Welcome to the world of oysters Charleston South Carolina! Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culinary scene, Charleston is also home to an enticing array of oyster bars, eateries, and events that showcase the best of the Lowcountry’s bountiful oyster offerings. Get ready to embark on an exquisite journey, where you’ll discover the fascinating history of oysters in Charleston, the best places to satisfy your cravings, and the secrets to mastering the art of oyster shucking. Are you ready for a shucking good time? Let’s dive in!
Discover the best oysters Charleston South Carolina has to offer, from unique local varieties to sustainable farms and delicious restaurants.
Enjoy unbeatable happy hour deals on oysters at Pearlz Oyster Bar, Coast Bar & Grill or The Darling Oyster Bar.
Learn how to shuck like a pro with tips and classes offered in Charleston, while supporting local oyster farms!
Charleston's Oyster Scene: A Local Treasure
Charleston’s oyster scene is a true local treasure, offering a delightful blend of history, diversity, and sustainability. Oysters have been a staple of Charleston’s culinary culture since the 1700s, harvested from the local rivers and creeks.
Today, the Holy City boasts a plethora of oyster bars and restaurants serving up the freshest local oysters in various preparations, from raw on the half shell to fried, steamed and grilled, delighting both locals and visitors alike.
What sets Charleston’s oyster scene apart? It’s all about the focus on local oyster varieties, sustainable farming practices, and the unique flavors influenced by the region’s merroir.
History of Oysters in Charleston
Native American tribes, who harvested oysters for centuries, began Charleston’s rich history with these delicacies. As the city grew, so did the oyster industry, with an increase in oyster farms and restaurants opening in the area.
Today, Charleston’s oyster bars and restaurants continue to celebrate this rich history by offering a diverse range of oyster dishes, showcasing both traditional and contemporary culinary techniques. From the raw bars in the heart of downtown Charleston to the eclectic seafood restaurants along the coast, the city’s oyster scene is a testimony to its enduring love affair with these tasty bivalves.
Local Oyster Varieties
The waters surrounding Charleston are home to the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), which boasts a unique briny flavor that’s hard to resist. Local varieties two locations such as the Cape Romain, James Island, and Bull’s Bay each have their own special flavor and texture, influenced by the region’s merroir.
Merroir refers to the environment’s impact on the taste of an oyster, giving it its own unique essence. Hence, in Charleston, oyster enthusiasts can relish the unique tastes of local oysters, ranging from the Sea Cloud’s gentle sweetness to the Low Tide’s robust salinity.
Sustainable Oyster Farming
Sustainability is at the heart of Charleston’s oyster scene. Oyster farmers in the area are committed to sustainable farming practices that not only protect the environment but also support local businesses. Oyster farmers contribute to the maintenance of healthy oyster populations, water filtration, and creation of habitats for other marine species by adopting closed-containment systems, lessening harvest pressure, and utilizing sustainable harvest methods.
Two popular local sustainable oyster farms in Charleston are Barrier Island Oyster Co. and Low Tide Oyster Farm, both focused on providing the freshest oysters to the community while being environmentally friendly and economically viable.
Top Oyster Bars and Restaurants in Charleston
Charleston is a haven for oyster enthusiasts, with an abundance of top-notch oyster bars and restaurants that serve up the freshest oysters in town. Some of the best places to eat and indulge in Charleston’s oysters include:
The Darling Oyster Bar: Known for its lively atmosphere and delicious oyster dishes.
Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar: Offers a historic charm and a wide selection of oysters.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar: Known for its creative seafood dishes and fresh oysters.
With these options, there’s no shortage of places to enjoy Charleston’s best oysters.
Charleston’s oyster scene caters to all tastes, whether you crave raw oysters on the half shell, fried oysters with a chilled beer, or a sumptuous oysters casino dish.
The Darling Oyster Bar
Located at 513 King St., The Darling Oyster Bar offers a welcoming atmosphere, a variety of oyster dishes, and a fully-stocked bar. With its vintage charm and friendly staff, this oyster bar is the perfect place to unwind after a long day exploring the city.
The menu features raw oysters, baked oysters, oyster sliders, and other seafood dishes like Blue Crab Tagliatelle, lobster and king crab roll, burgers, and fried chicken. Pair your meal with a craft beer, wine, or cocktail, and you’re in for a shucking good time at The Darling Oyster Bar.
Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar
Nestled at 205 E. Bay St., Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar combines historic architecture with contemporary dining, offering fresh oyster selections and cooked oyster dishes. The restaurant’s inviting atmosphere is the perfect backdrop for enjoying an array of:
Regardless of your preference, Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar is bound to captivate you with its outstanding service and delicious oyster selections.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar
Situated at 511 King St., Rappahannock Oyster Bar serves fresh oysters and creative seafood dishes in a lively, historic setting. Not only can you enjoy a range of raw, roasted, and savory cooked dishes, but Rappahannock Oyster Bar also offers customers unbeatable happy hour deals, featuring $1.50 select oysters on weekdays from 4-7pm.
Whether you opt for:
Grilled oysters with smoked jalapeno butter
Baked clams with Thai sausage and coconut reduction
Shrimp and grits made with black garlic, piquillo peppers, shellfish butter, and Geechie Boy grits
Or the classic crab cakes
Rappahannock Oyster Bar guarantees a memorable dining experience.
Must-Try Oyster Dishes in Charleston
Your visit to Charleston wouldn’t be fulfilled without treating yourself to some of the city’s signature oyster dishes. From the classic fried oysters, often served with a side of remoulade sauce, to the mouthwatering grilled oysters topped with garlic butter or other flavorful sauces, and the timeless oysters casino, featuring oysters topped with bacon, peppers, and breadcrumbs, Charleston’s oyster scene offers a plethora of options to suit every palate.
So why not treat yourself to a taste of Charleston’s oyster culture and savor these delectable dishes at the city’s finest oyster bars and restaurants?
Fried oysters are a popular dish in Charleston, offering a perfect combination of crispy exterior and tender, juicy interior. To make fried oysters, they are coated in seasoned flour, bread crumbs, or cornmeal and then deep-fried until golden brown.
Often served with a side of remoulade sauce, french fries, or coleslaw, fried oysters are a delicious way to enjoy the local oyster offerings. You can find mouthwatering fried oysters at The Darling Oyster Bar, Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar, and Rappahannock Oyster Bar, just to name a few.
Grilled oysters are a scrumptious option for those looking to enjoy oysters with a smoky twist. To prepare grilled oysters, they are:
Placed on the grill with a sauce or seasoning, such as garlic butter, lemon butter, hot sauce, or Worcestershire sauce
The shells pop open once they are cooked, signaling that they are ready to be devoured.
Grilled oysters can be found at numerous oyster bars and restaurants in Charleston, so be sure to give them a try during your culinary adventure in the Holy City.
Oysters casino is a classic dish that dates back to the early 1900s and features oysters topped with bacon, peppers, and breadcrumbs. To make oysters casino, the oysters are shucked, topped with the ingredients, and then baked until they’re all nice and bubbly.
This flavorful dish can be found at various oyster bars and restaurants in Charleston, offering a taste of history alongside the city’s beloved oyster delicacies.
Oyster Events and Festivals
Charleston’s passion for oysters extends beyond its eateries and bars, captured in various events and festivals that honor the local oyster tradition. The Lowcountry Oyster Festival, held annually at Boone Hall, is the world’s largest oyster festival and has been named one of the top 20 events in Charleston. This family-friendly event features live music, oyster eating and shucking contests, and a selection of domestic and international wines.
Alongside the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, community oyster roasts are a beloved Charleston tradition, bringing people together to enjoy fresh oysters and good company. With such a vibrant oyster scene, it’s no wonder Charleston is a haven for oyster enthusiasts.
Lowcountry Oyster Festival
The Lowcountry Oyster Festival is an annual event that takes place at Boone Hall Plantation, a historic site in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. This world-renowned festival offers a full day of oyster-related festivities, including:
Oyster eating and shucking contests
A variety of food and drink vendors
With its fun and lively atmosphere, the Lowcountry Oyster Festival is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in Charleston’s oyster culture while enjoying delicious food, drinks, and entertainment for the entire family.
Community Oyster Roasts
Community oyster roasts in Charleston are a cherished tradition. Here’s what you can expect:
Locals gather around a fire to roast oysters
Share stories, laughter, and good times
Relaxed atmosphere with live music, food, and drinks
Perfect way to spend a leisurely afternoon or evening with friends and family.
By attending community oyster roasts, you’ll not only have a chance to savor delicious oysters but also support local oyster farms, promoting environmental stewardship and helping to boost the local economy.
Unbeatable Oyster Happy Hour Deals
If you’re on the hunt for irresistible oyster happy hour deals, look no further than Charleston. Pearlz Oyster Bar offers half a dozen oysters for just $11 during happy hour, while Coast Bar & Grill features discounted oysters from Monday to Thursday, 5-7pm.
For those who prefer a more upscale setting, The Darling Oyster Bar has $1.50 select oysters during happy hour on weekdays from 4-7pm. With such irresistible offers, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the freshest oysters at some of Charleston’s finest establishments without breaking the bank.
Pearlz Oyster Bar
Pearlz Oyster Bar, with its lively atmosphere and delectable seafood offerings, is a popular spot for both locals and visitors to Charleston. During happy hour, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., you can enjoy half a dozen oysters for just $11, along with a selection of discounted drinks.
With its extensive menu of seafood dishes, like raw shellfish, local seafood, and Lowcountry recipes, as well as wine selections and an impressive array of craft beers, wines, and cocktails, Pearlz Oyster Bar is the perfect place to relax and indulge in some of Charleston’s finest oyster delights.
Coast Bar & Grill
Coast Bar & Grill, located in the heart of Charleston, offers a laid-back Lowcountry vibe and an array of fresh seafood dishes. Their happy hour, running from Monday to Thursday, 5-7pm, features discounted oysters that are perfect for satisfying your cravings without hurting your wallet.
With its inviting atmosphere and delicious menu offerings, Coast Bar & Grill is an ideal spot to gather with friends and family while enjoying Charleston’s renowned oyster scene.
The Darling Oyster Bar
The Darling Oyster Bar, a vintage-inspired gem nestled on King Street, is known for its cozy atmosphere and exceptional oyster dishes. During weekdays from 4-7pm, The Darling Oyster Bar presents an unbeatable happy hour deal, featuring $1.50 select oysters.
With its warm ambiance and attentive staff, The Darling Oyster Bar is the perfect spot to unwind and savor the freshest oysters in town, all while taking advantage of their fantastic happy hour specials.
Pairing Oysters with Wine and Beer
The right wine or beer pairing can significantly enhance the pleasure of savouring oysters. Selecting the appropriate type of wine or beer to enhance the flavor of the oysters is key, and Charleston’s oyster bars and restaurants offer a wide range of options to suit every preference.
From crisp whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay to light lagers and hoppy IPAs, the city’s vibrant oyster scene ensures that you’ll find the perfect pairing for your oyster indulgence.
To complement the briny taste of oysters, crisp and acidic wines such as:
make excellent pairings. These wines help enhance the unique flavors of the oysters, creating a harmonious balance between the seafood and the wine.
When dining at Charleston’s oyster bars and restaurants, don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from the knowledgeable staff, who are always eager to help you find the perfect wine to accompany your oyster feast.
If you prefer beer with your oysters, Charleston’s oyster scene has you covered. Light lagers, wheat beers, and sour beers are some of the best options to pair with oysters, offering a refreshing contrast to the rich, briny flavors of the seafood.
With a wide range of craft beers available at Charleston’s oyster bars and restaurants, finding the perfect brew to enjoy with your oysters is as simple as asking for a recommendation from the friendly staff.
Learning to Shuck Like a Pro
Though shucking oysters may initially appear daunting, a bit of practice and guidance can quickly turn you into an expert. Learning to shuck oysters allows you to enjoy fresh oysters at home, making it an invaluable skill for any oyster enthusiast.
By following helpful tips and taking advantage of oyster shucking classes available in Charleston, you’ll master the art of oyster shucking and impress your friends and family with your newfound expertise.
When shucking oysters, it’s important to use a proper oyster knife, which is designed to open oysters safely and quickly, without breaking the shell. To protect your hand, hold the oyster securely with a towel, ensuring that it won’t slip and cause injury.
Apply firm pressure and wiggle the knife into the hinge, keeping the oyster as flat as possible to avoid spilling the flavorful liquor inside. Once the shell pops open, loosen the oyster from the shell and serve immediately, savoring the delicious taste of freshly shucked oysters right at your fingertips.
Oyster Shucking Classes
For those looking to hone their oyster shucking skills, a restaurant in Charleston offers oyster shucking classes that provide hands-on experience and expert guidance. Nico, a popular seafood restaurant in the city, offers classes for beginners and experienced shuckers alike, ensuring that you’ll learn the proper techniques for shucking oysters safely and efficiently.
By attending oyster shucking classes, you’ll not only gain the skills needed to enjoy fresh oysters at home but also support local oyster farms and contribute to Charleston’s thriving oyster culture.
Supporting Local Oyster Farms
Backing local oyster farms in Charleston is vital for the local economy, environmental conservation, and the perpetuation of the city’s deep-rooted oyster legacy. By purchasing oysters from local farms, attending oyster festivals, and engaging in oyster-related activities, you’re helping to ensure the future of oyster farming in the area and enjoying the freshest, highest-quality oysters available.
Barrier Island Oyster Co.
Barrier Island Oyster Co., a family-owned oyster farm, is committed to sustainable farming practices and producing the finest Sea Cloud oysters in Charleston. Their unique blend of salt, grasses, phytoplankton, and other nutrients in the water gives the Sea Cloud oysters their distinctive clean and salty flavor.
Harvested and hand-washed at low tide, Barrier Island Oyster Co. takes pride in cultivating the highest quality oysters while protecting the Lowcountry waterways.
Low Tide Oyster Farm
Low Tide Oyster Farm, a small-scale oyster farm in Charleston, is dedicated to producing high-quality oysters while promoting environmental stewardship. Their process includes:
Harvesting oysters during low tide
Shaking, sorting, and cleaning the oysters
Placing them in mesh bags
Returning them to the water until they’re ready to be harvested.
By supporting Low Tide Oyster Farm, you’re helping to ensure the continued growth of sustainable oyster farming practices and the availability of delicious, fresh oysters in Charleston.
From exploring the rich history and local varieties of oysters in Charleston to discovering the city’s best oyster bars and restaurants, attending oyster events and festivals, and learning to shuck like a pro, there’s no denying that Charleston’s oyster scene is truly a local treasure. As you embark on your oyster-filled adventure in this beautiful coastal city, remember to support local oyster farms and indulge in the freshest and most delicious oysters the Lowcountry has to offer. Cheers to enjoying the perfect oyster experience in Charleston!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Charleston have good oysters?
Yes, you can enjoy delicious oysters year-round in Charleston, both wild and farmed, so you can be sure to get your fill of the best oysters!
Are oysters in season in Charleston SC?
It's oyster season in Charleston SC! You can enjoy fresh harvests from September to April, with plenty of oyster festivals and roasts to look forward to. Oysters are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and they are a sustainable seafood choice. They are also incredibly
Where can I find the best oyster happy hour deals in Charleston?
If you're looking for a great oyster happy hour deal in Charleston, try Pearlz Oyster Bar, Coast Bar & Grill, or The Darling Oyster Bar.
What are some must-try oyster dishes in Charleston?
If you're a chef looking for a truly unique Charleston experience, you've got to try the fried, grilled, and oysters casino dishes. They'll be sure to delight your taste buds!
Are there oyster shucking classes available in Charleston?
Yes, there are oyster shucking classes available in Charleston - Nico offers both beginner and advanced classes.