A draft of this post has been waiting around for well over a month. It is time. Let us venture back to Mother’s Day weekend, so I can tell you all about my lovely weekend getaway with Banana Man and his mom. From Charlotte we drove 4.5 hours Southeast to Hilton Head on a Thursday morning. We spent most of the day Friday in Savannah and then the rest of the weekend back in Hilton Head and returned to Charlotte late Sunday. I feasted heavily and shamelessly all weekend long. It’s all in the name of research so you my friends will have all the needed info for Hilton Head dining, wink wink.
I’m feeling out of order so with that we shall work our way backwards in time from Mother’s Day. It was Sunday and we were afraid everything was going to be crazy packed in Hilton Head given it’s relatively small size and limited dining choices in the area. We had reservations at the recently remodeled Westin Hotel for their touted buffet. When we arrived they sat is in a very cold dining room when it was beautiful outside. We looked at the buffet and promptly left. The Westin was not Mother’s Day material. We headed out, disappointed and hungry. Our new destination was Skull Creek Boathouse where we had dined previously in the week for dinner.
I had an amazing seafood quiche smothered in sinful hollandaise sauce. We shared a baskets of beignet-like donuts and tons of peel-and-eat shrimp. The weather was glorious on the patio by the bay. I was so lucky to have immediately pounced on a high top table as a couple was leaving. There was well over an hour wait on the hostess list inside.
Chris had a bloody mary on multiple occasions this trip, it is after all a great excuse for early drinking in the day on vacation. The Skull Creek Boathouse is on my top 3 restaurants in Hilton Head. It’s location is awesome, the vibe is so relaxing, the servers are super friendly, and the food is overall pretty darn great…especially considering the volume of food they are pumping out.
The most original/authentic low country restaurant we went to was hands down Roast Fish and Cornbread…yes that is the name of the restaurant. Chris said that our meal that night was the best of his life! I didn’t have quite the gusto he did but there is no arguing it was the best food we have had in Hilton Head.
This place was eclectic and kind of “out there”. It’s the kind of place that they just close the doors if they feel like going fishing and very may run out of several things on the menu. It’s about as casual as place can possibly be. It’s like going to your aunt and uncle’s house for dinner, and it’s ready when it’s ready. The servers feel like family too. They’re all just kinda hangin out but workin at the same time.
Chris had a seafood platter which included a plethera of choices which could be prepared various ways. He chose “Blackened style” for a trio of scallops, local trout and shrimp. You can also choose your sides which was a very difficult task. He got sweet potato corn bread, gumbo and black beans. We heard that their collard greens and macaroni and cheese are epically delicious but that night the collards were overly salted and the macaroni was out. 😦
I apologize for the dark and blurry photos. It was not good lighting for documenting food and I never think fried things photograph that well. I rarely order fried things when dining out but when you are in Gullah country there ain’t no way you are getting out of place without eating something fried. The Gullah people have mastered the art of frying and it is not the same as the greasy spoon dives you’re familiar with.
I had a fried catfish sandwich and a cup of the gumbo. I would like some of that gumbo shipped to my house by the bucket, please and thank you.
One of the most interesting things you may or may not have ever had: Conch fritters. These were really tasty. Apparently conch is frequently eaten in the Caribbean but it’s all new to me. It was like a hush puppy with seafood in it. The aioli with it was the perfect combo.
Another restaurant of note was the Black Marlin. We dined there twice: once for dinner and once for breakfast. Both times we sat outside on the patio. Both times we loved everything about it! I had some eggs benny, they were good but not the most memorable thing in the world.
What made us come here was the bloody mary bar. This set up was genius. When you are seated you choose your vodka or tequila (bloody Maria) and they bring you a glass to go concoct your masterpiece. I love that they had pickled green beans. I am obsessed with dilly beans, and had Chris bring extras back for me. For me an awesome bloody mary is all about the garnish so this had the “Wow” factor.
For dinner at the Black Marlin we ordered this appetizer they called Ahi Nachos. I’ve had versions of this before but this is the best I’ve had. Maybe it was the atmosphere and feeling of being on vacation that just makes food taste better. Basically it’s just wonton wrappers with avocado slices, sashimi grade ahi, a little wasabi drizzle, pickled ginger and siracha. I wanted to order more for my entree! I ended up getting a scallop entree with walnuts and side of sweet potato fries. I know that sounds weird but that’s what I wanted! Chris ordered an unmemorable entree but he got collard greens as a side. He had never had collards before and it was a revolution for him. It was southern food nirvana. He may not remember anything else about that meal but he will forever remember his first bit of collards.
Back to Skull Creek Boathouse…this is a terrible photo but worth posting since you can sort of see what an enormous pot of food Chris ordered. It’s one of things Skull Creek is known for and it’s called a “Boil”. This Boil has clams, mussels, shrimp, crab legs, andoille sausage, corn…everything but the kitchen sink.
Check out our amazing sunset view from the deck!
Just so you don’t think our entire trip was spent eating, although those were the highlights for me…here’s a photo of the pool we hung out at the hotel. Our room had a huge balcony looking over it. The slide was pretty sweet and banana man loves his pool slides. The beach in Hilton Head is one of the best flat white silky sand beaches in the country. It’s great to ride your bikes on and the water was surprisingly warm. (It’s always a surprise to me since I come from Monterey where you have to wear a wetsuit to put your toes in year round)
Our very first stop on our way into Hilton Head was for a late lunch at Low Country Backyard Cafe. I would not have had it any other way. This is truly a hidden gem…as pretty much everything is Hidden in Hilton Head. All the buildings are tucked behind trees and any signage must be neutral/earth tones that blend into the environment. This fact is both the beauty and an initial frustration with the environmentally friendly town. You must have a good GPS to get to know the place and rely heavily on tripadvisor, Urbanspoon, yelp, etc. Otherwise, you will be LOST LOST LOST.
Me being me I did my research and thus the decision for low country back yard. 2:30PM was the perfect time to be seated there since we missed the lunch time rush. We sat by a cute fountain in the “backyard” which was covered in gravel. Our server was so Southern I could barely understand her. She embodied southern hospitality.
I have to talk about this pie. This is Root Beer Float Pie!!! I had to have it since it was their special and because I have never before had a root beer float pie. It delivered. I am going to do my best to recreate this pie at home and hopefully provide you with a recipe some day soon!
Chris had a meatloaf sandwich on flatbread. This is not surprising since he is a meatloaf loving freak. He orders it almost every time he sees it on a menu. I loved how they did this with flatbread. I’m not a sandwich person but I’d totally order it.
Even though Chris’s meatloaf was good I think I ordered the real winner of the day with my BLT salad with grilled shrimp. It had fried green tomatoes, candied bacon, goat cheese, corn and a killer home made dressing. This is the kind of food that inspires me to be creative in my own kitchen. It’s something homey and comforting but totally easy to replicate without being boring. These are my kind of eats!
All in all I’m completely Over The Spoon for Hilton Head and it’s food scene, even though it had the potential to be a complete tourist trap I was surprised to find great local and unique eats. So if you are planning a trip anytime soon Low Country Backyard, Roast Fish & Cornbread, Skull Creek and Black Marlin are all reliable places to really enjoy your vacation. My final advise: wear loose fitting clothing and do not go here on a diet!