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Apr 23, 2014 09:18 AM

Two Charleston-area questions

Hi there! I'm taking my mother to Charleston this weekend to celebrate a big birthday. We've been before and had a great time, so the trip will involve some return visits (McCrady's, See-Wee). But we're also hoping to go a little farther afield this time, and was hoping you folks might be able to help.

I've done my due diligence in researching on this board, but am still scratching my head over two things:

1.) If you could only go to one out-of-town BBQ joint, would you eat at Scott's or McCabe's? (or Sweatman's? From what I could tell, people seemed to have cooled on it)

2.) Where would you go for no-frills seafood, preferably with a view? People seem to be very mixed about the Wreck and Bowens Island Restaurant, but that's generally the category of thing we're looking for (seafood shack with oysters, shrimp boil, fried stuff). We have a reservation at the Ordinary for Sunday, so our fancy seafood needs are covered.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Hmm..Scott's or McCabe's..sorta depends.. McCabe's has a small buffet and dining room..Scott's is take-out only and about all they sell is meat and sliced bread..if your coming down I-95 my rec is to hit McCabe's and sample the buffet then drive over to Hemingway and pick up a pound (or 2) to snack on later..hint: the pork rinds at Scott's are very good so pick up a baggie (or 2) and get a loaf of bread.. If I recall both places are cash only (local checks accepted at McCabe's)...I know that didn't answer your question but that's the way I'd do it...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cpt Wafer

      this is very helpful, thanks! I hadn't realized Scott's was takeout only.

    2. Of the barbecue places you mention, I firmly choose McCabes. Sweatman's just isn't what I hope it will be any time I go (I've been more than once). Scott's would be really good if it wasn't for their sauce. He uses an ingredient in there that ruins it for me. McCabes just does it right, in my opinion (on the trips I've made there). Scott's & McCabes are vinegar based barbecue (Pee Dee style in SC). Sweatman's is mustard based (and not the best I've experienced). All three cook their pigs the right way, that I will not argue...and I salute them for it!

      As to Bowen's & The Wreck, they just don't do it for me. I'm as big of a fried seafood eater as anyone, but these places just beg for tourist dollars. Great marketing by someone for sure...kudos to them! At one you pay $18 for 4oz of fried shrimp & at the other you get a 1oz portion cup of slaw. I just feel ripped off at places like that...which is why I choose not to go. MANY people like both, so don't go on my opinion alone!

      I tend to buck popular opinion on many food issues, so don't worry about not agreeing with my posts.

      3 Replies
      1. re: JayL

        Thanks for the vote for McCabe's!

        If not Bowens Island or the Wreck, where do you go for your casual seafood fix?

        1. re: Quizrah

          Great more than five years here we don't have a "favorite" spot. The most popular places are the Wreck, Bowen's Island, & SeeWee. None of those rank high in our opinions. Again, we are in the minority with our feelings.

        2. re: JayL

          fwiw..totally agree with you re Sweatman's..for me it's a total waste of time and effort..

          as for Scott''s an "experience".. i suggest everyone go at least once..kinda like Cooper's store, which is on the other end of the spectrum..

        3. How about Shem Creek Bar & Grill? I've only been once. We had some good local oysters on the half and the view was lovely, overlooking the water. No frills, good service as I recall and a nice drive out to Mt. Pleasant. I thought the food was better than Bowen's & The Wreck, but certainly in the same class (average food, great view).

          I think SuefromMtP pointed us there some time ago.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lynnlato

            This looks right up our alley, thank you!

          2. Come on Jay.You are very free with BBQ recs but always tell us the places you DON"T like when it comes to fried seafood,so where do you go for fried seafood?


            1 Reply
            1. re: mollybelle

              We have gone to many places for fried seafood...most all we haven't returned.

              Believe me...if I had a recommendation, I'd give it.

            2. On the Bowen's Island question, i have only been once in all my years of eating in Charleston because you need the right combo of ingredients:
              1. oyster season, which I believe you are at the very end of.
              2. guests who are cool with only eating steamed oysters and drinking beer.
              3. making the drive out to Folly works with your schedule.

              If all that is true then you should go and you should time it for sunset and be prepared to wait in line. If you want more fancy or more choices, then I wouldn't do it. If you want to gorge on slightly muddy cluster oysters, then it's for you.

              2 Replies
              1. re: danna

                I think we'd meet all three conditions! I was just wondering if there was a place that locals recommended over Bowens, since not everybody seems to like it. You say you've only been once, though--is there a place you prefer?

                1. re: Quizrah

                  I personally really like Bowen's. We are generally in the area for a week in October and week at the end of June and over the past three years, I've eaten there 4 times. I think their fried shrimp is excellent...fresh, light, not greasy. The sides are fine but not amazing...decent fries and hushpuppies, and the tiny cup of slaw mentioned somewhere above..but then, I don't care for coleslaw anyway. I want to say when I ate there in October it was maybe $12 for 1/4 pound of shrimp with fries, hushpuppies, and slaw. It was a big enough plate of food that I was almost uncomfortably full when I left. Bowen's is not just about the seafood, though. It's the whole experience, and watching a sunset there on the creek is completely worth the drive out there. I will say that people tend to either love or hate it. My husband does not care for it at all, but others that I've taken out there have enjoyed it.