approach never seems blasé. The raw bar is where it's at in this place (get the sampler if you're into trying everything), but you'd be crazy not to order one of the best lobster rolls in the city -- if you're willing to pay the high price for it, that is. Take some time and cruise the well-curated list of beers and wines and choose a local draft or something from the "everything else" menu.

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