Hanser House feeds you like family
Step foot into the Hanser House, and you’ll instantly feel like part of the family—just as you should in a home. Even the building’s exterior façade resembles a Lowcountry beach house, complete with a laid-back gravel parking lot.
Inside, coastal elements continue to ebb and flow throughout the decor, from floor to ceiling. Seashell chandeliers and beach artwork drift into bright, beach scene murals and natural light. The family-owned Pawleys Island restaurant has been a local staple along Ocean Highway just south of Litchfield for 21 years and continues to receive a supportive (socially distanced) embrace from locals during the pandemic.
My family of five was greeted at the door by a round of smiles and a warm dose of Southern hospitality. We immediately felt welcomed, which is big in this mama’s book whenever I dine out with my crew that makes an entrance, ranging from a teen to a toddler. That said, we were led to a cozy back corner in one of the dining rooms, which was perfect for us.
After ordering a round of caffeinated sodas that the boys aren’t usually allowed to partake in at home—and a couple of beers for Mom and Dad—we did a deep dive into Hanser House’s seafood-laden menu.
We started by sharing the Hot Crab Dip, a creamy-spicy house crab recipe paired with fresh tortilla chips that didn’t go to waste at our table. In addition to this delish app, there are also boneless wings; homemade onion rings dipped in their jalapeno cream sauce; oysters on the half shell; fire-hot, bite-size Buffalo creek shrimp; and, one I want to try next time, their specialty Southern Oysters Rockefeller, baked and topped with collard greens, chopped bacon, cheese and spices.
Hubby also started his meal off with a comfortable cup of the Hanser family She Crab Soup, a luscious secret family recipe that’s been dished out for generations. Sweet crab meat was plentiful and the broth was one you only wish you could replicate in your own kitchen.
I’ve also been told that the Murrells Inlet Stew here is a must-try: fresh, local oysters spooned into a cream base. His entree selection was the Litchfield Combo—a broiled flounder filet and a healthy heaping of fantail shrimp—served with a fresh house salad and choice of side; he went with the homemade onion rings. And devoured it all.
You can trust that any menu selection in this House is locally sourced—and that you won’t go home hungry. I decided on the Grilled Fantail Shrimp entree: a bounty of local Carolina jumbo shrimp seasoned in a blend of secret spices and served with a fresh house salad, their famous hushpuppies and a side of my choice (I chose jalapeno fried grits).
Sometimes they mix in unique sides, like squash casserole. Everything was fresh, grilled to perfection, and highly recommended. On a different visit, I had ordered a local oyster roast—seasonal and to-die-for—because I was hankerin’ for shucking some fresh, local cluster oysters and drowning them in drawn butter. My teen, who has proudly graduated from the 10-and-under children’s menu, went with the fried (no surprise) creek shrimp—a step up from popcorn shrimp—and a side of coleslaw and French fries (again, no surprise).
The remaining boys—one who is nearing graduation from the children’s menu, which may affect how often our family dines out—went with fried creek shrimp as well and a grilled cheese, which are served with French fries and apple sauce. Added bonus is that kids’ meals are served up on a Frisbee to take home, which is preferred over those Happy Meal toys that clutter up our toy box at home.
There are so many other menu options you’ll want to take in and eat up—and not necessarily seafaring, such as Granny’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions and Monterey Jack cheese on Texas Toast; Shrimp Creole; Jambalaya; and a host of chargrilled steak cuts.
If you get there early enough, take advantage of their discount Early Bird menu from 4-6 p.m. And if you somehow saved enough room for dessert, order a slice of Pawleys Island Pie, a melt-in-your-mouth indulgence baked with warm chocolate chips and walnuts.
If the Hanser House restaurant is any indication of how the Hanser family welcomes folks into their own kitchen and dining room table at home, it’s no wonder it’s become such a local Lowcountry institution.
14360 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island
Hours: Monday–Thursday, 4–9 p.m., Friday–Sunday, 4-10 p.m.