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Discover South Carolina’s Dining & Spirits Destinations
Sampling the best of South Carolina’s dining and spirits is sure to be a memorable part of your vacation in the Palmetto State. Known as the birthplace of barbecue, the state is also well known for dishes like shrimp and grits, boiled peanuts, and frogmore stew. To wash all those southern specialties down, nothing is more satisfying that a refreshing sweet tea or craft-brewed beer. From the mountain region upstate to the Midlands and the coast, you’ll find a bounty of delicious foods and beverages to fuel your adventures.
Farm-to-table freshness is a trend that South Carolina chefs take seriously. You’ll find that many items on restaurant menus are grown and harvested in the state. Savor shrimp and oysters from the coast, pork from nearby ranches and fresh corn, peaches and watermelons picked from local farms. Enjoy a wide variety of eateries from family-friendly drive ins and diners to casual barbecue shacks and chic waterfront restaurants with stunning views.
There are quite a few specialties the state has made famous. Barbecue in South Carolina is defined as pork. The four types you’ll find in the state are different due to the sauces used. Spicy vinegar and pepper sauce is favored along the coast, while the Midlands area serves up a tangy mustard sauce first perfected by German settlers. A lighter, tomato-flavored sauce is typically served in the upper middle areas of the state, and a heavier tomato sauce is found in western and northwestern regions. Many restaurants serve barbecue with a choice of several sauces. Barbecue aficionados might want to try the South Carolina Barbecue Trail. A map of 220 South Carolina restaurants on the trail is available at South Carolina Welcome Centers or online at discoversouthcarolina.com.
Garlic crabs are a Lowcountry specialty. Pick up your order from the counter and head for the nearest picnic table or porch to chow down. Oyster lovers will be in heaven here. The state’s oysters are harvested from bays, salt marshes and tidal creeks, then served up in bold and briny or sweet and salty sauces. Pimento cheese is everywhere. Enjoy it slathered on a juicy burger or served up classic style on a sandwich. Boiled peanuts are a snack-time favorite. Nicknamed the “Caviar of the South,” they also turn up in salads, hummus, soups and succotash. Southern field peas are often presented “hoppin’ John” style with rice or mixed with greens. Along with black-eyed peas, menus offer purple hull, crowder, Lady Island red, and other pea varieties as tasty side dishes.
Fans of spicy foods will want to try Carolina Reaper hot sauce. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest pepper in the world, it’s used in several tasty sauces manufactured at Puckerbutt Pepper Company in Fort Mill. South Carolina chefs have elevated charcuterie to an art form. Enjoy locally sourced salami, sausage, ham and prosciutto served with pickles, cheeses, breads, and flavorful mustards.
As you travel around the state you’ll encounter a few dishes with odd names. A Bird Dog is a chicken finger placed in a hot dog bun and covered with bacon, shredded cheese, and honey mustard. Frogmore stew is a one-pot meal usually prepared with shrimp or crab, potatoes, sausage, onion and corn-on-the-cob. A dash of hot sauce and beer amps up the flavor. Homemade cornbread, smoked greens, Carolina Gold rice, and southern fried chicken are staples at many restaurants. Breakfast almost always includes grits as a side dish.
Wine lovers can sample a variety of locally produced vintages at tasting rooms along the coast. Carolina Vineyards Winery in Myrtle Beach is known for merlots, Pino Grigio, and other wines produced from regionally grown fruits. Conway is home to Hyman Vineyards, and Island Winery on Hilton Head Island offers wine flights and cheese events. South Carolina has been producing spirits since the days of backwoods moonshine concocted from corn and sugar. Today the state has more than two dozen distilleries manufacturing everything from whiskey, rum, and vodka to a modern-day corn liquor. The state is also home to more than 40 craft breweries producing ales, lagers, pilsners, porters, and stouts. Hub City Tap House and Ciclops Cyderi in Spartanburg is a combination winery/brewery/cidery, and Blenheim Ginger Ale has been bottled near Blenheim since 1903.
Several farms in the region welcome visitors for tours. Have lunch at Chattooga Belle Farm in Long Creek and pick your own apples, pears, figs and other fruits. The farm in the Carolina foothills offers views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, tours and a disc golf course. McLeod Farms in McBee features a dinosaur-themed corn maze, pumpkin picking, and tractor rides. Buy fresh peaches from the roadside fruit stand or treat yourself to peach enchiladas served with ice cream at the bakery.
The Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival in March showcases freshly prepared seafood dishes. Enjoy live entertainment, crab races, and silent auctions. The Lowcountry Oyster Festival is an annual event at Boone Hall Plantation near Mount Pleasant. Dine on fresh seafood, compete in oyster eating contests, and enjoy live music, beer, and wines. The Chitlin Strut in Salley includes a parade, hog calling contest, carnival rides, and lots of fried chitterlings.
Take in a dinner show with the family. Pirates Voyage in Myrtle Beach combines a pirate-themed live show with a four-course pirate feast. Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, also in Myrtle Beach, features knights jousting on horseback, Medieval-style entertainment, and a hearty dinner. Music fans won’t want to miss the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach. Listen to live blues and jazz performers in a restaurant patterned after a rustic tobacco farm. Dine on pulled pork barbecue, shrimp and grits, jambalaya, and baby back ribs. The Gospel Brunch on Sunday offers an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Our Favorite Food Experiences
South Carolina Coastal Region
Taste an Array of Reds, Whites, and Local Brews
Cruise the South Carolina Coast looking for a real taste of the Palmetto State – enjoy some local reds and whites, or some ales and lagers at any one of the wineries and breweries that line the coast.
Visit Myrtle Beach and head to the Carolina Vineyards Winery, proudly serving the Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach since 1999.
Enjoy a selection of fine Merlot, Pinot Grigio, and others – each crafted with South Carolina grown fruits. The tasting room is open daily. And Just north of Myrtle Beach is Conway, home of Hyman Vineyards.
Venture south along the coast and visit Hilton Head Island. Here, you’ll be treated to an array of tasting choices at the Island Winery – Mondays feature the Wine Flights & Cheese, a great way to sample many of the hand crafted wines.
If wine isn’t your thing and you’re looking for a stout or ale, be sure to visit Charleston. Beer lovers flock to the Coast Brewing Company, not far from Historic Charleston. Happily brewing fine ales and stouts since 2007. Make the trip in from nearby Ladson, or Mount Pleasant and enjoy a real taste of the South Carolina Coast.
Pirates Voyage Dinner Attraction
A Dolly Parton Company, Pirates Voyage is a dinner and live entertainment attraction in Myrtle Beach – ideal for dinner and show on the South Carolina coast.
Pirates Voyage Dinner Attraction features weekend shows, plus Friday and Wednesday night performances. PV offers the Four-Course Pirate Feast while a large stage showcases Myrtle Beach’s pirated past.
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
Set on Fantasy Way, the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament is located in Myrtle Beach on the South Carolina coast. Take a break from the Atlantic Ocean and head to Myrtle Beach Castle – you can’t miss it. On any visit to Myrtle Beach, be sure to make a trip to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.
Found at the entrance to Free Style MusicPark, the Medieval Times' Myrtle Beach Castle offers medieval-style live entertainment, hearty fare for dinner, and full bar service. Have a blast at Medieval Time – it's one of the most ideal ways to ensure your visit to Myrtle Beach is a roaring success.