Dining Alfresco

Written By: 
Paul Grimshaw
One of the great joys of living in a moderate climate is the sheer volume of days and nights we may enjoy meals en plein air, alfresco, outside. Many of the thousands of Grand Strand eateries are designed to accommodate those looking to eat out of doors; kind of like picnicking without all the hassle. Whether creek side, oceanfront, on the Intracoastal Waterway, or even at a table on a nicely decorated tree-lined porch, enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner in the fresh South Carolina air is a true Grand Strand treat.


Sunday Brunch
The Sunday Brunch may be the epitome of leisurely indulgence. Not quite breakfast and not quite lunch, the meal speaks to relaxation, unhurried visitations with friends and family and a delightful variety of culinary possibilities, all served anywhere between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. “Brunch” should not be confused with a “buffet.” Though it is possible to have both, a traditional brunch generally features a la carte selections via a separate menu and can be quite different from the restaurant’s regular fare. Since the Grand Strand stakes its reputation on relaxation and indulgence, why not treat yourself (at least occasionally) to this epicurean treat?


Croissants Bistro & Bakery
3751 Robert M Grissom Pkwy, Myrtle Beach
(843) 448-2253
At Croissants, breakfast and lunch offerings are as creative as the dinner menu, but Sunday Brunch (10 a.m.–2 p.m.) really shines. You’ll find four styles of Benedicts, breakfast meats and eggs every way imaginable, along with soups, salads, sandwiches, and even PB&J crepes for the kids, though grown-ups might opt for the Oscar crepe with beef tenderloin tips and crab meat.


Gordon Biersch The Market Common
3060 Howard Ave, Myrtle Beach
(843) 839-0249
Strolling through The Market Common on a late Sunday morning or early afternoon has become a popular diversion for many, and Gordon Biersch, with its large outdoor patio, can be a perfect spot to land. From 11 a.m.–2 p.m. on Sundays enjoy French toast, scramblers, breakfast sandwiches and eggs Benedict. Throw in a bloody Mary and you’re home free.
 

Gulfstream Café
1536 S. Waccamaw Dr.,
Garden City Beach
(843) 651-8808
Well known for its stunning sunset views of Murrells Inlet, Gulfstream Café is equally pleasant for brunch. Indoor or out, enjoy a huge buffet from 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. featuring all the breakfast fixings, plus fresh fruit and lunch items. There is also seafood, including fried cod and marinated mussels, plus salads and an omelet station.


Salt Water Creek Cafe
4660 U.S. 17 Bypass,
Murrells Inlet
(843) 357-2433
Salt Water Creek Cafe offers indoor or alfresco dining for lunch and dinner seven days a week and Saturday and Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Offered in half or full portions, choose from six Benedicts, including Filet Mignon and smoked salmon. Omelets, scrambles, pancakes and even pork chops and eggs are also included.


Sea Captain’s House
3002 N. Ocean Blvd.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 448-8082
After surviving countless storms over the past 80 years with the Atlantic Ocean on its very doorstep, Sea Captain’s House has proven staying power. Also known for its massive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, Sunday brunchers have their pick, too, between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.—eggs Benedict, sautéed crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, fresh fruit and more.

 


Oceanfront
Many of us move here, stay here or visit here for one reason—the Atlantic Ocean. Though locals sometimes admit that they might go weeks or even months without so much as even glimpsing the water, we all know it’s there. And when we’re ready to enjoy a meal while gazing at its tranquil beauty or its angry wind-driven magnificence, we’ve got oceanfront alfresco dining options from which to choose.
 

ART Burger Sushi Bar
706 N. Ocean Blvd.,
Myrtle Beach
 (843) 839-4774
New to the strand in 2014, ART opened as a casual, funky eatery in downtown Myrtle Beach. At ART’s handful of outdoor boardwalk tables, along with a bar and booths inside, you’ll choose from 16 artisan burgers, including the El Greco, a burger topped with Chorizo sausage, marinated red pepper, mixed greens and Manchego cheese. Plus sushi, nitrogen infused cocktails and more.


Banditos Restaurant & Cantina
1410 N. Ocean Blvd.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 808-9800
After just a couple of years on the oceanfront, Banditos has staked its reputation on its fresh chips and salsa, overstuffed burritos and enchiladas, chimichangas, fresh-made tacos, sizzling fajitas and fabulous oceanfront views on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. Bonuses include happy hour on the large outdoor patio and raised deck, live entertainment and ice cold margaritas.


Bummz Beach Cafe
2002 N. Ocean Blvd.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 916-9111
A longtime favorite of locals and visitors alike, Bummz offers the perfect combination of Key West casual, seasonal live entertainment and an unbeatable oceanfront location. The converted 1930s beach cottage sits wedged between two Ocean Boulevard modern high rises and reminds visitors of
yesteryear. The large menu includes fried, grilled, steamed and broiled seafood, burgers, soups, salads, chicken and steaks.


Damon’s Grill
2985 S. Ocean Blvd.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 626-8000
Ribs and the oceanfront view vie for attention at Damon’s, near the Springmaid Pier. Besides free dinner on your birthday (I.D. required), patrons enjoy fair-weather dining on the huge second-story outdoor deck directly oceanfront. Indoor dining also offers great views. Additional menu items for lunch and dinner include plenty of starters, salads and burgers, plus steaks, chicken and rib combos.
 

Pier House Restaurant at 2nd Avenue Pier
110 N. Ocean Blvd.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 445-7437
2nd Avenue Pier has been a fixture in Myrtle Beach for more than 75 years. Once just a fishing pier, the most recent renovations include an excellent full-service restaurant and open air rooftop bar overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. With ample parking available, guests can try signature items such as the Georgetown Grouper Reuben or the regional specialty, Shrimp and Grits.



People Watching
Millions of visitors make their way to the Grand Strand annually and comingle with the many thousands of permanent residents. From all walks of life, hailing from all parts of the nation and all corners of the globe, this amalgamation of humanity makes the Grand Strand a people-watcher’s paradise. Sit back, compare notes and enjoy the show.

Creek Ratz
4065 U.S. 17 Business,
Murrells Inlet
(843) 357-2891
The aptly named Creek Ratz sits on the fabled Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, adjacent to the waterfront creek. In addition to great outdoor dining views, thousands of visitors wander up and down the MarshWalk, many stopping in for lunch or dinner. Ultra casual and unpretentious. Choose from appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, baskets and plates of seafood, steaks, chicken and even pizza.


Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar & Grill
408 21st Ave N.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 448-4481
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk at Ninth Avenue North
(843) 213-1632
Hallowed ground on 21st Avenue North for locals and visitors for some 25 years, Dirty Don’s has opened a Myrtle Beach Boardwalk location as well. Perfect for oysters, clams and seafood of all varieties, you’ll also enjoy steaks, burgers, sandwiches and more. Don’t miss happy hour (4–6 p.m. Monday through Friday) and the Saturday and Sunday Oyster Roasts (from 1–3 p.m.).


King Street Grille
The Market Common:
3040 Howard Ave.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 238-3900
Murrells Inlet Waterfront:
4891 U.S. 17 Business,
(843) 299-1444
Headquartered in Charleston, King Street Grille’s concept is unashamedly that of a sports bar/restaurant, but don’t judge too quickly. Sure, you’ll find plenty of big screens, raucous sports fans, appetizers and wings, but the Charleston influence means you may also choose from 5 herb-crusted salmon, Charleston chicken with Prosciutto ham and lump crab meat and many other surprisingly un-sports bar-like menu items.
 

Pavilion Cafe & Bar
10880 Ocean Highway,
Pawleys Island
(843) 314-9014
Three restaurants under one roof in the heart of the Hammock Shops Village, the Pavilion Cafe & Bar (formerly Nosh), offers casual, eclectic dining surrounded by tree-lined sidewalks. Pawleys Prime (inside dining only) offers casual upscale dining focusing on steaks, chops and seafood, while Cera Sushi satisfies your wasabi cravings. Newly opened, this is a place to see and be seen.

 

Lulu’s Cafe
1903 N. Ocean Blvd.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 712-1890
Styled like something straight out of American Graffiti, Lulu’s bright colors and proximity to the oceanfront (it sits just across the street) affords plenty of people-watching opportunities, but come for the food. First, you’ll find a full breakfast menu (Lulu’s opens daily at 7 a.m.), then burgers and sandwiches, including a chicken/avocado club, all served until 10 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sundays).


Sunsets
Viewing sunsets along the East Coast of the U.S. can be tricky for obvious reasons, but the effort need not be in vain. Local sunset lovers in-the-know have discovered the Intracoastal Waterway and its westward-facing restaurants, which often offer spectacular sunset views. There are also a few select oceanfront (or near oceanfront) restaurants that are situated as to benefit from the glorious rainbow palette of colors offered up in the evening sky. Here a just a few of the best.

 

Anchor Cafe
8205 Marina Parkway,
Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach
(843) 315-7855
With a happy hour from 4–7 p.m. Monday through Friday and weekends filled with boaters and envious admirers, Anchor Cafe (open through late October) has become a local’s favorite, off the beaten path and ready to enchant. Hurry in for seared ahi tuna, steak wraps, sandwiches, salads and more.


Chacon’s of Georgetown
444 Marina Drive
Georgetown
(843) 527-1376
Located in the former Land’s End building, Chacon’s offers spectacular scenic water views on the edge of Winyah Bay. A wide-ranging menu of steak and seafood dishes include bacon-wrapped scallops, she-crab soup, crabmeat-stuffed rainbow trout and pages of additional offerings. Live music on the outdoor deck Friday through Sunday.


K-Rae’s Waterway Bar & Grill
1950 Wachesaw Road,
Murrells Inlet
(843) 357-3655
Known for spectacular sunsets and a festive atmosphere, K-Rae’s is a hot spot for boaters and landlubbers alike. Just behind the Wacca Wache Marina on the Intracoastal Waterway, K-Rae’s unusually large menu includes appetizers such as cheesy potato puffs, along with soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, seafood baskets and even tacos. Enjoy live music under a majestic oak tree on the waterfront deck.


Ruth’s Chris Steak House
8211 Marina Parkway,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 839-9500
Ruth’s Chris has become synonymous with fine dining and excellent steaks and seafood, served in a warm, inviting atmosphere. Open daily at 5 p.m. (reservations strongly suggested), Ruth’s Chris offers scenic waterway views. Try the 12-ounce filet, broiled at 1800 degrees and served in sizzling butter.


River City Cafe
5835 Dick Pond Road,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 215-8808
One of 16 area locations, River City Cafe was touted as “the best place to feed your kids,” by USA Today. Throw your peanut shells on the floor, enjoy the rustic wood interiors and picnic tables and outdoor waterway dining at the Socastee location. Try the Surf-N-Turf, a burger topped with spicy chili glazed popcorn shrimp, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomato.


Frank’s Outback
10434 Ocean Highway,
Pawleys Island
(843) 237-3030
Indoors or out, the romantic options are with you at Frank’s, which is like two restaurants under one roof. The “Outback,” a permanently tented dining space with roll-up walls, is open year-round, serving wood-fired salmon, fine steaks and chops, seafood and even wood-fired pizzas. Frank’s and its Outback are both fine dining establishments perfect for an intimate evening for two.


25 More Reasons to Dine Alfresco
 

Alfresco Georgetown Bistro
812 Front St., Georgetown
(843) 344-3869
No collection of alfresco dining options would be complete without mention of Alfresco Georgetown Bistro. The restaurant’s upscale Italian menu focuses on fresh seafood. Patrons can enjoy artfully crafted dishes including seafood risottos, slow braised short ribs and Grouper Scaloppini in lemon butter sauce. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.


Bay Naturals
7611 N. Kings Highway,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 448-0011
A group of locals have been keeping Bay Naturals to themselves for years, but the secret is out. The popular health food store has always sold organic smoothies, but when it expanded its menu some years ago, lunch and dinner sales took off. Dine in or out on its large, tree-lined porch. Enjoy soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches and much more.


Bistro 217
10707 Ocean Highway,
Pawleys Island
(843) 235-8217
Chef and co-owner Adam Kirby’s style is rooted in the South, but is also influenced by his experience in acclaimed restaurants in San Francisco, Atlanta and Portland. Tasteful décor and a relaxing outdoor courtyard combine with an extensive wine list and chef’s specials, including pan-sautéed grouper, local flounder, steaks and much more. Lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.  


The Brentwood
4269 Luck Ave., Little River
(843) 249-2601
Situated in a 1910 Victorian-era home, The Brentwood specializes in “Lowcountry French cuisine.” Chef Eric Masson honed his culinary technique in Paris and specializes in dishes such as the Salmon au Tarragon and Roasted Rack of Lamb. The trained and knowledgeable staff can assist in pairing wine selections from The Brentwood’s extensive list.


Chive Blossom Cafe
85 North Causeway,
Pawleys Island
(843) 237-1438
“Eclectic and comfortable” describes Chive Blossom Cafe, where unique, seasonally inspired dishes come to life. For lunch and dinner choose from sandwiches, chops, beef and seafood, including scallop cakes, shrimp jambalaya, okra pancakes, Southern bouillabaisse, Asian-inspired noodle dishes and other creative selections, served inside or out in their garden-like courtyard.
 
Crab Catchers
4474 Water Front Ave.
Little River
(843) 280-2025
Crab Catchers offers casual waterfront dining focusing on made-to-order local seafood. Guests may enjoy (seasonal) local oysters and blue crab on the waterfront deck or one of their signature fried seafood platters. The popular Land & Sea is an 8-ounce sirloin served with jumbo shrimp. Crab Catchers is a smoke-free, family-friendly restaurant on the Historic Little River waterfront.

Drunken Jack’s
4031 U.S. 17 Business,
Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-2044
Located on the MarshWalk, the kid-friendly Drunken Jack’s offers casual dining inside and out on its large creek-side porch overlooking Goat Island. For some three decades this restaurant has served patrons (and pirates) seeking live entertainment (in the lounge) and a creative menu designed to please all. Selections include Grouper Royale and Steak Neptune, plus chops, burgers and more.


Filets
2120 Sea Mountain Highway #1100, North Myrtle Beach
(843) 280-5200
On the Intracoastal Waterway next to the Swing Bridge on Sea Mountain Highway, Filets has the ability, with the flip of a few zippers, to transform into one of the largest open-air restaurants on the Grand Strand. Spectacular marina and waterway views are matched by fabulous sushi, seafood platters, Delmonico and New York strip steaks, chicken dishes and much more.


Great PeeDee Q Restaurant
251 Willbrook Blvd.,
Pawleys Island
(843) 314-3928
Slow-cooked BBQ has found a home on the south end of the Grand Strand, where Great PeeDee Q Restaurant offers a wide variety of smoked meats, ribs, brisket and chicken. Casual fare is available as well as seafood and grill specialties. The lakeside outdoor seating area is the centerpiece of the Mingo Shopping Center. Live music is featured on the weekends.


Habaneros
11151 Ocean Highway,
Pawleys Island
(866) 679-2514
Relaxing on Habaneros’ outdoor deck, sipping a margarita and enjoying authentic Mexican dishes is a perfect way to spend those warm afternoons and pleasant evenings. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Habaneros offers classic Mexican favorites, such as burritos, tacos, ridiculously affordable lunch specials and even a kids’ menu.


Hot Fish Club
4911 U.S. Business,
Murrells Inlet
(843) 357-9175
Located along the recently completed Jetty View Walk creek-side in Murrells Inlet, the Hot Fish Club features the large stand-alone restaurant (with porch dining) and the remodeled gazebo, with live entertainment and large crowds of hearty late-night partiers. Fantastic menu options include lobster pot pie, shrimp & grits, Black Angus meatloaf, sesame-seared tuna, grouper bites and more.


Indo Thai Sushi Hibachi
980 82nd Pkwy., Myrtle Beach
(843) 692-7000
An authentic Pan-Asian restaurant, Indo Thai offers fresh sushi and Japanese hibachi in addition to Thai curries and other exotic favorites. From-scratch recipes and fresh ingredients shine in the flavor of items such as Seafood Curry (a lively blend of shellfish and vegetables in your choice of three preparations). The staff will help you adjust the spiciness to your liking.


Joe’s Bar & Grill
810 Conway St.,
North Myrtle Beach
(843) 272-4666
Don’t let the name fool you, Joe’s Bar & Grill is a fine dining establishment with a nod to its natural surroundings and the owner’s affinity for the great outdoors. Unbeatable marsh views on the deck and a hunting lodge interior are the perfect backdrop to dinner. Prime rib, filet mignon, seafood, lamb and pork chops, four veal dishes and so much more.


Liberty
Steakhouse & Brewery
Broadway at the Beach, 1321 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach
(843) 626-4677
Liberty Steakhouse is as well known for its tasty micro-brewed craft beers as it is for its fine food. With a large dining room overlooking Lake Broadway, a large pub and equally large outdoor seating area, pick your ambience and dig in to sandwiches, entree salads, Southern specialties (such as buttermilk fried chicken) and, of course, steaks and prime rib. Open for lunch and dinner daily.


Luigi’s Trattoria
503 61st Ave N.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 497-7080
Traditional Italian family recipes include fresh baked lasagna and stuffed manicotti, along with signature dishes such as Veal a la Rose—veal cooked in a lobster cream sauce with fresh mushrooms and tomatoes served with sauteed spinach and topped with jumbo shrimp. Luigi’s boasts an extensive wine list and great happy hour complementing their popular early bird specials.


Mellow Mushroom
1571 21st Ave. N.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 444-1122
One of two area ‘shrooms, Mellow Mushroom is a craft beer and pizza lover’s paradise. From traditional build-your-own master-pies to one of dozens of their creative gourmet varieties, it’s no wonder that the chain, which started humbly in Atlanta in 1974, has grown to more than 150 franchises. Enjoy heated and air-conditioned dining rooms or open air decks.


Moe’s Original BBQ
12827 Ocean Highway,
Pawleys Island
(843) 235-8008
Opened recently, Moe’s Original BBQ has already become a hit with locals and visitors. Flavorful smoked pulled pork, ribs, chicken and turkey breast are complemented with a rotating menu of fresh made Southern sides from which to choose. The outdoor beer garden and Getaway Bar offer live music and festive ambience suitable for all ages. Takeout and catering service available.


Molly Darcy’s Irish Pub & Grill
1701 S. Ocean Blvd.,
North Myrtle Beach
(843) 272-5555
This authentic pub is owned and operated by an Irish family who know how to party and how to prepare great traditional meals. Located oceanfront with a large outdoor deck, the popularity of Molly Darcy’s swells in summer, but the locals own it year-round. For lunch and dinner enjoy Shepherd’s Pie, Dublin fish & chips, bangers & mash and more rib-sticking delicacies.


Nacho Hippo
The Market Common,
1160 Farrow Pkwy., Myrtle Beach (843) 839-9770; and
850 North Beach Boulevard, North Myrtle Beach
(843) 663-9393
“Funky and fun” best describes the Mexican-inspired Nacho Hippo, located in The Market Common and a new location in North Myrtle Beach across from Barefoot Landing.  You’ll find open-air dining and cocktails under the brightly colored ceilings, seasonal late-night live music and really great food. Choose from a variety of quesadillas, tacos (including crispy tempura-battered lobster), burritos, chimichangas and, of course, world-class nachos.


Ocean Fish Market
302 Kingston St., Conway
(843) 248-4344
This is the kind of place savvy travelers and foodies dream about. This is a fish shack, literally, that serves the freshest local seafood available and lets you seat yourself on a picnic table under a 300-year-old live oak. The market also sells seafood to go, including live blue crabs (in season), clams and whatever the fishermen bring in. Open Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m.


River Room Restaurant
801 Front St.,
Georgetown
(843) 527-4110
Located in Georgetown’s historic district, the River Room has been serving Southern coastal cuisine since 1984. The menu offers local seasonal fish and wood-fired steaks and chops. Chef’s specialties include Shrimp and Grits and McClellanville Crabcakes. Rough-hewn wood interiors and plenty of riverfront ambiance have made this a local’s favorite.


Russell’s Seafood Grill & Raw Bar
4906 U.S. 17 Business,
Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-0553
Tucked away on the south end of Murrells Inlet is Russell’s Seafood Grill & Raw Bar. Open for dinner (Monday through Saturday, 4–10 p.m.), Russell’s serves classic Murrells Inlet dishes like fried-to-order shrimp or flounder served with hush puppies and slaw. At the raw bar, guests may enjoy fresh oysters and a cold beer on Russell’s deck overlooking the salt marsh.


Rustic Table
10683 Ocean Highway,
Pawleys Island
(843) 314-0164
Rustic Table, in the location that was previously Island Cafe and Deli, serves Southern comfort food with an upscale twist. Popular dishes include homestyle Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Horseradish Crusted Pork Tenderloin. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with a popular brunch menu also available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.


Soho
406 / 407 21st Ave. N.,
Myrtle Beach
(843) 443-9441
Both a local’s and tourist’s favorite, Soho is undergoing dramatic changes. The Asian-inspired sushi, lunch, dinner and late-night party spot will move across the street to re-open with open-air rooftop dining and drinks. The ground floor will feature Soho’s favorites, but upstairs will lean toward Mediterranean fare. In early 2016, the old Soho will transform into a brick oven pizzeria.


Wild Wing Café
Barefoot Landing,
4706 Highway 17 S.,
North Myrtle Beach
(843) 361-9464
Wing lovers rejoice; Wild Wing does wings right. This large restaurant, sitting on the alligator-filled Lewis Pond, also serves burgers, sliders, sandwiches, wraps, flatbreads, soups and salads. But the wings, in seven levels of hot (virgin to Braveheart), are fixed in some 27 flavors including traditional Buffalo, garlic and honey lime sriracha.