Myrtle Beach may be best known for its miles of white sandy beaches and laid-back living, but this coastal destination also packs some serious flavor. While seafood reigns supreme here, some of the area’s most iconic eats take the land into account as well. From She-crab soup to hushpuppies, we’ve spotlighted the region’s most famous fare, which is reason enough to travel to this Southern hot spot. Cue your appetite and hit the road.
A rich, creamy chowder-like concoction, She-crab soup consists of lump crab meat, crab row, which only comes from female crabs (yep, She-crabs), heavy cream, and a splash of sherry. The roe is what gives the soup its characteristic orange color and briny flavor. Its first incarnation was known as Partan Bree, a kind of crab bisque, which Scottish settlers brought over in the 1700s. The dish became complete, however, in 1920 when William Deas, an African chef, and butler to then-mayor, R. Goodwyn Rhett added crab roe to his stock, giving the bowl a little something special before serving it to President William Howard Taft, who was visiting the city. And alas, this sweet buttery favorite was born. To savor some of the best iterations along the Grand Strand, grab your ladle and get to Sea Captain’s House on North Ocean Boulevard stat, which packs theirs with blue crab meat, and enjoy a must-eat iteration at Inlet Crab House & Raw Bar on Murrells Inlet, or hit up the Chesapeake House on Restaurant Row.
Shrimp and Grits
This official South Carolina staple turned world-famous legend combines land and sea into a signature that’s as synonymous with the South as a twangy drawl. Made from boiling a starchy, less sweet form of coarsely ground corn, known as dent corn, grits were traditionally prepared by Lowcountry dwellers as a common breakfast dish using seawater as a base. Adding creek shrimp to the mix proved a sweet hint that stuck (minus the saltwater). Today’s iterations are decidedly creamier, thanks to welcome flourishes like butter, cheese, and heavy cream. This dish is as common in Myrtle Beach eateries as shells on the beach. Some standout versions can be found at Wicked Tuna on Murrells Inlet, which infuses theirs with a dreamy mix of jumbo shrimp, creole cream sauce, andouille sausage, and cheese. Flying Fish in North Myrtle Beach adds a country ham cream sauce and cheese to the combo, while Buoys favors sautéed shrimp, andouille sausage, bacon, onions, and bell peppers served over slow-cooked, stone-ground yellow cheese grits.
The quintessential side to the fried fish that comprises Calabash cuisine, hush puppies are made of a cornmeal batter that’s deep-fried into two bites of scrumptious delight. The salty-sweet morsels got their start as an unlikely edible. They were said to be cooked (along with frying fish) and fed to barking dogs as a way to “hush” them up from begging for food. Hush puppy love runs deep in Myrtle Beach, which is why these pop-in-your-mouth munchies are found on menus far and wide here. Local favorites include those on offer at Mr. Fish, where they’re browned to golden glory and served with dripping honey butter. Drunken Jack’s on Murrells Inlet not only serves their crisped-to-perfection puppies as a star side but also as dessert in their signature Hushpuppy Sunday. Come hungry to Dead Dog Saloon on Murrells Inlet, which goes heavy on their hush puppies, bringing them to the table by the basket.
A dietary staple, this one-pot wonder has been filling bellies for centuries, though local lore claims it wasn’t given its official name until the 1960s. As the story goes, when Robert Gay of Gay Seafood, who lived in the Frogmore area of St. Helena Island, needed an easy way to feed 100 soldiers, he essentially threw everything he had on hand—seafood, sausage, corn, and potatoes—into just one pot, added some spices and boiled it up. And hence, a beloved dish was born. It was dubbed “Frogmore Stew,” though today it’s more widely known as a Lowcountry boil or steam pot. Duffy Street Seafood Shack in North Myrtle Beach blends theirs with all the usual ingredients in a sweet crab stock. Going with a group? Bimini’s Oyster Bar is famous for its family-style steam pots, which are boiled up with a mix of oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab legs, and corn on the cob. Should you crave a little kick to your seafood, Joe’s Crab Shack does ‘em Cajun style. Take your pick; you can’t go wrong.
A favorite regional delight, fried fish is the star of Calabash cuisine, which came from the neighboring fishing village of Calabash, where it was first prepared. The fresh-caught deep-fried cornmeal battered seafood is most often served buffet style, so plates can be piled high. The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood boasts 170 items on its buffet with just about every living thing in the ocean. Hot Fish Club in Murrells Inlet offers from-the-menu options like a fried golden brown medley of flounder, shrimp, oysters, and crab cakes. At Captain Archie’s on North Myrtle Beach, you can choose from app-sized fried white fish or shrimp bites, or enjoy generous helpings of crispy fishes like flounder, oysters, shrimp, or crabcakes—or, go for the gusto with the Captain’s Platter, which includes them all.
See all the excitement cooking in Myrtle Beach by booking an epic getaway today.
This article was made by SheKnows for Visit Myrtle Beach.