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Calabash Seafood: What It Is and Where to Find It

Drive down most any major street in Myrtle Beach, and you are sure to see a restaurant serving "Calabash Seafood" — and lots of it. Often associated with all-you-can-eat buffets, Calabash-style fare attracts seafood lovers from all over to taste the unique combination of freshness and flavor.

But what exactly is Calabash seafood? The name comes from the nearby fishing village of Calabash, North Carolina, known as the "Seafood Capital of the World." Calabash is located just over the Carolina border about a half-hour drive north of The Breakers Resort, but guests don't have to travel that far to taste the lightly battered and deep-fried treasures from the sea, such as freshly caught fish, shrimp, and crab and locally harvested oysters, clams, and mussels.

One of the most popular Calabash offerings doesn't come from the sea. Hot hushpuppies, made from the same tasty batter used to coat the seafood for a crispy crunch, are plucked from the deep fryer and served by the basket load with honey butter for dipping. Just don't fill up on the melt-in-your mouth treats, because a bounty of Calabash seafood awaits you. Here are five great places to find it:

* Benjamin's Calabash: This outfit sails under two banners — Captain Benjamin's on South Kings Highway in downtown Myrtle Beach and Original Benjamin's on North Kings Highway’s Restaurant Row. Whether Breakers guests go north or south, they can rest assured of getting the real deal at these Calabash restaurants. Featuring 170 items, including country-style vegetables, desserts and "land food" alternatives, the buffet’s fried seafood takes center stage. The Original Benjamin's boasts a museum of model ships and an aquarium.

* Bennett's Calabash: Another big name in Calabash cooking, Bennett's has three restaurants on the Grand Strand. The closest one to The Breakers is located at 29th Avenue North and Kings Highway, about eight blocks north of the resort, with the others on Restaurant Row and in North Myrtle Beach. Featuring Lowcountry boil items and a raw bar, the restaurant allows patrons to enjoy their seafood steamed, boiled or in the house-special Calabash style.

* Crabby Mike's: If you find yourself on the south side in Surfside Beach, this Calabash-style buffet is worth checking out. Serving a wide selection of seafood and land-food favorites, Crabby Mike's is famous for fresh and well-prepared items in a fun and friendly environment. Upgrade to the crab legs and prepare to feast on some of the best Alaskan claws on the Strand. There's also a bountiful buffet for the little ones stocked with kids' favorites like popcorn shrimp, pizza, chicken nuggets and desserts.

* Ella's of Calabash: The approximately 1,800 residents of Calabash claim their town is the only place to get true Calabash fare, and most of them can be found chowing down at this local institution. Amid a sea of other establishments claiming to be the real deal, Ella's has been packing them in since 1950 for a taste of authentic Calabash seafood. The hushpuppies are world-famous, and everything on the menu is mouthwatering good. Make a day of it and check out the Calabash waterfront and shopping scenes.

* Sea Captain's House: If you prefer quality over quantity, forgo the buffet and instead opt for dinner at Myrtle Beach's most famous seafood restaurant. Serving Southern-style seafood in an oceanfront setting, the Sea Captain's House has been featured in national publications for its food and charm. Located about one mile north of the Breakers on Ocean Boulevard, the Sea Captain's House has been offering great food with scenic views for more than 65 years. The Calabash-style fried seafood platters are still the most popular dishes on a menu that includes shrimp and grits, crab cakes and award-winning she-crab soup.

Once you’ve stuffed yourself to the gills with Calabash seafood, come back to The Breakers Myrtle Beach Resort to let your dinner settle. Take a relaxing nap, or sit out on your private balcony and enjoy the fresh ocean air. It’s all part of the Myrtle Beach vacation experience at The Breakers Resort.