At a time when Charleston has more oyster options than ever, City Paper readers are turning to an old standby. Bowens Island Restaurant has been open on a little spit of land between James Island and Folly Beach since 1946.
Longtime visitors will remember it as a low-slung, overgrown cinderblock oyster shack with no frills beyond a jukebox (maybe). The original joint burned in 2006, but was rebuilt with a large, elevated screened-in dining room and bar upstairs with postcard porch views of the Lowcountry marsh. Venture downstairs and you’ll find the oyster room — you’ll smell the salt and hear the shucker rukus first. Bowens Island is no longer the low-key local secret it once was, but it’s still a must-visit for out-of-town guests who’ve never acquainted themselves with the local bivalves. —Sam Spence
Runner-up: 167 Raw
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