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Hot happenings at these five favorite Hilton Head Island restaurants this summer!

Although the island is small, Hilton Head is home to a number of restaurants that are sure to please even the pickiest of palates.  When most of us think of the beach we think, “seafood,” and there’s plenty to be had on this beautiful island.

You might say there’s “a gracious plenty” – two words that convey our Southern approach to cooking.

A Hilton Head Island Seafood Tradition Since 1967 – Hudson’s On the Docks, One of My Five Amazing Hilton Head Restaurants

Watch the shrimp boats come in from a dockside table at Hudson’sDining at Hudson’s on the Docks is a magical experience – it’s Hilton Head Island’s most renowned seafood restaurant with food so fresh you can taste the sea with every bite.

Photo is courtesy of the Shell Ring Oyster Company, Hilton Head Island – Andrew Carmines, president of Shell Ring Oyster Company.

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Where to go: 1 Hudson Road, Hilton Head, S.C. 29926. No need for reservations or for calling ahead.  None are accepted.  It’s strictly first-come, first-served.

Hudson’s has been a dining tradition for islanders and visitors for as far back as I can remember.  The Carmines family owns a fishing fleet and an oyster farm.  It’s one of only two remaining local fishing fleets on the island that brings in fresh-caught seafood straight to their docks.

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A while back I visited with Andrew Carmines, and asked:

What would you recommend a first-time customer of Hudson’s to order?

“Order your seafood based on the season – whatever is the freshest.  If it’s softshell crab season, usually the entire month of April, order a softshell crab dish.  If it’s shrimp season, those boats are coming in every other day with fresh shrimp, so be sure to get that.  During the winter, order the oysters, Stone crab claws in the summer.  I tell my staff that whatever they see me eating for lunch here, that’s what they should recommend to their customers that day.”

Hudson’s is committed to keeping COVID-19.  All staff members are required to wear masks. All tables are at least 8 feet apart.


Black Marlin Bayside Grill

Get the catch of the day!

Frozen Daquiris, Ice Cold Beer, and live music await you at The Black Marlin, 86 Helmsman Way, Hilton Head Island.

Did I mention their crab legs – a true delicacy!

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I love to order their Grouper Daufuskie or Sweet Heat Mahi Mahi when I’m there at dinner time.  For lunch, I’ll take the Shrimp Burger. During this time of social distancing, you will enjoy seating on their expansive covered patio.  Gorgeous views!

Don’t miss their weekend brunch every Saturday and Sunday where they feature a Create-Your – Own-Bloody-Mary.  They’re known for fabulous Oyster Roasts every fall with live entertainment and they are totally pet-friendly.

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Shrimp and Grits are a staple on the menu at the Black Marlin.  They use only the finest Anson Mills Grits, a local mill out of Columbia, S.C. The gravy is made with a traditional Tasso ham that provides a great spice without overpowering the richness of the fresh local shrimp and the creaminess of the grits.




Shrimp and Grits Black Marlin Style

Serves 4

24 fresh local shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cup Tasso gravy

3 cups prepared grits

2 cups sliced andouille sausage

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup finely sliced green onion

this recipe is very universal where you can substitute the shrimp for any other shellfish or even a chicken/game bird.  Sauteed shrimp and andouille sausage until the shrimp are 3/4 way cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add in prepared gravy and bring to a simmer.  Then pour over the grits.  Garnish with green onions.  Do not be afraid to add your own twist, some of your favorite roasted sweet pepper or fried onions.

Tasso Gravy

1/4 cup each, green bell pepper, onion, celery, all coarsely chopped

1 1/2 ounces clarified butter

1 1/2 ounces flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1/2 ounce white wine

cayenne pepper – just a pinch

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 q1/2 cups  chicken stock

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

black pepper to taste

dash of Tabasco

pinch white pepper 3/4 ounce chicken consomme

1/4 pound tasso ham, diced 1/4 inch thick

Heat butter and flour stirring constantly to make a golden brown roux.  Add peppers, onions, and celery and stir to coat vegetables.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add white wine, cayenne, pepper, and cook to remove the lumps. Add chicken stock, consomme, black pepper, thyme, and Tabasco.  Bring to a boil. While stirring add tasso ham and simmer for another minute. Add to the shrimp mixture, simmer and pour over grits.


Charlie’s L’ Etoile Verte


Fresh local seafood with a French, Lowcountry flare.  Charlies is the place for great food and the finest of wine along with unforgettable memories in a quaint French country atmosphere.


This iconic Hilton Head restaurant is the vision of Savannah native, Charlie Golson.  His interest in the French language and culture took him to Paris in the early 1970s.  After a long stint in the fast-paced hotel kitchens of Washington DC. he was ready to move back closer to home.  He opened a small one-room French bistro in 1982 that showcased the food and culture he loved. He is known for offering the finest ingredients the Lowcountry has to offer with a menu that is handwritten every day.

As a young boy, he spent weekends fishing, crabbing,  and shrimping on the Okatie River. His love of seafood has a long history.

No longer a small one-room bistro, the restaurant has moved to a spacious location on New Orleans Road.  In true family fashion, Charlie’s children now carry on the tradition.

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If you happen to be new to the coast and are not sure how to cook our delicious fish, fear no more!  Grilling fish is easier than you think.  Recently while dining outside in the patio area I ordered this amazing grilled mahi-mahi, dressed in a mango and cucumber salsa.  I love the idea of going outside to grill fresh fish in the summertime.  Before I left that evening, the chef shared with me how to do it.   It is well worth the extra effort and your friends and family will thank you for it!

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Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Mango and Cucumber Salsa

Brush a little mayonnaise on the fish and it will never stick to the grill.

Serves 4

4 fresh fish filets (any firm white fish will work well with this recipe)

season with citrus or blackening spice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Use olive oil on the grill to prevent sticking

Heat grill to medium-high.  Clean with grill brush, then spray to prevent breaking the fish filets.  Brush olive oil on the fish and sprinkle spices over the filets.  Spread evenly over both sides.  Place the fish on the heated grill and if you want to look really professional, place the fish at a 45-degree angle to achieve diamond grill marks.  After searing for several minutes, use a metal spatula to twist the filets a quarter turn. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn the fish, placing the skin side of the filet on the grill, and continue to grill while turning every couple of minutes until fully cooked.

For the Mango Cucumber Salsa

(you may substitute a peach)

1 mango, peeled and diced

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon jalapeno, finely chopped

1/3 red onion, diced

1/3 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

salt and pepper


Combine the mango or peach, cucumber, jalapeno, red onion, lime juice, and cilantro leaves. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle over fish just before serving.


Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana

Home to exquisite food, award-winning wine list, and great service. It’s been family-owned since 2002.

Pictured is a seafood special at The Market Cafe – Red-Wine injected Scallops, House-Made Bacon, Carrot Puree, Chili Jelly, Espresso Dust and Leek hay. Wow – that’s a mouthful but what fabulous dish it is!  The lovely market Cafe offers these gourmet plates in a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. You need to try it to fully appreciated the depth of flavors in this extraordinary dish.

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Another entree getting rave reviews is their Red Snapper atop a Scottish Potato Cake with Peach Chutney, Tomato Chips and Chanterelle Mushrooms. Yummy does not begin to describe it! In addition to their new Market Cafe next door to the upscale casual dining, they offer a Sips and Bites program at the bar.  The bar has another delicious menu.  And don’t forget their cooking classes featuring more great recipes.

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Pomodori Italian Eatery

If you love traditional Italian dishes, you will love Pomodori.

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Pomodori is truly an inspired Italian Eatery in the heart of Hilton Head.  Owner and chef Amanda Russ had a grandmother who was a chef in the 1950s at a time when all food was made from scratch.  They never opened a can.  This is the way Amanda believes it should be done.

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Her goal is to build a legacy – have it always be there and mean something, a testament to the ingredients, the people, and the path that inspired her to create Pomodori.

Be sure to go there and enjoy the family tradition of great food, great wine, and great company in this quaint Italian restaurant.

Buon Appetito!