Best of the Grand Strand 2019
930 Lake Arrowhead Road, Myrtle Beach. (843) 449-5549, biminisoysterbar.com
With a locals’ identity and a slogan of “No Bad Days,” Bimini’s has been serving fresh seafood and cold beer since 1985. It prides itself on a recent social media review that dubbed it “the perfect dive bar,” filling a niche that avoids the high profile and high-kitsch atmosphere of bigger seafood restaurants. Instead, Bimini’s offers high-quality seafood in a laid back atmosphere with the friendliest service around. Enjoy oysters, shrimp, mussels and clams purchased by the dozen or by the pound, raw or steamed. Bimini’s also offers a full menu that features steam pots, crab legs and fresh fish, as well as a seafood market next door for to-go fish and shellfish. An outdoor patio, popular happy hour and live music on the weekends add to the carefree, casual climate where every day is a pleasure. Open Sunday–Tuesday from 4–10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 3–10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 12:30–10 p.m.
The Claw House
4097 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet. (843) 651-4415, theclawhouse.com
With a clapboard structure, airy interior and large outdoor beer garden, the Claw House is a New England-inspired lobster house serving seafood from local waters as well as the northern Atlantic. Its full-service raw bar, wide selection of craft beers and prime location on the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk make it a perfect place to while away an afternoon or evening. The raw bar offers oysters, clams, shrimp, crab and lobster served a variety of ways including raw, steamed, stacked, ceviche-style and cocktail-style. The Claw House offers both a traditional lobster roll—hand-picked lobster served chilled, mixed with mayonnaise, celery and spices in a grilled bun—in addition to whole steamed lobster, crab legs, seared scallops and a variety of other creative dishes incorporating fresh seafood. Open seven days a week 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Rockefellers Raw Bar
3613 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach. (843) 361-9677, rockefellersrawbar.com
This seafood spot in North Myrtle Beach is popular with locals for its casual, inviting atmosphere where steaming seafood is an event. Captain’s chairs line the bar, where patrons can watch their dinner being placed into steam kettles for an uber-fresh plate minutes later. Oysters are served on the half shell, fried, Rockefeller style or steamed, and other treasures from the sea include clams, mussels, scallops, crawfish, shrimp, a variety of fish, crab legs and lobster. Diners create their own dish for a steam kettle, selecting seafood item and preparation with an option of including a bed of pasta. Styles include Old Bay and beer, wine and garlic herb butter, marinara, Fra Diablo or alfredo. Other menu items include any seafood fried, broiled or blackened, as well specialties such as Hawaiian tuna, shrimp scampi or a simple, fresh po’ boy sandwich. Open 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
The Oyster Rock
9931 Nance St., Calabash, NC. (910) 579-6875, theoysterrock.com
This family-owned waterfront restaurant overlooks the Calabash River, providing a beautiful atmosphere for indoor or outdoor dining on the freshest seafood from local and regional purveyors. The menu takes a mischievous approach to labeling items, as “Certified Nut Cases” marks coconut shrimp and “Little Piggy River Rafts” are pork belly crostini with blue crab meat, while charcuterie is dubbed “The Board Meeting.” The raw bar offers oysters on the half shell by the dozen or pit-roasted by the mini-peck or half bushel. Shrimp is served as cocktail or peel-and-eat style, and the Calabash Boil combines steamed shrimp with crab legs, kielbasa sausage, red bliss potatoes and corn on the cob. Seafood is also offered in the traditional Calabash style as well as other signature preparations. The Oyster Rock is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4–9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4–10 p.m., and Sunday from 4–9 p.m.
Pawley's Raw Bar Crab and Seafood Shack
9488 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island. (843) 979-2722, pawleysrawbar.com
This funky little shack, part of the Divine Dining Group, offers fresh seafood in a laid back atmosphere complete with butcher paper lined tables, live music on the weekends, spacious outdoor decks and a playground to keep the kids busy. The raw bar features Apalachicola oysters, cold water selects, Little Neck clams, mussels, shrimp and crab legs, and the Lowcountry boiler pots are a special favorite, filled with all the raw bar delicacies plus sausage, corn, red potatoes and Old Bay seasoning. The full menu includes a variety of fresh fish and eclectic island specialties, including blackened fish tacos, fried calamari tacos and blackened salmon Etouffee. Sandwiches follow the same theme, with a crab melt and a variety of seafood po’ boys, in addition to burgers and chicken sandwiches for the non-seafaring crowd. Pawleys Raw Bar is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Photograph's by Michael Powell and courtesy of Bimini’s, Rockefellers, The Oyster Rock and Divine Dining Group