Both the Georgia and South Carolina coasts boast countless reasons to visit and local seafood continues to be one of the biggies. Although the serene beaches, wildlife, and cushy resorts in both areas lure the vacationing masses, don’t underestimate the power of grub. The beach-minded should not only bring their sunscreen, but also their appetites along for the ride.
We gathered a quartet of local seafood restaurants that serve as purveyors of some of the most popular dishes on both coasts. Are you hungry enough to try them all?
If Charleston, SC’s local seafood restaurants and dining scene had a virtual lifeblood, she-crab soup would likely course through its veins. The secret to the creamy concoction comes in the form of crab eggs, not to mention a healthy dose of cooking sherry. For one of the best in town, some point toward Hyman’s Seafood, a multigenerational business that’s been functioning in one form or another in the same location for nearly 120 years. Since 1986, it’s been the home of both Hyman’s Seafood and Aaron’s Deli. The latter lays claim to an award-winning she-crab soup.
Battered shrimp that see a second life swimming in the deep fryer remain a beach town staple. The fried shrimp served at Iguanas Seafood Restaurant, nestled in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island, regularly pops up on area best-of lists. The reason can be found in its signature batter, a thoughtful conglomeration of seasoning and spices that helps differentiate it from schools of competitors. The eatery’s choice location means diners can take an after-dinner walk to the pier to see the catches of the day. But don’t do it before indulging in a complimentary bowl or two of soft serve ice cream.
Shrimp and Grits
The southern coastal delicacy of shrimp and grits end up on countless menus in both Georgia and South Carolina. However, nowhere celebrates the dish like Jekyll Island, a legendary stretch of Georgia real estate located on the coastline midway between Savannah, GA. and Jacksonville, FL. The 11th annual Shrimp & Grits Festival runs from Sept. 16–18, 2016. Area restaurants set up shop beneath tents attempting to outdo each other with their take on the recipe and other seafood delights. The guests, however, prove to be the winners, getting to sample the wares amid live music, arts and crafts vendors, and more.
Lowcountry boil, also known as Frogmore Stew, typically fills bellies with a special union of shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob, onion, and sausage. The Creole-like Gullah cooking style can be seen in Frogmore Stew, which many people credit to Richard Gay of Gay Fish Company, a still-operating fish market in the Frogmore community on St. Helena Island. Dye Scott-Rhodan leans on her Gullah heritage when creating her version at her Hilton Head Island restaurant, Dye’s Gullah Fixins. Shrimp, country smoked sausage, egg, potatoes, and onion—all steamed in Gullah seasoning—make up Scott-Rhodan’s take on the classic. The dish only hits tables on Friday and Saturday nights, and all diners must make a reservation in advance.
Like the variety of marine life swimming in the sea, an even wider range of seafood options can be caught on the Georgia and South Carolina coasts. Raw and cooked oysters, crab bisque, seared swordfish, crab cakes, salmon croquettes, and more pop up on area menus. Simply cast a net and belly up to the table.