In a city with no shortage of places to dine, the newly minted Leon’s Oyster Shop in Charleston, South Carolina, is a scruffy but comfy jewel that lives up to its hype. Housed in a former auto shop, beloved Southern boys and Leon’s owners Brooks Reitz and Tim Mink opted to keep the name and honor the building’s former residents.
Perfectly disheveled, the interior is a quirky mix of decor elements, including a painting of R & B singer Ernie K-Doe, tiles featuring poultry designs, and boat-sized bathrooms. Flowing into an outdoor seating area, an array of mismatched seating ranges from church benches to metal lawn chairs.
Behind the bar you’ll find NOLA transplant and celebrity shucker Mike Rogers of Casamento’s fame cracking open the cult favorites, served three ways: raw, char-grilled, and as oysters Rockefeller. But the rest of the menu shouldn’t be overlooked. The chicken (dear God, the chicken) offers the perfect amount of crisp to counter the salty slurp of an oyster platter. The sandwiches (go with the fried oyster) and the starters and snacks help carry a killer menu that can easily transition from a quick grab-and-go lunch spot to a late-night dinner date. And in true NOLA fashion, the bar features an eclectic mix of expensive champagne and cheap beer—a $175 half-bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée to a $4 Abita Amber.
The much-anticipated restaurant is worthy of the wait, and well on its way to becoming a neighborhood favorite. Here’s a photo tour of the culinary offerings.