By: Amanda Thomas
If you ever travel with me, you need to know that I expect to eat local whenever I travel. Don’t even bother asking if I want to go to Longhorn or Outback for a steak, because you are going to hear the same answer I tell everyone; “ If I wanted that I could eat it at home”. Even with that being said, rarely do I choose a chain restaurant when given the option. I believe that local food is the best food for several reasons. For one, you are supporting local business and without local business you probably wouldn’t be enjoying whatever city you are in as much without local business. Secondly, I enjoy knowing what is in my meal and nine times out of ten the food you eat locally is going to be prepared to order using fresh ingredients. And lastly, I just believe in trying new foods and what better way to do that than eating what the locals eat! Supporting local business has been a huge push over the last few years and I believe in the local business movement because it is the core of people finding their dreams and themselves and then sharing their talent or passion with others…locally!
Support local business rant over…and now onto the food. I currently find myself with my family at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for some quality beach time. While at the beach, naturally, I want all the fresh seafood money can buy. Enjoying the beaches of Hilton Head since I was a little girl, I’ve had my fair share of food here, and on this trip had the privilege to enjoy some favorites and try some new. This list is just a small portion of some of my favorite local eating’s from this trip.
- The Sea Shack
My aunt introduced me to the Sea Shack about five years ago and in her description she included those tantalizing words I love so much, “this is where the locals eat.”
On the same street as several businesses and law firms, there stands the small building with the small identification sign in front. Not quite a shack, but a small building none the less. With the line far out the door and no sign of secret “Is this really worth the wait” glances; you know the food has to be good. Operating from 11-3 for lunch and then 5-9 for dinner there is virtually no ‘best’ time to go because there is always going to be a line…words I heard directly from one of the head cooks themselves. On this particular visit we arrived just before two and the line indeed looked just as long. Waiting in the sweltering beach humidity for over an hour, and we finally made our way into the air conditioning.
With more than enough time to review the glossed over food magazine I had retrieved in line, we had the menu memorized and were prepared to order. Opting for my recent seafood guilty pleasure, I ordered the scallop platter (grilled) with cole slaw and the potato of the day; parmesan mashed potatoes. Once seated at our table in the front corner of the restaurant, we were able to relish in our ability to make it just in time before lunch closed and fully appreciate the effect of air conditioning. Five perfectly grilled scallops, a heaping pile of potatoes, a scoop of cole slaw, and two golf ball sized hushpuppies all in their appropriate section of my black Styrofoam plate. Not knowing what to bite into first…I go for the main event…the scallops. With a thin layer of crispness on either side and nothing but flaky-juicy goodness on the inside, I was definitely pleased with my choice of having it grilled. Immediately after finishing that first scallop I am able to investigate my sides. Fresh made cole slaw with crisp cabbage complimented by a light mayonnaise based sauce, the perfect cole slaw for a scallop companion. The mashed potatoes fully satisfying with the light texture and subtle, but definitely present, taste of parmesean cheese mixed in. But the hush puppies…oh the hush puppies! My absolute favorite part of any by-the-beach meal, are definitely done justice at the Sea Shack. Extra crispy on the outside, fluffy and corn sprinkled on the inside. The perfect late lunch meal at a well worth the wait dive buried in the heart of Hilton Head.
Located right on the waterfront, Hudson’s is known best for their ridiculously fresh seafood. So fresh, that you can all but see the fishermen bringing in their catch to go straight from the ocean to your dinner plate. Classic seaside outdoor seating on a deck or indoor seating reminiscent of an oversized ship, complete with wooden floors and light wooden seating; either option ideal for relaxing before you are served your feast. Numerous daily specials prepared from the fisherman’s recent catch adorn the menu, as well as some of their everyday meals. My meal began with two appetizers; fried green tomatoes and bling bling shrimp. The fried green tomatoes were fried to perfection and joined by a delicious creamy, spicy, ranch. The shrimp had the perfect amount of spice and kick and was matched perfectly atop a bed of fresh cole slaw. With such a bounty to begin the meal, I opted to share my entrée with my dad in order to not over indulge. With that said, we decided on the Neptune platter which included scallops, oysters, shrimp, deviled crab, the fresh catch of the day, a side, and two hush puppies…definitely not over indulging. Having everything except the scallops fried (scallops were pan-seared), everything was exceptionally fresh and definitely satisfied my fresh seafood quest.
Pizza at the beach…what??? Yep, that’s right! While I do crave seafood near the ocean, if you ever go to Hilton Head getting a pizza from Giuseppi’s is a must. Their pizza is super fresh and has that delicious, gooey, pulls when you take a bite of it cheese that brings out the inner child of any gourmet eater. While I normally give my pizza quite the up-do with specialty toppings, at Giuseppi’s I keep it classic-pepperoni pizza. Their pepperoni pizza honestly comes close, if not rivals, some of the slices I’ve had in other big cities like New York. Add a side Greek salad, and you have yourself a delicious meal after a long day at the beach. Wanna know the best part? They deliver!
The beach is the ultimate cherry atop anyone’s perfect summer. Laying on the sand reading a new book, biking under the palm trees, and eating food like you’ll never eat again. It’s something we all look forward to every year when the temperature rises; we pack our bags and head to the coast. Well, the next time you’re near the beach, the mountains, or just out on the town for that matter, I encourage you to explore some local eating and enjoy the freshness that comes with supporting a local business!