As I mentioned in my Beaufort post about Old Bull Tavern, anytime we travel we are adamant about researching local food spots, where to eat and what the best thing is on the menu. I want to know what food I just can’t miss when I travel to a new place. Usually when I head back home, my biggest regrets aren’t that I didn’t buy that t-shirt or have more time here or there, but rather that I didn’t eat something. 😉 What? I love food! Well, I was grossly disappointed in the lack of information around the blogging world about where to eat in Hilton Head! So I did some homework and set out to find some of the can’t miss spots during our short stay on the island!
First up, Red Fish. Specifically, their lesser known Early Dining Menu. If you want a great meal with fresh local fish and produce on the menu, then this will hit the spot. If you want all of that for a great price, then head there before the crowds. You can savor a salad or soup, entree and glass of wine for under $20. You can certainly also order off the regular dinner menu. The salad of the day caught my attention so I ended up ordering it and then the smaller portion of shrimp & grits off the early menu. I had to pay for the salad, but I still ended up with a bargain and more than plenty of food. I appreciated how great our server was at being flexible!Red Fish was recently featured on Food Network for their Executive Chef, Chaun Bescos’ farm to table approach. To take advantage of their farm fresh, locally grown produce, I highly recommend ordering a daily special or an entree that features seasonal vegetables. Again, another reason why I wanted to try the special salad of the day – I knew it would be chock-full of local heirloom tomatoes. Red Fish is a fine dining establishment and while it’s difficult to verify if it is kid-friendly or what the dress code may be online, rest assured that they indeed have a kid’s menu, didn’t seem fazed at all by our group including two kids being there for dinner and in fact, made us all feel welcome. As for the dress code, you could easily get away with dress shorts and a polo or if you are feeling fancy, dress slacks and a button up. Heather worn jeans and a nice top, while I wore a more dress that was not too dressy, but more beach casual. To start, Red Fish will bring you a yummy bread bowl featuring warm french style bread, butter and this amazing creamy pesto type dip that is obviously house-made with fresh ingredients. My daily special salad, which was a Fried Green Tomato Caprese, had the most beautiful presentation. It tasted even better than it looked and was honestly one of the best caprese salads in my life. Just perfection. Second row left is Heather’s entree – she ordered the daily entree special. It was Chorizo crusted Trigger fish with Cajun rice and a corn zucchini succotash. So delicious! Second row right is my entree – I had the small portion of Shrimp & Grits, which comes with fried okra and is topped with kale. Everything was cooked perfectly, but I felt like the dish was lacking a bit of flavor and the combination of fried okra and kale with shrimp and grits was odd to me. This dish missed the mark for me, but it definitely was still worth eating. Finally, on the bottom row is Remington’s Cajun Shrimp and Lobster Burger with truffle fries. This burger was loaded with fresh lobster and shrimp and cajun flavor. So incredibly, filling, he could only finish half of it, but he was happy with his decision to get this burger. In fact, he and Mikey both ordered it.
Red Fish Restaurant
8 Archer Road
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Lunch Monday – Saturday: 11:30am – 2:00pm
Dinner Monday – Sunday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm (Early Dinner 5:00-5:45)
You have to hit up The French Kiss Bakery while in Hilton Head for their beautiful flaky buttery croissants and other pastries! Look at how cute! Located in a quiet corner of Coligny Plaza, it is very convenient to get to and makes it a great place to grab a bite on your way to a boat tour, which is exactly what we did! If you hit them up first thing in the morning when they open, then you are guaranteed fresh, hot pastries from the oven! In fact, we had to wait a few minutes on my chocolate almond croissant. So worth the wait though! The gentleman that owns the bakery and his baker are both from France! That has to make you feel good about the quality of the French pastries you are buying!Not only do they sell amazing french pastries, but they are also churning out delicious breakfast options like this beautiful quiche that my friend chose for herself. That crust was buttery goodness and the filling was fluffy and flavorful!One of my favorite things in the whole world is a fresh buttery, flaky croissant. Done right and they are warm comforting pillows of goodness. I just love them. And this was one buttery, flaky croissant. Still hot from the oven too! Not much beats that when you’ve braved an early morning wake-up call for some dolphins.I also couldn’t pass up their Chocolate Almond Croissant. A Chocolate Croissant might just inch past a regular Butter Croissant in my list of favorite pastries. Throw in some almonds and you’ve got me hook line and sinker. I’m such a sucker. This pastry you guys…it DID NOT disappoint. Chocolate enveloped by layers of flaky croissant and hints of almond doused with a good coating of powdered sugar. These better exist in heaven. That’s all I’m going to say.
The French Kiss Bakery
1 N Forest Beach Dr
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 29928
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00am – 6:00pm
Out shopping in Coligny plaza for the usual touristy garb is the perfect time for a sweet treat in my mind! What? Shopping is a serious workout! We had heard that Frozen Moo was the place on the island to grab a cone or two and it’s situated right in Coligny. How convenient! They serve up a whopping 92 flavors, which is enough to give my indecisive self a panic attack! But I tried the Birthday Cake and never looked back. In fact, it was SO good that we both got Birthday Cake. Cake flavored ice cream is swirled with icing and sprinkles and chock full of huge chunks of actual birthday cake!! What I’m saying is that a cone of Birthday Cake ice cream from Frozen Moo is a MUST on any Hilton Head vacation. It just would not be complete without it.
Frozen Moo Ice Cream
Coligny Plaza Shopping Center, 1 N Forest Beach Dr
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 29928
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm Sunday 12pm-10pm
On our way out of town, we made a stop by Java Burrito for an early spot of lunch! I couldn’t leave town without trying one more place on my massive list!Java Burrito is a Mexican grill that also serves up excellent specialty coffee. Family-owned, they source organic and local food when in season never using artificial preservatives and absolutely no growth hormones or antibiotics. I like the sound of that! To top that off, the staff was incredibly friendly and attentive!Remington got a steak burrito with black beans, cilantro lime rice and their fresh corn salsa. I had a burrito bowl with chicken, pintos and just about every topping possible! I never imagined I would finish that entire bowl it was so large, but it was so fresh and delicious I gobbled up the whole thing before I knew it. The ingredients were of such a good quality though that it did not leave me feeling stuffed. It was so good that we are still dreaming about it and have even threatened to drive back down just to eat here again! I would also be remiss if I did not at least mention their delicious coffee. Husband grabbed a cup of regular joe for the road and it had a wonderful bold flavor!!
Java Burrito Company
1000 William Hilton Parkway
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 29926
Hours: Monday – Saturday 7:30am – 9:00pm
You know we couldn’t pass through Hilton Head without finding a cupcake, didn’t you?? Sweet Carolina Cupcakes is also located conveniently right in Coligny Plaza and it’s right next to the Piggly Wiggly. Dangerously Convenient!! I recommend getting there early because later in the day they are typically low on flavors and choices. We were still able to bag a Strawberry Margarita Cupcake that we enjoyed on the beach no less! Not much beats having a cupcake while you stroll along the beach at sunset! Anyway, I have to say that this cupcake was pretty amazing. Coming from me that’s huge (I tend to be a bit of a cupcake snob ;)). The cake itself was perfectly moist with a nice crumb. The buttercream had a great texture with sweetness on point. The core was infused with a tequila filling and it was topped with just the right amount of strawberry lime buttercream and sugar granules. A pinch of salt would have sent it over the top! Sweet Carolina features a seasonal rotating menu of cupcake flavors with things in the summer like Sweet Georgia Brown, Velvet Elvis, Hot Fudge Sundae and Pink Lemonade. Right now in fall, they are featuring flavors like Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Tater and Fresh Apple. They also have their Red Velvet, Sweet Carolina, Classic Chocolate and Classic Vanilla flavors daily.
Sweet Carolina Cupcakes
Coligny Plaza Shopping Center, 1 N Forest Beach Dr.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00am – 5:00pm
Finally we had to visit Skull Creek Boathouse. I’ve heard a trip to Hilton Head would not be complete without this experience and now I understand why. We chose to sit outside on the patio because the view is beautiful and the weather was nice! Behind us was a lively bar and live music! The guy playing guitar really livened up the place! It’s definitely a FUN atmosphere. Because the wait can get really long, they have an area across from the patio with a walk up bar, picnic tables and games like corn hole to keep you occupied and entertained while you wait. Skull Creek has a full bar featuring everything you can imagine from beer on draft to frozen beverages perfect for the summer heat to house drinks and specialty margaritas. We chose not to imbibe for this dinner, but everything looked and sounded amazing! I am sure they make a mean drink and you would not be disappointed!The restaurant features a Dive Bar menu, a Daily Specials menu and then their regular dinner menu. They have everything you’d expect on a seafood menu including broiled and fried samplers, low country boil, crab and lobster, plus their own spin on some classic items. Take their Pecan Ginger Crusted Mahi Mahi or “Salt & Vinegar” Crab Cakes for example. Then their daily specials menu promises fish so fresh that it was swimming the day before! Even the fish not found locally, like the halibut, was day boat meaning it too was as fresh as caught the day before. This yummy hot bread and butter gets dinner started…Along with these appetizers. We ordered a basket of hush puppies, which came with spiced honey butter and coconut almond shrimp with jezebel sauce. The hush puppies were just to die for – piping hot, absolutely crispy on the outside, and chewy cakey inside! The coconut shrimp were cooked to perfection and very fresh. I’m not normally a coconut person because of the texture, but these were crisped up nicely and the addition of the almonds made them outstanding. That sauce was spicy sweet and the ideal companion to these tropical shrimp.Our friends ordered the Calamari to start. I only enjoy calamari when it is fresh and cooked just right. Overdone and it can be rubbery and tough, but just right and it’s delicious! This was some good calamari. High marks, Skull Creek! For our entrees, top right is Remington’s plate of broiled sea scallops and flounder with savannah red rice. They topped it with a very light cream sauce. Again, it’s difficult to find sea scallops that are not over cooked even at some fine dining restaurants. Not many people know how to handle them with care as they quickly go from undercooked to overdone and tough to eat. These were just flawless, melt in your mouth and delectable. The flounder was like butter on the tongue too. Mikey ordered the jambalaya and said that is was spot on – full of spicy complex flavor and the shrimp were fresh and delicious. Bottom right I tried one of their daily fresh catches. After struggling to decide, I settled on the Blackened Golden Tilefish at the recommendation of our server. Anytime we are in a new restaurant, I always ask the server for their recommendations and if I cannot decide between two meals, I ask them which they would choose. If they work their daily, it’s likely they’ve tried most of the menu items and know what is best. 🙂 My tilefish was caught locally the day before, blackened to perfection and topped with rock shrimp scampi bursting with flavor. Yummy! The sides were very good, but the star of the show here is the fresh seafood. Skull Creek definitely knows how to handle fresh fish with care. Everything was buttery, melt in your mouth, hot and just cooked impeccably. It’s a casual, fun atmosphere where you can expect a five star meal! After being stuffed to the gills, we walked it off a bit by wandering around the Skull Creek dock and enjoying as dusk set in for the evening.Skull Creek is an estuary that sits between Pinckney Island and Hilton Head. It runs between Harbor River on both sides which then dumps into the Atlantic. Basically, it’s a very quiet calm piece of water and it’s on the side of Hilton Head that faces west making it situated to watch the sunset. That building across the docks is Hudson’s Seafood House – another long standing seafood establishment on the island. Another picture of us!! Fat and happy after dinner! We thoroughly enjoyed experiencing a bit of Hilton Head History here at Skull Creek and being a part of the story!
Skull Creek Boathouse
397 Squire Pope Road,
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10:00am – 10:00pm
I have two more foodie tips for enjoying your time in Hilton Head before I go…
- The Piggly Wiggle sells some of the best fresh seafood found in groceries on the island and it’s affordable! We bought red grouper and steamed shrimp for a dinner in of fish tacos one night! We had the shrimp steamed in Old Bay while we shopped, which was super convenient and it was amazing! Buy more than you think you’ll need. The seafood is so fresh you can’t stop eating it!
- Stop by the Sea Pines Farmers Market on Tuesday for local produce and seafood to prepare another great meal at your villa! We found jumbo sea scallops and extra large shrimp, squash, red potatoes, berries and local sweet bread for dessert! We spent less than $50 on all of that to feed six of us! You can’t beat that, plus I picked up a lobster roll for lunch that was out of sight! Huge chunks of lobster meat in a buttery roll with homemade potato chips and crunchy slaw. Don’t miss it!
Don’t forget to live it up and enjoy your vacation; go outside your comfort zone and try new food; find local specialties and experience the culture! You’ll never regret that delicious meal you enjoyed or the company surrounding you!
Skull Creek Boathouse sponsored our meal; all other food was purchased and paid for by us. As always, all opinions are our own and we are honest in our reviews. If we don’t like it, we will tell you. Regardless, this blog only recommends products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers.