Ambiance is an essential ingredient in creating a great dining experience. When Mother Nature and a human touch join forces to create that ambiance, dining out is elevated to a special occasion.
Al fresco dining in South Carolina has a reputation for embodying it all: great eats, relaxed surroundings and mood-enhancing scenery. Here is a sampling of some of our most popular establishments for outdoor dining, many of which offer seating year-round thanks to portable heating sources and firepits.
Hilton Head Island
A longtime Hilton Head Island staple, Old Oyster Factory operates on the site of a former oyster cannery with waterfront deck dining. Feast for the eyes: Dine overlooking Broad Creek and the marsh. Feast for the palate: Fresh local oysters, Lowcountry seafood gumbo, blackened Carolina catfish
Historic former oyster house Hudson's on the Docks is famous for locally sourced seafood and dock dining with fabulous sunsets. Feast for your eyes: Drink in views of Skull Creek (Intracoastal Waterway) and Port Royal Sound. Feast for your palate: Lowcountry boil, fried green tomatoes, stuffed flounder, steamed oysters
The oldest Harbour Town restaurant, CQ's serves fine cuisine with locally sourced ingredients and intimate patio dining. Feast for the eyes: Dine beneath graceful live oaks strung with romantic lights. Feast for the palate: Grand Marnier short ribs, seared ahi tuna, Butcher Block prime pork chop
A landmark restaurant, Peninsula Grill boasts an enchanting hidden courtyard reminiscent of the Charleston of days past. Feast for your eyes: Get cozy amidst the gaslight lanterns, wrought iron gates, brick walkway and lush foliage. Feast for your palate: Burgundy escargot, Kansas City strip steak with signature steak sauce, Ultimate Coconut Cake
Hotel Emeline's Frannie & the Fox offers a stylish dining room as well as a gorgeous courtyard in which to enjoy Italian-inspired dishes. Feast for your eyes: The inviting outdoor fireplace is the focal point when you dine or do apps and drinks amid the lush courtyard foliage. Feast for your palate: Beef and pork meatballs, rigatoni with braised lamb ragu, fennel sausage pizza with provolone and red onion
A waterfront seafood establishment with maritime vibe and plenty of outdoor seating on the marsh, Fleet Landing is a downtown favorite. Feast for the eyes: Delight in generous views of Charleston Harbor and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Feast for the palate: Stuffed hush puppies, she crab soup, crispy flounder with apricot glaze, Charleston red rice
Award-winning rooftop restaurant and bar. the Rooftop at Vendue serves lunch and dinner in historic downtown. Feast for the eyes: Take in the Charleston skyline, views of Charleston Harbor, Riley Waterfront Park and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Feast for the palate: Crack fries (bacon, cheese, onion, jalapeño), Mediterranean grilled chicken salad, cheddar bacon burger
An outdoor arm of Pawleys Island's highly regarded Frank's, Frank's Outback features a garden setting, impressive service and award-winning cuisine. Feast for the eyes: Dine under a canopy of trees warmed by an outdoor fireplace and intimate lighting. Feast for the palate: Goat cheese fritters, hoisin-marinated shrimp, oven-roasted rack of lamb, wood-fired pizza
A contemporary boardwalk establishment with sweeping beach views, RipTydz has a nautical theme and ample outdoor seating. Feast for your eyes: Enjoy unobstructed shoreline views as well as activity on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Ocean Boulevard. Feast for your palate: Fish tacos, shrimp scampi sandwich, crab and lobster steamer, garlic teriyaki pork chop
A Murrells Inlet MarshWalk staple, Drunken Jack's serves fresh seafood dishes, creative cocktails and scenic dining on the deck. Feast for your eyes: Soak in views of the serene marshlands, festive boat traffic, MarshWalk activity and the beloved antics happening on adjacent Goat Island, home to frolicking goats during the warm-weather months. Feast for your palate: Inlet Po’ Boys, fried creek shrimp, prime rib, shrimp and grits
French-influenced Passerelle Bistro in downtown Greenville delivers tantalizing views and cuisine. Feast for the eyes: Fall in love with gorgeous views of the Reedy River and Falls Park. Feast for the palate: Croque Monsieur, bouillabaisse, creme brulee
Head to UP on the Roof atop of Embassy Suites for a peak Greenville experience and sensational sunsets. Feast for the eyes: Savor impressive vistas of downtown, the Reedy River and Blue Ridge Mountains. Feast for the palate: Korean tacos, deviled eggs, pimento cheeseburger
A multi-vendor outdoor space and live entertainment venue, Gather GVL is kid-friendly and dog-friendly (Tuesday through Friday). Feast for the eyes: Enjoy sports on big-screen TVs, bands on stage and people watching. Feast for the palate: Lobster rolls from The Lobfather, fried chicken and doughnuts from Hendough, hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches from Rocky Moo.
An outdoor venue with gourmet kitchen, retail market, bar and entertainment, Market on Main is a favorite capital city gathering spot. Feast for your eyes: Take in movies and sports events aired on a 23-foot Jumbotron, live entertainment, vibrant green space. Feast for your palate: Two-fisted burgers, avocado naan with candied bacon, gourmet grilled cheese
Hip eats with Latin-Asian flavor are served on the patio of Publico. Dine at a table or, in winter months, in an igloo - a clear-covered, heated outdoor pod great for intimate al fresco dining. Feast for your eyes: Revel in the festively lit igloos, bustling crowds and energetic cityscape. Feast for your palate: Tuna poke bowl, Peruvian chicken, Cuban nachos, chicken tinga quesadilla
Classic French and Italian cuisine with a Southern vibe is a specialty of Saluda's, which is headquartered in a century-old building with an inviting second-floor balcony for outdoor dining. Feast for your eyes: Relish the green foliage and romantic fountain view. Feast for your palate: Fried deviled eggs, apple cider-brined pork chop, bacon gouda mac and cheese