I love Hyman's and so does my family! We have celebrated births, birthdays, anniversaries, and engagements there for the last almost 20 years, and will continue to go for as long as we can. The food is truly indicative to what we Charlestonians are, down home cooking done in an southern fashion and flair, clean and modest, and the epitome of seafood in the south. Mind you, the sandwiches are too huge to mention and taste absolutely wonderful! The best sweet tea around, absolutely amazing Bloody Mary's for brunch and hush puppies that will shut your mouth. They now offer our own FireFly Distillery concoctions and the Blackberry Moonshine Margherita is my absolute favorite!! Let the hater's hate, they're always going to have to about something, but for those of us that LOVE our southern ways and seafood, Hyman's is the place to go to get the best Seafood any way you want it, Cold sweet tea for a hot day, and a lovely view of our favorite market streets!! To me Hyman's is already " Institutional Status"!!
I stopped ordering sandwiches at Hyman's because they would always wrap the pickle with the fries, making the pickle hot and the fries pickley... No matter how many times I complained, it kept happening.
As a tour guide, I tell people that Charleston has so many great restaurants, that if they ask you to wait in line, they're too busy for your business. If you catch Hyman's with a short wait, fine - it's decent enough, but nothing special. If they want you to wait half an hour (not uncommon), there are many much better places to eat within a short walk.
I'm willing to grant Hyman's "Institutional Status" as a Charleston landmark, but nothing there ever made me feel like I had to go back.
I have visited Charleston including Hyman's. I did so on recommendation of a relative. I however will say that people need to make their own judgements on anything. I was not disappointed. I do not think I have heard people say they got sick or it was terrible. People are going and returning. I had seafood else where in Charleston too. I think Charleston as a whole is a tourist trap if you want to start judging. I had a great time in the area. I say go for it and experience the food and atmosphere and just enjoy life. You will pay money and get food in your belly.
Sometimes I just want to eat fried shrimp and scallops with collards. I want to eat it in a place that is clean, has good service and seems to appreciate my presence. Hyman's is that (and more on the menu). My husband refuses to eat at the "tourist trap", so when I go, I must go with others. I am never disappointed. Unfortunately, when my husband picks where we go, that he deems is "Not a tourist trap" and has "good seafood", I always seem to leave annoyed by bad service, disappointed by poor quality food or both. I am always annoyed by the bill. Hyman's is great. I think Charlestonians biggest problem with Hyman's is it's unabashed marketing. The stickers, the stuff on the walls, the exit through the gift shop. They prefer a snobbish demeanor.
I've been going to Hyman's since they first opened. They've seldom failed to please my guests & me. My late FIL loved their whole flounder. The only item on their menu I won't eat is tilapia. I don't eat tilapia anywhere, though.
Hyman's gets an A+ rating from me for their good food & even better staff.
Hyman's is what it is...Not expensive...OK food....Lack of really caring by the line cooks is obvious...Butter won't melt on a baked potato! Yikes...Volume is their thing...We know that...It is a 5 on a scale of 10...don't expect much and you won't be comparing to others that want to gouge your wallet...
I've gone to Hymans several times through out the years, mostly with guests from out of town. I like to show it off as a reasonably priced local seafood restaurant; where the food and service is always great. There are lots of great seafood restaurants in downtown Charleston, but most are pricy. Hymans is a great value, has it's own ambiance (so does Bowens Island) and I've always found the food very good. Eli is making it an institution.
List most people I know, I've only known of Hyman's as a tourist Trap. And as such, in 20 years in Charleston I've never eaten there. And I don't know that I recall ever hearing from anyone I know about the food. But...after reading this article I am doing to try it sooner or later and I'll report back.
Wonderful article, good to see that Hyman's Seafood is getting recognized once again as a great restaurant for a complete experience.
I probably have eaten there over 50 times, and maybe I've had bad service twice but the food was always delicious and if it was not, they, the staff , brought out another plate of food to replace whatever I was eating.
If You like soft shell crab, oysters, scallops, great beer and wine selections then it's a great place to visit, nothing fancy just good
Your wise legal advice on statue of limitations is criminal. Which law firm are you with again?
Likely there is a good reason why he decided to settle his one million dollar lawsuit, which only went back three years or so due to statute of limitations.
Enjoy your free crab dip.
Wow, I feel like I owe the place another visit or two. I am guilty of being one of those who,insist that Hymans is a tourist trap and no self respecting local eats there. Thanks for the article. I am going to go soon and hopefully leave with an appreciation for what the place is. I'm not afraid to admit I was wrong. Thanks!
Hyman's is fine. Not too expensive, not extravagant, great location and great marketing. They are a tourist trap... they soak up hordes of tourists and give them a nice experience that overall adds to the charm of Charleston. Our downtown economy thrives on tourism, so Hyman's is doing their part to fertilize the soil. It benefits them to be certain, but they do a good job with their role.
So I agree that they should accept their status: wildly successful feeder of seafood to tourists, trinket vendor extraordinaires, and not fret too much that locals aren't beating down the door. At worst: Hyman's is a genuinely local, independent business that keeps the lines at your preferred, less-famous place shorter.
I have heard the 'Tourist Trap' rap about Hyman's. However, I have never eaten there. This article has turned my head a bit and I may go try it for myself. He seems like a legit guy and I respect that he did the other employees right with that lawsuit. That earned him a chance in my book. I was unaware of all of this until I read this piece.
Re: Back of house tip -- Wait until you have one imperfectly cleaned load of glasses come up (not a threat; if the drain backs up w/ loose food and you're slammed, it can happen), and see how important having a competent dish washer is to making your tip.
The problem is how rarely wait staff recognize quality back-of-house staff. I used to do a little extra bussing while working at Four Corners if I had time, and the staff there would notice and tip out. If that's not happening, depending on how much of your tips were pooled, a little sharing isn't unfair. Just a few bucks -- literally just one four-top's tips -- can make a pretty big difference for those making minimum or near minimum wage.
I wonder how much Hyman's required folks to split.
In any event, I've been going since 1990 when I can. It's been fun to watch the restaurant eat buildings, and I have, to date, always enjoyed eating there myself.
I had the keychain that let you skip the crowd back in the day. I might still have it around somewhere. I didn't know they have a locals card now too!
I get so tired of people saying "don't go to Hyman's, it's a tourist trap." I gave five step-on trolley tours in one day back in January and the people on the bus (LOL) kept saying that a server at so-and-so told us not to go there.
After the second tour I flat out told the third through fifth that I grew up here and I love Charleston and Hyman's is a great restaurant. If you are looking for fancy frou-frou foodie food then you might try elsewhere, chances are good you'll be happy with your dining experience most anywhere in Charleston.
If you are looking for good seafood in a non-pretentious, non-gentrified restaurant where the owners walk around and check on you (TBonz is good at this too, BTW), then Hyman's is the place to go.
Once a few years back, I lunched at Hyman's with friends and the boiled peanuts needed just a few more minutes of boiling and soaking. I told Eli and he promptly thanked me and brought a bowl of peanuts from a different pot. He said, "I appreciate you telling me, we want everyone to have the best experience here and a lot of our customers have never tasted a boiled peanut. We want their first taste to be perfect." -- note this is not an exact quote but it's pretty close, my mind remembers details.
BZ to Hyman's!
PS: I'm sorry they got sued but tip pooling sucks. I remember waiting on tables and having to share/pool tips and it upset me since tips are a reflection on how good YOU the server works. Having to pool tips with Joe Bagadonuts who rarely refills waters or teas and puts his thumb in the plate of grits is not fair. And to share with the back of the house staff never made sense to me. I'd tip the person who helped keep my tables clean and ready for the next diners myself, based on how well they did their job and kept my tips coming in!
I think I see a burgeoning business opportunity for Mike Kulick.
Thanks for not killing us by using science.
Yes Craig Deihl is a great chef, local star and all-around "nice guy", it's great that he is "chef at Cypress and Artisan Meat Share and a founding member of the Butcher's Guild," but if he's a superstar and can't pass regulations that other locals have been able to accomplish in the course of almost a year it seems that he has some deficiencies the others don't or he's a whining prima-dona, or the victim of well-meaning but clueless sycophants writing a supportive column.
Too bad CP didn't come talk to us. We jumped through the hoops and got our HACCP plans together. It took us 8 months of hurry-up-and-wait back and forth with Columbia, laboratory product assessments to verify our methodology was sound, and HACCP training seminars for the management and staff. The end result is fantastic artisnal products that we guarantee won't kill you.
It's not just about filling in the paperwork, it's about advanced understanding of the microbiology and physical and chemical controls involved.
We're now working towards wholesale and hope to be able to produce custom products for chefs who can't put the time and treasure into developing their own plans.
Meathouse Butcher Shop
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