This post is all about the best places to eat in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Updated 2022)
Two words: FRESH SEAFOOD. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than being oceanside, with a salty breeze blowing, and some crab legs with a glass of sav blanc….I mean, c’mon! If you’ve read Top 12 Things to Do in Hilton Head Island, you know I teased this post- Best Places to Eat in HHI (and includes bonus places to grab a cocktail and ice cream). And trust me, they won’t let you down! Next time you’re at the beach paradise known as Hilton Head, give these restaurants a try.
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Harbourside in Harbour Town
Harbour Town itself is a lovely place to visit and there are several restaurants there to try (Links, Crazy Crab, CQ’s). My fav is the casual dining Harbourside, located in the center of Harbour Town, with views overlooking the marina. You can grab a bite and then work it all off climbing the several hundred steps up the iconic HHI lighthouse. Harbourside is also charming for a night at the bar there with the lights bouncing off the ocean. One thing to note is that the menu is not very extensive, with limited items like snow crab legs, burgers and fish sandwiches, and my personal favorite- the peel & eat shrimp!
Marleys Shrimp and Burger Shack
Welcome to one of the OG HHI restaurants- Marleys. The Shrimp and Burger Shack is an extension of Marleys Island Grill (now closed *tears*). This is a great choice for fast, quality beach-y food for lunch. The Shrimp and Burger Shack has a pretty large menu, like crab cakes, cuban sandwiches, scallops, po boys, and fish tacos. I finished off the blackened fish tacos (shack style) with the chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve…which YUM, obvi. Check out their shack salad with blacked tilapia- another one of my favs.
Who doesn’t love a great breakfast/brunch spot? While Hilton Head does lack in this genre a bit, Skillets does not. Located in Coligny Plaza is delicious and extremely dog friendly, with even a dog menu! Ziggy loved the tailwagging turkey, while we gorged out on the french toast, denver skillet (pictured above), and the bananas foster pancakes. The only thing I will say is that the coffee game could step it up, but luckily the adorable french bakery is right next door with bomb coffee (& Starbucks is about 5 mins away if you’re a Starbs fanatic).
Carolina Coffee & Crumbs
Carolina Coffee & Crumbs is also located in Coligny Plaza near Skillets, although this more of a coffee shop/breakfast bakery vibe than a sit-down restaurant. They have specialty drinks like s’mores lattes, berry crumble lattes, and even nitro cold brew for my caffeine addicts. For food, they’ve a handful of bagel options, amazing avocado toast (hello balsamic drizzle!), and a nice build your own breakfast sandwich option. Carolina Crumbs & Coffee is definitely worthy of a morning visit!
Harbour Town Cafe & Bakery
If you’re staying in Sea Pines, this is a lovely option to bike to in the morning for breakfast & coffee. They have jumbo sized pastries and breakfast plates that always hit the spot. Seating is outdoor picnic tables (at least during COVID it has been), so if you want to grab a bite to eat on a rainy day, be prepared to drive and eat in the car. Prices are a bit expensive for an average breakfast, but it’s on par for the typical costs of the island. Try out any of the grab-and-go pastries, the blueberry pancakes, or the southern breakfast.
Nunzio Restaurant + Bar
I’m starting off the dinner list with my absolute favorite restaurant of ALL TIME. I’m absolutely not kidding, this place is to die for. Every single time you go, the service is impeccable, the food is exquisite, drinks are top-tier. It’s 100000/10 for me. BUT. Be prepared to spend a pretty penny, this restaurant is not cheap. Everything i’ve tried here (and i’ve been 10+ times) is worth every bit. You’re getting a whole gallery of food pics from here, because I will die on the hill that Nunzio’s is the best italian (or really any type of food) i’ve ever had. Nunzio (the owner & head chef) is from a small town in Southern Italy & has thankfully brought his dishes to Hilton Head. And the food is so fresh, we’ve literally pulled into the restaurant and seen him picking his own produce and herbs for the night. You absolutely have to try the beefsteak tomatos with gorgonzola and arugula, the tuna carpaccio (the olive oil and lemon on here is *chefs kiss*), Polpette di Mamma Angelina (meatballs), the filet, the ravioli (this is normally a special and every option we’ve tried has been amazing, but if you are lucky to land on the night with lobster ravioli, dive in head first), and literally so much more i’d take the rest of this post talking about it. My favorite desserts are of course the tiramisu, and the Bombato Cioccolatino (little heavenly chocolate balls with vanilla ice cream). Prepare your bank account, go, and thank me later.
This is another pricier restaurant (don’t worry, more inexpensive options are coming), but this is my second favorite to Nunzio’s. Wise Guys is a luxe looking atmosphere with top-tier traditional American dishes. The appetizers & entrees were my favorite part, although the dessert we got fell slightly flat (we only tried the bourbon bread pudding, so they can redeem themselves there if we try something else next time). Definitely check out the tuna poke lettuce wraps and the meat and cheese platter (warning, this platter is ginormous) for appetizers! I can’t wait to go back and try more of the apps, because they were just so yummy and they’re all very different takes on traditional apps. The wedge salad and filet for dinner was exactly what I needed. My friends were big fans of the canoe cut king crab legs and the pan roasted salmon.
The Black Marlin
Sat on the coast, the Black Marlin provides scenic views with a lovely atmosphere. I’ve only been here for lunch, but it looks fun in the nighttime, with the Hurricane Bar right next door. We started off with the Pimento Cheese Dip that comes with fried pita chips and then I had one of the best salads ever- the Sushi Bowl Salad (subbed wasabi for ginger, FYI). Like most places in HHI, the menu is a mix of seafood and traditional American, with items like Lobster Tacos, Burgers of all sorts, and Buffalo Shrimp.
COAST is part of the newly built Sea Pines Beach Club, which is a great spot for dinner & drinks (specifically wine, with the extensive wine list). One mistake I made here was ignoring my waiters advice and not ordering seafood- I got the filet, which was definitely good, but nothing to rave about. HOWEVER, I tried the scallops and my jaw dropped! The appetizers are also amazing as well, I loved the firecracker shrimp, tuna poke wanton, guacamole, and avocado toast. If you go for lunch, definitely get the farmers market salad- the dressing is to die for and it’s filled with healthy goodness. The food is really good, but the great ocean views and beachy ambiance are what really put COAST on my best places to eat in Hilton Head Island list.
Ice Cream & More!
Salty Dog Cafe
Another iconic staple of Hilton Head Island- the Salty Dog Cafe. The Salty Dog Cafe is back open for indoor and outdoor dining after being briefly to-go order only during COVID. While the restaurant is a great post-beach lunch option, the homemade ice cream is on my must-do list in HHI, and that’s for a reason- it is without a doubt the best ice cream ever! Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or maybe it’s atmosphere, but don’t miss grabbing a scoop or two (or three) while you visit.
This is a new addition to the island and one I am so grateful to have! Healthy Habit provides tons of nutritional, vegetarian, and vegan to-go options. Healthy Habit makes my best places to eat in Hilton Head Island list because they have become my go-to place for post-workout smoothies. There’s nothing like a grueling hot yoga class and then stopping by Healthy Habit afterwards for their Hulk or Antiox smoothie. They also have acai bowls, wraps, and salads.