The miles of beaches, outdoor activities, and shop-til-you-drop boutiques in the Hilton Head and Bluffton area aren’t the only attractions in these busy year-round resort communities — the restaurant scene is compelling as well. From requisite fresh-off-the-boat seafood to legit Parisian pastries, classic Italian fare, true farm-to-table dining, a burrito vending machine, and fine dining on the May River, there’s more than just standard beach dining to uncover here.Read More
12 Irresistible Restaurants to Dine in Hilton Head/Bluffton, South Carolina
Find everything from fried shrimp to French fare on the Lowcountry coast
Burnt Church Distillery
You can taste and buy world-class spirits at bustling and visually stunning Burnt Church Distillery, including various themed flights and creative cocktails, but the food is also a big draw. The in-house menu, including a unique charcuterie board bento box, pairs well with Burnt Church’s flights and cocktails and a surprisingly strong wine and beer list, as do the creative pizzas from adjacent Pizza Co. Pro tip: Book a behind-the-scenes tours far in advance.
Paying homage to the bounty of the region in a rustic chic farmhouse setting in Old Town, chef Brandon Carter shows the love to local farmers, fishermen, and producers with a menu that combines unique flavor combinations with what’s fresh. Whether a burrata, ham, Georgia peach, and arugula starter, shrimp risotto, or grilled flounder with pattypan squash and leeks, the highly composed plates are refined comfort and very shareable.
With a concise menu of burritos, tacos, bowls, and quesadillas with ingredients like chicken, pork, brisket, roasted cauliflower, and roasted sweet potato, this fast-casual, always-fresh spot in a charming house in the heart of Old Town is quick and tasty. But the real standout is the always-open burrito vending fridge on the front porch — complete with microwave — for whenever the burrito urge strikes.
Hudson's Seafood House On the Docks
For a traditional seafood feast at one of Hilton Head’s oldest restaurants, head to the docks on Skull Creek in Port Royal Sound for a fresh-from-the-docks feast of local shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, and fish. Located in a former 1920 seafood processing plant, Hudson’s is an island tradition and has served up fresh seafood — steamed, fried, pan-seared, blackened, or broiled — since 1967, along with killer waterfront views and sunsets.
River House at Montage Palmetto Bluff
River House at Montage Palmetto Bluff is essentially a new restaurant, thanks to a complete remodel featuring floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the May River, an expansion of the restaurant into what was once a large, screened porch, and a new and lively bar. Chef de cuisine Daniel Vesey’s new menu also shines as brightly as the new space, with a focus on fine seafood and game. Many non-residents opt to pair a River House reservation with a night at luxurious Montage Palmetto Bluff.
The Lucky Rooster Kitchen and Bar
Long-time island favorite Lucky Rooster is a Southern-inspired American bistro with executive chef David Landrigan’s creative takes on standards, plus a lively bar scene where interesting cocktails and lots of locals are in the mix. Dinner dishes like the skillet-roasted chicken breast, venison meatloaf, and steak frites, featuring duck fat fries, remain menu favorites, as do the separate lunch and brunch offerings from Friday to Sunday, like grilled fresh fish banh mi and Buffalo chicken Benedict.
With a menu that transcends genre, chef Scott Hastings combines cuisines from Europe, the Lowcountry, Asia, and New England in a vibrant, seaside-themed dining room and patio. With a range of dishes like Spanish octopus, butter poached lobster, surf and turf ravioli (wagyu ravioli with lobster bechamel), shrimp and grits, and Godiva chocolate souffle, there is veritably something for everyone for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
Hilton Head Social Bakery South
Owned and operated by award-winning French chef, pastry chef, and master baker, Philippe Feret, Hilton Head Social Bakery brings a bit of Paris to the beach, with authentic pastries, croissants, tarts, eclairs, macarons, napoleons, and more. The savory croque-monsieur, quiche, and fougasse make for a perfect brunch or lunch in the newest location or in the original spot at Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina.
Chez Georges Bistro & Bar
For the Francophiles, Chez Georges serves up traditional bistro favorites like soupe a l’oignon, escargots de bourgogne, and moules frites, along with French specialties with a Lowcountry accent, like roulade de porc stuffed with rainbow chard and bouillabaisse using Lowcountry boil ingredients. The fleur-de-lis decor and extensive French wine list (with a smattering of other European bottles) add to the Parisian vibe.
Michael Anthony's Cucina Italiana
An Italian island staple since 2002, Michael Anthony’s is much more than a sophisticated Fazzini family restaurant serving classics; it also invests in innovative mains and made-daily pastas, including the tagliatelle alla bolognese. There’s also the separate trattoria-like Market Cafe for casual lunches and dinners, plus popular happy hours, a gourmet Italian market, and a highly recommended cooking school, where chef Trey Place leads a variety of demos and hands-on classes with lots of repeat students.
Nectar Farm Kitchen
Part of the expansive Serg Group family of restaurants (with more than a dozen establishments across the Lowcountry), Nectar Farm Kitchen is a casual spot with a farmhouse vibe, featuring what’s fresh from local farms. Nectar offers breakfast until late afternoon, including Southern-leaning Benedicts like the Lowcountry Fried Bird. The lunch menu features an extensive list of fresh sandwiches and more, while supper means plates, bowls, and baskets. The second Bluffton location is at 207 Bluffton Road and features the in-house brewery providing beers to both locations, including the refreshing saison.
Long a favorite destination for food and views in Sea Pines, Quarterdeck underwent a complete remodel in early 2022 and reopened to rave reviews for the new nautical menu and decor, as well as the expanded expansive 270-degree views, a rooftop oyster bar, and the Quarterdeck Market, which features a raw seafood market and grab-and-go items. Fresh local shrimp still shines here, with possibilities including the shrimp Louie and local charcoal-roasted shrimp.