Certain restaurants are known for their expertise at turning out signature dishes really well. They've pinned down the ingredients, mastered the process, and gained a strong following as a result. Hilton Head has had much success cultivating great restaurants and creating a substantial market for Seafood. Locals can't get enough of the city's excellent food, and you'll often find them, along with eager tourists, at popular Alexander's or at Quarterdeck, a major player in the field. Make sure you see what all the fuss is about!


Tucked away on the north end of the island (next door to popular Hudson's) the Chart House might be the best-kept secret of Hilton Head. Amazing views, great food and daily happy hour specials make this spot a winner with locals and savvy visitors.

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Forest Beach

Featured on Food Network, this seafood house is one of the best deals on the island. Sure it's a shack, but once you taste the outstanding fresh fish you won't mind the ultra-casual environs. Locals recommend the oyster sandwich, and there's also a pleasing variety of grilled and fried fish. Great homemade soups, too.

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Outfitted with bright blue tables and chairs and colorful images of fish on the wall, this casual dining room's a great choice for dinner or drinks. Try some peel'n'eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell, or tuna sashimi from the raw bar, or one of the stellar mains, like the tarragon grilled ribeye or pan-seared jumbo scallops. Great martinis and happy hour specials, too.

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Hilton Head Plantation

An island institution, this waterside seafood house opened in 1967. Fans sit at tables topped with blue and white checkered cloths and devour buckets of steamed oysters, crab legs and peel-and-eat shrimp with cocktail sauce and drawn butter. Mains, such as seafood pasta, crab cakes and stuffed flounder, come with hush puppies, slaw and fries or baked potato. Picnic tables available on the dock.

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Outfitted in stone, stainless steel and white decor, this stunning two-story space allures patrons with its innovative cuisine and stylish cocktail bar. Large windows overlooking the beach and the sound of the indoor waterfall add to the atmosphere. Servers deliver artful plates of Asian-inspired seafood dishes, from the dim sum appetizer (shrimp shui mai dumplings, pork pot stickers, spring roll, ginger soy) to pan-blackened grouper with fried green tomatoes, sherry scallion cream and lobster salsa. In addition to the kitchen's bounty, the raw bar dishes up premium oysters.

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Contemporary black-and-white décor ensures that your focus is directed at the food here, and thanks to special sound absorbing paneling, Red Fish is a refreshingly quiet restaurant, where it's easy to enjoy a relaxed conversation. The menu features colorful Cuban-influenced steak and seafood, all of which is available "naked" – grilled with olive oil, lime, and garlic. Other options might be Asian style Chilean sea bass with wasabi cream and soy glaze, ribs basted with a guava-orange BBQ sauce, shrimp and grits, and grilled tequila lime salmon with roasted corn salsa. There's a well rounded wine and cocktail list, but here's a tip: visit the shop first, where you can choose a great bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal – corkage is only $10.

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