Traveling gives us the opportunity to see new sights, experience new adventures, and try different cuisines. The Grand Strand has thousands of restaurants that serve cuisines from all over the world. But since you’re here, why not try some of the fresh local foods that residents of the area have perfected? Here are some must-try dishes from the South Carolina coast…
Low Country Boil
Known regionally as Frogmore stew, this staple food of South Carolina is rich in local flavors. Many will be relieved to hear that there is no frog in the stew. Instead, it is a medley of sausage, corn, potatoes and shrimp, cooked together in one pot with seafood seasoning. Most often it’s boiled with water but some cooks prefer to use a chicken or seafood stock or even a little beer! Crab is also a great addition to the pot, which usually feeds a crowd.
Grits are synonymous with the South, but nowhere are they more beloved than South Carolina and Georgia. Made from a coarse cornmeal, grits are typically cooked in water until soft and creamy. (Charleston grits differ in that they are cooked in milk.) Usually, a lot of butter is added to them and sometimes cheese when served as a side dish or as a full entrée. Shrimp and grits is a Carolina classic that is typically topped with gravy and enjoyed at either breakfast or dinner. For an early morning wake-up, try red-eye gravy. A fried country ham steak tops the grits and is covered with a gravy made from (among other ingredients) pan drippings and coffee. It’s easy to see how this dish got its name!
In the competitive world of barbeque, states are constantly claiming to have the nation’s best… Of course that’s relative, but South Carolina does have an advantage—the sauces! Though mustard sauce is most commonly thought of as unique to the region, you’ll easily be able to try other flavors at most establishments including tomato- and vinegar-based varieties. Pork is the meat that is used for true barbeque and it is typically smoked low and slow for a juicy, flavorful taste.
Located a short distance north of Myrtle Beach is the small town of Calabash, North Carolina. It’s a relatively quiet place, but when it comes to seafood, Calabash makes a lot of noise. Calabash calls itself the “Seafood Capital of the World,” and since residents claim to have created a famous style of tenderly fried fish, oysters, shrimp, calamari, etc., Calabash has a right to the title. What makes Calabash-style seafood so appealing is the incorporation of cornmeal into the flour coating to create a crispy, lightly browned crust. The delicate meat inside is flavorful and moist. Served with some deep-fried hushpuppies, coleslaw, and a side of hot sauce… now you’re eating like a native Carolinian.
Rice has formed the foundation of many meals in South Carolina, where the paddies have flourished since colonial times. Hoppin’ John is a favorite rice dish in the area that can be found on just about every menu. It is simply composed of black-eyed peas and rice with a touch of seasoning like salt and pepper or bay leaves. Some chefs add onions, green peppers, ham or bacon for added flavor. It is served with many meals and always on New Year’s Day, as the dish is believed to bring good financial luck in the upcoming year.
Myrtle Beach is a seafood lover’s paradise. Everywhere you look there are restaurants offering buffets of fried, steamed and raw seafood. Crab legs, fried fish, oysters on the half shell—it’s all there. In addition, beef and chicken dishes, pasta and a plethora of side dishes will tempt your appetite and offer flavorful alternatives. The choices are abundant and the plate combinations are just about infinite. Yes, it’s food as far as the eye can see and that’s what makes these restaurants so very popular. In fact, the buffet restaurants are a large draw to the region, with hungry Grand Strand visitors often lining up for the chance to combine their favorite foods onto one plate (or two or three!). Use a coupon from your trusted Sunny Day Guide and get an additional bang for your buck while enjoying a mouthwatering smorgasbord.