Best New Restaurant

Written By: 
Paul Grimshaw

Hook & Barrel

8014 N. Kings Highway, Suite B, Myrtle Beach; (843) 839-5888
www.hookandbarrelrestaurant.com

After years of planning, Heidi Vukov’s original concept, Hook & Barrel, opened in July and has been serving guests to capacity ever since. Located in the heart of the Grande Dunes area (82nd Avenue North and U.S. 17 Business) the large and open casual fine-dining restaurant focuses on seafood, fine wines, high-end liquor and even offers sauté stations built into the large bar where select menu items (including a fresh oyster stew and shrimp scampi) are cooked to order in front of the guests. Committed to sustainably harvested seafood, locavore produce and even energy efficient equipment, this is a thoroughly modern restaurant with an unmistakable love for the sea—it’s in the custom nautical art and decor, and especially the menu, loaded with local and regional shellfish and fresh seafood prepared baked, grilled, pan-seared or blackened. Entree salads, steak, pasta, pork and chicken dishes are served as well. Opens at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Carolina Ale House

2915 Hollywood Drive, Myrtle Beach; (843) 839-4222
www.carolinaalehouse.com

If you wondered what happened to the iconic Myrtle Beach Planet Hollywood, you may be pleasantly surprised to find the Carolina Ale House sitting where the big blue planet once was. New as of early summer 2017, the Carolina Ale House is a restaurant/sports bar and part of a chain of 30 restaurants, eight in South Carolina and the rest in five nearby states. Here sports rule, and with 50-plus TVs you’ll find just about every sporting event, “even bowling,” says the restaurant’s website. But food and brews keep the patrons really happy. A huge menu covers everything from bar bites, shareables, soups and salads, six burger options (including a veggie burger), a dozen sandwich choices and eight hearty entrees, including baby back ribs, beer-battered fish & chips, a BBQ platter, a ribeye steak and more. Fun and lively, Carolina Ale House is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Hickory Tavern

1580 U.S. 17 N., North Myrtle Beach; (843) 249-6670
www.thehickorytavern.com

North Myrtle Beach is undergoing tremendous business and residential development, with new and exciting shopping centers popping up seemingly overnight. One of the newest kids on the block, Hickory Tavern, has already established itself as a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This regional chain of casual dining restaurants combines a sports bar with a party bar and family eatery, though with a few twists. The eatery features regular live music, games and contests. A variety of seating options put you in the thick of the game day activity, up close and personal with the band or far removed from either for a quieter visit. It’s all there along with great food, including appetizers, wings, burgers, chicken, sandwiches, tacos, tavern specialties (such as shrimp & grits and cedar-smoked salmon), steaks, salads, healthy choices and much more. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Wahlburgers

1320 Celebrity Circle #195 (Broadway at the Beach), Myrtle Beach; (843) 213-1254
www.wahlburgersrestaurant.com

Who doesn’t know the buff, underwear-clad Marky Mark model/rap star-turned Hollywood A-lister Mark Wahlberg? He, one of nine children from his working class Boston family, has done well for himself with music, movies (Ted, Transformers,) an HBO-inspired drama (Entourage), A&E TV reality show (Wahlburgers) and his family’s own line of burger joints on which the TV show is based. Myrtle Beach is home to one of the newest in the Wahlburgers franchise. The casual restaurant opened in October 2016 and features dishes created by Mark Wahlberg’s brother, Chef Paul Wahlberg. You’ll find plenty of burgers, of course, including a veggie burger, along with hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, fried fish, chicken, a kids’ menu, ice cream floats, a full bar and plenty of fan-favorite Wahlburgers merchandise. With locations in nine states (three more planned for the Carolinas) the Wahlburgers empire is sizzling. Opens at 11 a.m. daily.

Strong Waters Craft Cocktails & Kitchen

2005 A N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach; (843) 626-4700
www.strongwatersbar.com

New this past spring, Strong Waters Craft Cocktails & Kitchen may be the trendiest joint in town. Specializing in artisan cocktails and high-end liquor, Strong Waters is located near the corner of Ocean Boulevard and 21st Avenue North, where there’s plenty of free parking in the attached hotel garage. Inside you’ll find hip decor lit by Edison lights, comfortable bar stools, a few booths and tables, live music (soloists and duos) and spiffy, clean-cut, young bartenders that look like they walked out of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. With a focus on service and skill, these specialized servers know how to create craft cocktails such as the Smokin’ Oldie, made from Eagle Rare Bourbon, house blend bitters, burnt sugar, orange peel and pressed cherry and smoked with woodchips bar-side—drink and a show ($12). Add in its really, really good food and Strong Waters elevates the town’s hip factor considerably. Opens at 11 a.m. daily.

Resources: