Muscles at Pearlz

Muscle Strength

Pearlz specializes in raw oysters, eclectic menu

By Michelle Boudin | Photos by Ray Sepesy

They call it the eclectic little oyster bar, and there’s good reason why. Pearlz serves up a smorgasbord of seafood, regional dishes and craft cocktails.

The restaurant’s focal point is a raw bar where you can sit and watch as workers shuck and prepare your oysters. The original Pearlz Oyster Bar opened in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, on East Bay Street more than 10 years ago and has been popular in that foodie capital. That’s why the folks behind the StoneCrest shopping center reached out to the owners of Pearlz two years ago, asking them to set up shop there. They opened six months later.

“It seemed like a great fit. We love the area — it’s just wonderful,” says Pearlz Marketing Manager Liza Millsaps.

While Pearlz is part of a larger restaurant group, it feels more like a local hot spot thanks to its laidback, comfy vibe. You’ll see families, business people and homemakers attired in everything from tights and jeans to suits and ties.

While other Pearlz locations (there’s another in the Charleston suburbs and one in Columbia, South Carolina) are only open in the evenings, the StoneCrest location is open at lunch. Happy hour, though, is when the place really draws a crowd. The bar offers a mix of cold beers and craft cocktails and tends to fill up quickly with the after-work set. There are nightly specials from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the week.

Seafood Smorgasboard
Oysters, shrimp, oyster shooters and more make for a mouth-watering menu.

The raw oysters are clearly the main draw, and the menu changes depending on the season — sometimes the day. “We feature oysters from all over — from Virginia, from the Gulf Coast, from South Carolina,” Millsaps says. Don’t worry, though, if oysters aren’t your thing. There’s a changing menu of fresh seafood based on what’s delivered to the restaurant the night before.

The “Mussels and Brussels” dish began as a nightly special and quickly evolved to a staple and fan favorite. The chef mixes fresh Prince Edward Island mussels with local Brussel sprouts, chorizo and a sofrito sauce containing tomatoes and capers.

Want to drink your oyster? Another popular choice is an oyster shooter that mixes pepper vodka, horseradish and a spicy cocktail sauce. It’s so popular that it was featured on the Food Network. “Yeah, people tend to talk a lot about those,” Millsaps says.

Located on a corner next to Dean & Deluca, Pearlz is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. The kitchen closes at 10 each evening, but raw oysters are available until closing.