11 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Hilton Head

Thomas M. Kersey | August 30, 2022

At Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, the many recreational options (golfing, tennis, biking, and beach leisure) often eclipse the dining options. Visitors would be remiss, however, to miss out on the excellent food and beverage options. You could check out a new distillery that makes bourbon using local rice or a family-run eatery that grows its own oysters and soft-shelled crabs.

While there is an abundance of local seafood products in Hilton Head, most eateries in the area also embrace the farm-to-fork concept. The freshest produce is what these restaurants genuinely strive to serve throughout the entire year. Many of them also have extremely fascinating histories. Below are some of the restaurants on the Island that you should definitely check out.

Try these incredible Hilton Head restaurants

1. Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks

Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks is always a priority pick. This establishment has been a 50-year landmark owing to its honorable operations. It is located on the waterfront with stunning scenery of Port Royal Sound. The eatery farms its own soft-shell crabs, clams, and oysters. Owner Andrew Carmines has arrangements with nearby fishers who can use his dock facilities in return for first dibs on their harvest of the day.

Get the specials every time because they vary depending on what's delivered.

The Hudson's staff is preparing to grow and gather as much of the fish they offer as they can. Carmines is often present, operating the dining area and campaigning for truly fresh seafood. Having tasted the best quality here, you might never eat seafood elsewhere again.

2. A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant

It is not surprising that the Travel Channel highlighted this establishment on "Food Paradise." Also, the eatery advertises itself as the "island's destination for Lowcountry seafood and cuisine cooked how it once was." This restaurant literally transports you back into history, and its inspiration comes from the founder's childhood experiences on the island. It even includes moonshine on its menu.

This lovely restaurant provides a distinctive eating experience on Hilton Head Island, serving everything from appetizers and sandwich boards to salads, barbecue, and home-cooking classics.

The greatest boils are from the Lowcountry and come with seasonal crab, fried potatoes, corn on the cob, smoked sausage, shrimp, and Old Bay Butter.

3. Nectar Farm Kitchen

The motto of Nectar Farms is "From the farms, fields, and forests of the Lowcountry."

The location, with its lovely farmhouse restaurant and gardens, exudes pure southern charm. The establishment uses locally produced fish ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.

The Super Dave Breakfast sandwich has two-country sausage patties, fried eggs from a nearby farm, American cheese, and thick-cut bacon pieces on sesame toast. Certainly big enough for a couple to split, and tasty!

You will savor your chilled shrimp salad on fresh toasted multigrain bread with tomatoes and tender gem lettuce. Besides, you will appreciate the fact that they leave the skin with an organic dipping sauce of sweet potatoes.

Nectar Farm is a great option for traditional American cuisine on Hilton Head. It is, in fact, a formidable rival to any eatery on Hilton Head.

4. ELA's on the Water

Hilton Head's waterfront restaurant ELA's on the Water, which sits on 1 Shelter Cove Lane in Shelter Cove Harbour, has received multiple awards. The restaurant offers harbor-side water views, freshly caught seafood, and prime steaks in a chic setting.

ELA'S is the ideal location thanks to its ambient cuisine, romantic atmosphere, and special event offerings. It’s best to score a reservation before attempting to dine here.

5. Burnt Church Distillery

This distillery, which is a short distance from Hilton Head in the nearby town of Bluffton, is young, yet each bottle it produces pays homage to local legends and the past. Featuring 17 drink options, there is something for everyone, spanning gin and vodka through bourbon and rye whisky. This restaurant also includes a noteworthy menu of alcohol-free cocktails.

Anita's Choice Bourbon, a top seller, has a six-grain mashing bill that contains Carolina Gold rice, giving it a smoothness that is complemented with aromas of dark chocolate, caramel, and a smidgen of lemon. It is uncommon to find a bottle of Johnny Fever, but this restaurant offers Johnny Fever with maize, rye, malt barley, shotgun shell cover, and silky toffee touch that makes it special.

However, if you are grocery shopping, head over to the Kroger in the Shelter Cove Town Center. There, you may enjoy a drink at the on-site club, known as the Kro-Bar by natives, as you load up.

6. Restaurant CQ's

Every evening from 5 p.m., CQ's in Harbour Town provides dinners featuring American cuisine.

Despite being a 1970 construction, this establishment on Hilton Head Island has an ancient, more historic vibe because of its heart of wood floors, banister steps, vintage photographs, and an ancient bar.

The selection of dishes at CQ’s will win you over, even if someone in the group does not like seafood. Their seasonal menu changes, considering the bounty of the nearby farms, waterways, and landscapes. You can find the tastiest iceberg wedge salads here.

Diver's Scallops are pan-seared in this dish and presented over a butternut purée with slices of squash, zucchini, and spinach. Not only are they wonderful and delicate, but they are also highly palatable.

They will perfectly crust and pan-sear your favorite dish, the seared AHI tuna, and offer it with edamame hummus, veggie slaw, pickled ginger, and a delicious ponzu sauce. Besides this, CQ is among the finest restaurants in Hilton Head if you want a variety of options, from the water to the farms or pastures.

7. Fishcamp on Broad Creek

"Cap'n Charlie" Simmons used to ferry groceries, supplies, and passengers to and from Hilton Head Island before it had a bridge. He built his fishing camp in 1955, and it is still in use presently as a seafood restaurant to preserve its heritage and charm. That said, getting to this renowned Hilton Head establishment today is significantly easier than it was back then.

The gorgeous waterfront location is historically significant and flanks vintage fishing trawlers, moss-draped oak trees, and outdoor furniture.

Sharing the crisp, lightly clobbered calamari and pickles with the spicy sauce and lemon aioli is impossible. They are delightfully unique compared to anything you ever had.

Find delight in the roasted flounder harvested locally, served with fresh vegetables, goat cheese risotto, crab meat, spinach, and citrus beurre blanc. It is extremely delicate and done to perfection. The establishment garnishes its Daufuskie Blue Crab Cake with crispy thin potatoes and stuffs it using lump blue crab, coleslaw, and fire-roasted red pepper rémoulade.

A spectacular evening on the creek is definitely not complete without a stop at Fishcamp, the pinnacle of the Hilton Head eateries.

8. Sage Room and Vine

The Sage Room offers fine wines and upscale American cuisine. The setting portrays itself as casually upmarket, with an open kitchen and chef's station that visitors can see while they dine. It offers a wide selection of distinctive appetizers, international cuisine from all four corners of the globe, and distinctive nightly specials. This establishment, at 75 Pope Avenue, has a full bar and an outstanding cocktail menu.

The "Earth to Table" restaurant, Vine, offers unusual cuisine that is marketed as "not for the unadventurous." This establishment, which describes itself as a simple and enjoyable place to eat in a classy setting, is absolutely worth checking out for any adult. It does not allow minors (below 14 years).

9. Hilton Head Social

You can treat yourself to an authentically Parisian pastry encounter at Hilton Head Social after a stroll down one of Hilton Head's well-known flat, broad beachfronts. Owner and acclaimed chef Philippe Feret has worked in several of the top restaurants globally, including Taillevent, Tavern on the Green, and Windows on the World, to mention a few. The Frenchman, who was born in Normandy, hand-built his two island businesses. The latest is a splendidly remastered former Dairy Queen covered in mushroom wood and has a facade of sparkling cases filled with artisan bread, fougasse (stuffed, baked baguettes), croissants, fruit tarts, and cloud-like chocolate chip brioche.

This is a crepe-filled pasty lover's religious experience. He also intends to establish a gorgeous terrace in the style of a café and start selling freshly made ice cream.

10. Poseidon

On Hilton Head Island, this is most likely the finest Happy Hour establishment. Diners have a choice of indoor, outdoor, or rooftop dining options. From the name, you can tell that seafood is the main course, although they also offer non-seafood options. There is a wide variety of food on their menu, including sushi, steaks, and the catches of the day, all made in different ways to satisfy every customer.

Every day from 4 to 7, there are absurdly low prices on beer, house wine, and mixed beverages during Happy Hour. On the list are items like sliders, shrimp, oysters on the half shell, bar munchies, and Margherita flatbread and deviled eggs. Request a seat at the rooftop bar for the great scenery of the cove.

11. Ombra Cucina Italiana

Ombra Cucina Italiana commits to serving customers fresh seafood from neighborhood markets, along with rustic flavors infused in novel ways by transforming locally sourced ingredients into traditional Italian dishes. A variety of premium Italian wines, cocktails, liquors, and top-shelf spirits are available here. All guests will enjoy a meal that is well-suited thanks to the eatery's carefully chosen wine selection.

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