The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition will have downtown crawling with thousands of animal lovers this weekend, which means restaurants will be packed with lines out the door. To avoid the crush, we recommended hightailing it to the suburbs to discover some of our favorite gems.

Opal is always a solid choice when venturing to Mt. Pleasant. This weekend chef/owner Patrick Owens is serving up some noteworthy specials like a scallop, local brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion appetizer served with a mustard bacon vinaigrette ($9) and carne cruda, which is a beef tartare with shiitake mushrooms, parmesan, capers, and lemon juice ($12). For dinner, go surf and turf with the local shrimp and steak served with béarnaise sauce and paired with mascarpone potatoes ($40). The local catch this weekend is golden tilefish, pan-seared and topped with goat cheese, parsley, and pesto ($27).

Down on Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant, Chef de Cuisine Forrest Parker at the Old Village Post House is also featuring pan-roasted golden tilefish filet, which he’s serving on creamy Carolina Gold rice grits with roasted cauliflower, shaved fennel, and seasonal citrus salad dressed in a citron vinaigrette ($26). “This firm, fleshed, and flaky fish is available for only a short season and has a sweet taste,” says Parker. They are also featuring pan-seared duck breast seasoned then seared in an iron skillet and cooked to temperature. The duck is paired with toasted couscous, creamed spinach, roasted Ambrose carrots, and pinot-cherry sauce ($28).

In Park Circle, head to the area’s beloved Cork Neighborhood Bistro, which will feature a pan-roasted pork chop with apple butter demi-glace, sweet potato with goat cheese, and roasted brussels sprouts ($21). And don’t miss their famous tomato bisque soup with basil oil and parmesan cheese ($4). It’s a belly warmer.

Fat Hen chef/owner Fred Neuville is preparing a venison osso bucco special ($20.95), and the Johns Island hotspot will still have favorites like the grilled butcher’s steak with mushrooms, onions, garlic spinach, and pomme frites ($19.25). Fat Hen will also be running wine specials featuring an assortment of bottles ranging from $20-$25.

Over on James Island, Heart Woodfire Kitchen is firing up Keegan-Filion pork belly and local clams in a ginger broth ($10) for a savory appetizer. For dinner, opt for the grilled local triggerfish, topped with Ambrose Farms carrot chutney, and paired with your choice of side including creamy grits, crispy russet potatoes, or creamed mustard greens ($22).

The ‘Wich Doctor on Folly Beach is cooking up a wide range of creative specials. Choose from the pan-fried shad roe in a ouzo reduction with shaved fennel salad and a potato cake ($14) or spicy chicken livers torta with house-cured ham, pico de gallo, guacamole, and chipotle mayo on a round boule from Baguette Magic ($9.50). Don’t overlook the savory pimento cheesecake with pickled blue crab salad ($9) or the pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup served with sliced sirloin, meatballs, bean sprouts, cilantro, basil, and housemade sriracha ($10). Last but not least, if you can handle the heat try their chicken drumsticks dipped in a coconut red curry sauce served with a cucumber salad (three for $7 as an appetizer or five for $11 as an entrée).

In West Ashley, you can indulge in the Southern comfort food of The Original Ms. Rose’s, where everything is made from scratch. Ms. Rose’s traditional fried chicken — a favorite among locals —is coated in a crispy Tabasco-honey crust that creates the perfect combination of sweet and spicy ($15). They also serve a pan-roasted golden tile fish, but theirs is served in a truffle cauliflower purée with green beans and pearl onions and finished in a buerre blanc sauce ($22-24). With any entrée you get to choose from one of their sides like sautéed local kale, Geechie Boy grits, mashed potatoes, or roasted brussel sprouts. Finish your meal off with a homemade milkshake and you’re sure to be unbuttoning your pants before you leave the restaurant.