Best of the Grand Strand

October 2016
Written By: 
Paul Grimshaw

The readers have spoken. With literally a thousand or more establishments to enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner between Georgetown and Little River, the readership of Grand Strand Magazine and their online voting have created a “best of” guide to the area’s many excellent restaurants. 

We know debates are likely to ensue as this list becomes public and it’s discovered that some fine restaurants are not included. Although this list is a far-from-exhaustive compendium of eateries, we’re confident in our audience’s choices and hope you’ll take the time to visit those places that topped our polls (if you’re not already a regular). If diversity is the fuel of gastronomic happiness, then the Grand Strand is ready to go. The readers have said so, so what are you waiting for? Dig in!

Best Steaks

Angelo’s Steak & Pasta
2311 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 626-2800

Running a bonafide institution along the Grand Strand for nearly four decades, Angelo Antonucci still works every day as an owner/operator who could write the book on how to be a successful restaurateur. Steaks are hand-cut and aged on premises, they’re seasoned and cooked to order, and they are delivered to the table on a sizzling platter. Choose from ribeye (8, 10 or 14 ounces), New York strip (10 or 14 ounces), the Big Daddy (24-ounce ribeye or New York strip), filet mignon, porterhouse and more. With early bird specials (until 6 p.m.), lunch on the weekends, an Italian buffet and full bar service, Angelo’s is one of the busiest and most popular steakhouses in the area year-round.

New York Prime
405 28th Ave. N., Myrtle Beach
(843) 448-8081

Ask a longtime local where to go in town for the “absolute best steak,” and often the answer comes back as “New York Prime.” Though the food and service are unmistakably “fine dining,” the atmosphere remains unpretentious. Serving only USDA Prime, the absolute highest grade a steak can get, the restaurant serves barrel cut filets and true porterhouse (with both the filet and the strip) and cooks them “Pittsburgh style” (charred on the outside) under an 1800-degree broiler. Add in unhurried service, a world-class wine list, fantastic a la carte sides and a full bar, and it’s easy to see why New York Prime makes nearly everyone’s best list.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
8211 Marina Parkway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 839-9500

With 150-plus restaurants, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is arguably the largest chain of upscale fine dining steakhouses is the world (larger even than Morton’s). Ruth’s Chris has established itself in sophisticated, cultured locales and big cities around the globe, as well as here along the Grand Strand. Situated on the Intracoastal Waterway beside the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, the fine dining experience often starts with cocktails and sunsets on the deck just outside the large, cozy lounge. For dinner, a variety of steaks and chops (USDA Prime) are cooked to order and served on a 500-degree plate of sizzling butter (apparently in the fashion that Ruth Fertel, the founder, liked best). Sharable a la carte sides, suggested wine pairings and classic desserts make this a rare and wonderful steakhouse experience.

Bistro 90
7209 Highway 90, Longs
(843) 390-5151

Somewhat off the beaten path, Bistro 90 is sometimes overlooked by discriminating diners, even though it’s an easy, picturesque drive via S.C. 90 and U.S. 22. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, this casual, upscale bistro serves USDA Prime beef and traditional Italian dishes, plus chops, chicken and seafood. A Wine Spectator award winner and “top 10 steakhouse/service” recipient as voted by S.C. Open Table reviewers, Bistro 90’s prime rib, New York strip and filet mignon are hand-cut in house and dry aged. The sides (bread, salad, vegetable and potato du jour) come with the meal and are not a la carte, making this one of the best values in USDA Prime dining in the area.

Frank’s and Frank’s Outback
10434 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island
(843) 237-1581

Whether “up front” and inside or on the covered “outback” among the trees and gardens, Frank’s and Frank’s Outback are two separate restaurants, both with hearty beef-lover’s menus. Serving South Strand guests since 1988, Frank’s casual, upscale fine dining features a small plate filet of beef served over a risotto cake with onions, as well as a chophouse menu complete with an 8-ounce tenderloin filet, a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye and a 16-ounce New York strip. A la carte sides include a baked bacon and cheddar grits casserole, creamed spinach, Brussels sprouts and more. The more casual Outback features small plates including braised short rib; local shrimp and spicy andouille sausage simmered in tasso cream sauce over fried green tomatoes; and a full entree size filet of beef with bacon bleu cheese sauce and buttermilk mashed potatoes.

Best Pizza

Benito’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta
1598 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach
(843) 272-1414

Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday and dinner daily, Benito’s is a casual full-service Italian restaurant with authentic traditional favorites, but many come for the hand-tossed brick oven wood-fired pizzas. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat near the show kitchen, you’ll watch the chefs prepare your pie—the kids love this. With delivery in the North Myrtle Beach area, North Strand locals and visitors often order from the specialty pizza menu, which includes some two dozen choices, such as Meat Lovers (piled high with ham, sausage, ground beef, bacon and pepperoni) or the Southern (topped with grilled chicken, house-made barbecue sauce, pork sausage, onions and mozzarella). The vast menu also includes stromboli, calzones and veal, chicken and seafood entrees.

Gino’s Real New York Pizza
Four locations: North Myrtle Beach, (843) 280-7799; Garden City Beach, (843) 299-1259; Carolina Forest, (843) 236-4567; and Forestbrook, (843) 236-8885

Huge slices of authentic, New York-style pizza (two slices plus a drink for around $5) have created a dine-in lunchtime phenomenon all along the Grand Strand. Larger pies for dine-in or carryout, such as The Bada Bing, feature five toppings (pepperoni, sausage, black olives, ham and bacon) and will make a New Yorker out of you with the first bite. White pizzas are a cheese- and garlic-lover’s dream, and Italian rainbow cookies, cheesecake or a cannoli for dessert will leave you satisfied.

Mellow Mushroom
Two locations: 1571 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach, (843) 444-1122; and 1101 U.S. 17 N., North Myrtle Beach, (843) 273-0595

With two area restaurant options, one on the North Strand and the other centrally located, the Mellow Mushroom is a craft beer and pizza lover’s paradise. Try a traditional, build-your-own master-pie, a build-your-own salad or one of dozens of creative gourmet pizzas. Enjoy heated and air-conditioned dining rooms, open-air decks, whimsical interiors and a stunning aquarium in the North Myrtle Beach location. Specialty noteworthy pies include The Cosmic Karma with a red sauce base, feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and Roma tomatoes with a pesto swirl. The Magical Mystery Tour starts with a pesto base and is topped with button and Portobello mushrooms, feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach and jalapeños on a pesto-basted crust. The Funky Q. Chicken, pictured above, includes barbecue chicken, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, caramelized onions and Applewood-smoked bacon.

Ultimate California Pizza
Six locations: Myrtle Beach at 25th Avenue North, (843) 626-8900; The Market Common, (843) 839-9880; Myrtle Beach UCP Game Zone at Lake Arrowhead Road, (843) 449-1160; Barefoot Landing, 843-361-8108; Surfside Beach, (843) 477-8282; and Garden City Beach/Murrells Inlet, (843) 357-2297

“The perfect pizza picky people love.” Locals will recognize the catchy jingle, which has played for years on local radio and TV ads. Early to the specialty gourmet pizza game, UCP has been serving traditional and one-of-kind pies for two-plus decades. Visit locations from Murrells Inlet to North Myrtle Beach, including the birthday party-ready kid-friendly UCP Game Zone on Lake Arrowhead Road. The time-tested menus at all UCP locations include pizzas, appetizers, sandwiches, subs, wings, salads, pasta and a kid’s menu. While all the food is good and freshly made-to-order, the pizzas take center stage with options including personal, medium and large sizes; traditional and rosemary whole wheat crusts; 10 sauce options; 11 cheeses; and some 75 vegetable, meat and seafood toppings, including beef tenderloin, Buffalo chicken and much more.

Milardo’s Pizzeria & Sports Pub
3264 U.S. 17 Business S., Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-7770

Whether it’s the eggplant/Parmesan grinder, fried calamari with marinara, steaks, seafood or anything else off the Italian-inspired menu, Milardo’s has had no trouble making converts for lunch and dinner on the South Strand. Maybe it’s the dozens of large-screen TVs, non-smoking dining room and bar, dine-in, carry-out or delivery service or the great happy hour? It could be, but it’s more likely to be the pizza. The eggplant white cheese pizza is a customer favorite, along with seven additional styles of white pizza alone, as well as traditional and build-your-own pies with any combination of toppings you might dream up. In small, large and the Sicilian sizes, they have the right combination for any party.

Best New Restaurant

Crave Italian Oven and Bar
5900 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 213-0500

After decades owning Italian restaurants in the Northeast and with family recipes in hand, Crave’s owners parlayed that experience into a plan to open a combination neighborhood Italian ristorante and trattoria in Myrtle Beach. The result? A casual, moderately priced restaurant with just a touch of urban flare. A wood-fired brick oven imported from Italy works day and night delivering fresh pizzas, made to order. With nine small plates, soups, salads and too many entrees to count, Crave’s creative and traditional Italian menu will appeal to just about everyone. A happy hour from 4–7 p.m. daily offers deals on beer, liquor, wine and a special menu, making this a local’s after work favorite.

The Claw House
4097 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-4415

The new kid on the Marshwalk as of spring 2016, The Claw House has already made a splash with its unashamed focus on cold water specialties. The traditional Northeastern seafood menu includes clams, lobster rolls, baked haddock and fresh Maine lobster as its centerpieces. Featuring a sophisticated raw bar, dedicated shuckers prepare trays of icy-cold oysters including Long Island Blue Points, Massachusetts Scorton Creeks and even Gulf Selects, plus seasonal varieties that change with availability. Inspired by Boston-area lobster houses, the casual, family-friendly restaurant (with huge array of seafood as well as plenty of non-seafood items) features a large horseshoe bar, a spacious dining room, a climate-controlled covered waterfront deck and an aquarium/shark tank featured on Animal Planet’s hit show Tanked.

The Brass Tap
3090 Deville Ave., Myrtle Beach
(843) 945-1747

New to The Market Common, The Brass Tap opened in January, offering its carefully managed and designed corporate/franchise vision on just what a casual craft beer/sports bar pub should be. Reportedly one of the fastest-growing craft beer franchises in the nation, The Brass Tap offers 200-plus craft beers, including an emphasis on local and emerging craft brews, plus wine, cocktails and an extensive menu featuring mostly pub fare, but with a large and varied selection. Occasional live acoustic music livens up random Friday nights in the warm, inviting and very casual pub.

Z’s Amazing Kitchen
1400 U.S. 17 N., North Myrtle Beach
(843) 663-1999

Inspired by the original family-run Zito’s in the heart of Boston and later in Florida, Z’s Amazing Kitchen opened in September 2015 in North Myrtle Beach. As the heir-apparent to their father’s first restaurants dating back to 1960, Z’s is still owned and operated by family and managing partners. Open for lunch and dinner daily, Z’s features Mediterranean, Asian and Italian-inspired dishes served in the “fast-casual” style. Diversity is the hallmark of Z’s menu: appetizers and “shareablez” include soups, salads, shrimp scampi, sausage and peppers, and loaded housemade chips, along with tacos (smoked pork, Korean BBQ beef, Mahi-Mahi, Bada Bing Shrimp, tuna). Also, soup/salad/sandwich half-n-half combos, lunch- and dinner-sized salads, larger hot entrees (all well under $10) and a “Kidz” menu (all under $6), plus beer, wine and desserts.

10744 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island
(843) 314-9223

Opened in the summer of 2016, Oktopi is an eclectic lunch and dinner spot that’s open daily and delivers locally. The whimsically named restaurant and funky concept features a fusion of sushi, tacos and pizza. And really, what else do you need? You’ll find a fun, casual interior (adorned with an enormous octopus) and creative menu items that go beyond the usual. Mexican street corn (grilled on the cob), fried green tomatoes, tacos in a wide variety of styles (Mahi-Mahi-filled tacos are a customer favorite), deep fried panko-covered deviled eggs, zucchini fries, pizzas virtually any way you might want them, made-to-order sushi, plus a full bar all combine to make this new Pawleys Island eatery stand out.

Best Happy Hour

Liberty Taproom
7651 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 839-4677

Liberty Taproom is one of just a handful of area restaurants that are busier in the off-season than during the height of the summer. Why? The locals know and love this place with its myriad craft beers, large screens, weekly entertainment, trivia contests and fabulous happy hour. Every day from 4–7 p.m. (extended to 8 p.m. after Labor Day through Memorial Day), the oversized bar and lounge plus the covered deck fill with locals who come in for $5 beer-battered onion rings, loaded Liberty fries, hand-rolled meatballs and house-made pretzels. The $7 offerings include calamari, chicken wings, Liberty Nachos, hot bacon and onion cheese dip with crostini, and cheese pizza. A selection of craft beers is $3, house liquor is $3 and house wines are $4.

Dead Dog Saloon
4079 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-0664

Born a classic, the Dead Dog Saloon on the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk has evolved from its first incarnation in downtown Myrtle Beach some 15 years ago to another location once located near the Coastal Grand Mall, and finally to its home on the fabled Marshwalk, where it survived a fire and rose from the ashes bigger and better than ever. Well known as the live music epicenter of Murrells Inlet, the Dead Dog fills to capacity inside and out year-round for its food, views and happy hour at either of two large all-season bars. From 4–6 p.m. Monday through Friday, enjoy special half-price appetizers and a $1 discount on all house cocktails, domestic beer and wine.

Collector’s Cafe
7740 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 449-9370

Part Mediterranean bistro, European coffeehouse and art gallery, Collector’s Cafe has been enchanting locals and visitors since opening in 1994. Open for lunch and dinner, happy hour begins at 4:30 (Monday through Thursday only) with 20 percent off beer, wine and liquor. When the kitchen reopens at 5:30, a menu of $7 happy hour temptations become available, including shrimp appetizers, black bean cakes, and flatbread and hummus. Save on cocktails and order off the menu in the lounge through 7 p.m., or slide over to the dining room and stay for dinner.

Clark’s Seafood & Chophouse
720 U.S. 17, Little River
(843) 399-8888

North Strand locals and visitors have been enjoying Clark’s since its opening at this location around 2011. Situated on the waterfront adjacent to the picturesque Coquina Harbor Marina, happy hour runs daily from 4:30–6:30. At two bars, one inside and another out, each with a limited number of high-top tables, happy hour patrons enjoy $2 Budweiser, Yuengling and Blue Moon beer, $4 house liquors and wine, $5 martinis and Manhattans, and five menu items at $5 each, including spinach and artichoke dip, chicken tenders prepared a variety of ways, fried green tomatoes, firecracker shrimp and calamari.

Chuck’s Steakhouse
9695 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 449-7611

A Restaurant Row original since 1979, Chuck’s is as well known for its happy hour as it is for its fine food. Every day from 4–7 p.m., locals-in-the-know gather at the large bar just inside the front door. There they imbibe on discounted signature drinks (including $5 martinis), complimentary snacks, discounted premium liquors and beer, and a specially created happy hour menu. Most bar/lounge menu items are between $4 and $11 and include two jumbo lump crab cakes for $7.95, a prime rib sandwich for $8.50, onion rings for $3.95 and some 25 additional choices.

Most Romantic Restaurant

Aspen Grille
5101 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 449-9191

Since reopening in 2009 and inspired by the vision of chef and owner Curry Martin, Aspen Grille has established itself as one of the finest intimate bistros in Myrtle Beach. “Fresh Carolina Cuisine” is how the menu is described, changing seasonally to highlight the bounty of the coastal waters and local farms. Rack of lamb, duck breast and other specialty dishes are perfect for that special date night. Its upscale but comfortable atmosphere features warm woods, light music and an experienced, service-oriented staff. Enjoy cocktails, coffees or dessert in the separate bar area. Extensive wine list. Reservations available through Open Table or by phone. Closed on Mondays.

Rivertown Bistro
1111 Third Ave., Conway
(843) 248-3733

The forward-thinking Rivertown Bistro opened in 1994 in the center of historic downtown Conway, enchanting locals with its culinary sophistication and urban flair. In the years since, it has become a destination restaurant for residents from all over the Grand Strand. Chef and owner Darren Smith invites guests on a creative dining adventure perfect for any occasion, and especially for romantic celebrations. Nightly specials and menu favorites such as the Parmesan Encrusted Grouper (okra/corn/tomato risotto, basil parmesan butter and tomato gastrique) are made with love and fresh local ingredients. Sophisticated but fun, Rivertown also offers playful variations on sushi rolls and has an excellent cocktail and wine menu. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

Greg Norman’s Australian Grille
4930 U.S. 17 South, Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach
(843) 361-0000

Greg Norman’s Australian Grill has been a casual fine dining favorite along the Grand Strand since first opening in 1999. Sunset views over the Intracoastal Waterway and the indoor/outdoor dining area make the stylish restaurant a great place to spend a romantic evening with someone special. Wood-grilled steaks, fresh seafood and Australian flair are featured in the ever-evolving menu, all artfully presented without sacrificing portion size. The more casual Shark Pub with its bold colors and dark wood interior offers an array of creative appetizers and cocktails, seats at the bar or tables and intimate booths. An extensive wine list is available with bottles and glasses suited for any budget or taste. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

The Parson’s Table
4305 McCorsley Ave., Little River
(843) 249-3702

The aptly named Parson’s Table, built in 1885, was originally a church and has been hosting spirit-filled parishioners ever since. The antique doors and wood interiors harken back to days when lumber from area riverbanks and cypress swamps ruled the local, post-Civil War economy. The food is a blend of traditional and new influences. Start your meal with Fried Green Tomatoes topped with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Coulis, or try their signature Oysters Rockefeller. Hand-cut steaks prepared to order are served with your choice of classic sauces. Ask about the day’s fresh catch or enjoy a classic broiled seafood platter. Wine pairings are suggested with each entree, and the staff is trained to assist in making those all-important choices for you and that special romantic interest. Serving dinner Monday through Saturday beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Brentwood Restaurant and Wine Bistro
4269 Luck Ave., Little River
(843) 249-2601

Set inside a beautiful Victorian home built in 1910, the Brentwood blends classic French cooking and Lowcountry favorites, making the perfect combination of Old World charm and nouveau cuisine. Chef Eric Masson, a French native trained in Paris, prepares flavorful dishes where the ingredients are allowed to shine. Classic French dishes like Crispy Duck Confit share the menu with Seafood Crepes and Shrimp and Grits, utilizing locally sourced purveyors. The attentive yet unhurried service and unique setting are perfect for couples out for a special occasion. Vegan and gluten-free options are available. Open Tuesday through Sunday at 4 p.m.; also open on Mondays from April to September.

Best Sushi

407 21st Ave. N, Myrtle Beach
(843) 443-9441

Located two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in the heart of Myrtle Beach, the newly opened and redesigned Soho offers a sophisticated uptown vibe and excellent sushi menu. The open-air rooftop bar and downstairs lounge are ideal for either a date night or group outings. Traditional sushi items such as spicy tuna rolls share the menu with a variety of Mediterranean dishes for non-seafood eaters. An extensive cocktail menu and wine list are available. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Co Sushi
3098 Deville St., Myrtle Beach
(843) 839-1733

Co Sushi Myrtle Beach is located in the bustling Market Common restaurant district, along with shopping and entertainment attractions. With a diverse Pan Asian menu and emphasis on authentic flavors, Co Sushi offers sushi, sashimi, noodle dishes and other creative specialties. Their pressed sushi, such as the Co, features a spicy tuna roll (horizontally pressed with serrano pepper and garlic aioli) and is a fresh twist on the classic. The more adventurous can dine on Unagi (eel), Tako (octopus) or Ika (squid). Craft beers, innovative cocktails and a playful Asian Fusion menu meld with a modern cosmopolitan decor. Open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Two locations: 9732 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, (843) 449-9294; 4201 U.S. 17 Bypass, Murrells Inlet, (843) 651-4616

Miyabi of Myrtle Beach and in Murrells Inlet have both long been local institutions of great food and family fun. Specializing in the interactive hibachi dinner experience for families and groups, Miyabi also offers expertly prepared traditional sushi and sashimi. Items such as Tuna Tataki and California Rolls can be enjoyed at either your dining room table or in the cozy, separate sushi bar area. Japanese beers such as Sapporo and a premium sake menu complement an already authentic Japanese dining experience. It can’t get any fresher as you watch your “miyabi,” which translates to “traditional bounty,” prepared before your eyes. Truly dinner and a show.

King Kong Sushi
Two locations: Carolina Forest, 2120 Oakheart Road, Myrtle Beach, (843) 236-5666; Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach, (843) 626-2444

King Kong Sushi is a favorite of both locals and visitors alike. The eclectic decor blends classic movie noir with a sleek Asian influence. Since opening in 2007, King Kong Sushi continues to innovate, featuring creative rolls such as the CCU Roll (shrimp tempura, scallions, avocado and spinach, all topped with seared salmon, smelt roe, scallions, teriyaki sauce and apple wine sauce) and the South Carolina Roll (smoked eel, shrimp tempura, crab and avocado, topped with smelt roe and teriyaki sauce). A lively bar atmosphere and attentive dining service make King Kong Sushi a destination suitable for any occasion. Opens daily at 11:30 a.m.

The Wicked Tuna
4123 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-9987

“Hook to Plate” is more than just a saying at The Wicked Tuna, it’s a culinary philosophy. With their own fishing fleet regularly visiting the Gulf Stream and area fishing reefs, The Wicked Tuna, located on the Marshwalk, offers fresh Atlantic Grouper, Mahi and Snapper. The signature Wicked Tuna Roll (with tempura shrimp, lobster salad, cucumber, ahi tuna, ponzu sauce and more) is a celebration of flavor and texture. Spectacular views of Murrells Inlet and the extensive bar and sake menus make The Wicked Tuna a perfect setting for special occasions or a casual visit to the waterfront.

Best All-You-Can-Eat

Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse
2920 Hollywood Drive, Myrtle Beach
(843) 839-0777

Dining at Rioz is an experience like no other on the Grand Strand. A full-service “churrascaria,” a Rioz all-you-can-eat meal brings the rich traditions of southern Brazil to Myrtle Beach. The meal is centered around an array of slow-cooked meats, various cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken cooked slowly over wood charcoal. An attentive crew of “gauchos” (Brazilian cowboys) will carve the expertly prepared meats for you tableside at your own pace. Authentic South American side dishes and an incredible salad, sushi and cold bar enhance the meal. Opens daily at 4 p.m.

Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood
9593 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 449-0821

The Original Benjamin’s Calabash has been a vacation tradition on the Grand Strand for more than 30 years. Located in the Restaurant Row section of Myrtle Beach, Original Benjamin’s boasts a seemingly endless 170-item all-you-can-eat style buffet.With a wide variety of seafood, a prime rib carving station and an amazing array of side dishes, Original Benjamin’s has something for everyone. Of course, steamed crab legs served piping hot take center stage, and guests are welcome to all they can handle. Large groups welcome. Opens daily at 2:30 pm.

Prosser’s BBQ
3750 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet
(843) 357-6146

Prosser’s BBQ serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. A favorite among locals and visitors, the slow cooked BBQ and country cookin’ are served with Southern hospitality and unlimited ice cold sweet tea. The lunch buffet features crispy fried chicken, Southern-style collard greens, macaroni and cheese, chicken bog and numerous regional delicacies. Dinner also includes BBQ ribs and a full seafood buffet. Full salad bar and dessert bar included. Breakfast and lunch seven days a week, dinner served Tuesday through Saturday. Early bird from 4–5 p.m.

Captain George’s
1401 29th Ave. N., Myrtle Beach
(843) 916-2278

Open 364 days per year, the nautical-themed Captain George’s restaurant has remained a favorite all-you-can-eat seafood buffet since first arriving on the Grand Strand in 2000. Located on U.S. 17 Bypass across from Broadway at the Beach, Captain George’s is known for its massive buffet boats, filled to overflowing with virtually every type and style of fresh seafood, sides, vegetables and desserts. The culinary team even offers gluten-free options, as well as a la carte entrees for those who’d prefer something other than seafood. Open Monday through Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sundays at noon.

Magnolia’s at 26th
2605 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach
(843) 839-3993

Magnolia’s at 26th is located on Ocean Boulevard in the heart of Myrtle Beach at 26th Avenue North, walking distance from numerous hotels and resorts. Start your day with traditional selections from an a la carte breakfast menu including pancakes, omelets, breakfast meats, and grits aplenty. The lunch and dinner buffets feature a full salad bar and many Southern favorites such as fried chicken, meatloaf, sweet potato casserole and cornbread. Fried or broiled seafood entrees are available as well. Magnolias at 26th is open daily and also offers catering for private events.

Best Brunch

Chestnut Hill
9922 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 449-3984

A Sunday brunch tradition since 1987, Chestnut Hill has been receiving accolades for its brunch offerings for years. Lighter items such as homemade quiches and chicken salad are featured in addition to a full breakfast buffet. The entrees and hot items include Prime Rib au jus, baked Virginia ham and roast pork tenderloin and other traditional Southern staples. Save room for a variety of homemade desserts. The scenic lakefront view and excellent service are also part of the Chestnut Hill dining experience. Served every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Reservations are accepted but not required.

Salt Water Creek Cafe
4660 U.S. 17 Bypass, Murrells Inlet
(843) 357-2433

Just off U.S. 17 in Murrells Inlet, Salt Water Creek Cafe has a bright, open, friendly and eclectic decor in what has been described as “casual upscale.” Serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., their menu features creative twists on classics combined with fresh, flavorful ingredients. The Crab Cake Benedict features an English muffin topped with homemade crab cake, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. It’s served with a grit cake topped with creek gravy and is the restaurant’s signature dish. Brighten your spirits with $3 mimosas, mojitos or Bloody Marys. Reservations accepted but not required.

Gulfstream Cafe
1536 S. Waccamaw Drive, Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-8808

Known for its seafood, steaks, indoor/outdoor dining and spectacular sunset views, Gulfstream Cafe also offers a Sunday brunch buffet from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Omelet stations, fresh seasonal fruit and traditional breakfast items are available, as well as fried chicken and other hot lunch items. Of course, this close to the Atlantic Ocean you’ll find plenty of seafood specialties, including fried cod and garlic mussels. A build-your-own Bloody Mary bar lets you create your perfect cocktail, all while you take in the spectacular waterfront views.

House of Blues
4640 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach
(843) 272-3000

The House of Blues Gospel Brunch is one of the most popular weekend dining destinations along the Grand Strand. Traditional and contemporary Gospel songs performed live by local and regional talent fill the air, as do the aromas of the New Orleans-inspired cuisine. Various carving stations, Southern specialties and the HOB signature Chicken and Waffles are just a few items that keep guests coming back for more. Enjoy the gospel music, the food and one of the largest collections of Southern folk art in the world. Gospel Brunch is served Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are recommended.

Rustic Table
10683 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island
(843) 314 - 0164

Chef Adam Kirby of Pawleys Island’s Bistro 217 has in his latest concept, Rustic Table, a restaurant that blends Southern comfort foods with modern twists that can only come from an extremely well-versed chef. Homemade she-crab soup, warm brie and pear honey (with toasted pecans and grilled bread), mini crab cakes and fried oyster sliders (with slaw and sriracha aioli) are just a few brunch options that have South Strand mouths watering. Committed to fresh, local ingredients, Rustic Table gets specific about acknowledging area farms, gardens and fishermen as sources. Widely considered one of the best new brunch options anywhere along the Grand Strand.  Brunch is served Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are recommended.

Best Place for Seafood

Chive Blossom Cafe
85 N. Causeway Road, Pawleys Island
(843) 237-1438

The small, unassuming Chive Blossom Cafe might be easy to miss, even though it sits on U.S. 17 in the heart of Pawleys Island. It’s an intimate, laid back kind of place, with seasonal indoor/outdoor dining, and that’s part of its charm. The real reason to go, however, is for the food—the seafood in particular. Moderately priced creative dishes for lunch and dinner range from she-crab soup with the right touch of sherry to shrimp-stuffed dates (apple smoked bacon, toasted pecans, smoked Gouda and a balsamic drizzle) and so much more. Chef’s creations include a seafood sampler, Bouillabaisse, scallops, wild salmon, crab cakes, grouper and plenty of non-seafood options as well.

Mr. Fish
6401 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 492-0374,

It’s all in a name. Fishmonger Ted Hammerman and his family have been processing, preparing and serving fresh seafood for decades. After relocating from its tiny storefront location at 34th Avenue North, Mr. Fish now has the space to serve large groups of seafood lovers, including those who visit for the dedicated sushi bar. Mr. Fish caters to locals and visitors looking for authentic, fresh seafood including gumbos, steamed and raw shellfish, large seafood combo platters and much more. Open daily for lunch and dinner. A Mr. Fish Seafood market is located nearby at 6307 N. Kings Highway.

Lee’s Inlet Kitchen
4460 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-2881

Serving great Southern seafood specialties in Murrells Inlet long before the Johnny-come-lateleys got to town, Lee’s Inlet Kitchen, now in its 68th year, continues its tradition of providing fresh seafood prepared the old-fashioned way: fried or broiled. Locally and regionally sourced shrimp, crab, oysters, scallops and fresh catches grace the menu, whether from the budget-friendly early bird offerings (4:30–5:30) or standard dinner fare. Opens at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The Sea Captain’s House
3002 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach
(843) 448-8082

Having survived countless storms over the past six decades, this picturesque oceanfront cottage-turned-restaurant is a must-visit for returning vacationers year after year and a local’s favorite for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sea Captain’s shrimp & grits is widely considered one of the best interpretations of this classic Southern dish (hint: their recipe can found on their website). For dinner, start with the Avocado Sea Fare, a salad featuring chilled shrimp, lump crab, avocado, asparagus, olives, tomatoes and a remoulade sauce. It’s a meal unto itself. The restaurant’s vast selection, oceanfront views and seaside history are unmatched along the Grand Strand.

Flamingo Grill
7500 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
(843) 449-5388

A venerable institution along the Grand Strand, the Flamingo Grill has been delighting patrons for more than a quarter of a century. Located in the easy-to-get-to Avenues neighborhood near 75th Avenue North, the art deco-inspired ambience creates a fun backdrop for enjoying creative seafood (and non-seafood) dishes including fried lobster bites, seared peppercorn tuna, inspired salads, pasta dishes, crab cakes, Flounder Cagney (a house specialty), Italian dishes and even tapas small plates. Opens at 4:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Best Burger

ART Burger Sushi Bar
706 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach
(843) 839-4774

New to the Strand in 2014, ART Burger opened as a casual, funky, museum art-inspired eatery in the ever-improving downtown Myrtle Beach area situated along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. Here you can choose from some 16 gourmet artisan burgers, including the El Greco: a burger topped with a Chorizo sausage patty, marinated red pepper, mixed greens and Manchego cheese. The classic Art Burger is topped with thick-sliced bacon, marinated red onion, bleu cheese and walnut chutney. The Rembrandt burger is seared in duck fat and topped with mushrooms, Manchego cheese and Dijon mustard. The Caravaggio is a Greek take on the burger featuring a ground lamb patty topped with cucumber Tzatziki, lettuce and tomato served on a pita. Plus sushi, nitrogen-infused cocktails and more.

10880 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island
(843) 979-2747

Located in the Pawleys Island Hammock Shops, BisQit is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a good burger before or after your shopping spree. Open daily at 8 a.m. with a breakfast menu and later serving soups, salads, appetizers and unusual items such as an egg-topped BLT or a cheddar and provolone grilled cheese sandwich, most come for the gourmet burgers. With around a dozen specialty burgers served in two sizes, guests can stay fairly traditional or get exotic with burgers such as the Trifecta, topped with bacon, country ham, chorizo, Swiss cheese, a spring mix of greens, tomato and spicy brown mustard. A build-your-own-option, also available in two sizes, allows you to customize your burger experience. All the burgers are made from a mix of ground Angus beef, short rib and brisket.

Greg’s Cabana Bar & Grill
2800 U.S. 17 S., Murrells Inlet
(843) 651-1836

This is the Garden City Beach staple you’ve driven by a million times and wondered about. Stop in and experience what loyal local patrons know to be one of the best burgers in town. Open daily at 11 a.m., this very casual bar and grill serves a wide variety of pub food, but the fresh-made, hand-formed patties are an inexpensive treat and go perfectly with an ice-cold bottle of beer. Eight specialty burgers, all around $8 each (with fries), include The Cheeseburger in Paradise, a signature classic with American cheese and all the usual toppings served on a toasted kaiser roll. The Hillbilly Burger is topped with cheddar cheese, pulled pork and barbecue sauce. The Inlet Burger is smothered in house-made crab dip. You can always improvise and have one made your way too.

Hamburger Joe’s
Two locations: 712 48th Ave. S., North Myrtle Beach, (843) 272-6834; and 1410 U.S. 17 Business, Surfside Beach, (843) 215-9052

With two locations to serve you, both north and south, Hamburger Joe’s has helped write the book on affordable, fun, casual, coastal dining since 1989. Known for great wings, a dozen appetizers, salads, sandwiches and cheap beer, with a name like “Hamburger Joe’s” the burgers better be good. And they are. Strictly a “have-it-your-own-way” burger stop without any of the fancy trappings, Joe’s starts with fresh ground beef and asks you to pick from slaw, chili, onions, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, relish and cheese. Want it all? No problem. Order one “all the way” and get ready. Don’t expect to pay much. The burgers are all under $4 (extra cheese and bacon, slightly more). With $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts, deals on domestic and import beers and $3 wine, it’s easy to see how Hamburger Joe’s is still going strong for 27 years and counting.


PHOTOGRAPHS BY SCOTT SMALLIN, BOBBY ALTMAN, CHRISTOPHER SHANE, TED WATERS, BRETT BENTON, PETER SCALISE, MICHAEL POWELL, BILL WOODWARD, AND LISA LIVINGSTON.  ADDITIONAL PHOTOS COURTESY House of Blues Entertainment, Lee’s Inlet Kitchen, river city cafe, hamburger joe’s, Salt Water Creek CafE, chestnut hill, gulfstream cafe, RIOZ BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE, Magnolia’s at 26th, wicked tuna, king kong sushi, Aspen Grille, Liberty Taproom, Collector’s Cafe, VOYD Multimedia, THE BRASS TAP AND Z’s Amazing Kitchen, CRAVE ITALIAN OVEN AND BAR, ultimate california pizza and COURTESY OF NEW YORK PRIME