Noisy Oyster provides the pelican pouches of area citizens with fresh, locally-caught fruits-of-the-sea. Inspect the extensive dinner menu before commencing incisor insertion into an appetizer such as the twistedly-tasty shrimp corn dogs—a skewer pierced with five battered jumbo shrimp, deep-fried to crispy resistance, and served with a side of sweet and spicy Chinese mustard sauce ($8.99). The baked seafood au gratin layers fresh shrimp, meaty scallops, and fresh fish medallions within the mortar of a decadent blue crab stuffing, Jack and cheddar cheeses, and a Parmesan cream sauce ($16.99), and the low-country crab cakes feature loads of crab meat with a blue crab hollandaise ($16.49) on top. Those abstaining from oceanic eating can direct their eyes toward the super cheeseburger ($6.49, add bacon for $0.79), or the spicy barbecue chicken pizza ($11.99), while those abstaining from eating in general can explore the drink menu. Quench thirst with house specialty jungle juice ($6.99) or the noisy oystertini, a spicy mixture made of Tabasco, horseradish, and vodka ($6.50).
Aqua-hued walls and potted plants lend Chill 'N' Grill's interior a cheerful ambience, and an outdoor deck, nestled beside a placid fishing pond, offers diners a scenic view. Seated in either area, guests can tuck into comforting, homestyle cuisine: specialties include hand-sculpted half-pound burgers, shrimp and grits, and steak salads with bleu cheese, walnuts, red onion, and eggs. The eatery's cooks also concoct desserts such battered, fried pickled peaches crowned with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Saluda's Restaurant celebrates many histories. Its solid mahogany bar was part of Philadelphia's Blakely Hotel in the late 1800s, its walls sport vintage European posters advertising festive drinks, and its menu pays homage to timeless Southern staples, from shrimp and grits to artfully grilled rib eyes. Perhaps the greatest nod to the past is the building itself, which was constructed after World War I as a VFW officers club. There, veterans would gather to carouse and reminisce, fostering a convivial tradition that Saluda's has since restored and nurtured.
Executive chef Blake Fairies fuels the animated atmosphere with dishes whose down-home roots benefit from French and Italian influences. His prime concern is freshness—in an interview with Undefined magazine, he revealed how his fish du jour is often prepped the day after his friend Mark, a member of Abundant Seafood in Charleston, lures it onto his boat with promises of a free tropical time share. Like much of the kitchen's produce, chef Blake’s flash-fried green tomatoes come from local farms, and his entrees incorporate seasonal ingredients to complement ones imported from across the world. The results are plates that blend classic taste with inventive zest: steaks in black-truffle butter, helpings of handmade pasta, and pork chops brined in sweet tea. At the bar, guests can peruse more than 300 wines as well as cocktails and small-batch bourbon.
Known for its jovial family atmosphere and cache of tasty treasures dredged from the vast deeps, Harbor Inn Seafood offers a safe port in a storm of codless eateries. Plentiful lunch and dinner menus supply succulent ocean-meat alongside appetizers and salads. At the sound of the supper sousaphone, sink your mouthhooks into a kick line of crab legs ($8.95) before diving into weekly specials such as fried catfish fillet ($7.95) or fried whiting with baby shrimp ($6.95). Aquaphobes, meanwhile, can surf without leaving the turf with a 10-ounce choice-cut rib eye with jumbo shrimp ($14.25). Once you’ve washed each fish into your belly’s ocean belly with a bottomless glass of iced tea, the Inn’s bakers will top you off with a slice of one of their many fresh-caught cakes. Lunchers, meanwhile, can revel in their own daily specials, be it Tuesday's fried perch with baby shrimp ($4.95), Wednesday's fried Alaskan whitefish with baby shrimp ($4.95), or Friday’s madness-inducing Chthulhu tentacles (market price). Otherwise, try an undersea musical number’s worth of flounder, baby shrimp, oysters, and deviled crab with the fried seafood platter ($7.95).
The Crab Pitt's chefs pile plates high with fresh seafood and American fare, searing and seasoning shrimp, oysters, scallops, and fish procured directly from McClellanville's local waters. Succulent dips made from wild-caught shrimp and crab precede or complement basil-and-parmesan-topped steamed oysters on half shells. As they revel in the casual atmosphere and enjoy banter with the consistently friendly servers, diners can try out fried alligator tail, frog legs, and other delicacies indigenous to the South. The staff also sizzles a tasty half-pound Angus cheeseburger, which weighs the same as the average secret agent’s bulletproof tie.
Smokehouse Restaurant slings made-from-scratch southern fare, which its cooks prepare daily from family recipes and gussy up with mustard-, vinegar-, and ketchup-based barbecue sauces. The barbecue buffet tempts dining duos with ribs, broccoli salad, fried chicken, catfish stew, and barbecue chicken that's juicier than gossip at the Pentagon. Alternatively, the catering menu assembles one or two customer-preferred meats, such as smoked ham, fried chicken, or ribs, with a choice of three sides, including collard greens, mac-'n'-cheese, fried okra, or potato salad. Smokehouse Restaurant rounds out its catered bounty with dessert, bread, and beverages for each person ($8–$10 per person), so party hosts don’t need to force guests to don soundproof jump suits to prevent a cacophony of stomach rumbles.
Nestled in among the trees, sunshine, and ferns of Hilton Head, Nick's Steak and Seafood looks like a friendly local joint from the outside. A simple step through the door, however, teleports diners from the Lowcountry to pure Pittsburgh sports mania. Owner Josh and his wife, Katie, both love the Steel City teams, and they celebrate that love with apparel and memorabilia from the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates all over the walls. To fuel the fanaticism, their chefs dish up a menu of classic surf 'n' turf, which includes filet mignon, lobster tail, and ready-to-peel shrimp.