Routinely voted the best seafood restaurant in the South, Hyman’s Seafood (215 Meeting St., 843/723-6000, www.hymanseafood.com , Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sun. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., $14–25) is thought by many locals to border on a tourist trap. That said, this is a genuine tradition—rest assured that some member of the same family that began Hyman’s in 1890 will be on the premises any time it’s open for business. To keep things manageable, Hyman’s offers the same menu and prices for both lunch and dinner.
After asking for some complimentary fresh boiled peanuts in lieu of bread, start with the Carolina Delight, a delicious app (also available as an entrée) involving a lightly fried cake of grits topped with your choice of delectable seafood, or maybe a half-dozen oysters from the Half Shell oyster bar. In any case, definitely try the she-crab soup, some of the best you’ll find anywhere. As for entrées, the ubiquitous Lowcountry crispy scored flounder is always a good bet, as is any fish special; but the real action at Hyman’s comes from anything that has a shell.
Alas, this establishment, popular with locals and tourists as well as the occasional movie star (Anthony Hopkins, Barbra Streisand, Mel Gibson), rock band (AC/DC, Metallica), and astronaut (Neil Armstrong) doesn’t take reservations, so budget your time accordingly. Lunch crowds are generally lighter, though that’s a relative term.
Perhaps only in Charleston  would the best-known Irish pub also be one of its better seafood restaurants. But then again, Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub (160 Church St., 843/577-3818, www.tommycondons.com , dinner Sun.–Thurs. until 10 p.m., Fri. and Sat. until 11 p.m., bar daily until 2 a.m., $13–20) is unusual in a lot of ways: Irish in a town that tends to celebrate all things English and French, and fairly expensive in a town where pub food is surprisingly reasonable for the high quality. The best picks are the shepherd’s pie and the shrimp and grits. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous and/or have had a few Guinnesses, try the Irish nachos, featuring the usual ingredients but on fried potatoes instead of tortilla chips.