Best Hidden Gem

October 2018
Written By: 
Julie Flanagan

The Grumpy Monk

4545 U.S. 501, Myrtle Beach, (843) 236-5888; 1317 Celebrity Circle (Broadway at the Beach), Myrtle Beach, (843) 712-8020.

The story behind The Grumpy Monk is simple. The locally owned business believes in offering quality food, fresh sushi and great beer in a relaxed social atmosphere. The craft beer selection is easily one of the best on the Grand Strand. While taps are in constant rotation, 10 are always reserved for beers brewed around the Carolinas. If you come for the beer, you will stay for the food. Oftentimes when a wide range of menu items is available, some are standouts and others are subpar. This is not the case at The Grumpy Monk, which consistently brings deliciousness across multiple categories. Smoky wings, salads made your way, great sushi and fresh burgers and sandwiches all deliver. Entrees include the Big Kid Chicken Tenders (which are hand-breaded) and the Calabash Seafood Platter. Another surprise? The impressive Vegan & Vegetarian section of the menu, which goes far beyond your standard frozen veggie patty. So if you thought The Grumpy Monk was just a bar serving bar food, give them another look. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, and a second location recently opened at Broadway at the Beach.

Kindbelly Café

316 79th Ave. N., Myrtle Beach, (843) 712-1731.

The Grand Strand is overflowing with places to grab a fried seafood platter. And while we love this Southern staple, sometimes it’s nice to have healthier options, something that you can be hard pressed to find in the area. Enter Kindbelly Café. The eatery’s mission is to feed the community like they feed their family: nourishing, wholesome and clean. A healthy alternative for breakfast and lunch, Kindbelly serves smoothies with locally sourced ingredients and kombucha on tap, as well as breakfast and lunch items. While they do offer hormone, steroid, antibiotic cage-free chicken sourced from within the state, wild caught salmon and poke tuna, they do their best to cater to vegan and vegetarian diets with protein options like chickpeas and tofu. Try the Plain Jane acai bowl blended with apple juice and banana and topped with granola and sliced banana. The Cali Coast Toast breakfast option is whole grain toast topped with avocado spread, pico do gallo, microgreens and one egg (or tofu substitute) cooked your way. Lunch includes grain bowls, sandwiches, wraps, salads and more. They are open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Bistro 90

7209 S.C. 90, Longs. (843) 390-5151.

Even though it is just minutes from U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach, this eatery tucked away in Longs may not be as well known as some. Which is a shame, because the food and experience at this casual-fine dining restaurant (a favorite of both discerning locals and tourists) are not something that should be missed. Bistro 90 is one of just three restaurants on the Grand Strand to serve only USDA Prime steak and chops. If this isn’t enough to get your attention, they also serve fresh seafood and a variety of classic Italian dishes, including authentic hand-tossed New York style pizza. Try the center cut filet mignon, the chicken or veal picatta, the zuppa de pesce (seafood stew) or a pie like The Blanco with ricotta, garlic, broccoli and mozzarella. Another surprise? One of the best bourbon selections in the area, with more than 110 offerings, as well as being a Wine Spectator Award winner six years running, including for 2018. You’ll find Bistro 90 to be “a cut above” in both taste and service. They are open for lunch and dinner daily, but are closed on Sundays.

Joe’s Bar & Grill

810 Conway St., North Myrtle Beach, (843) 272-4666.

Joe’s Bar & Grill has been a North Myrtle Beach staple for more than 30 years. The restaurant was built on the premise of serving the highest quality of food and offering exceptional service. Across U.S. 17 from Barefoot Landing (nestled directly behind an Olive Garden), Joe’s serves up a variety of fresh seafood, veal, beef and poultry dishes. Favorite entrees include the filet Neptune (tenderloin medallions topped with crab meat, shrimp and scallops and laced with béarnaise sauce), the seafood medley (shrimp, scallops, crab meat and mussels baked in garlic butter, white wine, lemon and herbs) and the lollipop lamb chops (char-grilled and served with mint jelly). The cozy Raccoon Cove Deck Bar is perhaps the biggest secret at Joe’s. Step out and enjoy the beautiful saltwater marsh breezes with a delicious cocktail. The large fireplace warms chillier nights and the 4:30 to 7 p.m. happy hour (Sunday through Thursday) is a must. For the freshest seafood paired with a unique atmosphere, Joe’s is the place to seek out. They are open for dinner seven nights a week.

Villa Romana Italian Restaurant

707 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, (843) 448-4990.

This locals’ favorite offers an array of fine Italian cuisine, including veal, chicken and pasta dishes. Proudly serving Myrtle Beach and the surrounding areas, Villa Romana prides itself on serving delicious and authentic cuisine prepared to order by native Romans. The cozy yet elegant spot offers a menu filled with original and traditional dishes. Appetizers include the pork sausage and peppers, pan-fried Italian pork sausage (your choice of hot or mild) and red peppers with chunks of fresh mozzarella and soft provolone sticks. The veal section of the menu includes the Veal Absolut, a family creation where Absolut vodka is the ultimate ingredient in cutlets sautéed in fresh mushrooms and cream sauce. A seafood favorite is the Shrimp D’oro, tender large shrimp made golden in a skillet with garlic and fresh lemon juice. If you’re more a poultry fan, you can’t go wrong with the chicken parmigiana. Other options include baked specialties like cheese-filled manicotti and pastas like gnocchi with tomato or meat sauce. Finish off an amazing meal with a glass of wine or a cappuccino. Villa Romana is open for dinner nightly.