There's nothing quite like spending ten hours in a car while your driving companion sings along to Broadway tunes (thanks SiriusXM), so when I got to my destination of Hilton Head Island this July 4th weekend I very much needed a drink (and food). I've been to Hilton Head a few times before, so when it comes to dining out I pretty much have my bearings, on this trip however it was America's birthday so it called for burgers and beer, mostly.
There are staples to my visits to Hilton Head: The Skull Creek Boathouse and the Bluffton Farmers Market, which by virtue means lunch at Old Town Dispensary. The Boathouse is an all-American restaurant on the upper-west side of the island overlooking the creek. If it's not too hot, find a seat at the outside bar, order up a local draft beer or frozen margarita while you look over the menu -- you'll be finished with at least one round of drinks before you get through reading it. The menu is pretty diverse with dishes ranging from fried fish, blackened fish, burgers, tacos, pasta, and salads to sushi and oysters. It's a restaurant on the water, order fish because that's what we do.
Bluffton is a historic town just before the bridge to Hilton Head, and it's safe to say its main attraction is the farmers market which is open every Thursday. For a town so small, the market rivals any you'd find in D.C. A couple dozen vendors sell fresh produce, baked goods, meats, and fresh pasta. With the backdrop of live music and historic readings, it makes for quite an excursion. There are plenty of picnic tables and lawn space, I recommend spending the afternoon shopping and eating from one of the food trucks selling BBQ ribs, or should you be inclined, there is even a vendor that sells Indian dishes. However, on my visits you'll find me at the tavern that anchors the market, The Old Town Dispensary, which has an impressive beer list and a plate of BBQ nachos that's worth the trip alone, it's a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.
Even in Beaufort County there is no escaping the clutches of the celebrity chef. Food Network's Robert Irvine has a small casual restaurant, Nosh located in the Tanger Outlets just off the highway between Bluffton and Hilton Head. Not one to pass up an opportunity for cheap Polo shirts and J.Crew, my friends and I shopped then dined at Nosh. There is nothing special about Nosh except for its celebrity name (and images of Irvine's biceps), but the kitchen did dish out some killer fried zucchini and pimento cheese fries, perfect for that beach body. Nosh is an easy meal that fills the post-shopping longing for food and an autographed cookbook.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the outstanding home-cooked brunch we had: grits with same-day locally caught shrimp from Benny Hudson Seafood, topped with bacon, jalapeno, fresh herbs, and a fried egg, paired with a freshly-squeezed South Carolina peach Bellini -- when in South Carolina. If I can persuade my friend who made this to share with me his recipe, I'll be sure to make it a future blog post, so be sure to check back.