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The Grand Strand, SC

The Grand Strand RestaurantsOur favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.

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The Grand Strand isn’t a hotbed of haute cuisine, but neither is it a culinary wasteland. Of course a family-friendly vacation destination means there will be lots of fast-food pit stops, casual chains and all-you-can-eat buffets, but a little searching will sleuth out some more interesting options.

Seafood is always a safe bet at a beach resort, and the Flying Fish Public Market & Grill in North Myrtle Beach is well regarded among Grand Strand regulars. The renovated waterfront building offers a menu specializing in local seafood and South Carolina Lowcountry favorites like crab cakes with a house-made remoulade. Selections from the fresh fish market vary daily, and you can have your choice prepared one of four different ways (we like ours dredged in a cornmeal coating and then sauteed).

Where to Eat

Rustic Table features a wide variety of local seafood and Southern specialties like fried green tomatoes. The vibrant atmosphere sets the stage for an amazing evening out that's sure to please even the most discerning food connoisseurs. Whether guests are looking for upscale dining that's family-friendly or the perfect place to entertain friends (complete with a full bar), it's where to go on Pawleys Island. Save room for dessert, with offerings such as peach cobbler and Pawleys Island Pie that's served warm with chocolate chips, pecans and whipped cream.

In Myrtle Beach , USDA Prime steak and filet selections dominate the menu at New York Prime, A Steakhouse, but chops and seafood options including lobsters weighing up to 13 pounds also are offered. Side dishes are large enough for two, and the professional wait staff will politely advise you if you may have ordered too much. The small dining room allows guests to watch meals being prepared in an open kitchen while enjoying a glass of wine from an award-winning wine list. Behind this restaurant's rustic facade patrons discover a classic steakhouse with gracious service.

Since 1988, Thoroughbreds Chophouse & Seafood Grille has been the premier dining spot on Restaurant Row. With the refined decor of an upscale English country inn, the dining rooms and lounge reflect a polished ambience. Patrons will have no trouble picking winners from a well-organized racing-themed menu that breaks down like this: The Belmont Steaks section, featuring certified Angus beef; The Kentucky Derby, a lineup of veal and chop selections; and The Seabiscuit menu, featuring the restaurant's signature grouper Nantua and other seafood selections. A well-stocked wine cellar provides guests with a variety of world vintages ranging from light to robust.

Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse is a great place to go with a group of famished people. The drill is no different here than at any other Brazilian churrascaria: Roving bands of servers bearing skewers laden with seasoned, grilled meats move from table to table, loading up your plate until you cry “No mas!” Throw in a bountiful salad bar, homemade mashed potatoes, fried bananas and cheese bread (we haven’t even mentioned dessert), and even the biggest appetite will be sated.

Perfectly prepared steaks and traditional Italian dishes are the bill of fare at Angelo's Steak & Pasta. Patrons can order meals cooked to order from a menu with signature dishes such as the Big Daddy Ribeye, flat iron steak with grilled onions and Stilton blue cheese, and lobster medallions tossed with linguine, or they can step up to the extensive Italian buffet. Garlic rolls and a crisp salad accompany every dinner entrée. Reasonable prices and early bird specials make this casual dining spot even more appealing.

Interesting Places to Go

Within walking distance of the beach, River City Cafe is all about casual dining, which makes it a good bet for a quick meal for families with kids in tow. The food is simple and straightforward—hamburgers, French fries and onion rings, for example. Appetizers, salads, seafood platters and sandwiches ranging from a classic BLT to the restaurant's own version of a Philly cheese steak sub round out a menu with something for everyone. The wait staff wears shorts and signature T-shirts befitting the beachy atmosphere, and they will gladly refill complimentary baskets of peanuts. They don't even mind if you throw the shells on the floor.

Located in a converted 1930s grocery store, Frank's Restaurant & Bar in Pawleys Island is actually two restaurants in one. Creative American and Lowcountry cuisine is served in a classy atmosphere with fireside seating, candlelit tables and framed French poster art adorning the walls. Portions are generous and prepared over an oak-burning grill. Although seafood dishes are standouts, the chef gives equal attention to beef, chicken, duck and lamb dishes. Options include grouper with mustard-bacon butter, steak with Clemson blue cheese, mussels with cilantro and jalapeño and seared tuna over Thai rice with warm Asian slaw. Outback at Frank's, at the rear of the main restaurant, offers a separate menu for al fresco dining on a candlelit patio.

The northern end of The Grand Strand is thick with restaurants. Housed in a restored 1885 Methodist church with original floor-to-ceiling antique stained glass windows and rough-hewn heart pine floors, The Parson's Table in Little River has been a favorite with locals and tourists alike for more than 20 years. A broad menu features 24-ounce bone-in prime rib, filet mignon au poivre, flounder menuiere, regional mainstay shrimp and grits, quail with oysters and cashew-encrusted rack of lamb. Cheese and crackers, seasonal salad and side dishes accompany the entrée, which patrons can complement with wine selected from a nine-page list replete with critical descriptions. Both the chef and the restaurant have received numerous industry awards. An early bird menu is available.

It's Oktoberfest all year long at Horst Gasthaus in North Myrtle Beach. The menu features schnitzel, steak, seafood, sausage platters, daily blue-plate specials and all-you-can-eat pork chops nightly, all of which are prefaced by a traditional cold salad. The combination of traditional German food, beer served in tankards and nightly sing-alongs make for a lively Bavarian dining experience.

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The Grand Strand, SC

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