Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop

Chicken Dinner | Oyster Bar | Seafood
One of the best

Enter the words Leon’s, oyster, Charleston, and search engines return “Oyster Shop,” “Oyster Shed,” “Leon’s Oyster & Chicken” and “Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oysters.” They’re all the same establishment – a relatively new restaurant with a well-worn feel (located in an old garage) where the menu is traditional Lowcountry fare with modern chef brio and the attitude is urban-hip but Dixie-hospitable. Leon’s is an extremely casual place that has been scrupulously created to offer an experience that is in fact culinary theater.

I apologize for my inability to neatly categorize Leon’s. It is hard to describe because it is an original. Its laid-back attitude and snapped-to-attention menu have become a North Star of Charleston’s rampant restaurant scene, in particular the scene on North King Street (where other beacons have been opened by the same relentlessly creative restaurateur, Brooks Reitz).

The poultry part of the operation is fried chicken, and it is good: juicy, crisp-skinned, and glowing red with a fair measure of Nashville-style heat and spice. It’s sold as two pieces (white or dark), a half-bird, or whole, and is well accompanied by “old school” scalloped potatoes, black-eyed pea salad, and hush puppies with honey butter. Other swell side dishes include Brussels sprouts fried crisp in a tangy wine marinade and a refreshing cucumber salad with an Asian-flavored sesame-seed twist.

For oyster lovers, Leon’s is a blast. Of course, you can have them raw by the dozen on the half shell, opened to order — simple and impeccable. When I visited, shuckers were offering a sampler of four: two different oysters from South Carolina – both big and briny – plus one from Massachusetts that wasn’t quite as bold but had a more complex marine character and a Prince Edward Island lovely that was soft-flavored and ineluctably elegant. I could have eaten a dozen of these quartets, comparing and contrasting all afternoon, but duty demanded I also try some char-grilled oysters. Under a mantle of Parmesan cheese and butter, the seductive gleam of the oyster is blurred, but the swirl of oceanic sweetness, dairy richness, and smoky char is bewitching.

Not being a tippler, I can’t evaluate the adult-beverage menu, except to say that it’s bigger than the food menu and includes such intriguing categories as “Cheap Wine,” “Day Drinking,” and “Bold and Boozy.”

Thanks to Karl McMillan for directing us here.

What to Eat
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Char Grilled Oysters
Char Grilled Oysters
Butter and Parmesan cheese plus a shot of lemon add body and soul to char grilled oysters.
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Raw Oysters
Raw Oysters
Sampler: two from South Carolina on the left; Massachusetts at 5 o'clock, Prince Edward Island at 3.
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken
The red on fried chicken is no lie. It is hot and spicy.
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Fried Brussels Sprouts
Fried Brussels Sprouts
Red wine vinegar gives fried Brussels sprouts a tang.
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Blackeyed Pea Salad
Blackeyed Pea Salad
Pickles, peppers, and chives brighten blackeyed pea salad.
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Cucumber Salad
Cucumber Salad
Cucumber salad with shiso and sesame seeds offers a refreshing Asian twist.
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Fried Chicken Sandwich
Fried Chicken Sandwich
Fried chicken sandwich with cucumber salad in back
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Peugeot Seafood Tower
Peugeot Seafood Tower
Oysters, smoked mahi dip, pickled shrimp & remoulade
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Sampler Platter
Sampler Platter
Seafood sampler platter: It's all good.
Leon’s Poultry & Oyster Shop, Catfish
The catfish inside this well-seasoned coat is creamy white.
Directions and Hours
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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