While, yes, the beach and golf and sunshine play a big, big part in the decision to visit the Grand Strand, the fact that we also happen to be home to some of the freshest, most incredible seafood in the country ought to weigh in, too.
With the abundance of grouper, flounder, drum, trout, mackerel and more packing our waters, not to mention shrimp and inlet oysters, coastal Carolina has a lot to boast. And don’t we reap the benefits!
We like to venture down Route 17 in the Pawleys/Murrells corridor to hit some phenomenal but off-the-beaten-path options. Here are seven — out of MANY — of our faves, in no particular order:
1) Bliss (Murrells Inlet): This award-winning local favorite doesn’t fib — their seafood is blissful. Flanking meat and poultry offerings are an abundance of raved-about seafood dishes, including crab-crusted grouper, shrimp and grits, and regionally beloved she-crab soup. It’s more of a special-night-out sort of place, so get a sitter for the kids.
2) Bistro 217 (Pawleys Island): This sweet spot received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and it’s not just because of their famous burger. The appetizer menu is loaded with delicious seafood options, and if you’re in the mood for something a little different, try the shrimp-and-mussel-filled paella. The 217 Eggplant Treasure Chest tops fried eggplant with local shrimp, scallops and grouper in basil-parmesan sauce — and is a delicious way to eat your way through the region.
3) Litchfield Beach Fish House (Pawleys Island): Ok, we think the kids would be pretty bummed if you left them behind while visiting this gem. This joint is as laid-back as it gets, which is easy to gather with their cheeky vintage truck parked outside. The homey menu features lots of fried items, such as grouper and oysters, but the shrimp and grits are a great bet, too. Save room for the hush puppies.
4) Lee’s Inlet Kitchen: This is an old school spot but in the best possible way. The same family has owned it since 1948, so expect standbys done right. It behooves visitors to come very hungry, so take the plunge with either the fried or broiled Lee’s Shore Dinner, comprising either shrimp or oyster cocktail, cup of clam chowder or she-crab soup, 3 ounces of lobster, flounder filet, oysters, scallops, deviled crab and fantail shrimp. Only if you were a shark would you have license to consume more fresh fish.
5) Frank’s Restaurant (Pawleys Island): Here’s another local institution, and a good option for that special occasion worthy of a big night out. Go for the sautéed mini crab and lobster cakes for a tidy small plate option, or the pan seared jumbo scallops over vegetable risotto for heartier fare. Crispy fried oysters with green goddess dipping sauce leave our mouthwatering.
6) Nance’s Creekfront Restaurant (Murrells Inlet): We love Nance’s for its complete lack of pretense — but more importantly for its delicious eats. This is a spot for lovers of the bivalve; oysters and clams in every iteration, in every amount, with an abundance of crab legs and side orders to round out your meal. All oysters are local, and are best enjoyed in season — in other words, during a month with an “R” in it… September, October, November, etc.
7) Wicked Tuna (Murrells Inlet): Big, boisterous and bold is the name of their seafood (and ambiance) game, where Fried South Carolina Sea Bass and Blackened Trigger commingle with Hamachi Nigiri and Spider Rolls. The Raw Bar offers just-out-of-the-water delicacies, and the Catch of the Day sandwich special guarantees the freshest fish in two-handed eating form. We love this spacious spot for larger get-togethers with friends.
And there are many more where these came from.
What’s your favorite seafood spot in the Litchfield area?
(Photo Courtesy: Bliss)