Destination Dining

From Charleston to Savannah, the coastal south has experienced a food revolution in the past decade attracting top chefs from around the country putting their expertise to work while embracing southern recipes. These destinations are worth the drive.

“Daddy’s Girl” at the Bluffton Oyster Company on the May River, Bluffton, S.C. Photo / Miranda Osborn

Bluffton / SC 

The hub of the Charleston-Hilton Head-Savannah wheel, Bluffton’s draw gathers the best of its neighbors: Artisan creations and galleries, tidal views and coastal waterways, rooted Lowcountry history, and food-forward dining. Of the endless options, this list barely scratches the Pluff Mudd.

For Breakfast 

Squat + Gobble 

With oversized menu and servings covering a diversity of food genres, this roadside diner pours all its energy into four-star meat and potatoes and leaves the ambience be. Kitschy dish names match the bric-a-brac décor, where you squat and gobble, and leave well-fed.

Sippin’ Cow

Sippin’ Cow’s current owner purchased “the Cow” twenty-one years ago and have been working hard to do their part in maintaining the charm of Old Town Bluffton with their small, cozy (and delicious) café.

Cahill’s Market & Chicken Kitchen

Johnny Cahill invites you to the “field-to-table” foodie favorite that bears his family-owned name. In this countryside setting you’re “company,” come by for authentic Southern home style meals and home-grown ingredients so fresh they load the menu daily, along with the stock at the farm-fresh produce market.

For Lunch 

Alvin Ord’s

You may have had a good sandwich, but only Alvin Ord’s offers their signature homemade French rounds (baked daily). Fresh, well-seasoned ingredients create classic “slammin’ sammies” from Reuben to Philly to longtime bestseller, the aptly-named “Salvation.”


Possibly the best way to peep Downtown Bluffton, this open-air eatery’s billing as a “laid-back Southwest Tex-Mex Patrón margarita and taco bar” is oddly precise, but not wrong. Refreshing lite, zesty fare, with best-of sidewalk margaritas.

Calhoun Street Tavern

A hidden gem in the Lowcountry that lands somewhere between Irish pub and Nantucket garden eatery, Calhoun’s surprises as both down to earth and elegant, including a chef-driven menu with “cold beer and cocktails” that veer craft.

For Dinner

The Pearl

The “inspired coastal cuisine” food-child of well-known ELA’s Blu Water Grille (HHI) owners Earl and Alex Nightingale. Uniquely Italian-Asian influenced, Old Town Bluffton’s Pearl is haute cuisine meets wide Southern wraparound porch and May River breezes.

Discover authentic spirits crafted in the Lowcountry that honor local history and give back to the community @Burnt Church Distillery.

Burnt Church Distillery

An historic, architecturally alluring, communal establishment where the spirits are born (in the onsite Production and Rickhouse whiskey barrel rooms) to tell the Lowcountry story. Ask about the VIP room (members), Study (“distinctively masculine”), and Palmer’s Stretch (food trucks, concert series). 

The Bluffton Room

Executive chef and GM Jeff Congdon has held this high-end dining destination steady in the elite company of Tripadvisor’s “Top 10% of restaurants worldwide” for five years running. Beyond Tuesday-Saturday’s chic and intimate fine-dining, catch Friday’s creole-inspired New Orleans lunch (11am-2pm).


Fresh seafood comes right from the docks at Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Pull your boat up and enjoy one of the best waterfront bars in the world. (Even the deck dogs agree!) @chelseacscott

Charleston / SC 

Founded in 1670, Charleston grew to be the fourth largest city in colonial America, as well as the first city to have a public college, a museum, a playhouse and a golf course. Everywhere you look there are examples of American history, from cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages to antebellum houses and amazing restaurants. Here is a guide to a few of the “not to be missed” restaurants in Charleston. 

For Breakfast 

Basic Kitchen

Located in a historic building that boasts floor to ceiling windows, the goal of Basic Kitchen is simple: use local seasonal produce combined with the best quality ingredients to create food that is delicious, nourishing and looks fantastic! They offer diverse flavors inspired from dishes around the world. Basic Kitchen is all about honest food that is good for you, that you can enjoy in a casual, relaxed environment. 

The Junction Kitchen & Provisions

The Junction is a family run, vegan friendly, off the beaten track restaurant where you can get breakfast at any time of the day (or night!) Using local farm fresh eggs and an abundance of produce, the crew at The Junction create everything from a comforting brunch to awesome sandwiches, all with a few drinks thrown in. Their Saturday and Sunday brunch is not to be missed.

Mercantile and Mash

Mercantile and Mash is a unique cohabitation of a restaurant and bar. On the Mercantile side you can enjoy breakfast all day, with special promos such as donut Wednesdays, as well as lunch favorites such as an awesome charcuterie board or your favorite sandwich. You can then wander over to the Mash side of the house to enjoy the cozy American whiskey and beer bar offering a selection of crafted domestic whiskeys, beer, wine and craft cocktails.

For Lunch 

Sunburst trout. Dashi hollandaise. Potato. Gai lan. @ Xiao Bao Biscuit.

Xiao Bao Biscuit 

Xiao Bao Biscuit is the pan-Asian, must-visit restaurant in Charleston where you can enjoy funky vibes, bold flavors and culinary creativity that has kept the crowds coming since 2012. Opened by Josh Walker and Joey Ryan inside a former gas station, the varied menu is inspired by Chef Walker and his wife Walker-Li’s honeymoon travels in Japan. Their signature dish is their take on the Japanese pancake Okonomiyaki.

167 raw 

In a small, intimate space that is full of light and clean lines, you can enjoy sushi for lunch or dinner. They offer daily nigiri, sashimi and futomaki rolls. They also serve an array of unique hot items from the “Izakaya” side of the menu. You can enjoy your meal with sake, white or Rosé wine, bubbles or beer. With only 24 seats, 167 Sushi Bar provides a very intimate dining experience.

For Dinner

The Ordinary

The Ordinary is anything but that! It is a Southern seafood hall and oyster bar located in an old bank building. Brought to you by the same team that created Fig, they aim to pair great food and drink with friendly, detailed service. They also strive to support local and regional fisherman and farmers. You can enjoy a memorable evening in this high energy, bustling American brasserie.


At Fig, their approach is simple – they have the passion for pure flavor, quality ingredients and the ability to create a convivial atmosphere for people who simply love food! They source ingredients that have “integrity, flavor and soul” and the result is food that is honest, straightforward and pays homage to the Lowcountry. FIG has blossomed into one of the South’s top culinary destinations with staff who are passionate, an environment that is simple and modern all to showcase a menu that is creative and seasonal.

Halls ChopHouse 

After many years in the restaurant trade, the Hall family opened Hall’s Chophouse in Charleston in 2009. Their combined experience is showcased in the finest steaks money can buy, a comprehensive wine list, and hearty family side dishes; all served with impeccable service and southern warmth. Because of the amazing quality of food and service, they now have three sister restaurants.


The Skull Creek Boathouse has appeared on Food Network’s Beach Eats, been featured in Travel Channel’s “Guide to Hilton Head,” featured in’s article, “How to Spend 2 Perfect Days in Hilton Head,” and featured in National Geographic’s “The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel.”

Hilton Head / SC 

With 250 restaurants embraced by 12 miles of Atlantic beachfront, Hilton Head’s foodie reputation is both longstanding and gaining massive momentum. Locally loved and internationally recognized, island eateries dish up every conceivable category of eats in take-your-pick environments from white cloth to literal backyards. 

For Breakfast 

Harbor Town Hash with poached eggs, shrimp, lump crab, homefries, hollandaise @Stacks Pancakes.

Stacks Pancakes & More of HH

On Hilton Head Island, stacks of pancakes are at least equally, if not more valuable than the stacks of the green, George Washington variety. Stacks Pancakes & More is the golden child of Lowcountry breakfast and an HHI staple.

Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe

Forget dinner and a sunset, try breakfast and a sunrise for a spectacular experience! Every day, the crew at Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café makes everything from scratch — and have been since 2002.

Skull Creek Boathouse

While the view at Skull Creek is one of the best on the island when it comes to dining, their weekend brunch options are truly indulgent; from deviled crab and Southern benedicts to seafood quiche.

For Lunch 


Specializing in seafood, steaks and raw bar, Poseidon of Hilton Head is a great place for unforgettable coastal dining. Enjoy lunch on one of Poseidon’s covered patios overlooking Broad Creek.

Crab stuffed yellow peppers, topped with lobster tails and lobster cream sauce served with Scarlett rice @ Lowcountry Backyard.

Lowcountry Backyard

A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant is locals-approved and absolutely everything the name implies: authentic Lowcountry cuisine backyard-style dining. They even hold the coveted crown for best shrimp and grits in South Carolina.

For Dinner

Fraser’s Tavern

Fraser’s Tavern is housed in the famous Sea Pines Resort, home of PGA tour caliber facilities. Enjoy an upscale-casual atmosphere with TVs and dart boards, and freshly-smoked barbecue, fresh salads, and plenty of beer on tap. 

Crane’s Tavern & Steakhouse

This upscale steakhouse raises the culinary bar on Hilton Head Island, only serving USDA prime-grade beef of luxurious cuts like ribeye, prime rib, filet mignon and more. Seafood lovers can enjoy the finest lobster, scallops, and more, too.

Sage Room

Arguably the #1 steak spot on Hilton Head, their entire menu of “elevated American fare” bears repeating from cocktails and seafood to the closing cup of coffee, aperitifs, and deserts. Upscale yet casual with open kitchen and chef’s table.


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