• Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant
  • Bowens Island Restaurant

Bowens Island Restaurant

1870 Bowens Island Road, Charleston, SC 29412

icon-phone843-795-2757

icon-ratings-reviewsRatings & Reviews

92%

92% Positive Reviews

Read Reviews >

icon-welcomeWelcome

Recognized as an American classic by numerous media outlets and publications, Bowens Island restaurant has been serving the best seafood since 1946. A recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award and ranked #4 in Best Seafood Restaurants by USA today, you won’t have to travel far for casual low country dining and good fellowship at its best. Famous for its legendary locally harvested, roasted oysters and lightly battered shrimp, locals and travelers alike will find themselves immersed in a panoramic view of rivers, abundant wildlife and spectacular sunsets. A simple place with traditional fare and an unforgettable ambiance, come and join Bowens Island Restaurant - an island, a restaurant, a state of mind.

icon-locationLocation

1870 Bowens Island Road, Charleston, SC 29412

Get Directions

icon-dining-amenitiesDining Amenitiesicon-chevron-down

icon-cuisine-typeCuisine Type
Seafood
icon-meals-servedMeals Served
Dinner
icon-hoursHours
Tues-Sat • 5:00 pm-9:30 pm
icon-pricePrice
$$
icon-attireAttire
Casual
icon-valetParking Details
Lot
icon-dining-informationDining Information
Full Service Bar
Gluten Free Options
Heart Smart Options
Indoor/Outdoor Dining
Take Out Meals
icon-lounge-barLounge/Bar
Yes
icon-additional-servicesAdditional Services
On-Premises Catering
Private Parties
Private Rooms
icon-payment-detailsPayment Details
American Express
Visa
Mastercard
Discover

icon-chef-infoChef Info

History of Bowens Island Restaurant

Sarah May (1908-1990) and Jimmy (1898-1986) Bowen purchased the island in 1946 when they started a primitive fish camp. Their chef was a Navy man John Sanka (1912-1985). Early on they used cast-iron skillets to cook their fishing customers' catch. The use of the skilelts continued until Mrs. Bowen's death in 1990. In addition to fish, they served roasted oysters, fried and boiled shrimp, homemade crabcakes, fried chicken, hush puppies and small sweet pickles. No french fries, salad or ketchup were available initially.

Jimmy or John steam-roasted the oysters on an outside open pit. In the late-1950s "the Oyster Room" was constructed with a permanent pit inside. Locally harvested oysters were dumped onto a sheet of steel and covered by wet burlap sacks. A blazing wood fire the pit did the rest. No customer was permitted into the Oyster Room who was not eating oysters.

May developed a technique of a very lightly battered fried shrimp. Many old timers swear that her fried shimp were the best anywhere. The old skillet was part of the secret.

The restaurant has had to modernize, especially after a fire in the 2006. (Now we have a great ramp up the new dining room and deck in addition to steps. Kids love the ramp!) However, the tradition of the roasted oysters and perfectly battered shrimp contintues today. Robert Barber, one of May's and Jimmy's grandchildren, operates the restaurant today. Having grown up in the restaurant, the former practicing attorney, continues the Bowens' practice of simplicity in preparing some of the best seafood anywhere, still served on paper palates and the coldest beverages anywhere, along with an unmatched sunset and spectacular views from the new deck.

icon-tagsTags

bowens island restaurant, james beard award recepient, locally harvested, oysters, fried shrimp, island, waterfront dining, dinner, outdoor dining, gluten free options, heart smart options, take out meals, full bar, private parties, private rooms

icon-megaphoneSocial Media

icon-websiteWebsite

Visit Now >

icon-facebook-outlineFacebook