Crab Cakes at Bowen’s Island Restaurant


Favorite Crab Cakes at Bowen’s Island Restaurant

My favorite crab cakes at Bowen’s Island Restaurant are straightforward and simple enough for even the most novice cook. So now’s the time to head out to Bowens Island for crab cakes with a view. If you love fresh from the sea blue crab, you’ll love dinner at this ramshackle building on the curve of Folly Creek.

Crab cakes 3

“Bowen’s Island” People either like it…or they don’t.”

This is just one of the signs hanging on the walls.

For about 60 years owner Robert Barber has been serving patrons the freshest, most delectable seafood  ever in this graffiti painted place with a breathtaking view.

There’s nothing fancy here, but the place is perfect for those who love their seafood served with a side of quaintness.

“The coastal regions of the Carolinas and Georgia – the Lowcountry – a region all about a sense of place and people who know how to take off their shoes and work their feet into the mud to feel for clams, catch a blue crab with a chicken neck, cast a shrimp net into the river and use their hands to pull oysters from the reef. Shrimp, Collards and Grits

Female copie

What others are saying:

The combination of fabulous crab, oysters and other seafood and its unusual atmosphere have earned it a boatload of honors.  Coastal Living and Southern Living magazine have named it one of the country’s Best Seafood Dives.  In 2006, the James Beard Foundation named it an American Classic restaurant.

Bowen’s sits on a 13-acre island that owner Robert Barber’s grandparents, May and Jimmy Bowen who bought in 1946 for $3,900.

Actually, the Bowens never intended to open a restaurant.  Instead they built a dock and set up a  fish camp.  But people began asking them to cook seafood and that was all it took.  Soon they were open for business!


Fire destroyed the restaurant in October of 2006, only months after Barber had traveled to New York to accept the Beard Foundation’s American Classics award. He appeared wearing his white shrimp boots with his tuxedo.  What a memorable event!

Once oyster season rolls around they serve an average of 170 bushels of oysters a week.  Oyster pickers gather them nearby, bring them in by the bushels, dump them on a slanted, cement wash basin where they are washed with water from the creek.

Washing them with salty water helps prevent diluting the mollusks’ natural salinity, Barber said, and. makes them tastier.


This recipe is inspired by Bowen’s Island Restaurant near Charleston. Bowen’s is a very unique experience! If you are looking for a true Lowcountry seafood experience, you cannot go wrong at Bowen’s.

According to the New York Times:

“It may be down and dirty, but the oyster roasts, fried shrimp and Frogmore stew at Bowens Island Restaurant have delighted generations of Charlestonians – witness the heaped shells alongside this graffiti-scarred shack on the marsh just two miles short of Folly Beach.”

Dock House a 1

My Favorite Crab Cakes

Inspired by an evening at Bowen’s Island Restaurant

Serves 6

1 pound colossal crabmeat

1 large egg

2 3/4 cups coarsely craushed saltine crackers (aabout 24 crackers)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustrd

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Canola oil for frying

Whisk together mayonnaise, egg, dijon, hot sauce, and Worcesterhsire. Gently fold in crackers and crabmeat.  Shape mixture into 6 (3-inch) patties.  Cover and chill 1 hour or until firm.

Mustard Sauce is optional and may be served on the side at the table

1/3 cup good mayonnaise

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup sour cream

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients, place in a bowl and serve on the side, if desired.


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