The eco-rich waters of South Carolina mean there’s a bounty to be had at markets along our coastline. These small but bustling hubs of seafood commerce showcase the fresh catch of area fishmongers, who often operate their own small fleets. These are family businesses that cater to locals, restaurant chefs and visitors wishing to take home some of the state’s best edible souvenirs. Whether you’re making Frogmore Stew for a crowd or just frying up a grouper dinner for a family, there’s something fresh awaiting you when you buy from South Carolina seafood purveyors.
Keep in mind that these are typically no-frills operations, oftentimes consisting of nothing more than a case filled with ice and the day’s offerings. There might be bait and tackle for sale, bottles of sauces and fresh lemons, beer and ice, and almost always a fishy perfume in the air. Some even have small restaurants attached.
The selection of fish and seafood is seasonal, so you'll want to call ahead for the lineup. Or, simply show up and surprise yourself. So how fresh is fresh? Well, it's not unheard of to snag the catch of the day straight from the dock when you visit one of these enterprises. But even if you pick from the case, rest assured your package contains some of South Carolina’s most coveted treasures and the sweetest, tastiest fish and seafood anywhere.
Here are a few fish and seafood markets to try when you're visiting our coastal areas.
On the Grand Strand
The 60-mile stretch of coastline from Little River to Georgetown is known as the Grand Strand, an area as famous for fresh seafood as it is for family vacations. When visiting any of its beaches, it’s always fun to hit a local market and try your hand at preparing your own seafood feast. You can’t beat the prices either.
Platt’s Seafood – North Myrtle Beach
Since 1970, this shop near Cherry Grove has been the source for local fresh fish and seafood. Get your South Carolina shrimp steamed while you wait.
Sample local catch: Blue crab, oysters, clams, shrimp and grouper
Mr. Fish – Myrtle Beach
At this market/restaurant combo, you can make your selection and take it home or have it prepared for you to dine in.
Sample local catch: Triggerfish, grouper, shrimp, oysters, blue crab, soft-shell crab
Murrells Inlet Seafood – Murrells Inlet
Though market owner Rick Baumann had the “bad luck” of being born in New York City, he came to Murrells Inlet, learned the Lowcountry ways and changed his fortune altogether. You’ll feel lucky, too, when you get your fish and seafood here.
Sample local catch: Triggerfish, blue crab, shrimp, clams, oysters
Seven Seas – Murrells Inlet
Fresh from the inlet is what’s in the case at Seven Seas, a popular seafood source for South Carolina restaurants.
Sample local catch: Black grouper, shrimp, little neck clams, blue crab, oysters
Independent Seafood – Georgetown
Talking about institutions, consider that this market has been serving customers for more than 75 years!
Sample local catch: Wild-caught South Carolina shrimp, golden tilefish, grouper
In the Lowcountry
The southern coastal region of South Carolina, which includes our precious sea islands, is likewise teeming with fish and seafood markets. Its intricate network of tidal creeks, rivers, bays and ocean waters imparts a flavor that is distinctly Lowcountry — earthy, salty and sweet. Get a taste of this special region at these time-honored markets.
Crosby’s Fish and Shrimp – Charleston
In operation for more than three decades, this market was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. But the spirit of this family-owned and -operated fish business was resilient and lives on today as a source for fresh local fish and seafood.
Sample local catch: Blue crab, shrimp, golden tile, mahi-mahi, tuna, swordfish
Huff’s Seafood – Charleston (James Island)
Family-owned and -operated since 1995, Huff’s has a fine reputation for good service and fresh local seafood.
Sample local catch: Grouper, shrimp, wreckfish, triggerfish, oysters
Geechie Seafood – Mt. Pleasant (Shem Creek)
Fresh catch is what’s in stock at this humble little market on bustling Shem Creek. Come and get it straight from the dock.
Sample local catch: Shrimp, shrimp, shrimp, blue crab
Mount Pleasant Seafood – Mt. Pleasant (Shem Creek)
Seventy-plus years and still going strong, this market is known for catering some of the best Lowcountry boils around. Discriminating customers know shrimp from local waters is key, so they head here to get their fill and find a bounty of South Carolina-certified seafood.
Sample local catch: Golden tilefish, triggerfish, shrimp, oysters, blue crab
Simmons Seafood – Isle of Palms
Established in 1947, the folks at Simmons Seafood have earned expert status. From the boat to your throat, this fish and seafood are guaranteed fresh. Don’t forget their homemade key lime pie for dessert!
Sample local catch: Blue crab, oysters, clams, shrimp
Edisto Seafood – Edisto Island
Straight from the deck of the Sarah Jane comes the day’s catch at Edisto Seafood. The store might be small, but they are big on freshness.
Sample local catch: Shrimp, clams, blue crab, mahi mahi, grouper, flounder
Flowers Seafood Company – Edisto Island
Four generations of the Flowers family have been hauling in fresh seafood and fish from these sea island waters. Get your selection fresh off the boat to take home, or have it cooked up onsite and dig in at one of the picnic tables outside.
Sample local catch: Shrimp, blue crab, oysters, clams, flounder, whiting
Captain Mike’s Bluewater Seafood – Okatie
Lots of folks swear by this market, where most of the offerings are local and customers are treated like family by the family.
Sample local catch: Shrimp, swordfish, flounder, grouper, croaker, mullet, oysters, clams, blue crab
Bluffton Oyster Company – Bluffton
The last of the Lowcountry’s old-school oyster houses, Bluffton Oyster Company is an institution that got its start in 1899! The Toomer family still does things the old-fashioned way by hand-shucking their oysters. Stop in and see what else is fresh off the boat.
Sample local catch: Oysters, shrimp, black grouper, flounder, snapper, mahi-mahi, golden tilefish
Sea Eagle Market – Beaufort
This retail and wholesale market and adjoining restaurant are right on the main drag as you enter Beaufort. The Reaves family sources their offerings on their shrimp trawlers and skiffs to bring you the best of wild-caught, South Carolina certified seafood and more.
Sample local catch: Shrimp, mahi-mahi, grouper, oysters, golden tilefish
Benny Hudson Seafood – Hilton Head Island
The Hudson family has been in the business for five generations, so it’s no wonder that islanders depend on them for their fresh catch. Boats deliver the goods to their dock daily.
Sample local catch: Grouper, snapper, amberjack, mahi-mahi, wahoo, sheepshead, drum, triggerfish, shrimp, clams, oysters