Local fresh seafood (plus meats and produce from nearby farms) is one of the highlights of many vacations to the South Carolina Lowcountry. Fish, oysters and shrimp choices vary with the seasons. Most restaurants offer daily specials with the freshest direct from the docks.
Dining ranges from dozens of casual seafood restaurants to four star fine dining and world-class wine lists. The non-seafood diner will be happy with plenty of meats or vegetarian items. Fast food, delis, chain restaurants, ice cream shops, bakeries and catering are here too.
From more than 100 choices, we suggest those tried and true favorites recommended by locals and visitors. Don't be surprised that new ones appear occasionally, and a few may disappear too.
Dinner hours during busy summer seasons may require a wait, and reservations are recommended when available. Seasonal hours and a few closings are typical during slow tourist times in winter months.Tagged for Eat...
Seafood Restaurant & Wine Bar
Alexander’s is popular for its extensive wine list, as it has received the Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator magazine since 2001. The list includes new world or old world labels in a wide price range and retail availability which saves a stop at a different shop for a bottle to take home.
Chinese, Japanese, Thai
Sushi bar, dim sum, lunch buffet, and great Asian fusion entrees. It's contemporary and stylish with a welcoming ambiance.
Small restaurant and bar indoors and large backyard with shady seating and games to fill the waiting time. This is an extremely popular local-flavor restaurant. Reservations are not taken, and a wait during prime dinner hours may be lengthy but the full bar with appetizers is available too. Live entertainment is in the yard during the summer.
bistro and pizzaria
Homemade dough for New York style crust pizza and red or white sauces with a good variety of fresh toppings; traditional Italian entrees; big subs and salads. Reasonably-priced wine list and fabulous desserts of tiramisu, cannoli, spumoni and more.
at Shelter Cove Marina
Sunsets over the harbor are never better than at this spot. The bistro has outdoor seating which is dog friendly and even has a puppy menu which is prepared by Lucky Dog Cuisine. Indoor dining also offers the harbor view.
It's at the Palmetto Bay Marina
and delivers a view, especially during the season with outdoor seating.
open if it's smokin'
Slow cooked chicken, ribs or pulled pork are piled high on plates or sandwiches, and they say there's always beer if the food runs out :)
Bluffton Farmers' Market
entertainment and local products
original Bar & Grill
A popular spot proud of its reputation for attracting fun loving drinking boaters. It’s often crowded and not intended for a quick visit. They say "Don't get your shorts in a knot" if you have to wait for a table or for your food. Have another beer and enjoy the view.
Captain Woody's - Bluffton
similar to original bar at Palmetto Bay Marina
The only rooftop bar in town, bar seating with TV to watch, indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of special food and drink offers bring locals and visitors to this new location. It's the same menu as the original Captain Woody's
which is more rustic at the marina location.
Charlie’s L’etoile Verte
an upscale favorite
The menu changes daily with choices based on the freshest available local fish and usually including lamb, steak, duck and other dishes.
formerly Charley's Crab
The creek-front location is a long-time favorite, and the change to one of the Chart House
nationwide group is welcomed by many visitors.
center of the action on the south end of the island
The plaza’s name came from Admiral Gaspard de Coligny who was one of the Protestant leaders sponsoring the early French Hugenot voyages to the New World.
Cookies by Design
made with sugar, flour and pure ingenuity
The sweet aroma of cookies fresh from the oven wafts into your senses before you even get upstairs to this little bakery in Berkley Place on Buckwalter Parkway. Bet you can't resist a few to go!
Pizza, sandwiches, sushi and "big small plates" are served in a neighborhood wine bar. Blondes and Redheads are poured from 100 bottles. From Oregonian to Argentinian to Spanish, it's all here by bottle, glass or flight from $30 bottles to $225. Also, craft beers by bottle or on draft are available.
in Harbour Town
This was the first building in Harbour Town, designed by Ralph Ballentine as his artist studio. He created it to resemble a rice barn, and authentic materials were acquired from demolished houses and churches in neighboring counties.
Steakhouse and Seafood
This tavern and steakhouse features prime beef with a father-daughter team carrying on a family tradition of 100 years of serving fine food and drink. Its dark wood paneling and white linen service are that of a classic steakhouse.
for seafood lovers
Plenty of local seafood options in a casual setting with indoor or outdoor seating with a water view.
Crazy Crab - Harbour Town
in Sea Pines
It's fresh seafood at its best. From soups and salads to fried, steamed or boiled, it's all here. Some of the favorite lunch items are the Fried Grouper Sandwich
, the Fried Oyster Sandwich
or the Broiled Platter
with fish, scallops, shrimp and stuffed flounder. Anything your heart could desire is piled on a sandwich or a platter. Most diners want to begin any meal with the famed She Crab Soup
E L A's
Blu Water Grille
It’s on the waterfront overlooking Shelter Cove Harbour with spectacular views including sunset. Docking fees are free with reservations. (It was formerly the site of Ocean Grille.) It's owned by a local family and features bright open decor showcasing a collection of America's Cup replica sail boats and works by local artist Pete Karis.
Traditional Mexican dishes with freshly prepared items daily in family restaurants. Popular with locals and visitors.
Restaurant and Lounge
It’s casual American-Italian. Soups, salads, flatbread pizza, burgers or pasta entrées are widely varied for lunch. Dinner entrées include vegetarian choices plus an ultimate combination of lobster mac and cheese.
Pizza & Pasta
Fresh sauces made daily, homemade dough for pizza and calzones and good quality ingredients are the trademark of this friendly casual restaurant. Any type of topping or filling is offered as well as sub sandwiches, hoagies and signature weggies (a sandwich baked in pizza dough). Original Philly cheesesteaks are the real deal with bread brought in from Philly.
Gullah Home Cooking...
the Daufuskie Way
Sallie Ann Robinson is distinguished by her catering, her cooking demonstrations during local appearances and by her two published cookbooks which preserve many original family recipes. Her first cookbook Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way, published in 2003, includes sea island recipes and her stories of island life. Her Cooking the Gullah Way Morning, Noon and Night was published in 2007. Another book is underway.
shopping, dining, entertainment
Harbour Town Lighthouse
at Sea Pines
This is the most recognized landmark of Hilton Head and worth a visit to Harbour Town with additional shopping, dining and activities within Sea Pines. It was built in 1970, the first privately financed lighthouse built since the early 1800s.
Hilton Head Diner
Breakfast, burgers or sandwiches anytime distinguish the character of this true diner. If it's not breakfast or lunch time, there's pork chops, tilapia or Italian cuisine, meatloaf or liver and onions. Cheesecakes, fruit pies and more desserts are baked here and available for take out. There's a full bar, a children's menu and a jukebox at each booth. Not much that isn't found here.
Hudson’s Seafood House
on the Docks
Casual and typical seafood house on the docks, this is the oldest of the island’s restaurants, and the view showcases the special catch arriving daily. It may be cobia or the ubiquitous and most popular shrimp. The restaurant boasts of serving 40,000 pounds of shrimp, 3,000 gallons of oysters and 12,000 softshell crabs each year.
The location in the Village at Wexford is convenient to shopping and lodging. Dining is good quality in a casual atmosphere indoors or out. The lunch menu features soups, burgers and salad plates or a few of the entrées from the dinner menu.
for tastings and special events
Cherries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, chocolate, oranges, cranberries, apples, cinnamon – any of these flavors appeal to you today? Oh, yes, grapes are crushed and mashed! Magic is worked within tanks and barrels for a fermentation process. And voila, it’s wine! With tastes ranging from subtle combinations of these fruits to a margarita, Island Winery has put it into a bottle of wine. Not all together of course!
music after dinner
It’s well known for the jazz performances and the concept of the venue itself conveniently located in the Village at Wexford.
Jim N Nick’s
Casual and friendly, this busy spot never disappoints. It’s actually a chain with locations in seven states, primarily southern.
This small restaurant is quite casual, and its location makes it convenient for guests on the south end of the island. Vegetarian meals and the kids’ menu make it a popular choice for selective families. The menu includes fresh seafood, veal and pasta dishes.
Cajun Seafood Hut
This French Quarter Cafe is a Cajun seafood hut with some of the best you can find outside N'awlins. Traditional Cajun creole seafood specialties, fried baskets and Big Easy PoBoys
are just a start.
seafood and steakhouse
Panoramic water views over the harbor are a treat. Take a camera to catch the pelicans posing nearby or showing off their fishing skills.
Steak House and Sushi Bar
One of the popular Japanese restaurants for take-out sushi or dining from the menu or around the Teppanyaki table. The quality is fresh, the atmosphere comfortable, and a large menu includes all traditional Japanese meat, vegetable or seafood entrées at a reasonable price.
Lovely little French-style bistro tucked away into a shopping center, this is a favorite of many locals. It's cozy and friendly with one of the owners on site and attentive to guests.
cuisine cooked for pups
Lucky Dog Cuisine is a provider of human grade cooked meals for dogs. Just ask the spokesdog Bugsy (the Wonderdog) about his book Educating Humans to understand the importance of this food.
cheese pizza Happy Hour 3-4 pm
This good Italian restaurant is a casual convenient spot for picking up an order or staying to watch a ballgame, especially if it involves Ohio State. Outdoor dining is comfortable too.
Delicious flavors include seafood and steak
May River Grill
Fresh seafood, veal and steak are uniquely local in this popular casual restaurant which is often voted by locals as the best in Bluffton.
It's casual and comfortable with wonderful Italian cuisine. Reservations are suggested, although it's easy to dine at the bar without reservations.
Thai Japanese Asian Fusion
Contemporary decor and friendly welcoming ambiance with wide variety of sushi and entrees along with talented chefs performing their culinary tricks on hibachi tables in separate section. The wine list is extensive.
Old Fort Pub
Four diamond dining
From Carolina Trout to New Zealand Lamb and many more entrée choices, Executive Chef Keith Josefiak dishes up dinners which live up to his stellar reputation spanning many years
in fine restaurants in the Lowcountry.
Old Oyster Factory
on Broad Creek
The site was the home of the Broad Creek Oyster Factory, a cannery which closed in the 1990s.
Old Town Dispensary
It's new with architecture and feel of the old Bluffton. Don't know what was here in 1893 :)
One Hot Mama’s
"Mama" Orchid Paulmeier is a tiny young Filipino chef mixing southern traditions with her own tasty touches. The popular and vivacious personality was a 2011 Food Network Star finalist.
Patty's Pig 'N' Pit
Lots of pork, barbecued, pulled or chops and much more including burgers (maybe with bacon), chicken, steaks, smoked fish, shrimp and southern sides with non-traditional touches and choices of signature sauces. Creative stuffings for potatoes and chili or gumbo also are special.
Coal Fired Pizza
Entrees, appetizers and pizzas include all of the traditional flavors with personalized touch. It's one of the best places in Berkeley Place in the Buckwalter area outside the historic section of Bluffton to sit down and enjoy a pizza or grab one to take out.
Pick Pocket Plantation
and farmers' market
The historic plantation is a mid-19th century property with a restored plantation home and several additional buildings. Tours are available.
Several small shops and service businesses along with a half dozen restaurants and coffee shops, this is larger than it appears at first glance. The back side is especially attractive with outdoor dining along the duck pond.
Italian ice cream
Although primarily chosen for dessert, this could be a favorite place for lunch. Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream and is lower in fat, cholesterol and calories than ice cream. Made by hand, it has no artificial ingredients. Several flavors or combinations are served.
Creative Lowcountry Cuisine
New bistro in Bluffton opened in spring 2012 with a menu similar to the long-popular Beaufort downtown Plum's
featuring fresh local seafood, salads, sandwiches and creative entrees.
fine food, wine, art, ambiance
The open kitchen dishes out fine fresh seafood in an upscale atmosphere with a light Caribbean flair reflecting some of the experience brought by Chef Sean Walsh. It’s often chosen for lunch with large sensational salads, creative sandwiches or seafood entrées.
The Kobe beef burger is far more than a burger with foie gras and truffles. Seating is indoor or outdoor.
It's a bit of a pub with such semi-Irish menu specialties as fish and chips or corned beef and cabbage as well as Blarney Burgers. Also, there are plenty of American sandwiches, steaks, seafood and pasta with a lowcountry touch. Daily lunch or dinner specials, and sometimes coupons, can be found on the website.
Roastfish and Cornbread
Chef David Vincent Young prides himself on true country cooking with items not found too many other places, such as Sweet Potato Cornbread
, Sweet Potato Cheesecake, collard greens
. Po boys, alligator or conch fritters are popular too. Expect reasonable prices and a big platter of almost any fresh fish such as tilapia, tuna, catfish, flounder, grouper plus oysters and shrimp.
Robert Irvine’s eat!
the ultimate experience
The famous host of Dinner: Impossible comes direct from Food Network to bring beautiful dinners to his restaurant.
He is also known for his coaching on Food Network's The Worst Cooks in America
and for his newest network venture Restaurant: Possible
. He might be spotted in the local restaurant chatting with guests here too.
fine dining almost hidden
The feel is dressy, but casual and friendly keeps it comfortable. The open kitchen in the center of the room invites seating around the chef’s table to watch the chefs at work, although a few quaint dining room tables also are available.
restaurants and shops
Restaurants, bars and food choices at South Beach Marina Village in Sea Pines:
Mexican on the marina
Known for margarita and other cocktail specialties plus homemade Sangria and a good selection of Mexican Cerveza, (that's good beer!) the menu includes almost any imaginable Mexican meals.
Mesquite hardwood grilling lends the true flavor of the southwest to the New Mexico style menu.
Scott’s Fish Market
dinner with harbour view
With a theme of “Love, Surf, Fish, Eat,” don’t you think it’s serving up fun and food! It’s not actually a market, but a casual restaurant specializing in fresh seafood, pasta, entrée salads, sandwiches and steaks.
Sea Grass Grille
lowcountry beach theme
This small eatery is not particularly sophisticated and often overlooked. The menu is predominantly seafood including scallops, and several fish choices. Other entrees are rack of lamb, duck, pork or veal entrées.
Homes, villas and the Inn at Harbour Town
offer fine accommodations for any vacation, whether a golf group or family trip. It's a gated community with everything that could be desired. The rentals range from deluxe to moderate comfortable accommodations which are in separate sections: Oceanside, South Beach, Harbour Town or plantation. The North Forest Beach is outside the gated resort.
not fancy, just good
It really doesn't look like much, and it's almost hidden, but locals and repeat visitors alike will say it's the only place to eat. At least, it's often the first recommendation of anyone you might ask.
Shelter Cove Harbour
Retail shops include gifts, art, apparel, kids’ clothing, home and garden accessories. Special events are frequently in the complex which is waterfront with scenic views of the marina on Broad Creek.
Sheri's Edible Designs
custom cake art
Create! Indulge! Inspire! That's her idea, and it's always sweet and scrumptious.
Rotisserie & Seafood
Choose from lamb, pork, calf's liver, lobster, mussels as well as fresh seafood specials daily and prime rib, duckling or chicken from the rotisserie. It's all really
good in a family-owned restaurant with friendly atmosphere! A unique appetizer is the Fried Green and Red Tomato
which is accompanied by mozzarella, spinach and lowcountry succotash.
Grill and Cafe
Skull Creek Boathouse
formerly Boathouse II
It's on the creek with indoor or outdoor seating and a perfect sunset view with a countdown till sunset time displayed daily on the website. Watch the website or Twitter for news of happenings and special events such as the Full Moon themed parties.
The new location is attractive with a large bar area, big dining room and great deck around the outdoor fireplace. It's a friendly spot to watch a game on TV or sample the 12 beers on tap.
Casual and comfortable, as well as conveniently located in Coligny Plaza
, this is one of the favorite places for a big bucket of steamed oysters. Plenty of other seafood is available including shrimp, clams, mussels, crawfish, snow crab legs and more.
dried liver and more for poochie
People and pups love Teresa Brandow who created Stella Snacks. Dried liver snack anyone? Prefer it frozen or organic? Sound tasty? Yes, it’s all yummy, for the dogs!
Anyone who has ever eaten a hot dog from a vendor’s cart on the sidewalk will recognize the concept.
Small and a bit hard to find, upstairs with no access for handicapped, and parking is limited, but the views and the food are worth the stop off the beaten path.
New American and Greek
It's a wide variety of beautifully-prepared tapas with meats and seafoods plus creamy soups and creative salads. A few of the many tempting choices include Fried Green Tomatoes, Cajun Alligator, Jambalaya, Lobster Thermidor, Venison Chasseur, Grilled Lamb Chops
and Duck au Cassis.
cafe, bakery & tearoom
Café and bakery in a historic cottage in the small artsy Bluffton downtown. Baked goods are hand crafted; salads and sandwiches are creative and piled high with big scoops. Iced tea is touched lightly with fresh mint from the garden. Low key, but it gives any tea room a run for the money. The attractive tea display showcases dozens of sipping choices, and the bakery and deli items are displayed in the cases.
Beer & Growler Bar
Most popular bar EVER for beer lovers :) Rotating taps with 36 craft beers and growlers to go.Wine keeper system too. Big burgers.
The Village at Wexford
dining and boutique shopping
Some fine dining, British Open Pub
, Pino Gelato, and casual restaurants Robert Irvine’s eat!, Antonio’s, Hugo’s and The Jazz Corner
are in this little village grouping along with boutique shops for clothing, jewelry and a variety of home and personal accessories.
New in late 2011 and truly divine, this little bistro is tucked away in a corner of Park Plaza, but it's a lovely spot for a fine Italian meal, maybe even a special romantic dinner. Cozy atmosphere is surrounded by Italian-themed murals. Outdoor seating is available too.
Everything is good with sandwiches, salads and entrées and some lowcountry flavor. Entrée salads are especially large portions. A chicken lover will find several good salads featuring Southwestern or curry flavors. Additional chicken entrée preparations are Havana or a barbecue rub. Try the meatloaf or pasta too.
Ultimate Gullah Cookbook
by Veronica Davis Gerald and Jesse Edward Gant, Jr.
Recipes within the framework of Gullah culture. They say Gullah food is “older than the South.”
small plates, big wines, serious cocktails
Trendy and especially suitable for couples and young groups. Small plates and specials match the fun atmosphere.