17 Feb 2023
Hungry for some Seafood? One of the most common questions visitors ask when they come to the Isle of Palms, is where can I find a really good seafood meal?
Fear not, you are in luck. Just as fish and shellfish are abundant around these parts, so are seafood restaurants - or at least, restaurants that know how to serve up some fresh seafood, right. The Charleston food scene in general is on a roll, and just about every place does their take on local seafood specialties like shrimp, oysters or fresh catch. In fact, you don’t have to head into Charleston to get great seafood. Stay out here on the barrier islands and you’ll eat, fresh from the sea.
Seafood Options on the IOP
Long Island Café - Isle of Palms
First up is an Isle of Palms landmark. The Long Island Café has been a seafood standby ever since 1986, when it opened in the strip shopping center where the Red & White grocery store was, and the Harris-Teeter is now located (1515 Palm Boulevard).
Fun fact: The restaurant’s name comes from the original name of the island itself. There are five barrier islands between Charleston and Bulls Bay. At seven miles in length, the Isle of Palms is the longest of them all. It was called Long Island until J.S. Lawrence purchased it in 1899 and renamed it the “Isle of Palms.”
The Long Island Café has a coastal bistro vibe. Their menu leans heavily on seafood - “a modest, inventive hybrid of French classicism with South Carolina taste,” as they describe it, with chef/owner Ravi Scher at the helm. Choose from oysters, shrimp, sea scallops or flounder, and pick how you want it prepared. The broiled method is delicious, as is their rather unique “light fry” preparation with a cracker meal breading. There are plenty of other options like fresh salads, soups (she-crab soup with sherry is a local specialty), the popular fresh grouper encrusted in crabmeat and served with Meyer lemon prosecco cream sauce, and Oyster DuPuis Benedict.
IOP Raw Bar - Isle of Palms
The Long Island Café recently opened up a new spot right next door in the adjacent storefront. It’s a seafood raw bar called, appropriately, “IOP RAW.” They have your seafood bases covered, from peel & eat local shrimp to fresh oysters, mussels, local catch, and if you’re really hungry, shellfish towers and platters with lobster tails and tuna tartare.
Coda Del Pesce - Isle of Palms
Coda del Pesce is the perfect place for a special occasion or an elegant evening out at the beach. Located along Front Beach at 1130 Ocean Boulevard, it’s only open for dinner. If the weather’s nice, you can opt to sit out on the scenic deck overlooking the ocean. The airy upstairs dining room also has stellar views and a Mediterranean feel.
Executive Chef/owner Michael Vedrinski is the mastermind behind Coda del Pesce, which means “tail of the fish” in Italian. Zagat raves about his culinary skills, for good reason. And as you can guess from the name, seafood is king.
They only prepare seafood that is either fresh and local or sustainably caught. Pasta is perfectly prepared from scratch in-house, as is the crudo. Check the daily menu, because it changes based on what is the best and freshest available. Recently, a neighbor ate a special birthday dinner there and raved about their Rock Shrimp Marsala with Taglioni.
Insider tip: if you’re unsure of what to order - but would like to be dazzled - just ask for the “Chef’s Selection.” He’ll prepare a three-course meal made just for your table.
Sullivan's Island Seafood Restaurants
Or, hop over Breach Inlet to Sullivan’s Island. If you’d like to head off the Isle but not far, just cross over to the other barrier island, Sullivan’s. It, too, has several places to find great seafood. Here are two.
The Obstinate Daughter - Sullivan’s Island
The Obstinate Daughter, aka The O/D, isn’t what you’d call a seafood place. But it’s a fantastic restaurant that leans heavily on local ingredients… and so naturally they do seafood well, too. Really well.
Some surefire menu picks include their pasta, like Campanelle with Market Fish, or pizzas (they have one called “Weird Fishes”). Frogmore Stew is a clever take on the classic area Lowcountry Boil, with fresh shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. Clams from Clammer Dave are a fan favorite, served as they are with pork belly, tomato, shiitake mushrooms and Cinzano. Or try the Shrimp Roll with Marsh Hen Mill Frites.
In addition to Clammer Dave, The O/D’s local purveyors include Abundant Seafood, Crosby’s Seafood, Oyster Point Seafood, Tarvin Seafood, Barrier Island Oysters, and Low Country Cup Oysters. Speaking of which, they also pour from 16 nearby breweries, fermentories, distilleries and wine companies. Perfect for washing down that fresh catch.
The Obstinate Daughter is located at 2063 Middle Street.
Sullivan’s Fish Camp - (on Sullivan’s, of course)
Hard to beat a place that has fish right smack dab in the middle of its name. Especially when it’s built on the foundation (literally) of one of the Lowcountry’s most beloved places to eat seafood.
For over three decades, Sullivan’s Seafood Restaurant served up baskets of fresh seafood on this very spot. Alas, it closed for a while… then reemerged with a new look, name, owners, and menu - but still, almost every dish on the menu is seafood.
There’s beeliner snapper and shrimp that comes fresh from the trawlers at nearby Shem Creek.
Sullivan’s Fish Camp serves up lunch and dinner. Popular dishes are the jerk-rubbed local fish on a milk bun, Fish & Chips from local catch, Sullivan’s Poke Nachos and the Sullivan’s Island Gumbo. Their gumbo is made from dayboat fish, Tarvin shrimp, clams, lobster broth and the prized local Carolina Gold Rice. Dinner can get a bit more fancy with jetty towers of shrimp, tuna poke, oysters and smoked fish rillettes, or the Sullivan’s Dayboat Catch (fresh fish pan roasted with mushrooms, heirloom Bradford candy roaster squash, and pecan gremolata).
Sullivan’s Fish Camp is also on Middle Street, # 2019.
So help yourself to fresh seafood galore. We have it in abundance in these parts.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger