Dining is an integral part of any vacation, and you can expect the best when staying on the Grand Strand. With more than 1,700 restaurants at your fingertips, there's an eatery to meet every craving and budget. Pizza? Tacos? Sushi? Got you covered. Southern? Pass the fried chicken and peas, please. Steak? Pick your cut. Shrimp? It's the specialty of the house. Considering the many options, the question is not so much what to eat but where to eat it.
The Grand Strand is home to a host of country cooking restaurants, where you can put an authentic taste of the South in your mouth. Whether you have a hankering for a barbecue sandwich, a slab of ribs, fried chicken or farm-fresh vegetables with cornbread, there's an eatery serving up the kind of comfort foods you're dreaming of. Visit Market Commons to indulge in buttermilk fried chicken and shrimp and grits at Tupelo Honey. Hickory-smoked meat platters with all the fixin's are yours for the asking at Myrtle Beach's Little Pigs, or go Texas-style with sliced brisket from Dickey's Barbecue Pit. Have some collards and cobbler with your barbecue, and chicken and dumplings at Simply Southern Smokehouse's country buffet. Don't dare pass up Pop Pop's Pit BBQ, where the melt-in-your-mouth brisket is smoked for 15 hours before hitting your plate.No matter how you spell it - BBQ, barbecue, barbeque, bar b que - it all means good eating.
Breakfast gets plenty of attention along the Grand Strand, with hundreds of diners and cafes throwing open their doors to the morning crowd. Fuel up for a busy day of shopping, watersports or golf at any of the area's many pancake houses. Olympic Flame Pancake House in downtown Myrtle Beach and Plantation Pancake House in Surfside are among those specializing in hot stacks, omelets and more. Waffle-worshipers will thrill to the wonders of the Cinnaroll, red velvet or coconut-banana waffles at Johnny D's.
Ready for a morning taste adventure? Duck into Myrtle Beach's Donut Man for fresh doughnuts slathered with all kinds of gooey glazes or stuffed with fresh strawberries, custards or cream. For lighter appetites, snag a freshly made bagel with your favorite schmear from Benjamin's Bakery & Café in Surfside, one of several bagel shops serving the beach crowd.
For savory Benedicts and creative omelets, head to Blueberry's Grill or any location of Eggs Up Grill. Eggs are also a house specialty at the quaint Coffee Break Café in Georgetown, with the creamy Yankee grits sharing top billing. Of course, you can always do as the French do and have an elegant breakfast. Try Croissants Bistro and Bakery in Myrtle Beach or Crepe Creation Cafe in Market Commons. From sweet to savory, there's a specialty crepe with your name on it. Breakfast at all these establishments is a hearty affair, so come hungry.
Burgers, Dogs and Such
A juicy burger or chili dog paired with an icy cold beverage captures the simple, easygoing flavor of beach life. Kick back in the casual atmosphere of a burger joint like Hamburger Joe's, where the meat is hand-patted and served hot off the grill. Nosh retro-style with a burger and shake at Burky's Grill in Myrtle Beach or check out the fun '50s atmosphere of Johnny Rocket's at Broadway at the Beach. Don't forget to order a scoop of chili on your fries. If hand-cut fries are a weakness, indulge your craving at any of the River City Café locations.
For a quintessential Grand Strand experience, down a foot-long or chili dog at either Peaches Corner on the strip in Myrtle Beach or Sam's Corner in Garden City. The prices are easy on the wallet, and the people-watching is free.
Flavors of the World
Grand Strand restaurants represent a diverse range of tastes to satisfy every appetite. Savor red and green chile enchiladas and other authentic flavors of the Southwest at Abuelo's, located at Coastal Grand Mall. For fabulous tacos, Gordo's Tacos and Tequila fits the bill with a line-up of tasty offerings on handmade tortillas. The same holds true for Sun City Cafe, a funky little joint where the burritos come "Old School" and the margaritas cold and fruity. Sushi rules at Broadway at the Beach's King Kong Sushi. For an edgier experience, head to downtown's Art Burger Sushi Bar, where patrons wash down California rolls and other favorites with liquid nitrogen cocktails. Got a craving for Cajun? Get a taste of the bayou at House of Blues at Barefoot Landing.
The flavors of the Mediterranean await you at Abraham's Gyros on the Myrtle Beach boardwalk, one of many eateries serving fare in the Greek tradition. When it comes to everybody's favorite - pizza - the options are practically endless in these parts. From Chicago deep dish to Neapolitan to West Coast gourmet, your choice of pie is just a phone call away. For New York-style pizza, locals give Scatori's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant near Surfside a big thumbs up. If you like wings with your pie, any location of Ultimate California Pizza will oblige. For inspired specialty pizzas, drive to Farrow Parkway and snag a table at Toffino's Deli, Bakery and Pizzeria. And if you're planning an adult night out, make a reservation to enjoy fine Italian dining at Rossi's in the Galleria on the north end of Myrtle Beach, the romantic Villa Romano on Kings Highway, or the family-owned Malibu of Surfside Restaurant. Buon appetito!
The Carolina coast is teeming with a scrumptious variety of seafood. A trip to the Myrtle Beach area is not complete until you sit down to a platter of fresh shrimp, oysters, blue crab or fish caught in local waters.
Murrells Inlet in the South Strand proudly holds the title of "seafood capital" of South Carolina. This small fishing village is a seafood mecca brimming with small markets and eateries, offering the catch of the day. Iconic restaurants in this area include Lee's Inlet Kitchen, a local tradition for more than 60 years, Nance's Creekfront Restaurant, famous for its steam pots, and Wicked Tuna, a marsh walk eatery where you'll be equally dazzled by the fresh seafood, sushi and gorgeous water views.
On the other end of the Strand, just below the North Carolina line, more memorable seafood dining awaits you in the fishing village of Little River, home of the Blue Crab Festival that takes place each May. Two of the many eateries here where you can enjoy fresh seafood and watch the fishing boats come into port are Crab Catchers and Capt. Juel's Hurricane Restaurant, one of the oldest restaurants on the Grand Strand having served hungry land lubbers for nearly 70 years.
There's plenty of fresh seafood in between both ends of the Strand, too. Fresh catch is always the daily special at eateries along the famed Murrells Inlet Marshwalk, where you'll find fine dining as well as unpretentious seafood cafes like Wahoo's and Bubba's. Chesapeake House in Myrtle Beach is home to some of the best fish stew around as well as the alligator said to be living in the adjoining lake. Live music on the lawn is often a draw at the always popular Sea Captain's House Restaurant. Dine al fresco with ocean views, and enjoy local delicacies such as she crab soup and shrimp and grits. The nautical décor inside is just as atmospheric, affording you and yours a seafood dining experience you'll remember for years to come.
Do it - trade the flip flops for your good shoes and dine some place exceptional. The Grand Strand is rich with fine dining options driven by talented, award-winning chefs. Among the many such notable establishments is The Parson's Table in Little River, renowned for its succulent steaks, seafood and impressive wine list. Another stand-out is 21 Main at North Beach Plantation, a romantic bistro with unforgettable Filet Beef Tips. On Myrtle Beach's Restaurant Row, savor a juicy steak in the elegant atmosphere of Thoroughbreds Chophouse and Seafood Grille. Feeling artsy? Reserve a table at Collectors Café, where you can dine on Mediterranean dishes, savor decadent desserts and sip espresso in an art gallery environment. Further south, don't miss Frank's Restaurant and Bar and Bistro 217 in Pawleys Island, recipient of accolades in Southern Living, Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines. You'll leave with bragging rights. Tell all your friends you dined at what's considered one of the finest restaurants in all of South Carolina.