There’s no shortage of fish in the seas surrounding Hilton Head, and fortunately for the town’s foodie’s, there’s no shortage of restaurants willing to slice, dice, and whip them up into something truly delicious. Whether you’re in the mood for down-home comfort food or some seriously fancy French fare, you’re guaranteed to find something to satisfy both your cravings and your budget. If you’re looking to sample the best of the best, check out our round-up of the 10 very best seafood restaurants in Hilton Head, SC.
10. Old Oyster Factory
Where: 101 Marshland Rd Hilton Head Island, SC
Beautiful views, a wide menu of classic and contemporary seafood dishes, and an unparalleled level of service… if this sounds your kind of thing, you won’t want to miss a visit to the sublime Old Oyster Factory. As the name implies, shellfish is most definitely a specialty, but even if you can’t be tempted by its signature dishes, you’ll still find plenty to love in a menu featuring Almond Crusted Mahi Mahi, Key Lime Salmon, and Blackened Carolina Catfish.
9. The Black Marlin Bayside Grill
Where: 86 Helmsman Way Suite 103, Hilton Head Island, SC
According to its slogan, the Black Marlin Bayside Grill offers “the Island’s Best Selection of Fresh Seafood, Hand-Cut Steaks, and Cool Libations all in a relaxing Key West atmosphere” … and who are we to disagree? Prices are reasonable, service is never less than warm, and the menu is wide and varied enough to please the whole family. All in all, a great addition to the Hilton Head restaurant scene.
8. Marleys Island Grille
Where: 35 Office Park Rd (at Greenwood Dr), Hilton Head Island, SC
The ambiance of Marleys Island Grille may be fun and casual, but there’s nothing frivolous about the seriously good food being dished up. The fish is locally caught, sensitively treated, and served with accompaniments that complement, but never overwhelm, the star attraction. The cocktail list, meanwhile, is seriously impressive, with a selection of mojitos, margaritas, sangria and coastal cocktails that will have you begging for more.
7. Skull Creek Boathouse
Where: 405 Squire Pope Rd, Hilton Head Island, SC
Before you even set eyes on the menu, you’ll be glad you made the trip to Skull Creek Boathouse. The old-style river house is full of authentic details, while its nautically themed décor is a joy. During the warmer evening, the outdoor patio and bar make a great place to watch the sunset over Skull Creek. Then there’s the menu… house-smoked barbeque competes for attention with a range of flawlessly executed seafood dishes, made with love, served with a flourish, and eaten with relish.
6. ELA'S On the Water
Where: One Shelter Cove Ln Hilton Head Island, SC
With a stunning location on Shelter Cove Harbor overlooking the marina and Broad Creek, the views from ELA'S On the Water are something else… as is its menu of imaginatively crafted seafood classics, warmly inviting interior, intimate dining patio, and first-rate entertainment. For a taste sensation you’ll not forget in a hurry, try the fish and chips, a classic dish that’s elevated to heavenly heights by the addition of a side of key lime aioli.
5. Catch 22
Where: 37 New Orleans Rd, Ste K Hilton Head Island, SC
Since it first opened its doors in 2001, Catch 22 has become something of a local institution. Its fresh, modern take on surf “n” turf is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, while its service, attention to detail, and warm atmosphere are beyond fault. Prices are more than reasonable, while those on a strict budget will love the cheap and cheerful early bird menu.
4. Alexander's Restaurant & Wine Bar
Where: 76 Queens Folly Rd Hilton Head, SC
For special occasions, Alexander's Restaurant & Wine Bar is hard to beat. Serving up a seasonal menu of locally-caught seafood and locally-sourced fresh produce (not to mention a wine list that’s as extensive as the service is attentive), it’s the kind of place you don’t mind blowing a hole in your budget for. Standouts from the packed menu include Fried Green Tomatoes serviced with pimento cheese, red onion marmalade, arugula, crispy prosciutto, and sundried tomato vinaigrette, Shrimp and Grits served with Andouille sausage "gravy", Geechie Boy grits, cherry tomatoes, and scallion, and Popcorn Flash-Fried Calamari accompanied by sambal syrup, scallion, and wasabi aioli.
3. The Pearl
Where: 55 Calhoun Street Bluffton, SC
Fresh, innovative, and contemporary, The Pearl offers up a faultless combination of superb service, fabulous food, and boutique-style drinks. Its bright, lively atmosphere is well matched by a menu that could best be described as “sprightly”: expect plenty of fresh, locally sourced ingredients, along with a philosophy that aims to combine that elusive balance of sweet, salty and sour in every dish. As equally delicious as the main menu are the deserts, with standouts including a tangy key lime meringue pie pilled with the lightest clouds of fresh meringue imaginable, and a heavenly caramel cheesecake smothered in a dolce caramel sauce.
2. Red Fish - Hilton Head
Where: 8 Archer Rd. Hilton Head Island, SC
If you’re in the mood for some seriously good surf “n” turf, you’ll not be disappointed with Red Fish. Even if the food wasn’t enough to tempt you, its wine cellar certainly should be – its collection of 1300 wines is notable enough to have earned the restaurant a Wine Spectator Magazine's Best of Award of Excellence since 2001. If you can maintain your sobriety long enough to enjoy the delectable dishes on offer, you’ll find a superb Firecracker Calamari, an incredible signature dish of Red Fish Classic Jumbo Scallops, and a positively sumptuous Lobster Shrimp Macaroni & Cheese
1. Charlie's L'Etoile Verte
Where: 8 New Orleans Rd Hilton Head, SC 29928
For fresh seafood served with French flair, you’ll not get much better than Charlie's L'Etoile Verte. Almost as good as the food is the ambiance, which manages to be both high end and warmly intimate at the same time. The food, meanwhile, is nothing short of superb: the menu changes daily, depending on what’s fresh off the boat that day, but the preference for fresh, locally produced ingredients, superb cooking, and creative plating doesn’t change.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson