Food & Drink

Spend Your Summer at These Waterfront Restaurants in Charleston

Published On 06/15/2016 Published On 06/15/2016

BLU Restaurant & Bar

Folly Beach

Located on the first floor of the Tides Hotel, BLU has the best view of the water on Folly Beach. The upscale menu is heavily seafood-influenced, which should come as no surprise since it’s right on the ocean. Highlights from the dinner menu include curried mussels and seared grouper, as well as a great mix of seasonally-inspired American fare. Pro tip: order a couple of appetizers and beach cocktails out on the patio and scan the horizon for dolphins for a true beachfront experience.

Charleston Harbor Fish House

Charleston Harbor Fish House

Patriot’s Point

This local favorite offers an intimate and warm ambience with magnificent views of the USS Yorktown and Charleston Harbor that some have described as "magical." The menu is creative and diverse enough to please diners of many different tastes, and the portions are generous, to say the least. If you really love seafood (like really, really love it) and have $125 to spend, consider trying the Chilled Seafood Tower: full of oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab legs and claws, and lobster tails. It's offered both in the dining room and at the rooftop Bridge Bar. 

Marina Variety Store and Restaurant

Downtown

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day (it's closed on Sunday after 3pm), Marina Variety Store and Restaurant offers scratch-made Southern favorites like shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, and East Coast crab cakes, with exceptional views of the Ashley River. If you're coming in for Sunday brunch, know there's going to be a wait, but it'll certainly be worth it.

Paul Cheney/jwkpec

Fleet Landing

Downtown

Fleet Landing’s views of the Charleston Harbor are absolutely stunning, and easily the best reason for visiting. But don't write off the food: the shrimp and lobster-stuffed hushpuppies is the biggest crowd pleaser on the menu, and you can feel good about any of the choices because the restaurant is a platinum member of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative. Just make sure to call ahead for reservations if the weather is nice, or you’re not likely to find a table (regardless of the time of day).

The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene

Shem Creek

The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene is exactly what it claims to be: a wreck. This is the very definition of “no frills.” All the food is served on paper plates, most of which is a variety of freshly caught seafood (shrimp, scallops, oysters, and a few different kinds of fish). Each is offered fried in peanut oil, grilled, or boiled, and served with red rice, slaw, hushpuppies, and a fried hominy square. Bottom line: if you come here wanting anything fancy, you’re going to be disappointed. The food might be simple, but it’s fresh, cooked perfectly, and exactly what you want when you’re craving fried seafood. 

Tavern & Table

Tavern & Table

Shem Creek

This place offers what was missing from the many restaurants along the creek for so long: food that isn’t fried. Don’t get us wrong, there’s still plenty of it at T&T (the duck fat fries), but if your palate is craving something more than popcorn shrimp, Chef Katie Lorenzen-Smith serves up a diverse selection of elevated cuisine that’s sure to please. We’re talking burnt-end mac & cheese, chimichurri steak salad, and house-ground burgers made from a combination of Angus chuck, brisket, and short rib. Enjoy the sunset over the water as you sip on one of 18 craft beers on tap or one of the fresh cocktails (we recommend the Grapefruit Rosemary Collins).

LOKAL Seabar

LOKAL Seabar

Johns Island

Located at the beautiful Bohicket Marina, LOKAL Seabar has been a favorite of locals, tourists, and boaters for the past couple of years. The menu is chock-full of seafood, with both traditional (shrimp & grits, whole fried flounder) and modern (shrimp empanadas, tom gai soup) offered in full. It's an especially convenient stop when hunger strikes while cruising along the Bohicket Creek, seeing that there’s plenty of boat parking available.

The Boathouse at Breach Inlet

Boathouse at Breach Inlet

Isle of Palms

Located right across the bridge from Sullivan’s Island, Boathouse at Breach Inlet is a cozy and warm seafood joint that's survived almost 20 years worth of hurricanes and tourist frenzies. This place mixes simple Southern cooking with a little upscale flair, such as the fried green tomatoes with goat cheese, arugula, and pepperjam. It's that kind of fare that keeps people coming back year after year. Plus, the rooftop deck gives you uninterrupted views of Sullivan’s Island, Downtown Charleston to the left, and Isle of Palms to the right.

Bowens Island

Folly Beach

When it comes to great seafood in Charleston, it’s hard to beat Bowens Island. From all-you-can-eat fresh oysters served by the shovelful, to perfectly seasoned bowls of Frogmore Stew (aka Lowcountry Boil), there’s a reason people line up in droves every night just to get inside. Of course, the view of the sun setting over the marsh of Sol Legare Creek also has something to do with it.

Morgan Creek Grill

Morgan Creek Grill

Isle of Palms

Morgan Creek Grill is kind of an enigma, as it's almost two restaurants in one. First, you have the semi-fancy restaurant inside -- perfect for a formal dinner -- where you can get a porterhouse pork chop or locally grown clams. But then there’s the super-casual rooftop deck -- where you’ll want to spend every sunny afternoon -- serving up bar-favorites like fried oysters. For those who prefer a liquid dinner, the Creekside bar features ice-cold beers and a fully stocked liquor menu as well as live music on most afternoons. All three options offer equally great views of the intracoastal waterway on IOP.

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1. Blu Restaurant & Bar 1 Center St, Folly Beach, SC 29439

Located within the Tides Hotel and right on the water on Folly Beach, BLU serves regional flavors and the freshest seafood available year-round. Chef Franklin Kirkman leans heavily on seafood in his menu, but still brings an inventive mind to the food—like with his signature dish, a shrimp udon with local fish, oyster mushrooms, and miso broth. Elegant but casual, this restaurant welcomes everybody from families fighting over brunch to couples lingering over date night. Make sure to try out the waterside seating, though—the view is unbeatable.

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2. Charleston Harbor Fish House 32 Patriots Point Rd, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

This local favorite offers an intimate ambience and magnificent views of the USS Yorktown and Charleston Harbor. The menu is creative and diverse enough to please diners of many different tastes (even picky kids!), and the portions are generous, to say the least. If you really love seafood (like really, really love it) and have $125 to spend, consider trying the Chilled Seafood Tower: full of oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab legs and claws, and lobster tails. It's offered both in the dining room and at the rooftop Bridge Bar, along with a full menu of beer, wine, and locally-inspired cocktails.

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3. Marina Variety Store Restaurant 17 Lockwood Dr, Charleston, SC 29401

A seafood restaurant that sits (as the name suggests) right in the Charleston Marina, the Variety Store Restaurant has been serving up some of South Carolina's best seafood in the same location since the '60s. The large, family-friendly space is open all day for Southern-inspired breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with large portions and reasonable prices. Classic sea-based dishes like soft-shell crab and homemade jambalaya highlight the menu, along with their signature key lime pie. Adults looking for an alcoholic addition to their meal should know they only serve a limited beer menu.

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4. Fleet Landing 186 Concord St, Charleston, SC 29401

One of downtown Charleston's only waterfront restaurants, Fleet Landing is a busy and beautiful place. Sitting right on the water, with a seaside patio for diners, this SC staple has been serving fresh seafood for over a decade to customers hungry for authentic Lowcountry cuisine. The fresh catch of the day is a crowd favorite, as well as the Lowcountry boil with shrimp and sausage, especially when paired with one of the venue's signature cocktails or martinis. Upscale but not stuffy, the restaurant recommends making reservations on nights and weekends, and insists that gentlemen wear a sleeved shirt during dinner.

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5. The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene 106 Haddrell St, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene is exactly what it claims to be: a wreck. This is the very definition of “no frills.” All the food is served on paper plates, most of which is a variety of freshly caught seafood (shrimp, scallops, oysters, and a few different kinds of fish). Each is offered fried in peanut oil, grilled, or boiled, and served with red rice, slaw, hushpuppies, and a fried hominy square. Bottom line: if you come here wanting anything fancy, you’re going to be disappointed. The dockside seating does offer spectacular views, however.

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6. Tavern & Table 100 Church Street, Charleston, SC 29464 (Mount Pleasant)

This place offers what was missing from the many restaurants along the creek for so long: food that isn’t fried. Don’t get us wrong, there’s still plenty fried goodness at T&T, but if your palate is craving something more diverse, Chef Katie Lorenzen-Smith serves up a diverse selection of elevated American/Southern cuisine that’s sure to please. House-ground burgers with brisket and short rib are a staple of the menu, along with an eclectic mix of local flavors and global influences. This rustic, casual waterfront spot was designed as a place to spend multiple hours, so relax and try one of their many on-tap local beers or a cocktail with fresh squeezed juice.

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7. LOKAL Seabar 1886 Andell Bluff Blvd, Johns Island, SC 29455

Located at the beautiful Bohicket Marina, LOKAL Seabar has been a favorite of locals, tourists, and boaters for years. The menu is chock-full of ultra-fresh seafood, with both traditional (shrimp & grits, whole fried flounder) and modern (shrimp empanadas, tom gai soup) offered in full. As the name implies, there's also a raw bar packed with oysters and other mollusks. Seasonal cocktails and a rotating beer list keep the focus on what's fresh, dock-side seating is available on a dog-friendly patio, and there's plenty of boat parking for you seafarers.

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8. The Boathouse at Breach Inlet 101 Palm Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451

Located between Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms, the Boathouse at Breach Inlet offers fresh and tasty seafood with some breathtaking views overlooking the marsh and the Cooper River Bridge. A cozy neighborhood joint, the Boathouse has survived almost 20 years worth of hurricanes and tourist frenzies to bring you the best in Lowcountry seafood. You can dine in the bright and airy dining room, on the waterfront patio, or up on the roof where the best views are to be had. Beer, wine, and specialty cocktails with local liquors and house-made mixers are also available.

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9. 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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10. Morgan Creek Grill 80 41st Ave, Isle of Palms, SC 29451

Morgan Creek Grill is almost two restaurants in one: the semi-fancy restaurant inside (perfect for a formal dinner) where you can get sample some steak n' seafood classics, and the super-casual rooftop deck which serves bar-favorites like fried oysters. For those who prefer a liquid dinner, the outdoor Creekside bar features ice-cold beers and a fully stocked liquor menu as well as live music on most afternoons. All three options offer equally great views of the intracoastal waterway on IOP for you boat-watchers.

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