The Smokehouse – Hilton Head Island, SC

We’ve been fortunate to vacation quite often at Hilton Head Island, along with thousands of other Ohioans.  There’s certainly no shortage of great places to eat, especially those taking advantage of the fantastic seafood.  And even though we love all those places, we’ve come to make BBQ one of our vacation traditions.  The Smokehouse will be celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and we’re thrilled they’ve stood the test of time!

Located on Palmetto Bay Road, not far from Coligny, the newer freestanding location has ample room in the bar, dining area and outdoors.  You’ll feel right at home in the open wood-and-corrugated steel atmosphere.  After ordering a few drafts from their selection of local brews, we moved onto appetizers.  There’s a great selection of ribs, wings, sliders and a variety of other BBQ-inspired bar specialties.  I highly recommend the wings and the crunchy onion loaf!

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While the menu boasts a variety of salads, sandwiches, seafood and grilled meats, there’s no reason you should skip their BBQ.  We ordered several samplers and were impressed with the pulled pork, brisket and ribs.  The smoked chicken was a little dry, but the flavor was spot-on.  All of the traditional sides were simple and perfectly-made.  Be sure to order the macaroni & cheese as well as at the collards!

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A stop here is going to be your new family tradition for trips to the island.  Whether you dine-in or carry out bulk orders for beachside eating, you’ll be sure to have happy bellies from The Smokehouse!  Stop in for live music or check out their Sunday brunch.  You can learn more about this award-winning personal favorite at smokehousehhi.com.  Dig in!

Pomodori – Hilton Head Island

It’s good to reflect on this summer’s vacation and delicious eats as we head into our first few snowflakes flying at home soon.  While searching for new eateries on Hilton Head Island we came across some rave reviews for Chef Amanda Russ’s Pomodori and knew we had to give it a try.  And what a delight it was!!

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Hidden in a small small collection of boutique shops, you wouldn’t know this place is there unless you were looking for it.  Comfortable and island casual, you can dine both inside or out for a relaxing weekday meal or a special occasion.  Our wait staff and everyone else we encountered were charming and helpful.  The personal touch of our name written on slate at our table (we had a reservation) was a nice touch.  There’s an eclectic wine list and good selection of cocktails.  Once we settled into drinks we perused the menu filled with classic Italian dishes and many that included local seafood.

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My wife ordered the pappardelle con costolette brasate – this was a wonderfully rich short rib ragu over handmade ribbons of pasta.  There’s no doubt this feels like a signature dish with visions of old Italy and the recipe having been perfected over centuries.  I dove into the zuppa di pesce con arrabiata which takes advantage of the plentiful seafood on the island.  A spicy tomato sauce complimented the shrimp, mussels and scallops over a bed of linguine.  There’s nothing I would change about this amazing combination of spicy, briny and yet somehow light, dish!

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I love when we find someplace new that feels like we’ve belonged there all along.  Pomodori is an absolute must-try when you’re on the island.  Bravo, Chef Amanda, on your culinary expertise and business savvy.  There is no doubt that you will be a permanent fixture for locals and visitors for many years to come!  Visit gopomodori.com for the full menu and additional information.  Dig in!

Poseidon – Hilton Head Island, SC

Summer adventures on Hilton Head Island have been a family tradition of ours and others for years.  Excited for old favorites, we’re also always interested to try new food adventures.  Poseidon was one of our best finds this year and made for a memorable vacation dinner for the 14 of us!  Located in the Shelter Cove Towne Center, you’ll see this prominent two-story location and be drawn to the inviting patio, great music and rooftop bar.  Of course, the food is what makes it so special!

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We had a large group, but were able to make a reservation during the height of the summer season.  Following the friendly staff out to the patio, we found ourselves at a large table with shade and fans to make the evening comfortable in 90-degree heat.  With a large selection of wine, beer and cocktails, we settled on several local taps while we perused the huge menu.  Known for steaks, seafood and raw bar, there is something for everyone on the vast menu.  Local favorites along with Asian-inspired dishes celebrate the regional seafood.  My nephews loved the experience of their first raw oysters – well, at least one did!  They were sweet and briny and perfect with a cold beer on a hot day.  The tomato pie was also a taste of the south – pastry crust filled with ripe tomatoes and savory cheeses.  I even tried to make a version at home!

We were all over the menu with our entrees.  From steak to cioppino to lobster pasta, everyone ordered something different.  Of course, you can get the typical array of steamed and fried seafood dishes, but this menu is worth shopping in a different aisle so to speak!  I ordered several sushi rolls which were both beautiful and delicious.  My wife decided on one of the features and absolutely loved her grilled halibut with spanish-style rice, avocado and cilantro cream.  It was an impressive and tasty execution of very simple ingredients.

I wish I had taken more photos because everything was prepared beautifully – it made for a special night for all of us.  While the menu isn’t inexpensive, we all thought it was well worth the prices and deserved given the setting, selections and super-helpful staff.  We even managed to come back later in the week for a little live music and cocktails on the rooftop bar!  Lunch, dinner or drinks for locals and visitors alike, Poseidon is one of our new “old favorites” on the island.  Check out their menu and event schedule at poseidonhhi.com.  Dig in!

Tupelo Honey Cafe – Myrtle Beach, SC

You don’t often find me writing reviews of chain restaurants because most people have exposure to places they can find everywhere.  When we stepped into Tupelo Honey Cafe, we had no idea they had about a dozen locations around the southeast.  And let me tell you, this place is anything other than ordinary mass-produced food!  Their focus on locally sourced ingredients with beautiful southern dishes offer a twist on many classics.

This restaurant offers a ton of seating, indoor and out, with a full bar and ample large tables for groups.  The atmosphere feels more like a small southern kitchen though with comfortable chairs, soft lighting and a warm color palette.  There is a large local beer selection and some great craft cocktail choices.  After settling on a Westbrook IPA, brewed in South Carolina, we ordered the SC Pecan-Encrusted Goat Cheese.  Warm and creamy as you spread it on toasted bread, the cheese is complimented by a mixture of figs, grilled apples and pimentos.  We loved every bite!

Warm buttermilk biscuits are brought to your table before dinner, but won’t last long after they’re smothered with blueberry compote and buttery honey.  The small plates and dinner choices are vast and varied.  My wife settled on Cackalackie Pulled Pork with a tangy vinegar-y mustard BBQ sauce.  Served with fried onion straws and house pickles, she loved the creamy rich baked mac-n-cheese and roasted brussels sprouts.  There wasn’t a bite on that plate that either of us didn’t love.  I chose the Carolina Mountain Trout seared with brown butter – a huge filet with great texture and crispy edges.  My basil sautéed green beans and eggy Appalachian corn souffle were outstanding and Sunday-supper-feeling.

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The only regret here is that we didn’t get to try more!  The menu definitely will have us coming back again.  Banana Pudding served with fresh whipped cream and crumbled vanilla wafers was an awesome treat we brought home to enjoy later in the evening.  I highly recommend visiting their website and checking out where you might find them on your next trip around the southeast.  You can find them here at tupelohoneycafe.com.  Mostly, just find them and dig into a taste of the south!