The Myrtle Beach area is literally swimming in seafood, with local waters producing some of the best hauls of fish, shrimp, crab and oysters. The 60-mile stretch of coastline that makes up the Grand Strand includes two of the best fishing ports on the East Coast. From Murrells Inlet (the self-titled Seafood Capital of S.C.) to Calabash, N.C. (the self-titled Seafood Capital of the World), the Myrtle Beach area is surrounded by lots of fresh catches - and lots of places to enjoy them. The ready availability means plenty of options for seafood-lovers, a difficult list to trim down to 10.Whether you're looking for an all-you-can-eat buffet or a hole-in-the-wall oyster bar, you're sure to find a perfect fit for your taste buds. For a romantic dinner with a view to match, try the historic Sea Captain's House, which is celebrating its 60th summer on the Strand. Mega-seafood buffets like Captain George's Seafood Restaurant are abundant in Myrtle Beach. There's also the coziness of a small oyster shack, like you will find at Rockerfeller's and Bimini's Oyster Bar.Of course, some prefer to go straight to the source, and Calabash and Murrells Inlet have a broad range of seafood restaurants that take their fresh catches straight from the boat to your table. The Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk provides a dozen dining options in a short stretch down the waterfont and Calabash has a small district of seafood establishments that make it impossible to go wrong.
10 Captain George's Seafood Restaurant
Located across from Broadway at the Beach, Captain George's fresh seafood bounty is sure to dispel any misgivings you may have about the buffet experience. Plan on a feast of scallops, steamed crab legs, clams, mahi-mahi, shrimp, barbecued ribs, prime rib, salads and vegetables! Plus, there are always plenty of dessert choices. Needless to say, if you plan to eat at one of the Captain's tables, bring along a BIG appetite. Children under 12 eat for half price. Although it's hard to find a seafood buffet that has an upscale atmosphere, Captain George's comes closest to a having a fine-dining environment. (843-916-2278)
9 Bimini's Oyster Bar & Seafood Cafe
As far as oyster shacks go, this is about as good as it gets. Located in a strip mall just off Restaurant Row, Bimini's doesn't look like much from the outside - or the inside, for that matter. Picnic tables fill the small space and the patio deck and the decor is far from fine dining. But the proof is in the food, and Bimini's does not disappoint. Famous for its fresh shrimp and oysters, Bimini's doesn't do fancy - just good portions of fresh seafood served the way you like it. Grab a beer from the bar and soak up the beach atmosphere of good times and great food. (843-449-5549)
8 Flamingo Grill
Sure, sister restaurant, Cagney's, has a longer history with Strand diners, but in its day, Flamingo has established a niche for itself as one of Myrtle Beach's top seafood restaurants. Designed with a touch of Art Deco flair, the attractive space is indeed a local favorite, and the kitchen does its best to keep diners on their toes with appetizing offerings like peppercorn steak, Cajun oysters, Lowcountry crabcakes and even a few hearty pasta numbers. Flamingo is also located just two blocks from the beach, so patrons can enjoy a nice after-dinner walk to the public beach access at the end of 71st Avenue North. (843-449-5388)
7 Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville
Legendary crooner Jimmy Buffett sang about this mythical place back in the 1970s, and now it has become a reality. Margaritaville is everything Buffett sang about and more, featuring shrimp that are beginning to boil and generous servings of frozen concoctions that help you hang on. Located in the Heroes Harbour section of Broadway at the Beach, just below a tall lighthouse and beside a mock shipwreck, walking through the doors is like taking a trip to the Caribbean with Buffett himself. There's always a party going on in the huge bar and outdoor deck, where live music plays nightly during the summer months. The dining area is decorated in typical tropical style and the menu, loaded with fresh seafood, salads, sandwiches, and music are inspired by the life and times of Buffett. (843-448-5455)
6 Chestnut Hill
Located on Restaurant Row, this place is known for all its food, but the seafood takes center stage. All of the fish and seafood they serve are fresh. How fresh? The restaurant owns and operates its own fishing boat. But for those with more terrene tastes, there are delicious steak, chicken, lamb and veal selections, helping Chestnut Hill stand as one of the Strand's most versatile dinner choices. If you have the chance, their Sunday brunch is a "can't miss" that features everything from grilled quail to Southern fried chicken. Reservations are not required but are recommended during the summer months. (843-449-3984)
5 Wahoo's Raw Bar & Marina
The Murrells Inlet Marsha Walk is where you will find Wahoo's Raw Bar & Marina. Overlooking the very waters where your dinner came from, likely just hours before your arrival, this waterfront eatery is always on island time, thanks to its open-air tiki bar. Choose from all types of fresh seafood, including lobster, flounder, snapper and shrimp prepared however you like. As for the perfect recipe to "chill" at dusk, just kick back on the deck with one of their signature frozen cocktails and enjoy live music while the fishing boats return to port for the night. Reservations are not required but may come in handy during the summer. (843-651-5800)
4 Gulfstream Cafe
What a view! Gulfstream is the only restaurant in Garden City Beach overlooking the ocean on one side and Murrells Inlet on the other and, fortunately, the food lives up to the view. Recommended starters include the onion loaf (a mass of fried onion rings with bleu cheese dip), kicky N'Awlins shrimp served atop a crispy fried grits cake, she-crab soup and oyster shooters. Popular main courses range from Low Country crab cakes, a variety of fried seafood, garlic crab claws, and grilled or blackened catch of the day. Kids can opt for fried fish, shrimp, chicken fingers, or spaghetti. (843-651-8808)
3 Rockefellers Raw Bar
A Rockefeller in name only (you won't run into any high-falutin attitude or pretense), this roadside seafooder appeals to folks from all walks of life. For those who prefer their seafood in a more natural state, order from the raw bar or the steam kettles, featuring fresh shrimp, scallops or mussels in old bay and beer, garlic and wine or spicy marinara sauce. Or try the shrimp dinner (you can have it fried, blackened or sautéed in garlic butter) or the crab cake dinner, either of which are served with choice of potato and vegetable medley. Off course, the shrimp-n-grits will never steer you off course. (843-361-9677)
2 Mr. Fish Seafood Market & Grill
Mr. Fish has relocated to a new, more spacious location but still features the same great food thousands have come to know and love. The new, multi-room establishment is the latest creation of Mr. Fish, aka Ted Hammerman, and daughter Sheina. He is a famous fisherman among locals while her background is in the restaurant industry, so they make a great team in providing quality seafood in a casual and comfortable environment. The restaurant expanded due to popular demand, and now separate rooms serve as a sushi station and full bar bar. But you can order off the same delicious menu in any room, and the shrimp and grits, fish tacos and crab cakes are popular items. The sushi and she-crab soup are also top-selling items. (843-839-3474)
1 Sea Captain's House
Once a privately-owned family beach cottage, this picturesque oceanfront restaurant serves up excellent seafood dishes with a side order of wonderful view. Featuring a combination of Southern cooking and Lowcountry seafood, the cuisine is award-winning and has been featured in numerous national publications. For more than 60 years this "temporary" eatery, which was slated for demolition to make room for a high-rise hotel, is still drawing huge crowds. While taking in the beautiful views, try any one of their delicious platters including oysters, shrimp and rock lobster. Also served are a variety of chicken and steak dishes, all accompanied by fresh seasonal vegetables. (843-448-8082)
About Terry Massey
It's no surprise that journalist Terry Massey is credited with creating the word 'stay-cation.' He considers the past 18 years in Myrtle Beach a vacation.
He and his wife Stephanie were honeymooning in Myrtle Beach, when Terry was offered a job at the local newspaper. Without hesitation, they packed a U-Haul with their belongings - including unopened wedding gifts - and moved to the beach. They now have a daughter, Riley, a golden retriever, Duff, and their roots are deeply grounded in the sand.
After 13 years at the newspaper, Terry became a freelance writer to cover all the things that brought him to the beach.
Read more about Terry Massey here.
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