Ever have one of those meals where you would drive across the country just to try one little taste? You even plan special trips to that side of town or to somewhere out in the middle of nowhere for a sample of the cuisine you can't find anywhere else.
The Grand Strand, the 60-mile stretch from the North Carolina border to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is filled with these hidden treasures. Myrtle Beach and Breakers Resort sit in the middle of the outer reaches, so you only need about 30 minutes behind the wheel to find these sweet spots, and your taste buds will believe it was well worth the trip:
- Bistro 90: Located in the rural community of Longs, this place is off the beaten path but easily accessible off Highway 22 (Conway Bypass) and Highway 90 (hence the title). Serving prime cuts of beef that are aged in-house for 21 days and creative dishes to go with, Bistro 90 is a must-visit.
- Brentwood House: This Little River upscale restaurant is located in a century-old Victorian home and serves traditional French fare in a four-course format. The house has several private rooms that are perfect for special occasions.
- Crady's on Main: The county seat of Conway is only 15 miles inland down Highway 501, and Crady's Creative Cuisine is located in the charming downtown district. Special Southern dishes and a small-town atmosphere are only a short drive away.
- Ella's of Calabash: The term “Calabash seafood” can be found in Myrtle Beach, but to get the real deal you have to travel to the tiny fishing village of Calabash, NC, to try this long-standing favorite. Battered and deep-fried seafood tops the menu; so while you wait for that entrée, try not to fill up on the hot hushpuppies.
- Filet's on the Water: Located right beside the Little River Swing Bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway, this waterfront restaurant is more accessible by boat. But landlubbers can simply park at the nearby pier and sit on the patio for great views and excellent steak and seafood dishes.
- Frank's Place/Frank's Outback: The 20-mile trip to Pawleys Island deserves a special destination like this two-for-one venue. Enjoy Lowcountry cooking at the indoor Frank's Place or the outdoor Frank's Outback for a delicious dining experience.
- Gulfstream Cafe: The view alone makes this 15-mile drive to Garden City Beach worth the trip. Enjoy a scenic sunset over Murrells Inlet while you dine on fresh seafood out of the same body of water. If it's warm enough, be sure to have a drink on the best patio deck on the Strand.
- Hog Heaven BBQ: You will pass a half dozen barbecue joints before you arrive at this shack off Ocean Highway between Georgetown and Pawleys Island. Not only does it serve excellent South Carolina BBQ, but also a country buffet and occasional fresh seafood specials.
- Sugar Shack: If you find yourself exploring north of the Carolina border, or if you don't mind driving 45 miles to Ocean Isle Beach, NC, to try outstanding Caribbean cuisine, you won't regret finding this hot spot. The Jerked Pork and Curry Chicken are house specialties.
- 21 Main: This one isn't so far as much as it is tucked away inside the exclusive North Beach Plantation near Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach. Don't be deterred by the fancy gates; outside guests are welcome to try the best steaks and sushi on the North Strand.
Of course, you don’t have to drive far to find great food. The Breakers Myrtle Beach Resort has the Rusty Reel and Papa’s Restaurant on site, and the resort is surrounded by excellent dining options. But when your taste buds are set on something extra special and specific, hop in the car and check out these 10 unique culinary destinations.