Generations of locals and tourists alike flock to the Bowen’s Island Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, which has been featured on countless television shows and movies including Outer Banks, Dear John, Southern Charm, and Man vs. Food.
The restaurant has won awards and accolades from everyone from Southern Living to the James Beard Foundation’s American Classic award and plays host to events with other award-winning chefs during the annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival.
The History of Bowen’s Island Restaurant
Bowen’s Island Restaurant was opened in 1946 by May and Jimmy Bowen on their family property on a 13-acre stretch of land between James Island and Folly Beach. 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 dock house and added the deck house, expanding the seating options.
What to Eat at Bowen’s Island Restaurant
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. There’s even an all-you-can-eat option!
If you’re not into oysters, Bowen’s Island Restaurant has a number of classic Charleston dishes, including shrimp and grits and Lowcountry boil, also called Frogmore stew, a combination of shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausage.
Fried seafood platters are a popular choice, including shrimp, fish, oysters, and crab cakes with French fries, hushpuppies, and coleslaw. The restaurant also has a full bar with local beer (including an oyster stout made with Bowen’s oysters!) and spirits.
Tips for Visiting Bowen’s Island Restaurant
Bowen’s Island Restaurant is located at 1870 Bowens Island Road, an unpaved path off Folly Road on James Island. If you pass Crosby’s Seafood on the right, you’ve gone too far. Continue down the dirt road past the “End County Maintenance” sign until you dead end at the restaurant.
The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5-19:30 pm. Bowen’s Island doesn’t take debit cards, so bring cash. Park in the unpaved lot on crushed oyster shells.