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Dock and Dine: Charleston

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Located between Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms, The Boathouse awaits with fresh seafood and serene sunsets.

South Carolina’s impressive stretch of coastline is a boater’s paradise. What makes a day on the water so much fun is not limited to reeling in the big one or spying dolphins. For plenty of seafarers, working up an appetite is a key part of the experience. When it comes to feeding the multitudes of folks navigating our coastal waterways, SC restaurant owners have things covered.

The Intracoastal Waterway, sometimes referred to as the nation’s oldest “highway,” enters the Charleston area at Isle of Palms, then meanders through Mount Pleasant and on to Charleston Harbor. While the area is scenic by foot or car, boating through this stretch allows you to experience its beauty from a different, picturesque perspective.

The fact that there’s great dining to be had along the way is reason enough to plan such an adventure. Navigate Charleston’s storied waterways and sit down to fresh seafood, Lowcountry dishes and more at these laid-back dock-and-dine restaurants.

 

Saltworks Dockside Deli, Isle of Palms
Dock at the Isle of Palms Marina (call ahead for details) where you’ll find a wonderful breakfast and lunch at Saltworks Deli inside the marina’s market. Classic and gourmet goodies can be had here: deli sandwiches, salads and burgers, or break your fast with a hefty breakfast burrito, baked French toast casserole, omelet, biscuits and more. Grab and go or take a seat on the deck and watch the boats go by. 

 

The Boathouse, Breach Inlet 
Guests arriving from the water will find complimentary day docking at this boat-themed, breezy restaurant. Dine on a variety of fresh seafood and Southern dishes based upon local culinary traditions with modern twists. Seafood and fish offerings always include locally sourced delights like SC shrimp, grouper, swordfish and more. Slurp oysters from the raw bar and enjoy a cool cocktail on the deck or rooftop while watching a stunning sunset.

Rich with dining options, Shem Creek is a favorite place to dock when hunger strikes.

Shem Creek Restaurants, Mount Pleasant

This is destination dining, Lowcountry style, and it is rich with options and atmosphere. Dine overlooking the channel where dolphins and shrimp boats are a common sight. Most restaurants along the creek have their own docks. For those that don’t or if private docks are full, tie up at the public docks at Shem Creek Park. Here is a sampling of this dock-and-dine hotspot’s restaurants, all of which offer good eats, fun times and amazing views.

 

Red’s Ice House 
Known for: Cold beer and fresh seafood

Saltwater Cowboys 
Known for: Seafood, barbecue, drinks

Tavern & Table 
Known for: House-made pimento cheese, charcuterie, flatbreads

Shem Creek Crabhouse 
Known for: Crab, shrimp, fresh catch

Mill Street Tavern 
Known for: Poke bowls, sushi, bountiful brunches, tropical cocktails

Vickery’s Bar & Grill 
Known for: Lowcountry seafood dishes, Cuban-influenced dishes,

Water’s Edge 
Known for: Local fish, filet mignon, Lowcountry dishes

Wreck of the Richard & Charlene 
Known for: Lowcountry seafood dishes, she-crab soup, banana pudding

Dock at Charleston Crab House on James Island and enjoy crab legs on the creek.

California Dreaming, Ashley River
This castle-like restaurant on the Ashley River is just a stone’s throw from downtown Charleston and offers complimentary slips for diners. Nachos, wings, fresh seafood and that famous salad are among the many menu favorites. The panoramic views are priceless.

 

Bowens Island, Folly River 
Rustic. Ramshackle. Oyster shack. This James Beard Award-winning restaurant is as famous for its no-frills setting as it is for its roasted oysters and fresh local shrimp. Tie up at its dock on the Folly River and dig in.

 

Charleston Crab House, Wappoo Creek 
Pull up to the dock and take a seat on the deck at this lively James Island restaurant. Order up steam pots of crab, shrimp, oysters and more. After a warm day on the water, you’ll appreciate the cold beverages, too. 

 

Marina Variety Store Restaurant, Charleston Harbor 
This Charleston institution is a popular place for locals as well as the dock-and-dine crowd. Hearty gravy-laden shrimp and grits, fish platters, burgers, soups, salads and more fill the menu. They specialize in breakfast, lunch and dinner with a main course of gorgeous harbor views.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.