Each year, we take a family vacation with friends from church/school. We go to Hilton Head, and we play golf (once or twice), ride bikes (everyday), go to the beach (most days), and eat at great restaurants (definitely everyday!).
After every trip to the island, I think, “I should have taken notes so that I could post about the restaurants.” Well, this year I finally did just that. Sort of, anyway. I took notes on the Notes app on my phone. Basically, I recorded where we ate and what we ate – and sometimes, what we drank. This post would be way too lengthy if I did a full review of each restaurant, however, I will give you a little background on each place, when applicable. We were repeat visitors to several of the restaurants, so those didn’t require much in the way of note-taking.
If you’ve never been to Hilton Head, you may not be aware of the myriad of restaurants available for dining and/or drinks. The island is literally covered with dining options, and I’ve yet to have a bad meal there. Sure, I’ve liked some more than others, but they’ve all been good. What Hilton Head doesn’t have is a ton of chain restaurants or “fern bars”. It’s populated mostly with one-off or small, independent-restaurant-group restaurants, which means you get some really varied dining options. This is what we love, and it’s one of the reasons we’ve been there 6 times as a family (and more for me prior to marriage).
Over the years, our group has grown to 20+ vacationers, so it’s hard for us all to gather together at the same time and eat at a restaurant. It simply takes forever to get a table. We do, however, make one exception to that policy, and that is our initial meal on the island. Each year, we gather for lunch on the first day (Saturday). We do this at a place called the Skull Creek Boathouse. And that is where this journey begins…
Skull Creek Boathouse
In the Hilton Head/Bluffton area of South Carolina, there is a restaurant group called SERG. I don’t know how to pronounce it, but I do know they operate excellent restaurants. To visit their website, click here. Over the years, we’ve eaten at many of them, and the Skull Creek Boathouse is at the top of the list.
Located on the north end of the island near where the fishing boats make port, the SCB offers both inside and outside dining. If you choose to eat outside – which we usually do – there is also a bar called the Marker 13 Buoy Bar. The setting and view are just fabulous, and as an added bonus, you get to watch the workers place boats in and out of the dry dock facility. It’s fascinating.
On this visit, I ordered the Blackened Mahi Fish Tacos. My wife “helped” me eat them, and we both agreed they were among the best I’ve ever had. Michelle ordered the Tuna Salad, which she loves. David had a cheeseburger and fries (you’ll likely notice a trend here if you read on). On Saturdays, they have brunch specials, and they also feature drink specials. Typically, this involves $3 Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, and Margaritas. It had been a long time since I had a Bloody Mary, so I tried one. It was pretty good, especially for $3.
To learn more about SCB, click here.
As luck would have it, our villa was not ready for us at the appointed check-in time, so we had to cool our jets at a friend’s place. No one felt like going out, so decided to order take-out pizza. A quick search on our iPhones turned up Local Pie, an independent pizza restaurant near the Shipyard Plantation.
This pizza was so good, I went back another night and had dinner at the restaurant. You can read about that below. If you’re a regular on this blog, you know that Michelle does her best to avoid gluten, and Local Pie featured gluten-free pizzas.
We were feeding seven people, so we ordered a large, non-GF pepperoni pizza and a GF pizza with pepperoni and caramelized vidalia onions. We also ordered two servings of Deez Knots, which are crispy dough knots covered in shaved parmesan and served with marinara dipping sauce. The pizza was New York-style, thin pizza that you can fold and eat, which is my favorite kind of pizza. The girls are still talking about the vidalia onions, so if you go, you must try them. For my part, I thought they were pretty awesome, as well. For a peek at their menu, click here.
Marley’s Island Grille
Marley’s Island Grille is another restaurant in the SERG group. It’s also located close to the Shipyard Plantation, just off the Sea Pines roundabout. Marley’s features a fun, tropical dining experience for the whole family. We go to Marley’s just about every year. I think Michelle went twice on one trip a few years ago. To see their menu and learn more about Marley’s, click here.
We sometimes like to keep it light when eating out, so Michelle and I split the Voodoo Spiced Swordfish and added a house salad with pineapple balsamic vinaigrette. The swordfish was served with fried sweet potato haystack and pineapple couscous, but we swapped the couscous for rice. I love swordfish, and this meal was excellent. The swordfish was seasoned perfectly and cooked to perfection. I would definitely order this again.
On Monday, we all got together and did a Low Country Boil. It was fabulous…and inexpensive. Our friends Jim and Laura took care of sourcing the food. It was one of the best meals we had all week. If you get a chance to do one, do it.
Once or twice during each trip, the dads take the kids out to play golf. We play late in the afternoon and generally go to dinner when finished with golf. This year, we went back to Local Pie. Well, I went back. For everyone else, it was their first time there.
The kids mostly got pizza, although one of them did order pasta. The dads split a large meat-lovers type pizza. It had sausage, pepperoni, bacon and meatballs on it. I washed down my pizza with a couple of local IPAs. Once again, it was fantastic. There may be better pizza on the island, but I’ve yet to have it. Oh, we also got an order of the Deez Knots. Once again, they did not disappoint.
Frosty Frog Cafe
Oh, the Frog. We love the Frosty Frog. You might say it’s our favorite place on the island. It’s certainly up there at or near the top of our list. We tend to make multiple trips to the Frog, but this might have more to do with the fact that the Frog is a first-rate daiquiri bar. Their daiquiris are spot on, for sure, but their food is actually quite good. In the past, we have gotten great burgers, pizza, wraps, and more at the Frosty Frog.
On this visit, which was actually my third visit (the other two were strictly daiquiri-related), I ordered the grilled Mahi Salad. Their mahi is as good as anybody else’s on the island, and did I mention the daiquiris? I had the Tropicolada daiquiri, which is a mixture of the Hurricane and the Pina Colada. I think it tastes like pink lemonade mixed with a little pina colada. It was recommended by a friend, and I loved it. What a great time! Michelle had the BBQ Shrimp Salad, and she said it was very good. David had – wait for it…a cheeseburger. Honestly, I don’t blame him. Their burgers are off the chain. I even snuck in a bite of his burger when he wasn’t looking.
If you’re on the island, you definitely need to hit up the Frosty Frog. It is in the Coligny Plaza, which is near the Coligny roundabout, which is near Forrest Beach. To visit their web site, click here.
Our normal pattern is to eat lunch at the villa – or beach – but about once during our trip, we will go out for lunch. This year, that was Thursday. Michelle wanted some shrimp salad – the spreadable kind, not a salad with shrimp on top. So we went to Hudson’s.
This is important, because in all my years of going to Hilton Head (my first trip down was circa 1986), I had never eaten at Hudson’s. I always thought it was a family place, which I guess it is. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. But for some reason, I just never got around to eating there. On this trip, however, several people told us to go to Hudson’s, and boy, am I glad we did!
Michelle got her shrimp salad, and I got a crab cake sandwich. We also splurged and got an order of hush puppies. Michelle had her GlutenEase medicine with her, so she dug in, as well. David broke with tradition and ordered a Caesar Salad with grilled chicken. His system is still in shock, but he enjoyed it. We finished it off with a slice of Ms. Bessie’s Key Lime Pie. She’s been making the pies (and other desserts) there for 30+ years, and she’s got it down pretty well. You must try it.
It was all very good. We will definitely be going back to Hudson’s. For a look at their menus, and to learn more about Hudson’s, click here.
This is normally a pretty sad night for us, as we leave to return home on Saturday morning. We’ve been known to grab a quick bite at our favorite little Mexican joint, which is called Amigos, but this year we tried a new place that was suggested to us by friends. It’s called Holy Tequila, and it too is located on the southern portion of the island just before the entrance to Sea Pines. It’s actually in the same commercial development at Marley’s.
We started with chips and a salsa sampler. This consists of salsa verde, salsa cruda, salsa roja, salsa caliente & rotating salsa special. I can’t remember what the rotating special salsa was, but I can tell you my favorite was the roja. Michelle had a house-made red sangria, while I had a margarita rocks. My margarita was very strong, but flavorful. Michelle’s sangria had a splash of mango in it, which I’ve never seen, but I enjoyed it, despite the fact that I don’t like mango.
Michelle ordered the ground beef enchiladas, which were amazing. Instead of stuffing the meat inside the enchiladas, they serve the ground beef on top of cheese enchiladas. I could not stay out of them. The serving was huge, so if you like to split meals with your dining partner, this would be a good one for that.
Due to the size of the enchilada platter, I ordered just two tacos – a Smoked Chicken Taco and a Taco Americano. Both were fantastic, but Michelle’s enchiladas were the star of the evening.
David had 3 of the Smoked Chicken Tacos. He enjoyed the meat, but the “vegetation” on the tacos turned him off. That says more about him than Holy Tequila, though. He’s pretty much that way on anything, unless he’s eating a salad, which makes no sense. Kids!
To learn more about Holy Tequila, click here.
That’s pretty much a chronological record of our dining while on Hilton Head Island this year. If you get a chance to go to the island sometime soon, I would recommend any of these places…and I’ll be going back to all of them. If you would like more information, leave a comment, and I’ll get back with you.