In Florence, we had the Gangplank when I was growing up. Like the barbecue restaurants that dot the state, these places typically are open only on weekends, don't serve alcohol and are located in buildings that might make you think twice before going in. Don't worry, just push through. If there is an ‘A' rating from the state health department on the door, you are safe.
Also typical is that the owner thinks he or she simply has the best recipe for battering and frying "a mess of fish" from flounder to croaker and spot and, of course, the Southern staple catfish.
Along the way, fish camps have adapted. There are now broiled options and with frozen shipping, a wider range of fish and shellfish are available, including cold water varieties such as cod and halibut.
One of our new favorites is Blackstock Fish Camp (803) 581-6568, 1944 Blackstock Road in the Chester County town of Blackstock.
Owned by the Boulware family, the restaurant is located in an old service station at a fork in the road. It is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, until 8 p.m. on Thursday and until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Blackstock's is open 3-7 p.m. on Sunday.
The fish offerings include flounder, catfish, perch, whiting and others. They also have shrimp, scallops, oysters and deviled crab.
If you order the fried seafood platter, I recommend splitting it, because that is a lot of food. The platter, a side order of onion rings and two teas (so sweet it could be dessert), plus tip was about $20.
Here are a few other fish camps around the state:
Old McDonald Fish Camp (803) 279-3305, 355 Currytown Road, North Augusta; opens at 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday. Owned by the Bass family since 1977, McDonald Fish Camp has a farm feel with goats, chickens, ducks, peacocks and fish that children can feed. The restaurant specializes in channel catfish and offers an all-you-can-eat grits and hushpuppies bar. Many of their menu items have an all-you-can-eat option and a fried seafood platter is about $20. Hit the ATM before heading here, they offer a 3 percent discount for customers paying cash.
The Tadpole Fish Camp (864) 877-6316, 13445 East Wade Hampton Boulevard, Greer. Open 3:30-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and until 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Opened in 1978 by the Lloyd family, the Tadpole has been owned by longtime employee Jimmy Tallent since 1997. The Tadpole offers an all-you-can-eat option on Wednesday and Thursday. A captain's platter is $14.
Mac Daddy's Restaurant (843) 753-2271, 139 Canal Landing Road, Cross. Open 5:30 a.m., 7 days a week, serving breakfast lunch and dinner. This restaurant is located at a true fish camp, where people come to camp and fish. Seafood platter is $22.
York Seafood Family Restaurant (866) 749-5417, 1880 Old York Road, York. Open 3:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday; 3-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and noon-8:30 p.m. on Sunday. Family owned for 20 years, this restaurant also has a salad bar and offers dishes for landlubbers, such as Greek kabobs. The York Platter is $14.
Harry's Fish Camp (843) 351-4561, 320 Harry's Camp Circle, Pineville. Open daily 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Harry's also is attached to a true fish camp and offers guide services on Lakes Marion and Moultrie. The restaurant specializes in fried catfish from the lakes.