The Best Places to Eat on Hilton Head Island

Are you looking for the best places to eat on Hilton Head Island? Lucky you!

Hilton Head offers every restaurant you can imagine from national chains to local gems. We prefer the locally-owned restaurants with fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. That’s what you’ll find in this list of where Wesley and I ate during our weekend on the island.

  • Low-country favorites
  • Freshly caught seafood
  • Yummy bakeries
  • Hidden gems
  • Well-known favorites
  • And the BEST place for food gifts and souvenirs.

Here are my picks for the best places to eat on Hilton Head Island…

The Sea Shack

If you only go to one place on all of Hilton Head Island, make sure it is The Sea Shack.

It’s a hidden gem popular with locals. Tucked away off a side street far from the tourist area and in a plain old strip mall, you will find this small restaurant. You can also look out for the long line of people waiting to order. We visited in the off-season (January) so the line was only about 20 people deep and took less than 15 minutes. We heard that during the busy summer months, the line is very long and the wait is typically two hours with people lining up before the restaurant even opens at 5 pm. But people wait!

Why?

Because the food is that good. Their tagline is “It’s not fancy, just good.” It’s actually AMAZING!

We ordered the Shack Attack Combo with two sides to share along with an appetizer of fried clam strips (which I always order!).

The Shack Attack Combo includes a crab cake, your choice of fish, shrimp, scallops, and oysters along with hush puppies and your choice of two sides. Grilled, blackened, or fried…you can’t go wrong!

What makes the Shack Attack Combo stand out?

Everything is freshly caught from the local area. We picked grouper for our fish and it had that never frozen taste. It was so good. The oysters and scallops still had a briny, salty taste from the sea. The shrimp were large and the crab cake was a mass of lump crab. The clam strips were delicious too!

The single combo platter was more than enough for us to share. This was by far our BEST meal in a long time.

https://sites.google.com/view/theseashack/

The Salty Dog

The Salty Dog is actually 3 restaurants, a marina, hotel, and an extremely large outdoor waterfront bar. It looks like it would be a really fun and happening place during the warmer months. For dining, there is Land’s End Tavern, Salty Dog Cafe, and Wreck of the Salty Dog.

We were planning on going to the Salty Dog Cafe, but they were closed in January 2020 for a few weeks as they renovate and refresh the inside of the cafe.

We were directed over to the Wreck of the Salty Dog where they were serving the menu’s from both restaurants. Wreck of the Salty Dog is a nice restaurant whereas the Salty Dog Cafe is more casual. Land’s End Tavern is pub fare.

The food at Wreck of the Salty Dog did not disappoint. It is definitely one of the best places to eat on Hilton Head Island.

They are known for their hush puppy appetizer. You get 12 to an order so it’s a great deal! They are delicious.

Salty Dog Hush Puppies

For dinner, I ordered the Fisherman’s Pot Pie which was overloaded with giant scallops, shrimp, and chunks of fresh mahi. It was covered in a very tender and flaky phyllo-dough lattice crust. It was good but a lot of dough. I ended up just tasting the crust and setting it off to the side.

Salty Dog - Best Places to Eat on Hilton Head

Wesley ordered Seafood Pasta which came with huge chunks of fresh lobster. I may have stolen a few chunks of lobster when he wasn’t looking. 🙂 It was good.

Salty Dog - Best Places to Eat on Hilton Head

https://www.saltydog.com/

A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant

I found this restaurant from blog posts on Pinterest that all proclaimed it as one of the best places to eat on Hilton Head Island.

The Travel Channel, Trip Advisor, and a local magazine all named this restaurant as the top place in the state of South Caroline for Shrimp and Grits. We decided this was the place for our 5 year anniversary dinner.

Naturally, I ordered the Shrimp and Grits. This dish deserves the accolades! Perfectly cooked and creamy grits are topped with grilled fresh shrimp with a touch of Lowcountry seasoning. Delicious.

Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant - Shrimp and Grits

Wesley order the Bischick, a fried chicken breast over a biscuit and topped with Lowcountry gravy with Macaroni & Cheese. Put a biscuit and gravy with anything and he’s a happy man. He said the breading on the chicken was very light and flavorful.

Lowcountry Backyard - Best Places to Eat on Hilton Head

The restaurant is actually a home with separate rooms for dining and a beautiful courtyard with seating too. The ambience was fantastic. Our server was wonderful and the food was delicious.

A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant has our vote for one of the best places to eat on Hilton Head Island.

http://www.hhbackyard.com/home.html

French Kiss Bakery

One morning near our condo rental we found French Kiss Bakery. It’s a small outbuilding located within the Coligny Shopping Plaza.

Inside you will find a selection of french pastries and breads along with fantastic coffee. All of the pastries and breads are baked on premise so the place has a wonderful aroma and warmth to it when you step inside.

French Kiss Bakery - Best Places to Eat on Hilton Head

We had bacon and egg croissants with cappuccinos for a light breakfast. There are a few tables and chairs on the patio to sit and enjoy the still warm, flaky, and buttery croissants.

You might imagine yourself in a Parisian bakery, but in reality you are sitting in one of the best places to eat on Hilton Head Island.

Honorable Mention – The G-Free Spot Bakery

Located within the Coligny Shopping Plaza is The G-Free Spot, a totally gluten free bakery. They were closed for the entire holiday weekend so I can’t say if they are a “best of” contender. I’m very interested to know though! I have a gluten sensitivity only so I can handle small amounts of wheat and gluten, but I’m always on the lookout for great GF products. I’ll give them an honorable mention just for existing!

The G-Free Spot Bakery - Best Places to Eat on Hilton Head

https://www.thegfreespot.com/

Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store

I grew up in California but my grandparents, aunts, and cousins lived in Florida. My parents, sister, and I visited often and I remember the day when Piggly Wiggly’s were scattered across Florida. Shopping at the Piggly Wiggly was a southern tradition. There are few, if any, left in Florida. So it was a delightful surprise to visit this location on Hilton Head.

I’m including the Piggly Wiggly on my list of best places to eat on Hilton Head because of their huge selection of locally-crafted beers, ciders, seasonings, condiments, and food gifts. There are several WALLS of locally-made food products in this store!

We stocked up local craft beer and cider, peach jam, sweet potato butter, and Lowcountry seasoning. Yum!

What Are Your Best Places to Eat on Hilton Head?

I’m looking forward to visiting Hilton Head Island again during the warmer months. We spent a long weekend in January here so there were very few tourists and crowds. That was nice but it also changed the atmosphere some since places were closed due to lack of demand. There is still so much I want to do and more fresh local seafood to try. Let me know some of your favorites in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “The Best Places to Eat on Hilton Head Island”

  1. Thanks Sandra. I wrote down these restaurants for when Maureen and take a trip their sometime in the spring and before the busy summer season.
    Ray

    1. Perfect! Locals told us that spring is a nice time to visit. It’s busier but not super crowded as long as you avoid Easter and Spring Break.

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