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What: It’s true Charleston doesn’t own the trademark on fried shrimp, but it is something special here. First, you’re mostly getting local shrimp—this is shrimping land, after all, and there are two seasons, May through August (for small brown shrimp) and September through December (for white shrimp)—and second, fried shrimp (and other seafood) in Charleston, when done well, is wonderfully light, almost tempura-like. It’s just too good to pass up.
Where: Family-run corner shop Dave’s Carry-Out Seafood (843-577-7943; 42 Morris St., map) isn’t much to look at, but it’s locally beloved for its fried-to-order food and intimate, ripe-for-story-telling atmosphere. The shrimp is local and fried to perfection, but you won’t want to limit yourself to just that here.
When: Tues-Fri, 11:30pm-3pm; Tues-Sat, 5pm-11pm (but the place tends to stay open later)
Order: Pictured is the seafood platter ($13)—notice it’s not called the “fried seafood platter,” as it goes without saying that (nearly) everything gets dunked in the fryer here—which consists of shrimp, scallops, fish (whiting), and a stuffed “deviled crab.” Typically it’s accompanied by fries, but we requested some delicious hoppin’ John, to keep things strictly local. This was a big plate of food, very enjoyable to eat. The fry was wonderfully delicate and perfectly uniform; the shrimp so good you could pop them whole, tails and all. The deviled crab reminded us of New England’s stuffie, or stuffed clam, only in crab form. Also consider the fried pork chop (or any protein) with the tasty, ham-speckled lima beans.
Alternatively: Fried shrimp is on a lot of menus around here, but among the better renditions is the dish we had at Bowens Island (843-795-2757; 1870 Bowens Island Rd., map), an informal indoor-outdoor restaurant overlooking the beautiful wetlands of the Lowcountry; the shrimp comes plentiful and bite-size, with delicious hush puppies (and, of course, lots of fries). Another good bet is the popular seafood joint The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene (106 Haddrell St., Mount Pleasant, map), in nearby Mount Pleasant.
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