Murrells Inlet, SC, A Half Mile Off The Beaten Path…..Seafood Paradise
If you’re like me, you’re always looking for a great seafood place. Now I’ve got to tell you that I’m not much on those fancy places. You know, those places where the fish still has its head on it or where my fish is covered with some strange sauce and green plants around it. The closest thing to green plants on my plate needs to be the little bit of green in the tartar sauce. I want my fish fried or steamed and most of all fresh. Over the years I’ve traveled to countless coastal places around America and had some pretty good seafood. But the best I ever found was on a little 2 lane road just south of Myrtle Beach, SC. It’s a place called Murrells Inlet.
I remember in my younger years, me and my folks always went to Myrtle Beach on vacation, which was a fun getaway because I lived pretty far inland. We enjoyed the beach, played miniature golf and in later years played real golf. Traditions that I’ll never forget.
But the part of the trip that we looked most forward to was the short drive to Murrells Inlet in an area that is known today as South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, which is the laidback, family-oriented, nature-centric coastal region that’s made up of not only Murrells Inlet, but also southern Garden City, Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island, as well as the historic towns of Georgetown and Andrews, both big with anglers everywhere.
Murrells Inlet is known as the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina,” and it’s easy to see how it got that moniker. For a great night of Carolina seafood, there’s no better place than the Inlet. You have to understand that this place has a feel about it that I’ve not experienced anywhere else. You turn off Highway 17 and head south a few hundred yards and you think that you’ve entered another world. You go back in time with the large oak trees dripping with Spanish moss reaching across the road. The traffic is slow and relaxed as folks look to find the seafood restaurant of their choice. It’s a hard decision with so many options. You roll down the window and take in a deep smell of the salty coastal air combined with the aroma of seafood being cooked.
The buildings proudly show their test of time, hurricanes, and the nearby ocean. Looking to the left, you can see the inlet and just beyond, the Atlantic Ocean. There’s likely a couple of shrimp boats slowly coming in with a load of shrimp that will be on many plates within a few hours. You’ll probably spot a couple of kids crabbing on the bank for their night’s dinner.
When you finally make your decision on which restaurant, you’ll likely pull onto a parking lot that’s made up of hard sand packed through the years by the combination of winds, water, and tires. Go inside and you’ll get a sweet Carolina greeting from a lady that’s probably worked there most of her life. She seats you at a table near the window or if the weather’s right it might be outside on the wooden deck overlooking the water. Next is the fantastic feast you’ve been waiting for since last year. Your table is packed with steamed oysters (my favorite), shrimp or fried flat fish (Flounder) for those of you not from the coast. Now, let’s not forget those hot hushpuppies and butter. All of it goes great with a cold beer or if you’re like me, a big old glass of sweet tea.
It’s a night of delicious food, but most of all it’s a night of laughter and great times. You know, the times you’ll remember for the years to come. I have my own special memories. Like the time my wife ate three lobsters. She was so full, I had to take home and put her to bed. She’s still kidded about it. Murrells Inlet is the place where I found my love of steamed oysters and how to shuck them on a cold winter night in 1986. I was eating so long that I asked the waitress if Ronald Regan was still president as were leaving. Murrells Inlet and its seafood mile has many choices, but it’s the atmosphere of the community that you’ll always remember. It’s a beautiful relaxing place that has never lost its charm. And that charm is real and there every day. As far as I’m concerned, who needs a week at Disney when you can have an evening as Murrells Inlet, SC?
(For more about Murrells Inlet and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, visit www.HammockCoastSC.com. You can request a free Visitors Guide there.)