Summer is the season of beach trips and fresh seafood, and some of our favorite beach restaurants know exactly how to tap into the seasonal selection. Local oysters and fish, sourced scallops and mussels and delicious finger foods and sandwiches are just some of the items that top our list of beach eats from Isle of Palms to Folly Beach. Whether you’re looking for classy beachside dining before an evening walk along the shore or a quick place to grab a bite to eat and a frozen drink on your way to or from the beach, we’ve got you covered.
Isle of Palms
1517 Palm Blvd. Suite A, Isle of Palms
The Refuge offers fresh, local dishes with an emphasis on seafood in an upscale setting, making it the perfect place for a date night out near the beach. The dinner menu includes unique takes on classic dishes like BLT deviled eggs, crab au gratin dip and lobster mac and cheese. For entrees, the restaurant offers seafood and meat dishes including locally caught blackened triggerfish with broccolini and dirty rice, seared scallops with corn and black bean salsa, haricots vert, orzo and parmesan crisps and a bone-in grilled porkchop.
Stop by The Refuge for dine-in lunch or order one of its signature sandwiches to go like the blackened triggerfish sandwich, a chicken Caesar wrap or the Refuge burger with a secret house sauce. For brunch, the restaurant goes all out with classic dishes like breakfast sandwiches and omelets. They let their creativity shine with brunch items like bagel and lox pizza served on everything seasoned naan bread or the apple pie stuffed French toast.
Coda del Pesce
1130 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms
A newcomer to the Isle of Palms, Coda del Pesce made a name for itself right away. Located beachside on Front Street, this seafood restaurant tries to incorporate local and sustainable seafood in every dish. Because of its focus on fresh, local ingredients, the menu often changes daily, making it a restaurant you’ll want to dine at over and over again. The menu is broken up like a traditional Italian menu into antipasti (appetizers), primi (firsts) and secondi (seconds). Italians know how to eat. Primis usually consist of soups, pastas or rice.
At Coda del Pesce, you’ll find unique pasta dishes that incorporate seafood and seasonal produce. Secondi entrees are typically heavier, meat or fish based dishes. Coda del Pesce uses this section of the menu to highlight seafood like triggerfish, wreckfish or a meat dish like naturally raised veal scallopini. Though diners come for the delicious food, they definitely stay for the view, which overlooks the beach. Whether you opt to sit out on the deck or inside with the floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll be able to dine with a view.
The Obstinate Daughter
2063 Middle S.t, Sullivan’s Island
Chef Jaques Larson of Wild Olive brought his talents to Sullivan’s Island when he opened The Obstinate Daughter on Middle Street in 2014. Today, it’s become a staple in the island’s fine dining scene.
The Obstinate Daughter serves Southern food with French, Spanish and Italian influences. The menu includes an array of pasta and wood fired pizza options along with fresh raw bar items like oysters on the half shell and seafood dishes like octopus and swordfish. The menu changes seasonally though some staple items like the shrimp roll, Old Danger pizza and traditional Southern Frogmore Chowder are available year-round.
The restaurant’s interior reflects the area’s nautical vibe while keeping the atmosphere upscale — walls are composed of restored wood, thick knotted ropes drape across the ceiling and light beachy colors decorate the sunny dining area. If you’re feeling brave enough to combat Charleston’s summer heat, you can opt for patio seating — don’t worry, the outdoor fans help.
Home Team BBQ
2209 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island
A favorite establishment for locals and tourists alike, Home Team BBQ offers slow-smoked barbecue in a casual, fun environment. All of Home Team’s barbecue offerings are coated in its special dry rub, bringing out the smoky flavor of the meats: pork, chicken, turkey and jalapeno cheddar sausage. Barbecue lovers will gravitate towards the two- or three-meat combo platters and sandwiches filled with pulled pork or chicken or smoked brisket. But, don’t sleep on the Fiery Ron’s burger topped with house made bacon and served on a King’s Hawaiian bun.
Pair any of these dishes with traditional Southern sides like mac and cheese, collard greens or Brunswick stew and you’ve got yourself the perfect post-beach meal. If you’re looking for lighter options, try the tacos, salads or order the BBQ nachos as a snack. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
And, a stop at Home Team wouldn’t be complete without trying its signature frozen drink — the Game Changer, gold and spiced Caribbean rum mixed with OJ, pineapple juice, cream of coconut and topped with fresh-grated nutmeg. But proceed with caution. It got that name for good reason.
High Thyme Cuisine
2213 Middle St. C, Sullivan’s Island
High Thyme Cuisine prides itself on offering fine dining dishes in a laid back environment. You’ll find seafood dishes aplenty here with appetizers like rare seared tuna over dirty rice and Dijon coleslaw and PEI mussels cooked in a chili garlic coconut broth and served with sourdough bread — essential for soaking up that flavorful broth. Grilled yellowfin tuna, pan-fried crab and shrimp cake, spinach and herb risotto and grilled tenderloin are just a few stars of the entree menu. Enjoy outdoor dining on the front patio or seating inside the charming cottage-style building.
Jack of Cups Saloon
34 Center St., Charleston
Helmed by executive chef Lesley Carroll and co-owned by her husband Nick Carroll, Jack of Cups Saloon is known for unique cocktails and unusual food pairings. Though the eclectic, seasonally changing menu keeps locals and tourists coming back for more, some top contenders remain all year-long like the trio of curries that can be ordered over nachos or rice or the ever-popular red curry mac and cheese. Recent standouts from Jack of Cups’ rotating food items include Cap’n Crunch deviled eggs, sweet chili Doritos wontons and pad thai gnocchi, but general manager Chris Johnson said the summer menu dropped July 14. Try something new and always interesting while dining on Jack of Cups’ back or front patio or inside at one of the quaint booths before walking just down the street to the beach.
Rita’s Seaside Grill
2 Center St., Folly Beach
Just steps away from Folly Beach’s waterfront, Rita’s Seaside Grill has long been a favorite of beachgoers looking for a beer and a quick bite to eat. From the outside, Rita’s looks like a quaint surf shack, but inside, pops of color and eclectic wall decor like surfboards and old bicycles decorate the interior and the spacious patio allows diners to enjoy the ocean breeze while sipping on a strawberry-basil mimosa or Rita’s rum runner. The blackened Ahi tuna nachos (also available with pulled pork instead) are a must-order for appetizers, but oysters on the half shell, smoked chicken wings and peel-and-eat shrimp are other popular choices. Rita’s knows exactly what people need after a long day soaking up the sun, offering salads, sandwiches, tacos, barbecue dishes and more.
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