Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top-five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milkshake, and Best Drivethru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through its program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
Curated by chef Eric Roberts, Island Bistro's menu boasts boutique wines and beers and intricate American cuisine drawn from a diverse palette of flavors. From the casual, open dining room or the outdoor seating area, curb impatient appetites with crab-stuffed mushrooms with hollandaise sauce ($9) or fried green tomatoes, lightly breaded with asiago cheese and applewood smoked bacon ($8). A hearty 16-ounce prime rib, served with au jus and fresh horseradish ($23), both fills stomachs and clears sinuses, and a bed of cheesy grits doubles down on Southern flavors under a Cajun mélange of shrimp, tasso ham, and chipotle cream ($19). For dessert, the chocolate lava cake ($6) erupts midway through consumption, preserving nearby crockery in layers of confectionary ash.
At Patty's Pig 'n' Pit, seasoned chefs emerge from behind the pit's smoky billows with dry-rubbed Angus steaks, hand-shaped burgers, and fresh seafood. Meanwhile, six homemade signature sauces, such as North Carolina Vinegar, South Carolina Mustard, Kansas City Sweet, Kansas City Spicy, Auntie JD's Bourbon, and Southwestern Ancho, are presented to tables. A cavalcade of meats parade across the diverse menu, including starter plates of wings ($9) delivered straight from the grill. Diners can cover hands in the saucy apparel of a smoky brisket platter ($15), or corral succulent hunks of pulled pork ($13), which is rubbed, smoked, and given a pep talk before bravely going out to take on palates. Alternatively, ambrosial scents trail behind the Patty's barbecue-special burger ($9.50), whose sautéed mushrooms and onions splash about in melted cheddar cheese. Fried shrimp ($16), like an eccentric fishing captain, dons a cloak of cocktail sauce, and classic Southern sides ($3) such as baked beans, mac 'n' cheese, and white-cheddar grits volunteer tasty forkfuls, offsetting meaty bites and giving winded napkins a breather.
Located in Shelter Cove Marina, Bistro 17 serves up French-inspired eats with spectacular waterfront spectacles. Explore the cushiony depths of the chicken crêpes with carmelized onions and roasted garlic cream sauce ($15), or tongue-curtsy with the béchamel-sauce-bedecked Croque Madame ($14). Keep canine cravings safely leashed with offerings from the puppy menu, which serves dogs of all ages human-grade, specially formulated meals ($6, half of which is donated to a local animal charity). The breakfast menu, a selection or crêpes, sandwiches, and waffles, includes free mimosas, a surefire way to get your champagne-fueled doppelgänger out of your bed in the morning.
Bomboras Grille, located just a few steps from the beach, is dedicated to presenting lively low-country flavor in creative ways. All the owners and staff members have a passion for food, craft beer, wine, or all three, and they channel that enthusiasm into the restaurant's menus.
Social Dining in the Low Country
Executive chef Nick Ryan knows that Southern culinary traditions aren't only about sumptuous flavor?they're also about spending time with family and friends. At Bomboras Grille, he takes that social aspect a step further with a menu of Southern-style tapas. He's won loval fans with dishes such as pulled-pork egg rolls, pan-roasted mussels with andouille sausage, and shiitake salad with South Carolina shrimp. In 2013, readers of the Island Packet rewarded his efforts by voting Bomboras Grille the Best Tapas Restaurant on Hilton Head Island.
Drinks on the Patio
Drinks complete the dining experience at Bomboras Grille, where a diverse set of guests can relax on a patio lined with waving palms and a garden of cocktail umbrellas trying to grow into beach umbrellas.