2 Jan 2024
The holidays have come and gone, but that certainly doesn’t mean folks here in the Lowcountry have finished celebrating. In fact, we are sailing full steam ahead (so to speak) into oyster season, and this is one of Charleston’s favorite ways to party with friends old and new.
I’ve blogged before about our love affair with the oyster, and how it has been such an integral part of the culture around these parts, dating way back to the 1800’s. Eating fresh local oysters is an instant connection with the sea, with each delicious salty bite. Plus, it’s a whole activity to boot, bringing strangers together around the shucking table. They generally leave as new friends.
Thankfully, you have a myriad of places to get your oyster on. Some are local restaurants that host either actual oyster roasts or at least have fresh oysters available for noshing. And then there are the large-scale roasts that are events unto themselves and not to be missed.
Without further ado, here are some of the best options….
You don’t have to leave the Isle of Palms to have a great oyster option. Islander 71, the new-ish restaurant that stands at the picturesque point where the IOP Marina touches the Intracoastal Waterway, has stepped up to the plate, oyster-wise. They’re following in the long-standing tradition of Morgan Creek Grill, which used to occupy that spot and hosted regular oyster roasts.
Every Saturday from now through March, starting at noon, just head down to Islander 71 for an oyster fix. They’ll be roasting fresh Lowcountry oyster clusters over an open fire pit. It’s $30 all you can eat, and you can carry buckets of them back to your table to enjoy. Islander 71 has a great vibe, with loads of outdoor seating, live music on the outdoor stage, and plenty of beautiful open-air decks and porches overlooking the water - just like Exclusive Properties luxury homes!
Islander 71 is located at 80 41st Avenue on the Isle of Palms.
If you’re on the IOP and want to hang out near the beach, eat an oyster and listen to some music, sidle on over to the beloved island institution, the Windjammer, located on Front Beach. Most Saturdays and Sundays, they’re roasting up oysters out back, toward the ocean. It’s a very laidback vibe, and buckets of ‘em are just $15.
Charleston has fast become known for its breweries and distilleries, and Firefly Distillery is one of the biggest. They’re located on several acres along Noisette Creek in North Charleston, at 4201 Spruill Avenue. While it does involve a drive across some bridges from the IOP, it’s a fun destination place and gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.
Chef Graham Calabria is at the helm at Firefly, and he’s hosting a series of oyster roasts on certain Sundays each month. Upcoming dates are: January 21st, February 25th, and March 24th.
Not only will there be all-you-can-eat Lowcountry oyster clusters but also a Bloody Mary bar, live music, and good local food trucks to add to the party vibe (for those who might not be huge oyster fans - yet).. Tickets start at $35, and kids 12 and under don’t require a ticket. The oyster roasts last from 11:00 am till 5:00 pm on those Sundays, and they’ll be serving up the oysters from noon till 4:00.
Soul of the Lowcountry Oyster Roast at Gold Bug Island
The good folks at Lowcountry Land Trust are all about preserving the things that help make the Lowcountry so beautiful. One of their big initiatives is helping to preserve and restore local oyster reefs, which play a huge role in healthy coastal ecosystems. They’re hosting volunteer efforts in January toward this end.
As part of it, they’re putting on a big family friendly oyster roast at a cool local venue - Gold Bug Island, located right near the Ben Sawyer Bridge between Sullivan’s Island and Mt. Pleasant. Gold Bug Island is a gem – 29 acres of both highlands and wetlands in a super scenic spot. It got its name from the famous short story by Edgar Allen Poe, who was stationed on Sullivan’s. The Lowcountry Land Trust permanently protected Gold Bug Island for future generations when they placed it in a conservation easement in 1996.
Well, on Sunday, January 21st, they’re hosting their Soul of the Lowcountry Family Friendly Oyster Roast from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. They’ll have fresh local oysters for shucking, along with chili, hot dogs, cornbread, salad, cobbler, mimosas, Bloody Marys, beer, wine, lemonade and sweet tea, and live music by bluegrass band Dallas Baker and Friends. They’ll also have a bunch of activities for kids. Read more about it and get tickets here.
The Lowcountry Oyster Festival
Ok, this is the biggie. It’s the largest oyster festival in the entire world, and it’s right across the bridge from the Isle of Palms, on the grounds of Boone Hall Plantation. Get set for the 40th annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival, where they’ll be steaming up 45,000 pound of them. There’s also a ton of other fun stuff including oyster eating and shucking contests, and plenty of libations and food choices.
It’s happening on Sunday, February 4th. Read all about it on our Events page, to get the whole scoop. And better get those tickets ASAP, as around 10,000 folks may join the party.
So make like a local, and get your oyster on. And like there are plenty of fish in the sea, there are a lot of great options.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger