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Hyman Seafood

213 Meeting St., Charleston, SC - (843) 723-6000
Posted By Michael Stern on 8/2/2005 6:41:00 PM
Here is what we didn't eat one recent evening at Hyman Seafood: amberjack, cod, flounder, mahi, mako, monkfish, snapper, hokie, salmon, tilapia, trout, tuna, and black drum. Those were the fish of the day on the blackboard, and below them were grouper, stuffed wahoo, and fried lobster tails, which we didn't sample, either. Local oysters were coming in and available on the half-shell or fried, and we didn't even have appetite enough for them. The point is that Hyman has a big, big menu – mostly seafood, with a few token meats and pastas – and it's bound to be a little frustrating to pass up so many good things.

What we DID have was swell: she-crab soup that is ridiculously thick, rich as cream sauce itself and loaded with meat; a broad dish with thirty steamed spiced shrimp, and a house specialty, crispy flounder. The flounder is an amazing-looking plate of food: the whole fish, beheaded and dressed, scored and fried to crusty succulence so that the meat virtually pops off the bone when you poke it with a fork. It comes with a small ramekin of hot pepper jelly, plus hushpuppies and cole slaw. And the table is outfitted with tartar sauce and cocktail sauce for garnishes.

Hyman's is big, boisterous, and almost always crowded. Waits of a half hour or more are not uncommon on a busy evening. At the door you are greeted by a cadre of girls who look up at a closed-circut TV screen that scans the ground floor and upstairs dining rooms for empty tables. They direct you inside. Tables range from normal-level to several tall ones that require climbing up onto a chair similar to a barstool. Somehow, these perches provide a better sense of ambience, as you have a fuller view of the commotion in the dining room, the way a high vehicle gives you better perspective on traffic.

The dining room is ancient, featuring tin ceilings, pine floors, and old English bricks with oyster mortar; and while the restaurant itself dates back only to 1986, the Hyman family's ancestors have been running a business here since 1890, when they became one of the first distributors of Hanes underwear in the Southeast.

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Scorecard

3 - Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Crispy Flounder
She Crab Soup
Shrimp & Grits
Steamed Shrimp
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Bigger than its plate, this whole fried flounder is a breeze to eat. Those succulent chunks of meat lift off the skeleton with the greatest of ease.
"Bigger than its plate, this whole fried flounder is a breeze to eat. Those succulent chunks of meat lift off the skeleton with the greatest of ease."
Michael Stern





The crispy flounder comes with pepper-hot jelly to garnish the hunks of meat.
"The crispy flounder comes with pepper-hot jelly to garnish the hunks of meat."
Michael Stern


Thirty steamed shrimp: peel and eat!
"Thirty steamed shrimp: peel and eat!"
Michael Stern


A Charleston signature dish, she-crab soup is often spiked with sherry. We didn't taste any booze in this one, but it was loaded with crab meat.
"A Charleston signature dish, she-crab soup is often spiked with sherry. We didn't taste any booze in this one, but it was loaded with crab meat."
Michael Stern


For decades before the Hyman family turned this space into a seafood restaurant, they were known as a wholesale dry goods business. This Hanes ad on the wall goes back to the beginning of the last century.
"For decades before the Hyman family turned this space into a seafood restaurant, they were known as a wholesale dry goods business. This Hanes ad on the wall goes back to the beginning of the last century."
Michael Stern


The building that houses Charleston's immensely popular seafood restaurant has been a Hyman family enterprise for well over a century. The doorway is on the right of the photo.
"The building that houses Charleston's immensely popular seafood restaurant has been a Hyman family enterprise for well over a century. The doorway is on the right of the photo."
Michael Stern



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