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Help please! NY Chowhounds need recs for Myrtle Beach/Little River for January trip

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Hi fellow chowhounds. We will be visiting a relative in Little River next weekend and are desperately seeking some advice. A few years back when we last visited this same relative we weren't thrilled with the places he took us too and want to go armed with some of our own selections this time. We're only down for the weekend - Fri night through Sun. afternoon and need recs for really good, reasonably priced, non-touristy (it is off-season anyway) casual places to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and maybe a Sunday brunch.

The SC host is not an adventurous eater and so we will have to avoid ethnic and as we're from NY we do okay on that end when at home anyway. We're thinking best bets would be fresh seafood, authentic southern style home cooking and excellent BBQ - all of which we love anyway. Restos can be off the beaten path, in fact we'd prefer it. No chains please.

Thanks Hounds!

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  1. If you're going to be in the area, I'd make a trip across the border to Calabash,N.C. (it's 5 minutes from Little River) to try one of the original Calabash seafood restaurants. I suggest Dockside which is down on the water and owned by the original family. You can have the traditional fried seafood or sample something a little healthier too. Just take a right at the stoplight by Callahan's Gift Empire (can't miss it and worth a stop too) and head straight down to the marsh.

    1. Definitely make the drive to Calabash and eat at the Calabash Seafood Hut for lunch. Go before 12 noon or you'll be waiting in line for a table.

      Chesnut Hill on Restaurant Row has a great Sunday Brunch.

      SeaBlue in North Myrtle Beach is very good. Tapas but not tapas.

      For the best BBQ and local food, either Little Pigs in Myrtle Beach or drive to Prossers BBQ in Murrells Inlet.

      1. Bimini's in North Myrtle is a great for fried oysters or fried grouper balls.

        1. Thanks all for the recs. Many of these sound like good options. If I may press on - are there any thoughts on breakfast/lunch places with great biscuits etc.?

          3 Replies
          1. re: laylag

            Honestly, you'd be hard pressed to find a better biscuit than Bojangles. Their chicken biscuits are out of this world.

            1. re: BlueHerons

              What about breakfast though? Would be nice to find a great place for a southern breakfast - grits, biscuits and gravy, et al.

              1. re: laylag

                I really love the K&W cafeteria.

                Many of the breakfast places around here cater to the northern clientele.

                Prossers BBQ in Murrells Inlet has a really good southern breakfast.

                Boulineau's food cafeteria would probably be the best place closest to you. They also do an excellent meat-and-three for lunch. You'll not find better fried chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and banana pudding.

          2. random, but I have a relative in Little River also. When I've been to visit, I've been pretty underwhelmed by the dining options. Most fish you will find fried. Many restaurants are buffet style, pronounced "boo-fay".

            I also would have recommended going to Calabash. You have to stop in at that giant knick-knack store, just for the comedic value.

            8 Replies
            1. re: cheesemonger

              Cheesemonger, Is the giant knick knack store (tchatchke where I'm from) the one apple referenced in the first response to my post - Callahan's Gift Empire?

              1. re: laylag

                Yes, you really can't miss it- it's huge, and right at the main intersection in tiny Calabash. Tchotchkes galore! I couldn't remember the name, and I wasn't sure it was called Callahan's, but it probably is.

                1. re: cheesemonger

                  It's definitely Callahan's. I called it an empire out of exaggeration. There's a good homestyle breakfast place in Calabash, woman's name, like Sally's etc. Definitely low key, probably smoking still, but good biscuits. I'll see if I can find it.

                  1. re: Apple.at.chin.

                    Here's the website: http://www.callahansgifts.com/ Just look at all that *stuff*! It makes my clutter-phobic self cringe.

                    1. re: cheesemonger

                      Oh my gosh. Seeing that pic I think Callahans is the place our relative took us to a few years back. It was a trip. All that stuff and not a thing worth buying! I believe our daughter, then 2 1/2 picked out a few seashells and starfish. Good to know there's some decent food nearby but I think we'll skip the store this time.

                    2. re: Apple.at.chin.

                      Hey apple, any luck? I've googled for both sally's and also for restaurants in Calabash and nothing that sounds like the right place comes up.

                      1. re: laylag

                        There's a place in Calabash named Ella's. That may be it.

                        1. re: Cpt Wafer

                          Thanks Cpt but I don't think so as I googled Ellas and they seem to be a lunch/dinner seafood place.

              2. Husband and I went to Myrtle Beach in November and had breakfast at the Sea Captain's House in Myrtle - it was fantastic. Great breakfast, awesome views of the ocean, nice atmosphere in a old house by the water.

                Drunken Jacks in Murrells Inlet has been a family favorite for years - out of this world hushpuppies and fried seafood.

                Best meal we had was at Benny Rappas in North Myrtle. Definitely worth the drive for phenomenal Italian food. I'd make the drive from the OBX just for the Eggplant Parmesan.

                1. Just wanted to give you all a post mortem and thank everyone for the help. I wish we could have tried some of the recommended but places but alas, things didn't work out the way we hoped.

                  Meal #1 - Dinner Friday night - the flight down was delayed many hours and we arrived in Wilmington NC very late on Friday evening so everything was closed. Starving we did stop at a Bojangles on the way down to Little River and did try the recommended Cajun Chicken Biscuit - it was yummy on the fast food scale of deliciousness but the buffalo bites were beyond disgusting. I spit mine out into a napkin and we tossed the rest. Our daughter quite liked her bacon, egg and cheese biscuit though.

                  Meal #2: We had a problem with our rental car and needed to exchange it for another so had to drive down to the Myrtle Beach airport on Saturday late am missing an actual breakfast window. Without any solid breakfast rec we started the drive back up - passed Little Pigs because we still wanted breakfast but in hindsight, shouldn't have done that as the breakfast we ended up with was lousy and we didn't have another opportunity to get barbecue the rest of the trip. But back to where we did go. We walked in and out of K&W. Blue Heron, I'm sorry but the bathroom was foul, the food looked as if from a hospital cafeteria and we were totally turned off. Maybe the cafeteria things isn't for us. We got back in the car remembering some breakfast/pancake places we'd passed on the drive down. Starving again, we became impatient and randomly stopped at one although something was telling us to keep further up the road as we recalled a few that looked better. But we didn't. We were choosing between Dino's and Plantation across the street from each other. I don't know if Dino's would have been better but we went into Plantation. It didn't look great when we walked in but were too hungry to walk out again. Biscuits were good, sausage gravy was kind of gloppy and congealed, not much sausage in it but not altogether atrocious. My omelet was edible but not great - canned mushrooms and processed American cheese - blech. We sent back our daughter's blueberry topped pancakes which arrived with a brown, prune colored sauce on it containing what I suppose were supposed to be blueberries but looked like tiny overdried raisins or bugs or small rodent droppings - really, I'm not being obnoxious and not saying they were rodent droppings but they looked like rodent droppings and it was nauseating. The waitress assured us the blueberry topping was purple colored in the kitchen but it wasn't flying with us. We asked her to replace them with chocolate chip pancakes which she graciously did. Those were three regular pancakes topped with a large handful of mini chocolate chips that didn't melt. Not awful panckakes but but not very good either. We ordered more biscuits and all ate those.

                  Meal #3: Dinner Saturday night. From these boards I'd decided we'd go to either Dockside or the Seafood Hut in Calabash. My husband and I were leaning toward Dockside just as it seemed a bit more appropriate for a Saturday night with a few more options. The relative we were visiting insisted on treating us but had already decided where he wanted to go - The Grapevine. We tried to explain we really wanted to have the experience of traditional local food - seafood or BBQ but he didn't care. He was taking us where he wanted to eat, not where or what we wanted to eat. So we went to the Grapevine. We had the fried seafood platters and they were "ok". I had the assortment of three - oysters, scallops and flounder and my husband had the same but chose scallops, shrimp and clam strips. Scallops were oddly very evenly smallish-medium sized - much larger than bay scallops, quite a bit smaller than sea scallops and not very flavorful. Flounder was fine and fresh tasting. Oysters were so-so, not very flavorful. Shrimp were tiny. Breading was bland also. I can't swear that some or all of the items had been frozen, Sysco type stuff but I think a lot of it was.

                  And that was it. The relative was not willing or ready to go out the next morning for breakfast or lunch before we left so we stayed with him and didn't get to try anything else - we just went to Starbucks then headed to the airport mid-afternoon. Thus, as a chowhound, the short trip was a total bust. No low-country eats for us. : ( !

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: laylag

                    Oh laylag, that's about the saddest trip report I've read in a long time! Unfortunately, that's pretty much the experience that I've had in that area. My uncle took me to some of the better "boo-fays" for some southern chow, but if I had to choose myself, I probably would have struck out as you did.

                    I recall BEGGING for a piece of fish that wasn't deep-fried. I'm at the coast, I want fish, seafood, shrimp, scallops, whatever- without batter! Never did get any. I wanted a salad so badly I would have paid any price for it, but again, a fresh green thing was not to be had.

                    I'm guessing that you won't be returning? :p

                    1. re: cheesemonger

                      Well cheesemonger, I can't say for sure but we're not in a rush. The food was half the problem, the relative the other. We generally don't eat a lot of fried stuff but down there we were expecting to indulge in fried seafood but wanted it to be really good, fresh fried stuff. The fat, calories etc. are just not worth it if the taste isn't great.

                      I was happy that getting unsweetened tea wasn't a problem but I did have to return to Starbucks because they gave me sweetened iced coffee even though I hadn't asked for sweetened and they didn't ask me. Apparently they give you sweet by default. Sweet, fried, lack of veggies - all goes together.

                      Relative's (husband's biological father) ladyfriend has an apartment down in Myrtle on the beach and she offered for us to use it on our "next trip", hopefully she said, this summer but not sure we'll take her up on the generous offer for various reasons. I will say this though - if we do go again - we are eating at the places we want to eat and ONLY where we want to eat. If we have to drive to Charleston for meals, we will do that so help me g-d. : )

                      1. re: laylag

                        Okay - if you're willing to drive to Charleston, then you can certainly find good eats closer in either Murrell's Inlet or Pawley's Island. You'll just have to find a time to get away. We were at Litchfield Beach over Christmas and I offered to treat the family if I could choose where we go. We ended up at Orobosa's in Pawleys, which everyone ended up liking, even though they were working with a limited menu because the owner/chef was headed back to Nigeria for two months in just a few days. It was delicious. The place at the Pawley's Island hammock shops (can't remember the name) is supposed to be excellent as well and there are fun/good places in Murrell's Inlet, which is just south of Myrtle. To give you an idea, we headed up to Myrtle for movies from where we were and it was no big deal. So if you're staying for a couple of days you should venture a little farther south. There is good food to be had in the area.

                        1. re: suse

                          Thanks Suse. We'd heard about Murrel's inlet and found some info here too but the relative we were visiting wouldn't travel that far and we weren't in a situation where we could go without him. If there is a next time, some meals will definitely have to be sans relative and if we are staying in Myrtle Beach, Murrel's, and Pawley's will be closer and we will try those areas. When I said drive to Charleston I was being a little fecitious as it is quite a hike just for lunch or dinner although we do love Charleston and had some great food there many years ago.

                          Thanks for pointing out the accessibility of better food closer south of Myrtle and Little River where we stayed this time.

                          1. re: suse

                            I love Orobasa's and worked with him for a couple of years when he was still at Litchfield Plantation and The Carriage House Club. There is no better crab cake on the planet or lobster bisque than Chef Orobasa's.

                      2. re: laylag

                        LOL about the K&W! It isn't much too look at but the food truly is fantastic. They actually make everything on premise. Yes, the ladies rooms can get bad in some places.

                        Very strong local following.

                        Since I live in Murrells Inlet, I can give you lots of information on restaurants between here and Charleston.

                        1. re: BlueHerons

                          With due respect to laylag,

                          Whenever our group travels to Myrtle Beach, we always go to Greg Norman's, Thoroughbreds and NY Prime.......but usually without my group.....I always sneak off to K & W for a lunch if possible......I go for the novelty, but I find the food to be good as well. The values cannot be beat and it serves a wide variety of tastes.....I also find all the staff to be very friendly and accommodating....especially with refills on beverages.

                          Whenever another member of my group does tag along.....they are always pleasantly surprised without complaint.

                          BTW......my favorite spot is The Carolina House for food and surroundings.

                      3. Hi, laylag.

                        I read your long sad food-eating story, and was sorry that you could not find any good seafood restaurants. I have been living here in MB since 2002, and have a few recommendations for your next trip (hopefully).

                        For seafood, I would recommend:
                        Rockefeller's Raw Bar in North Myrtle Beach
                        Hot Fish Club in Murrells Inlet
                        Dirty Don's in Myrtle Beach

                        As far as breakfast places, unfortunately, I can only recommend two chains:
                        Bob Evans on 501 in Myrtle Beach
                        Cracker Barrel in NMB or MB.

                        For BBQ
                        Sticky Fingers at Coastal Grande Mall

                        For Lunch/Dinner
                        Croissants is a nice lunch spot at 38th Avenue and Bob Grissom Parkway in Myrtle Beach. I think they also serve breakfast.
                        Carolina Roadhouse, and California Dreaming is also good for lunch or dinner (this is a local chain)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dpaudel

                          A little late but......for others
                          Golden Griddle on Main Street, North Myrtle Beach has the best pancakes by far served with warm syrup. They are locally owned for the past 20 years at least. I have not tried their southern steak for breakfast yet but I'm willing to bet it is good. The meals are plentiful....you will not leave hungry. The Golden Griddle is always packed and recently they just place a lunch selection on the menu. Service is good...bathrooms needs a total gutting.

                          Hamburger Joes is the best hamburger / hotdog place for the price on the Myrtle / North Myrtle border on the east side of rt 17. Wildwings in Barefoot landing has an excellent hamburger but it it twice the price of Joes....yes it is larger burger than Joes.

                          We also like Flamingo's and Carolina Roadhouse which has a great baked potato soup for an appetizer. Chesapeake has a super brunch on Sundays and is a good all around local restaurant that still serves hushpuppies. Goobers 52 has large deserts if you are looking for an evening snack.

                          Thoroughbred is a fine upscale quiet romantic restaurant. The Melting Pot is a good choice if you want to try something different and also is a private romantic setting.

                          Italian places, phew...Louigi's on 67th MB, Romando's, Benny Rappa, Umbertos, Chianti South.

                          There are tons of good restaurants in all price ranges in MB and not enough time or money to visit them all. The only ones I do not lake are the Calabash places however it might be worth visiting one just to get it out of your system. Tons of food buffet style but just not that good tasting and not freshly cooked. Good luck.