The Top 3 Places To Eat on Hilton Head this Summer

So before we begin, a caveat: This is not a run-down of “The Best Restaurants on Hilton Head Island™” as the compiling of such a list would ultimately only serve as the launch pad for a thousand arguments.

The fact of the matter is, when you have as healthy a restaurant scene as Hilton Head Island, the question of which restaurant is best becomes kind of moot. There are only a handful of places that fail to live up to the hype. The rest hold up a standard that has made Hilton Head such a great place to belly up to.

Your choice is not only ultimately subjective (one person’s elegance is another person’s arrogance, after all) but is also subject to whatever your personal experience was (one seafood restaurant stands out in memory as the place where the waiter dumped an entire tray of drinks onto my toddler’s head. Because of this, I couldn’t even tell you what the food’s like. It’s just the place I carried a soaking wet and slightly drunk child out of while cursing under my breath).

So instead, we’ll come up with a few common scenarios you’re likely to face while restaurant hunting on Hilton Head Island, and offer up what we feel is the best choice in that instance. You’re still free to argue, of course.


Date night, late on a summer evening:

So the dinner hour has come and gone and you’re still not sure about where to go, and your significant other is starting to get the suspicion you maybe didn’t plan the evening so well.

Don’t worry, by dragging your heels you’ve now put your dinner date square into sunset territory, and there’s no better place to soak in the beauty of the Lowcountry’s signature pinks, blues and oranges streaking the sky than at Old Fort Pub.

Hands down the best place to watch a sunset, OFP inside the gates of Hilton Head Plantation also enchants with romantic ambience and a menu emphasizing masterfully prepared seafood. It’s hard not to sound like you knew what you were doing all along as you both share a gaze toward a postcard-perfect horizon as culinary perfection graces your plate.


Chilled Night Out:

Sometimes a night out calls for some loud music and some impaired judgement. Other times, you just need to fill your belly up with some classic Southern soul feed and feed your soul with some great live music.

For those times, you’ll want to follow the locals to Ruby Lee’s. The Ruby Lee’s South location has spearheaded the transformation of Dunnagan’s Alley with a huge wraparound outdoor seating area that’s always hopping with a subdued crowd looking for a chilled night out.

Grub on a menu that takes a slightly upscale spin through some classic soul food, then give your ears a treat with a lineup of some of the best live music on the island.


Sushi Night:

There aren’t a ton of sushi places on Hilton Head Island, but the one standout not only cornered the market, but does sushi right with a beautiful Asian atmosphere and some of the most outstanding sushi creations this side of the Pacific.

Hinoki Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, located on New Orleans Road, wows you from the get go with its Zen-inspired interior like stepping into a Shinto temple. Then, when you pull up a seat at the sushi counter, you get to see a master at work. Besides being an insane sushi chef, Chichi is a character in his own right. If you’re lucky, he’ll get out the ukulele and play a few tunes while you dig into his amazing cuisine.

Off-menu Protip: Ask for the dinosaur egg, pictured. You will literally want nothing else for the next six weeks whenever you get hungry.


Where are your favorite places to eat on Hilton Head Island? Let us know in the comments! And as always, to read more about the greatest places to eat, stay, play and shop in the Lowcountry, subscribe now or pick up the June/July issue of South magazine.