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!

POUR Kitchen & Bar – Petoskey, MI

We’ve hit the middle of summer and most families are likely taking time to get away.  If your summer vacation or other travels bring you to northern Michigan, you need to find your way to POUR Kitchen & Bar in Petoskey.  Nestled in the heart of downtown, it’s surrounded by the array of restaurants and shops you’d expect to find in a small lake town.  With an unassuming exterior, you’d not expect the modern shotgun-style interior. Filled with reclaimed wood, leather and metal, the comfortable setting feels like the work of Chip and Joanna.

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We were seated for a business retreat dinner with some fixed menu choices, but I had to take a look at what this lovely place had to offer.  A small menu, it boasts a variety of starters, salads and mains that take advantage of the local ingredients and still feels like you’re at a trendy spot in the big city.  I started my meal with an evening special Thai salad.  Mixed greens with peppers, onions, sesame seeds and avocado cream, it was dressed with a tasty combination of soy, sesame oil and spices.

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I next tried a simple sushi roll.  It was well-executed, but nothing out-of-the-ordinary.  However, the regular menu boasts some exciting choices including a striped bass oshizushi with Korean BBQ and miso mayo – yes please!  Finally, I had the tuna poke nachos.  Served on crispy wontons, this combination of fresh tuna, mango slaw, pickled jalapeño and avocado made the perfect bite every time.  They definitely struck a balance between sweet, spicy and salty along with varying textures – amazing!

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Oh how I wish POUR was close to my home!  It’s a special spot with great service and wonderful food.  If you have the opportunity you need to experience the vast draft list, unbelievable wine selection and delicious work of Chef Colin.  You can find out more on their website at pourpetoskey.com.  Dig in!