By Hope S. Philbrick
The Lowcountry, the U.S. East Coast ecosystem shared exclusively by South Carolina and Georgia, is home to spectacular scenery (in every season), bountiful seafood (oysters, grouper, scallops, triggerfish, and so much more), authentic Southern hospitality (I’ve made genuine friends), diverse history, fun things to do, and my personal favorite dish of all time (shrimp & grits). Send me on assignment to the Lowcountry and I’ve won the work lottery.
Among its many charms, South Carolina’s Hammock Coast will put some very good tastes in your mouth.
If there’s a better way to satisfy an appetite than with authentic Lowcountry cuisine, I haven’t found it yet. These restaurants are just four of the delicious reasons to dig into the Hammock Coast.
Chive Blossom Restaurant & Bar is owned and operated by husband and wife team Paul Kelly (a graduate of the French Culinary Institute of New York) and Trina Renualt, who co-chef to bring fine dining to Pawleys Island. The menu features Southern classics with Mediterranean, French and Asian influences. Only the freshest ingredients are used; the menu changes often since it’s driven by locally-sourced seafood, meats, and produce. Trina’s crab soup is local legend. Mouthwatering creations like tomato saffron stew, okra pancakes, creamed corn cornbread, and parmesan polenta can excite your taste buds even while reading the menu and then impress with each bite. You can’t go wrong with any order, but if you feel overwhelmed by the temptations try picking an entrée based on its paired side dishes. Odds are, you’ll have to resist the urge to lick your plate.
Dead Dog Saloon is a hotspot with heart. Located on the Marshwalk in Murrells Inlet, it’s been featured on the Travel Channel and in Southern Living magazine and routinely draws crowds. But it also has a sentimental side: Its walls are adorned with framed photos of dogs, all of which were brought to the restaurant by loving owners whose best furry friend has died, as a memorial. (Bring a framed photo (4×6 or 5×7) photo of your deceased buddy to join the honor.) It’s so meaningful to people that after an accidental fire burned the restaurant down in 2012, many patrons brought replacement photos of their dogs to redecorate the rebuilt restaurant. The Dead Dog Saloon is a full-service family-friendly restaurant with three bars, lots of large-screen HD TVs, and live musical entertainment. The eclectic menu has something for everyone and the food is reliably high quality and perfectly prepared. Odds are, you’ll want to sit and stay.
Rustic Table is co-owned by Chef Adam Kirby, one of South Carolina’s leading chefs and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu of the Western Culinary Institute. The menu at this casual eatery in Pawleys Island showcases Lowcountry classics as well as Southern and American favorites. Brunch options include shrimp & grits (this version features a white wine and lemon sauce); “Adam’s Omelet” made with local shrimp, spinach, tomato, and goat cheese; corned beef hash and eggs; pancakes; plus a variety of salads and sandwiches, among other dishes that range from sweet to savory. Odds are, even if you’re still stuffed from brunch, you’ll be ready to return at dinnertime just for the chance to taste some more.
Wicked Tuna Grill Sushi Bar offers fresh “from hook to plate” seafood in Murrells Inlet. “Every week our fishing fleet heads out to the Atlantic ocean sourcing the freshest grouper, mahi mahi, seabass, and snapper off the Carolina coast,” explains the restaurant website. “Every fish we serve is caught local by our own boats and then cleaned and prepped on-site in our Fish House before bringing it upstairs to the kitchen. From there, our master chefs prepare exciting culinary experiences matched only by our breathtaking views.” From fish tacos to shrimp & grits, sushi to fried seafood, there’s something on the menu to please any palate at this casual eatery. Odds are, you’ll love whatever is on the plate in front of you, yet crave at least a bite of every other dish you see.
My advice when traveling to the Hammock Coast: Arrive hungry—and bring a cooler so you can tote home some fresh seafood from one of the local fishmongers.
Inlet Sports Lodge
4600 US-17 Business
Murrells Inlet SC 29576
Clean, cozy accommodations with free parking and easy access to all the Hammock Coast has to offer. Opt for a room with a kitchenette if you want to heat up any leftovers or store seafood in a full-size refrigerator.
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.