The summertime rise in the number of new Grand Strand area restaurants is as predictable as the tides, but this year the variety in what they offer is pleasantly diverse. The new school of young restaurants is swimming strongly upstream and pleasing diners who want a variety of choices, from local seafood and barbecue to steaks and upscale Southern fusion.
710 North Myrtle Beach
It used to be the North Myrtle Beach Bowling Center; now it’s a well-rounded entertainment center with sophisticated noshes. Bowlers can still aim for the king pin on 14 standard and six boutique lanes, and gamers can enjoy six pool tables, bocce ball courts, table tennis, air hockey and shuffleboard. Foosball and darts are free along with using board games, including a giant Jenga.
Dining is comfortably upscale with Provolone cheese wedges, hummus du jour, Cajun boiled peanuts, grilled cheese stuffed with short rib, or a duck confit club sandwich with fried green tomato, spinach and pancetta. Brunch lovers can enjoy prime rib hash or a glorious open-face bagel topped with a Boursin/cheddar burger, bacon, lettuce, tomato and a fried egg. The full bar has cocktails, wines and craft brews you’d expect to accompany such fare. 1105 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach. Details: www.710bowling.com.
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ART Burger Sushi Bar
This new restaurant in the heart of Myrtle Beach has a lot more going for it than just a great oceanfront patio. The staff is professionally accommodating, their creative sushi is supremely fresh and succulent, meats are responsibly raised and food is presented with artistic flair, without being fussy.
Gourmet burgers and sushi are the main menu attractions, but on the bar side they do fun things with liquid nitrogen like making frozen beer pellets that keep mugs ultra-frosty, or instantly turning a chai martini into a fabulously creamy frozen delight. And yes, the decor is all about art, with multiple monitors showcasing the works of local artists and a rotating in-house exhibit. 706 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach. Details: www.artsushibar.com.
Many locals are hoping the latest restaurant concept to open across from the Tanger Outlet Center on U.S. 501 fares better than the rib joint, steak house and several Asian restaurants that have come and gone at that spot during the past 15 years.
The Grumpy Monk may have staying power with its dozens of craft beer choices – many on draft – and a simple menu that hits the high notes of Southern cuisine, like fried green tomatoes, and crowd-pleasing noshes such as burgers, salads, steaks and sushi. It’s a fun place to linger with pool tables, live music, a patio and plenty of happy hour specials. 4545 U.S. 501, Myrtle Beach. Details: www.grumpymonkmyrtlebeach.com.
Ian’s Waterway Bar & Grille
Captain Poo’s, a popular watering hole by the swing bridge between Little River and North Myrtle Beach, is no more. Ian Howie is the new owner/operator of Ian’s Waterway Café, and the building has been remodeled, scrubbed clean and is serving excellent home cooking.
The $8 lunch special changes daily (Tuesdays it’s a delectable chicken bog) with sides such as creamed corn, fried okra and banana pudding, plus a roll and a drink. They also serve crab cakes, po-boys, fried seafood, pizza, grilled or fried wings, seared ahi tuna, salads and sandwiches. Drink specials abound out in the open-air bar, and there’s frequent live music. 2200 Little River Neck Road, North Myrtle Beach. Details: www.ianswaterway.com.
Kings Sushi Japanese Restaurant
The new Kings Sushi is in a strip mall off U.S. 17 Business, at the intersection where Glenns Bay Road turns into Surfside Drive.
Japanese cuisine is served in a $16.99 all-you-care-to-eat format where you order off the main menu, and you can order more helpings of the same dish or other dishes after you’ve almost cleaned your plate of the previous portion. In addition to plenty of sushi and seafood choices, such as black pepper tuna or a salmon bowl, the menu offers hibachi meals, soups, salads and several appetizers. 112 U.S. 17 Business N., Surfside Beach, S.C. Details: www.facebook.com (search for “Kings Sushi”).
Moe’s Original Bar B Que
The first South Carolina Moe’s opened in Pawleys Island at the end of the 2014 season, and locals are enjoying the unique approach to “Southern soul food.” The concept goes beyond pulled pork, ribs and smoked pulled chicken to include smoked wings and fried shrimp sandwiches on a simple and brief menu.
Daily side dishes are the stuff of Southern Sunday suppers, including black-eyed peas and skillet corn. They have frequent live music and special events like crawfish boils. 12827 Ocean Highway (U.S. 17), Pawleys Island, S.C. Details: www.moesoriginalbbq.com/lo/pawleysisland.
Old South BBQ Company
When veteran barbecue pro and restaurateur Butch Rives opened the first location of Old South BBQ Company in the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach, locals were hoping his ’cue was succulent enough to make his business thrive in the vintage building on the site of an old fish camp. Once they got a taste of his tender pork with veins of pink-running-to-purple smoke rings, Rives had to start smoking more pork.
While the original location, he says, is a fun old-school barbecue joint, he needed more seating for all the large groups that want to come get a little communal butt-rubbed action. In November 2014 he opened location No. 2 in the Windy Hill section of North Myrtle Beach, and a side room has space for up to 90 carnivores. In addition to pork, there are baby back ribs, smoked wings, burgers, deep-fried hot dogs, fried bologna sandwiches and a handful of traditional sides. 1020 Sea Mountain Highway (S.C. 9) and 3600 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach. Details: www.facebook.com (search for “Old South Bar B Q”).
For many years, Bistro 217 in Pawleys Island has been a locals’ favorite for culinary innovations from executive chef Adam Kirby and the expertly gracious front-of-house work by his partner, Anne Hardee. This year the pair opened another restaurant just a few steps away from Bistro 217 called Rustic Table, and it delivers everything their fans hoped to experience.
The decor is indeed full of rustic tables, with the wood for them coming from both ancient and antique sources. The atmosphere is a bit more casual than Bistro, but the food is equally impeccable. Recent specials included roasted vegetable gazpacho, pecan crusted flounder, chicken and dumplings and an heirloom tomato sandwich. The bar scene is lively and friendly with delicious seasonal drinks like an infused blueberry mojito. 10683 Ocean Highway (U.S. 17), Pawleys Island. Details: www.rustictable.com.
Tupelo Honey Cafe
Southern Appalachian cuisine came to the beach in February when Asheville’s Tupelo Honey Cafe opened its ninth location, at the Market Common in Myrtle Beach. The menu is full of updated takes on vintage foods, such as fried green tomatoes with goat cheese grits and red pepper coulis, country ham wontons with shaved honeyed Brussels sprouts salad, or curried fried chicken thighs with fresh apple salsa.
Myrtle Beach is a brunch lovin’ town, and on the weekends folks can savor shrimp and grits or sweet potato pancakes with a mimosa or a Queen Mary, which is a yellow tomato Bloody Mary garnished with half the garden. People in full flip-flop vacation mode might opt for a Moonswine Mary, which is made with pepper-infused moonshine. 3042 Howard Ave., Myrtle Beach. Details: www.tupelohoneycafe.com.
Vietnamese pho, a noodle soup containing lots of mix-ins, is available in the historic heart of Myrtle Beach at Vietnam House. They also serve cool plat, which is rice noodles topped with chopped peanuts and a variety of other toppings, like rare beef, sliced pork, crunchy lettuce and bite-size spring roll pieces.
While the Vietnamese dishes are the house specialties, the menu also offers dozens of Americanized Chinese dishes such as fried rice, beef with broccoli and Szechuan chicken. There’s plenty of room to dine in, but if carryout is your preference the restaurant has an online ordering system that does not require payment until you pick up your food. 619 Broadway St., Myrtle Beach. Details: www.vietnamhousetogo.com.
Journalist and foodie Becky Billingsley is editor of www.myrtlebeachrestaurantnews.com.
And on the spicy side...
Becky Billingsley has been covering the Grand Strand dining scene for 16 years – but that’s not all. Her first book, “A Culinary History of Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand” was followed by “Lost Myrtle Beach,” a guide to iconic places there that have passed by the wayside.
Monday brings her third book for Arcadia Publishing and The History Press: “Wicked Myrtle Beach & the Grand Strand” ($21.99), which covers the naughty side of the area.