Where Do Locals Eat In Hilton Head

19 Of Our Favorite Places To Eat In HHI

As longtime Lowcountry residents, we’ve been to almost every restaurant on Hilton Head numerous times. We have seen them come and go, but the good ones remain and for good reason! Check out our guide to our personal favorites and the places local go the most.

Hilton Head Island, SC, is a premiere destination for many reasons: huge expansive beaches, challenging scenic golf courses, epic sunsets, and, of course, one of the best food scenes around. You can find just about anything to eat on Hilton Head. Farmers markets, sophisticated fine dining, incredible seafood, down-home Lowcountry cooking, ethnic dishes….you name it.

So when it comes to choosing a place to eat while visiting Hilton Head, how can you possibly make a decision? Ask the locals. They know where to find the most delicious eats without all the touristy distractions. Don’t know a local? Don’t worry, we have you covered. We’re locals and we have composed a list of places to dine where you can feel like a local. So next time you find yourself on Hilton Head Island stop by one of the local hotspots and dig in to a delicious and authentic Lowcountry dining experience.

Our list is not a ranking but a guide to the best eateries with a local flavor.

1. Skull Creek Boathouse

Skull Creek Boathouse
397 Squire Pope Road
Hilton Head, SC 29926
(843) 681-3663

This landmark waterfront restaurant is beloved by locals, foodies, and food critics alike. Skull Creek Boathouse delivers on all fronts: location, food, beverages, ambiance, and entertainment. Whether you dine indoors or outdoors, you’ll get excellent food and service. The “Dive Bar” is teeming with raw oysters, sashimi, sushi rolls, and nigiri. The ceviche is a choose-your-own seafood adventure where you can mix scallops, octopus, tuna, and salmon and always get the perfect ending. For the less adventurous broiled, steamed, and fried options are available. Go traditional with a Lowcountry boil or an extravaganza of snow crabs, mussels, clams, oysters, and shrimp.

2. Charbar

33 Office Park Road # 213
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 785-2427

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A Hilton Head local favorite, Charbar is famous for its succulent, award-winning burgers but also for its creative sushi, sandwiches, salads, and more. Additionally, they feature craft beers, wine, and music memorabilia spanning the decades in a relaxed indoor/outdoor environment.

Enjoy live music on their outdoor patio with a fireplace, flat screens, and an outdoor bar. Charbar is a hit with locals and visitors.

3. Java Burrito

Java Burrito
1000 William Hilton Parkway
Suite 36
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 842-5282

Coffee and a breakfast burrito may be an unlikely combination to eat, but it works. With a coffee bar on the left and a burrito bar on the right, Java Burrito is a coffee and/or burrito junkie’s paradise. The best thing is that you call the shots. Build your burrito, taco, quesadilla, or salad however you like. Choose your meats, toppings, and sauces. Build it tall or wide….it’s all your call.

If a burrito is too heavy go for the avocado toast or build your own breakfast sandwich. Save some room for a cold brew with vanilla ice cream. Later in the day sample a well-crafted cocktail or beer with your burrito.

4. Lowcountry Backyard

Lowcountry Backyard
32 Palmetto Bay Road Suite 4A
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 785-9273

Lowcountry Backyard is a restaurant that lets you relax as you enjoy your meal, no matter which meal of the day you’re looking for. The food itself is always made fresh and consists of truly authentic Island cuisine. Famous for their shrimp & grits, BLT (pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, bacon), soups, seafood, and specialty crabcakes.

You’ll even find a wide selection of desserts including banana pudding and key lime pie.

If you’re feeling a cocktail, try the moonshine punch or moonshine and lemonade.

The decor of the restaurant is remarkably welcoming with an entire backyard area featuring a porch swing and flickering lamps.

5. Holy Tequila

Holy Tequila
33 Office Park Road
Hilton Head, SC
(843) 681-8226

Voted Hilton Head’s best Mexican restaurant, Holy Tequila is a cut above your typical Mexican fare. The restaurant sets the bar for modern Mexican cuisine by using locally sourced ingredients on a wood burning grill. Their menu offers thirteen different tacos, seven burritos, their famous charred street corn, and much more. Live music and an upscale cantina atmosphere gives diners a truly Mexican experience. And, true to its name, Holy Tequila offers more than sixty premium Tequilas.

6. Hudson’s Seafood House On The Docks

Hudson’s Seafood House On The Docks
1 Hudson Drive
Hilton Head, SC 29926
(843) 681-2772

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Hudson’s Seafood House features some of the freshest fish available on Hilton Head. Much of their seafood originates from the local waters surrounding their famous docks. They are committed to purchasing fresh seafood and fish from local fishermen. Their oysters are from a sustainable oyster farm in Port Royal Sound, often harvested, shucked, and eaten the same day. Hudson’s features an extensive seafood-oriented menu with over thirty entree selections. A Hilton Head tradition for many years.

7. Kenny B’s French Quarter Cafe

Kenny B’s French Quarter Cafe
70 Pope Avenue
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 785-3315

Kenny B’s is a popular spot to head to for delicious catches of the day. While seafood may be the primary attraction, you will not find food like this in any other Hilton Head seafood restaurant. Kenny B’s brings New Orleans southern flavor to South Carolina with Cajun style and flavor implanted in every dish.

Bring the whole family to this festively decorated casual restaurant.

8. Frankie Bones

Frankie Bones
1301 Main Street
Hilton Head, Sc 29926
(843) 682-4455

Take a step back in time….a walk through the door into the fabulous Frankie Bones Restaurant Lounge takes you back to the carefree glitzy style of big city restaurants across America in the late 50s and early 60s. Frankie Bones has much to choose from: shrimp, pizzettas, pasta, veal chops, steaks, and fried and grilled seafood.

With Sinatra and his generation singing in the background, sit back, relax, and sample the extensive hand shaker martini menu. And don’t leave without tasting the cheesecake.

9. Hilton Head Social Bakery

Hilton Head Social Bakery
Harbourside Lane, Building 1
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 715-3349

In chic Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Social Bakery has the best croissants on the island thanks to the patisserie stylings of chef Philippe Feret. Walk Shelter Cove Marina with a cup of fair trade coffee in hand and a selection from the wonderful assortment of breakfast pastries, tarts, and pastries. If it’s later in the day, treat yourself to a Andouille Sausage Quiche or a roasted vegetable stuffed baguette.

10. TJ’s Take and Bake Pizza

TJ’s Take and Bake Pizza
35 Main Street
Hilton Head, SC 29926
(843) 681-2900

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Locals rate TJ’s as the best pizza on Hilton Head Island. A go-to restaurant since 2003. You thought you couldn’t have it three ways, but TJ’s it is all about choice: take home a piping hot pizza, eat in the restaurant, or take home some ready-to-bake pizzas. Not sure when you want to eat? Then choose to pick up a freshly prepared gourmet pizza and bake it in your own oven when you’re ready to eat. Takes about 15 minutes. If you are vacationing on Hilton Head and have access to an oven, this is the perfect solution to dinner. Pick from a wide variety of pizzas, refrigerate, and eat after a busy day of enjoying all the Island has to offer. No oven? Just call ahead and your pizza will be ready. TJ’s also offers some freshly made salads, wonderful wraps, and wings from Buffalo, NY, the birthplace of an American favorite.

11. Big Jim’s BBQ Burgers & Pizza

Big Jim’s BBQ Burgers & Pizza
7 Trent Jones Lane
Hilton Head, SC
(843) 785-1165


A family favorite for locals and visitors alike with beautiful views of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. Big Jim’s has a wide selection of appetizers, burgers, made to order pizzas, BBQ, wine and beer, and a kid’s menu that’s sure to please everybody in your party.

12. Skull Creek Dockside

Skull Creek Dockside
2 Hudson Road
Hilton Head, SC 29926
(843) 785-3625

Skull Creek Dockside sits next to its sister restaurant Skull Creek Boathouse. Renovated in 2017 on the former site of the Chart House, Dockside features sweeping water views. Outside patrons can eat in the covered patio dining area or a large outdoor bar called the Shark Bar.

The dining room is elegantly arranged in reclaimed wood with natural accents and offers giant windows overlooking the refinished dock. Eclectic menu with lots of seafood: think heaping plates of meat-heavy crab cakes, scallops seared in citrus butter, and huge stuffed shrimp paired with pimento cheese grits and creamy collard greens. Seafood not your thing? Not to worry, you can also enjoy some great steaks, artisan pizzas, and first class BBQ.

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There is also a family recreation area between Dockside and Boathouse including a shrimp boat playground, a life size replica of Coast Guard Buoy No. 8 (which was an instant sensation when it was washed up on the shore after Tropical Storm Irma), and other large family games.

13. Reilly’s Grill and Bar

Reilly’s Grill and Bar
7D Greenwood Drive
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 842-4414


Reilly’s has been serving tasty steaks, seafood, and sandwiches over 35 years on Hilton Head. Modeled on the iconic Boston pub, Cheers, and embracing all the same camaraderie. Dine indoors or out at the Sea Pines Circle location. Reilly’s is also a go-to dining option for sports fans eager to watch the next big game. Enjoy nightly dinner specials or the good life with Sunday brunch mimosas.

At Reilly’s everybody knows your name….or they will soon learn it.

14. Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta

Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta
50 Shelter Cove Lane
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 785-4144

Giuseppi’s serves it all….from traditional cheese pizzas to white pizza to BBQ chicken topped pizza. They offer thin crust, thick, or stuffed crust. They offer quality pizzas that make you feel like you’re eating a slice straight from the streets of New York City.

And they also offer the not-to-be-missed “Weggie” which is a creative interpretation of the calzone. Large salad menu, good variety of sandwiches, specialty burgers, and interesting pastas. Perfect place for pizza and more and a great, family-friendly place to bring the kids for lunch and/or dinner.

15. One Hot Mama’s American Grille

One Hot Mama’s American Grille
1 Greenwood Drive #7A
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 682-6262

One Hot Mama’s is your one-stop-shop for South Carolina barbecue. Executive chef Orchid Paulmeier is the grill master here. She brought her grilling expertise to the Food Network, but the best place to experience her Carolina Barbecue is at One Hot Mama’s. Try the baby back ribs, barbecue, steaks, chicken, and wings. Bring the kids and watch the game on one of the many TV’s. One more word about the wings: some are doused in sauces like strawberry and jalapeno, or Maui Wowie (no explanation), you’ve just got to try them. And thankfully you’ll be able to try a few different flavors when you order. You’ll also love the retro environment.

16. Skillets Cafe & Grill

Skillets Cafe & Grill
1 North Forest Beach Drive
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 785-3131

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If you haven’t visited or been on Hilton Head Island for a while, Skillets is no longer ‘just’ a charming breakfast place serving hearty, flavorful breakfasts. It’s now an enticing, full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch. The menu ranges from Jambalaya to Shepards Pie to Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos….and it’s all good. That being said, Skillets still shines at breakfast. Try the “Kitchen Sink” (a layer of pancakes ringed with home fries, sausage, bacon and topped with poached eggs) or the “Beach” (blended home fries, chopped bacon, diced ham, onions and mushrooms). Classic craft cocktails and pet friendly.

17. Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte

Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte
New Orleans Road
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 785-9272


Don’t let the name scare you, this is a second-generation, family-owned, Hilton Head mainstay. An attractive restaurant specializing in excellent preparation of all fish, though the meat side is also well-represented. They take pride in being one of the few Island restaurants that creates their own menu and specials on a daily basis. They have an extensive wine list and have been awarded the Best of Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

18. The Black Marlin Bayside Grill

The Black Marlin Bayside Grill
86 Helmsman Way
Hilton Head, SC 29928
(843) 785-4950

According to its slogan, the Black Marlin Bayside Grill offers “the Island’s Best Selection of Fresh Seafood, Hand Cut Steaks and Cool Libations all in a relaxing Key West atmosphere”….and we are not about to disagree.

We appreciate its unique mix of easy-going sophistication, family-friendly atmosphere, and stellar seafood. Prices are reasonable, service is great, and the menu is wide and varied. Check out the seafood-stuffed flounder smothered in a lobster cream sauce or in an impeccably well-done fish and chips.

19. Wise Guys

Wise Guys
1513 Main Street
Hilton Head, SC 29926
(843) 842-8866

Wise Guys has quickly earned a spot as one of the best restaurants favored by Hilton Head locals and visitors alike. The atmosphere is “plush but welcoming.” The urban setting is complemented by a menu focused on small plates, signature steaks, and robust wines. Enjoy pizzettas, sliders on fresh baked rolls, lobster risotto, pan roasted salmon, filet mignon, rack of lamb, and the deepest spirit menu on the Island.

Don’t be a stranger–eat like a local. Make Hilton Head Island your home away from home!

Blair Witkowski
Author: Blair Witkowski

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