Lucky for us, seafood restaurants in the Carolinas are plentiful — and not just along the coast. The next time you have a hankering for a fresh catch, check out these restaurants.
This upscale but casual restaurant is housed in the former Belk Building in historic downtown Beaufort. The chic, industrial-style design touches mirror elements you would find on a yacht. A modern take on Lowcountry Southern cuisine, the Saltus menu evolves seasonally with something for every palate. The signature Sea Island shrimp and stone-ground grits, with house-made broth and house-cured bacon, are legendary (and a best seller). You can’t go wrong with the freshly caught salmon, mahi or grouper. Other dishes that will keep you coming back: crab bisque, seared duck breast, BBQ pork belly, fire roasted local oysters and wood-grilled steaks. They also offer a well-thought-out sushi menu. Perhaps the only thing rivaling the menu here are the sunset views from the patio overlooking the bay. 843-379-3474; SaltusRiverGrill.com
This popular oceanfront restaurant has been a favorite of locals and vacationers since 1962, though the building itself goes back even further. Built in 1930, this Myrtle Beach landmark served as family summer cottage and later, a guesthouse. The property was set to be sold in 1962, with plans to demolish it and replace it with a high-rise motel. Thankfully, financial circumstances placed those plans on hold and the owners opted to open a restaurant for a couple of years while they waited for things to turn around. The restaurant has garnered accolades from Southern Living Magazine, USA Today and TripAdvisor, as well as a slew local “best of” nods — and for good reason. Fresh seafood dishes like she crab soup, broiled crab cakes, grilled salmon or mahi, Carolina flounder and Carolina sea scallops tempt diners. Land lovers will be sated with their southern fried chicken or filet mignon. Vegetarian and gluten-free items are also available. They’re open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 843-448-8082; SeaCaptains.com
When three UNC Wilmington students received a lukewarm response to their senior business school project, they ran with it anyway — and totally crushed it. Cape Fear Boil Co. offers take-and-bake style Lowcountry boils (as well as catering options) — perfect for a beach party or family get-togethers. Their take-out only business model was perfectly suited to keep them busy during COVID, as many brick-and-mortar restaurants were closed. Choose from six pots that include base ingredients of red bliss potatoes, jumbo shrimp, spicy andouille sausage, sweet corn and Vidalia onions. Additions include clams, mussels, snow crab, Maine lobster tail and scallops. Your pot comes with easy-to-follow instructions. 910-707-3034; CapeFearBoilCompany.com
Located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte, this gem has earned the People’s Choice for Best Seafood from Charlotte Magazine for the last three years. The restaurant’s name is inspired by the coastal farm that provides their house oyster — the state’s only farm-to-fork grown oyster. Sea Level is one of only a few restaurants in the U.S. to have this type of proprietary relationship with an oyster farm. In addition to the Sea Level oysters, the menu includes about a dozen oyster varieties from all over North America. Their oysters are on point, but don’t sleep on the other seafood options (or the entire menu, for that matter). Their menu includes a catfish Rueben, Calabash shrimp, lobster roll and roasted chicken and dumplings. Reserve the Chef’s Table for an intimate get-together with family and friends (with social distancing considerations).704-412-2616; SeaLevelNC.com
Photos courtesy of Saltus River Grill, Sea Captain's House, and Sea Level.