Classic Eats is a new series about old-school and beloved Southern dining establishments. Do you have suggestions? Leave them in the comments.
Bowen’s Island Restaurant was opened in 1946 by May and Jimmy Bowen on their family property. It was a ramshackle concrete building next to the water where generations of guests would sign their names on the walls and tables. Grandson, and local politician, Robert Barber took over and still runs the place. A fire devastated the property in 2006, but Bowen’s has since rebuilt.
The restaurant has won awards and accolades from everyone from Southern Living to the James Beard Foundation’s American Classic award and has been featured countless times on the Travel Channel. It plays host to events with other award winning chefs.
Oyster lovers should order them here, as they’re taken right from the ocean underneath the restaurant, roasted in large vats like the one pictured above and brought to your table by the shovel full on newspaper. If you’re not into oysters, try the lowcountry boil or fried seafood.
If You Go
Bowen’s Island Restaurant is located at 1870 Bowens Island Road, an unpaved path off Folly Road on James Island. From downtown Charleston, take the James Island Expressway off Calhoun Street. Continue on the expressway until you reach Folly Road. Take a left and continue until you reach Bowen’s Island Road on the right. Continue down the dirt road past the “End County Maintenance” sign until you dead end at the restaurant. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5-10 pm. Bowen’s doesn’t take debit cards, so bring cash.