Seafood capital of South Carolina serves fresh from the docks

Dining in Murrells Inlet is a true treat. For starters, you never have to worry if your seafood dinner is fresh. Most of the restaurants are located on the docks and marinas around Murrells Inlet, a small body of water on the south end of the Grand Strand, and you can sit and watch the fishing fleets roll in after a long day at sea and unload their catches of the day on the docks and deliver them directly to the kitchens.

Murrells Inlet also offers a slice of Lowcountry life, one where no one ever gets in too big a hurry and the best-laid plans can justifiably be canceled at the last minute of the fish are biting. Nicknamed the "Seafood Capital of South Carolina," all things revolve around the tides and the runs of shrimp, fish and crabs. Nowhere is the laid-back lifestyle and delicious seafood more evident than the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk, a wooden walkway that runs along the banks of the inlet and offers direct access to some of the best establishments in town.

Located at the Crazy Sisters Marina, popular Marshwalk eateries include Bovine's, Capt. Dave's Dockside, Drunken Jack's and the famous Dead Dog Saloon. For those who want to explore other areas of Murrells Inlet, Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar and Prosser's BBQ provide a nice change of pace, especially if you are hungry for something other than seafood.


Prosser's Bar-B-Q
Photo courtesy of Prosser's Bar-B-Q

This family-owned and operated eatery has been serving sweet barbecue and country cooking since 1953 and for good reason. Not only does Prosser's do barbecue the good ol' Southern way - slow smoked over hickory coals to perfection - it also serves some of the best country cooking on the Grand Strand. Fried chicken, country-fried steak and the Lowcountry favorite dish of chicken bog join barbecue and ribs on the buffet amid a sea of home-style vegetables. Bread and desserts are also available on the buffet, which is quite affordable for hungry visitors. Be sure to try the mustard-based sauce even if it's against your BBQ religion.

Bypassers know this restaurant as "the place with the shark coming out of the roof." Those who stop know it as one of the best seafood establishments on the Grand Strand. Sure, Litchfield Beach Fish House turns heads for its somewhat tacky decor (the shark is being reeled in by a fisherman in a boat that also sits atop the building), but inside the walls, you will find fresh seafood prepared in unique Lowcountry fashion. Incorporating the local influences of the Gullah, Creole and Plantation cultures, Litchfield Beach Fish Club offers guests fresh-catch specials seasoned in a variety of flavors.

Located in the heart of Myrtle Beach's seafood district of Murrells Inlet, this upscale/casual steakhouse gives visitors options, especially for those with a taste of red meat instead of fish. Bovine's features mesquite-grilled dishes. As its name might suggest, the atmosphere pays homage to the Old West with cow memorabilia lining the walls and tablecloths patterned with cowboy boots. The abundance of locals and regulars who have found their favorite place for steak make this a fun place to visit. Located on the salt marsh overlooking Murrells Inlet, the view is a big draw too, especially for a happy-hour sunset.

Nance's Creek Front Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Nance's Creek Front Restaurant

For more than 50 years the Nance family name has been synonymous with fresh seafood in Murrells Inlet. Operating its own fishing fleet from the early days, Nance's Creek Front has been serving up seafood straight from the docks for generations of visitors. In fact, the large pane glass windows overlooking the inlet give Nance's one of the best views in town. But it's not just the spectacular view that keeps them coming back for more; the seafood is (pun intended) off the hook. Nance's makes massive steam pots overflowing with fresh shrimp, crab, corn, potatoes and sausage. The seafood platters are popular choices, with fresh catches of the day fried or grilled alongside a spread of fries, slaw and hot hush puppies.

This longtime Murrells Inlet standby sits right on the water and is always a big hit with diners from near and far. Jack's booty, of course, comes in the form of fresh-from-sea numbers that are prepared to taste - grilled, blackened, saut�ed or fried. From specialty dinners like Grouper Royale topped with crabmeat and b�arnaise sauce to the substantial combination platter that allows you to pair up your choice of flounder, shrimp, oysters, deviled crab, scallops and creek shrimp, it's all good here. Don't stop by Drunk�n Jack's without sampling a few handfuls of their famous hushpuppies dipped in honey butter.

Dudley the dog and inspirational namesake may be dead and gone, but this saloon is still going strong! Another in a long line of solid Murrells Inlet eateries, Dead Dog Saloon delivers a tasty array of fresh seafood, steaks, burgers and pasta dishes. Without a doubt, the place's chief asset is its awesome patio deck, which offers great views of the water and even a few hammocks for lazing with a cold one. Speaking of spirits, this fish-shack style restaurant is believed by many to be haunted by the ghost of Dudley, so be sure to save a hushpuppy or two as a peace offering.

Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar
Photo courtesy of Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar

Serving fresh local seafood with a distinct Italian flair, Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar brings a fresh approach to a Murrells Inlet restaurant scene. Opened in 2016 by popular local chef Jim Pronesti, who also operates Cafe Piccolo in nearby Pawleys Island, Costa is "Chef Jimmy's" latest creation. Incorporating fresh local seafood from the nearby docks into traditional and not-so-traditional Italian dishes, Costa gives diners plenty of options for daily specials and fresh catches of the day. Costa serves lunch and dinner daily and augments its menu with specials that appear on a chalkboard and are updated constantly. Serving shrimp, oysters, scallops, clams, crab and even lobster, Costa combines great Italian seafood (and non-seafood) dishes with an upscale atmosphere.

Garden City

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.

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.

Lee's Inlet Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Lee's Inlet Kitchen

One of the first restaurants to open in Murrells Inlet remains one of the best. In fact, Lee's Inlet Kitchen has been named one of the top 10 seafood restaurants in South Carolina by Southern Living Magazine, and for good reason. Opened in 1948, Lee's Inlet Kitchen tempted visitors to drive the extra mile for fresh seafood served with Southern hospitality. Originally located in a former gas station, Lee's has had to expand several times to accommodate the hungry patrons who pack the house virtually every night. Lee's is famous for its seafood platters, served fried or broiled, and house specialties like oyster stew, she-crab soup and shrimp and grits. Open for lunch and dinner, Lee's also offers an early light menu as well as great "landfood" options.


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