Steamer Oyster & Steakhouse, Beaufort
What to expect: Start with the seafood bisque. Also sample the local favorite Frogmore stew―not really a stew but rather steamed shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob.
Check it out: 168 Sea Island Parkway (on Lady’s Island); 843/522-0210
Pepper’s Porch, Bluffton
What to expect: Start with the “can’t choose platter” of bacon-wrapped scallops, deviled eggs, fried pickles, and fried green tomatoes. Then sample the shrimp and grits cooked in brown bacon gravy.
Check it out: 1255 May River Road; 843/757-2295 or peppersporch.com
Whaley’s at Edisto Beach, Edisto Beach
What to expect: This old filling station serves to-die-for fresh local shrimp on cheesy grits. Other divine offerings include crab cakes, pan-seared mahi mahi, and linguine with clam sauce.
Check it out: 2801 Myrtle Street; 843/869-2161 whaleyseb.com
Bowens Island, near Folly Beach
What to expect: This legendary wreck of a place with great fried shrimp and, in season, roasted oysters, has reopened after a 2006 fire. Those nice, new walls are just begging to be covered with graffiti.
Check it out: 1870 Bowens Island Road; 843/795-2757 or bowensislandrestaurant.com
The Sea Shack, Hilton Head Island
What to expect: Wonderful fried seafood cooked to order and served hot. The crab cake doesn’t thrill us, but we love everything else―especially a creamy chowder called Seafood Stir-A-Bout.
Check it out: 6 Pope Avenue, Executive Park Road; 843/785-2464
The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene, Mount Pleasant
What to expect: You may get lost looking for the place, but the fried seafood is worth it.
Check it out: 106 Haddrell Street; 843/884-0052 or wreckrc.com
Orobosa’s Lowcountry Café, Pawleys Island
What to expect: While this dive’s atmosphere is casual, the crab cakes and other offerings will please the most sophisticated palates. At lunch, enjoy gourmet food on a budget. Prices double when the sun goes down, and dinner crowds make reservations a must.
Check it out: 85 North Causeway Road; 843/235-3464
The Shrimp Shack, St. Helena Island
What to expect: All the shrimp dishes are great, but you gotta get the shrimp burger.
Check it out: 1925 Sea Island Parkway; 843/838-2962
Russell’s Seafood Grill & Raw Bar, South Murrells Inlet
What to expect: Oyster stew, then broiled seafood, then Key lime pie. Just-right meal.
Check it out: 4906 Business Highway 17; 843/651-0553
SeeWee Restaurant, Awendaw
What to expect: South Carolina Light, part-cornmeal breading keeps their amazing fried calamari tasting fresh, not greasy. And we love the rémoulade dipping sauce! Get the tartar and cocktail sauces, too; they’re all homemade and add just the right amount of zest. Enjoy the sea breezes at picnic tables under the live oaks.
Check it out: 4808 Hwy. 17 North; 843/928-3609