Little River Offers Bounty of Seafood, Southern Cooking

Little River and the adjoining Little River Inlet that serves as the state line dividing North and South Carolina was once a hideout for pirates who roamed the Carolina Coast. Today the town is one of the best-kept secrets on the Grand Strand, especially for its bounty of restaurants. This fishing village delivers lots of fresh seafood from boats that sail out of Little River. Diners can watch the ships returning with their daily catch by enjoying a waterfront view on Little River's historic Mineola Avenue, such as Fibbers On The Water, Crab Catchers and Captain Juel's Hurricane Restaurant. Little River is also host of the annual Blue Crab Festival in May and many of the restaurants prominently feature the local delicacy on their menus with She Crab Soup, Softshell Crab and Crab Cakes. Little River is also known for its many outstanding fine-dining eateries that are located both inland and on the Intracoastal Waterway. Historic venues such as The Brentwood and The Parson's Table provide a taste of the past along with some of the best cuisine on the Strand. Those looking for a simpler meal can sample some of the best Southern cooking in town as mom-and-pop places like Mama Jean's.


Little River has its share of upscale, seafood and waterfront dining, but sometimes you just need a cozy place to stuff your face with some good country cooking. Mama Jean's is that kind of place. Serving breakfast and lunch six days a week in the small town of Little River, Mama Jean's is known as a local hot spot for comfort food. Breakfast features all the Southern favorites - eggs, bacon, sausage and its famous grits. Lunch is all about the barbecue, slow-cooked Carolina-style BBQ, although a country buffet puts out a spread of fried chicken, meatloaf and mashed potatoes and other home-style vegetables. The menu also features burgers, sandwiches and seafood.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: Even those with exotic taste buds need a little taste of home cooking, and Mama Jean's is a great place to get your fix.

Terry's expert tip: If you don't want to fill up on the buffet, order the popular Grilled Ham and Swiss on Rye.

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Photo courtesy of Snooky's

Don't let the name fool you, "Jersey Shore" fans. You will not see the same-named pseudo-celebrity or any of her fist-pumping friends at this establishment. Located in Cricket Cove Marina along the Intracoastal Waterway, Snooky's (named for the fish "snook", not the Italian meatball from MTV) offers fresh seafood and excellent views of the ships sailing in and out of the marina. The menu is island-themed, featuring jerked chicken with coconut rice and pineapple salsa, firecracker shrimp, and a Caribbean sampler for starters. Main courses include shrimp and grits, Bahama Mama chicken and the Little River Platter of flounder, shrimp, crab cake and wasabi slaw.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: Snooky's offers excellent food in a beautiful environment to create a great experience.

Terry's expert tip: Grab a seat on the scenic patio deck for happy hour specials - $5 cocktails and appetizers - from 4 to 6 p.m.

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Crab Catchers
Photo courtesy of Crab Catchers

Little River is home of the annual Blue Crab Festival, and Crab Catchers is the unofficial headquarters for the waterfront festivities. Featuring a large open-air deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and an indoor dining area with great views through the windows, Crab Catchers has the historic waterfront cornered for great views of fishing boats sailing in and out of the small port. Crab Catchers also has fresh seafood to match, especially highlighting the local blue crabs - She Crab Soup, Crab Cakes, Deviled Crab ... you get the idea. And seafood baskets of Calabash-style fresh catch fish and shrimp make up much of the menu.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: Crab Catchers serves fresh fish and seafood from local fishing fleets that tie up at adjoining dock.

Terry's expert tip: Crab Catchers' full bar on the patio deck makes for a great place to watch the fishing fleets return home from sea.

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Captain Juel's Hurricane Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Captain Juel's Hurricane Restaurant

One of the oldest restaurants in Little River remains one of the most popular with tourists who like to see their fresh catch first hand. With a large deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and an indoor dining area surrounded by large pane-glass windows, Captain Juel's Hurricane Restaurant allows patrons a view of the harbor, where the Hurricane fleet of fishing boats return from deeper waters to deliver seafood to the dock. Fried seafood platters are the specialty at Captain Juel's, offering Calabash-style shrimp, flounder and more. The hushpuppies are perhaps the most popular item on the menu, and you can't beat the view.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: Captain Juel's has its own fishing fleet, insuring the freshest possible catch of the day.

Terry's expert tip: A table on the outdoor deck is an excellent place to enjoy a lovely view of sunset over the inlet.

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Fibber's on the Water
Photo courtesy of Fibber's on the Water

If an Irish pub and a seafood restaurant had a baby, it would probably look a lot like Fibber's on the Water, a Little River favorite for locals and tourists alike. Located along the Intracoastal Waterway and offering excellent views of the inlet and marinas, Fibber's adds outstanding Irish cuisine and fresh seafood to the equation for create a unique and enjoyable experience. Two of the house specials tell the story of this unlikely union - the Shepherds Pie and the Seafood Pie. Of course, fish and chips fit into both categories and the full bar and sweet view set the ideal environment for a good time.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: The combination of location, atmosphere and food make Fibber's a great place for drinks or dinner.

Terry's expert tip: Fibber's is famous for its She Crab Soup and Shrimp Burger - and that's no lie.

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Key West Crazy
Photo courtesy of Key West Crazy

You don't have to travel to the southernmost tip of the United States to get a true taste of the Key West lifestyle and cuisine. Key West Crazy in Little River brings the flavor of the Florida Keys to the Carolina coast, offering fresh seafood that is seasoned and prepared the way they down it way down South. Housed in a wooden shack right on the Intracoastal Waterway, guests also get a great view to go with their tasty fresh catch of the day. Try the Steam Kettle - a large put filled with steamed clams, scallops, shrimp, mussels, fish and more served over a bed of rice with fried corn on the cob. Fresh oysters are also a popular choice. Breakfast and lunch features more traditional fare, including sandwiches and burgers.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: Key West Crazy is a popular hangout for locals, who know their bars and seafood.

Terry's expert tip: Key West Crazy is as much a bar as a restaurant, so enjoy a full night on the patio deck with great food and drinks.

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Chianti South
Photo courtesy of Chianti South

Featuring an amazing wine collection to go with a superb menu, Chianti South is one the most authentic Italian restaurants you'll find on the Grand Strand. As a winner of the Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence" as well as other accolades, Chianti South combines ambiance, excellent cuisine and an extensive wine list to create a romantic venue for those staying or willing to make the short drive to Little River. The menu features homemade pastas, fresh seafood, quail and steaks, as well as all the traditional Italian favorites. Wash it down with one of the many fine wines or with a drink from the full bar.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: Despite its fringe location, Chianti South is well worth the drive from any part of the Strand.

Terry's expert tip: Ask for a private tour of the spacious wine cellar and prepare to be blown away.

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Clark's Seafood & Chop House
Photo courtesy of Clark's Seafood & Chop House

Fine dining with a wonderful view; that's the best way to describe the experience at Clark's Seafood & Chop House in Little River. Opened by the former owner of the popular Boundary House in the old location of Umberto's, which relocated to Barefoot Landing, Clark's has quickly become a favorite among locals and tourists. Featuring a large patio deck overlooking Coquina Harbor Marina, guests are treated to an outstanding atmosphere as well as excellent cuisine. Fresh seafood dishes and great steaks form the perfect surf-and-turf combination. Lamb, chicken, pork and more are also on the chop menu. Nice wine list and dessert selection too.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: Clark's has the best combination of great food and lovely view in Little River.

Terry's expert tip: Due to popular demand, reservations are highly recommended during the summer months.

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The award-winning Parson's Table, housed in a former church, offers true fine dining in an atmosphere of elegance and intimacy. Beautiful stained glass windows dot the interior, which is comprised of several individual rooms that are equally conducive to special family occasions and romantic dinners for two. Menu choices include prime rub, bacon-wrapped filet mignon topped with bearnaise sauce and crab, sauteed shrimp with ham and vegetables over cheese grits, and sauteed shrimp and scallops in lemon butter with pecans and rice pilaf. Wine suggestions accompany each dish, or you may select something from the vast wine list. Reservations are recommended.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: The combination of an elegant atmosphere and excellent food make The Parson's Table a must-visit.

Terry's expert tip: Take time to browse around the restaurant at some of the many unique artworks and antiques.

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The Brentwood Restaurant

Set in a beautiful white Victorian home in Little River, The Brentwood certainly necessitates a wise departure from the Grand Strand's busier drags. This historic abode dates from 1910 and features a wrap-around porch that enhances its time-tested charm and provides a nice place to relax after dinner or while you wait. And it isn't all about appearances at The Brentwood � inside, guests savor such well-done classics as steak au poivre, prime rib, grilled ostrich, baked lobster tail and veal saltimbocca. Upstairs from the main dining room, there is a classy lounge area that features a full bar with an extensive wine list.

Recommended for Little River's Best Restaurants because: The Brentwood is one of the classiest establishments on the Grand Strand, perfect for formal affairs.

Terry's expert tip: Reservations are strongly suggested during the summer months, especially for the famed Sunday brunch.

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Meet 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...  More About Terry