That’s why each year for Best of the Beach, The Sun News staff lets you in on their favorite spots to eat, drink, play and more. Find out where the best place to go for an off-the-beach walk, where the best cup of coffee is served, where you can find the best scallops and more, right from the reporters’ mouths.
The best place for a local to feel like a tourist
• Broadway at the Beach
The unwritten rule for locals is to avoid the Grand Strand’s ultimate tourist trap like the plague during the summer season. However, once the vacationers have all gone home, there’s a lot to enjoy. King Kong Sushi makes a mean Philadelphia roll. And the dueling pianists at Crocodile Rocks are guaranteed to keep you entertained. Plus, locals get a discount on cover charges. It’s all about the perks.
The best place for a cup of coffee
• Latte Litchfield Espresso Bar & Creamery
Cozy coffee shop with fresh, locally roasted beans and ice cream. Used books, worn couches and local art makes it feel like drinking coffee in your own home.
The best place to watch football
• Dagwood’s Deli and Sports Bar in Surfside Beach
With TVs everywhere, including in each booth, it’s easy to watch any football game you want at Dagwood’s Deli and Sports Bar, but get there early because space fills quick on game day. They also have delicious, overstuffed sandwiches and killer fries.
Best seafood on a budget
• Creek Ratz
Seafood options are endless on the Grand Strand, but for a local wanting to stretch a dollar, Creek Ratz on the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk is the place to go. It combines the perfect view with the perfectly priced and dressed Po Boy sandwiches.
The best place for a beer
• Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
The brews are big and satisfying, including interesting seasonal offerings, but other drinks are just as tasty, as well as the varied menu items. Take a seat at an outdoor table, and it’s the perfect place to relax and watch the world go by.
The best place to go for a walk within Myrtle Beach city limits
• Oxford Street
This is the former part of Phillis Boulevard – the straight-away access to the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base from U.S. 17 Bypass from what is still known as the “back gate” – that was closed to through traffic with the opening several years ago of Farrow Parkway.
Between Coventry Boulevard, by the entrance to Emmens Preserve, and the ground-mound, natural road block at Crow Lane – both west off Farrow Parkway, enjoy a wide, paved road about seven-tenths of a mile long, for bicycling, or walking – even with a dog – in a pretty, well shaded area, free of traffic, with woods on both sides.
Birds, katydids and crickets will provide Mother Nature’s soundtrack as pedestrians traverse a still-smooth, paved road that once served as a gateway for several decades to and from the air base.
Best appetizer for beef lovers
• Dead Dog Saloon
Dead Dog Saloon, also beloved for its Murrells Inlet marsh view setting, features Boo Boo’s Tender Bites, beef tenderloin on garlic toast with parmesan mayonnaise, asiago cheese and balsalmic vinaigrette. They are neither healthy nor cheap at $13.95, but the portion is generous and they go great with a cold hearty brew or a glass of red wine.
Best off-the-beach free stroll
• Conway Riverwalk
The Conway Riverwalk winds its way along the Waccamaw River from the Main Street bridge to a riverfront park and marina complex. The scenic boardwalk connects the historic rivertown’s past with its future, the families and visitors who turn out to soak up the scenery and community spirit.
Best used book sales
• Horry County Memorial Library Surfside Beach branch
Book sales happen 4:30-6:30 p.m. (open at 3:30 for Friends members) on the second Wednesday monthly, spanning two whole rooms. Items also include CDs, DVDs, audiobooks and puzzles, with most items costing 25 cents to $2. Autobiographies and memoirs by former U.S. presidents, first ladies and secretaries of state – hardcovers at 50 cents each – as well as DVDs such as a movie twinbill, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef” and music collections such as “Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael,” all for $1 each, can make for great gifts that also help a worthy cause and community resource.
Best weekly Myrtle Beach Pelicans promotion
• “Pre-Game catch on the Field”
Upon opening of the gates to the public, one hour before the first pitch on Sunday home games, folks with their own ball and glove find a new ticket to quality family time through playing catch in the outfield on such soft, neatly mowed grass. Anyone with a 2013 calendar also can circle April 4, for the start of another Carolina League season, when the Pelicans, in their third year in the Texas Rangers’ developmental ranch, will host the Wilmington (Del.) Blue Rocks, a Kansas City Royals farm club.
Best place for a homemade submarine sandwich
• Manny’s New York-Style Deli and Subs
The generous portions and combination of elements on such a variety of subs – in a choice of three sizes from 6 to 12 inches – warmed up, toasted and truly family made, really make a meal here look and taste home cooked.
Best place to see country music videos on television
• “Crook & Chase” TV show
For country music fans who feed jipped of music videos, because CMT shows so little of them anymore, opting instead to fill prime time with movies, reality series and other shows and because local basic cable channel tiers lack GAC (Great American Country), check out Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase’s weekly dose of interviews with artists and their videos, to wind down every weekend before a new workweek begins.
Best weekly radio country chart countdown
• “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40”
Hear this nationwide staple for country music fans nationwide it at 8 a.m. Sundays on WGTR-FM “Gator” 107.9 of Myrtle Beach and 6 p.m. Sundays on WKML-FM 95.7 of Fayetteville, N.C.
Best sound of fall from a beak
• Northern mockingbirds
When spring and summer, with songbird-filled mornings starting before dawn, have passed, and given way to cooler mornings, shorter days, and long, pastel-filled sunsets on serene evenings, the mockingbirds do not let the music stop. Listen to their mimicry roll through cycles that might include calls of blue jays, cardinals, tufted titmice, and other creative sounds. The mockingbirds might not always be seen – although they also sing in flight – but their sound of the South in autumn provides another bonus to living a place where fall lasts a couple of months and does not usually end in snowflakes or snowstorms.
Best place to see Southern fox squirrels
• Brookgreen Gardens
Whether on the milelong drive in, or on the road past the Lowcountry Zoo, or walking between the welcome center and the zoo, count how many of these sweet-looking, bushy tailed mammals frequent the grassy areas along the woods, sometimes sitting up like meerkats on their hind legs.
Best place for par-3 golf
• Midway Par 3 at South Beach Resort
This course has three nine-hole courses, including the “North Course,” with red flags marking its holes crossing a wooded area that was half of the original 18-hole layout. Shooting a round anywhere across Midway affords players such a nestled-in site with sights including the ocean, busy Kings Highway, chopper tours taking off and landing across the street from Huffman Helicopters, planes using the runway at Myrtle Beach International Airport, and feathered wildlife such as belted kingfishers and great blue herons.
Best place to find coins along the curb
• South Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach
People drop or toss coins out of car windows or lose them crossing the street, but pennies, nickels, dimes and the occasional quarter, bask in sunlight in the bike lane of the road. If no vehicles are approaching from the rear, a bicyclist or pedestrian stopping to pick coinage up can add more than a few pennies for one’s thoughts for the rest of a ride or walk, also worth adding to a pile in a piggy bank.
Best locals’ discount
• Family Kingdom Amusement Park
The park, open from late May into early October, has welcomed folks who show ID and buy a ride wristband in the office under the Swamp Fox roller coaster with almost a half-off discounted price. For 2012, the deal was $14, including tax, vs. the regular rate of $24.50 plus tax.
So round up the family or make a date night, then enjoy the 1970s music cranked across the park, and hop on rides such as the Hurricane, which goes forward for a cycle, then backward, and listen to that siren wail.
Best place to get a drink and great bar food while listening to the loud cheers of enthusiastic soccer fans
• The Old Bull and Bush English Pub
This hidden gem brings a hint of British culture to the Grand Strand. Their ever-growing beer selection accompanies a fantastic menu that features English specialties like Scottish eggs, Gaelic steak and, of course, fresh chips. Their fantastic Sunday brunch is also the perfect hangover remedy.
Best place to grab a burger while also getting a great view of the Atlantic Ocean
• River City Cafe
Their menu is filled with unusual burger choices, such as the California Pizza Burger. This artery clogger is loaded with pepporoni, marinara sauce and deep fried mozzerella. But if you’re really feeling guilty, just walk over to the beach there at Surfside Pier and go for a run. Make sure and wait 30 minutes after eating, though.
Best place for adults to suddenly feel like kids again
• Myrtle Waves
C’mon, who doesn’t love a good water slide? This family-friendly water park has plenty of wet and wild attractions guaranteed to keep you cool in the sweltering summer heat. Night Flights, twin black-enclosed tubes, is a thrilling ride featuring sharp turns in a darkened tunnel.
Best place to catch a flick
• Grand 14 Cinemas at The Market Common
It’s the finest theater along the Grand Strand to catch the newest Hollywood blockbuster, as well as a few indie titles that often surface, like “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Midnight in Paris.” The decorum is a mix of old-school and modern movie houses. And the seating is very comfortable.
Best place to just go and relax
• 2nd Avenue Pier
One of the Grand Strand’s top beach spots. The food in the restaurant is excellent, and the pier offers early birds a great sunrise.
Best watering hole where everyone seems to know your name
If there’s one place along the Grand Strand that makes people think of Cheers, it has to be Bumsteads. The bartenders are on a first-name basis with just about everyone, and their selection of more than 130 brews is sure to please just about any beer snob. And with Dagwoods Deli sharing the same space, it’s never a bad time to grab a sandwich or a delicious soft pretzel.
Best place to go for a chuckle
• Uptown Theater
Home of the Carolina Improv Company, this theater is housed in the Myrtle Beach mall. The small venue allows for an intimate setting, where the audience is truly a part of the improv show, as they offer suggestions that form the basis of the games the players play on stage. Routinely ranked No. 1 on Trip Advisor.com for nightlife in Myrtle Beach, this unique comedy experience offers both family-friendly and 18+ shows.
• Lip-Rippin’ Chilympics
This annual festival is held in mid-October on the waterfront in Murrells Inlet and benefits the Grand Strand chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. For $1 per sample, you can try a variety of chilis from area restaurants. Check out surfridergrandstrand.org for details on the 2013 edition.
• Little River Deli
The door boasts the best reuben south of New York, and the fare inside backs it up. Customers can choose between the traditional of corned beef, karaut, thousand island and Swiss grilled perfectly between two buttered pieces of rye, or go the pastrami rout instead of corned beef and cole slaw instead of kraut. The first succulent bite will leave you reaching for your napkin as the juices from the fresh ingredients dribble down to your chin. The eatery – open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday – also has a wide variety of other sandwiches, homemade Italian dishes, pizza, breakfast, salads, and pastries and cookies.
Best creme-filled doughnut
• The Donut Man
Although a competitor’s hot glazed is considered a staple in the south, the creme-filled offerings from the local joint on South Kings Highway is like nectar from the gods. The breakfast, dessert or snack staple is nearly twice the size of usual stuffed pastry fare, and is pumped so full of creme that it is overlowling in an eye-pleasing design out of the holes. Better yet, the creamy goodness is so perfectly sweet it will make your teeth tingle. The variety comes in plain glazed creme filled, powdered, chocolate covered and more. The blueberry and red velvet cake doughnuts are also out of this world, and toasted coconut, maple creme iced, Boston creme filled and a host of other varieties will make a perfect addition to a dozen. Just make sure to work out before visiting, this dozen requires some strength to carry out the door. You definitely will feel you’ve received your money’s worth ... and feel filled, as well.
Best country cookin’
• Victoria’s Country Cookin
If a meat and three sides for a good price without sacrificing great taste is what you desire, there is a little hidden gem on the Grand Strand that will fill the bill. Victoria’s – affectionately known as Miss Vicky’s among Sun News staffers – satisfies appetites of all ages with some of the best fixins at the beach, especially on Monday evenings when they are serving up pork chops. Patrons can get the tender pork fried or grilled along with three sides, including some hearty homemade soups and succulent sweets prepared fresh daily besides traditional country fare such as collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes and gravy. Topping a meal with their banana pudding or peanut butter pie, when it’s on the menu, is a favorite. There is also a full breakfast menu that is served all day, sandwiches and other dinner fare such as steak, chicken parmesean and more. Oh, and don’t forgot to top everything off with a tasty glass of sweet tea ... and tell ‘em The Sun News sent ya.
Best buffet bargain
• Magnolias at 26th
A customer hit the nail right on the head in a review posted on the eatery’s website, saying “This is where my family always wants to go when I don’t cook Sunday dinner, because it’s just like Grandma’s.” Well, almost on the head ... because Grandma’s might not have been this good. Magnolias does country cooking right, from the deep fried zuchinni to the fried chicken to the peach cobbler to the sweet tea so good it hurts your teeth. Everything that comes out of the kitchen from breakfast through dinner will tickle your taste buds and leave your palete pleased for hours. Maybe even days, because the best thing about the restaurant is the buffet. The affordable-for-any-budget offering features a bevy of perfectly seasoned entrees, sides, soups, salad and desserts. Wednesday is a personal favorite, when the usual fried chicken and other offerings are joined by baked steak and chicken and dumplings. Breakfast will energize you for the day and it’s the perfect place to have a dinner with a possible ocean view that will leave you ready to relax the rest of the night ... just be prepared to have your pants unbuttoned when you go to kick your feet up.
Best window tinting
• Pro Window Tinters
Few places go the extra mile anymore, but this place goes the extra four or five. The friendly staff will eagerly work you into their schedule and won’t promise you that the job will be done quickly, but will promise it’s done right ... and back it up with a warranty. Truth be told, jobs are even done in a timely fashion, although you won’t find the staff boasting about it. What they do spend time on are the little things. Whle your vehicle is being tinted, it is hooked up to a battery charger so that the open doors don’t drain your car’s power. The legalities of tint in South Carolina are thoroughly explained, and the staff provides a care sheet for your window film right down to the dos and don’ts of which products to use to clean your windows. All of that, plus ubercompetitive prices to boot.
Best off-the-beaten-path pizza place
• Fox’s Pizza Den
Friendly staff, pleasant surroundings and a packed menu with some unique offerings make this place a must for someone wanting a casual night out ... or in, if you live within its expansive delivery area. The eatery offers up some of the best pizza in town with the usual smorgasboard of available toppings, salads, strombolis with special cheese and sauce, pasta and more. An added element to the pleasure of their pizza is the stray cheese scattered to the edge of the crust that is browned to perfection in the baking process, making every bite from the first to the last enjoyable and flavorful. Fox’s is also the best place in town to get a wedgie. For those picked on throughout their school years, rest easy. Besides tasty toasted sub rolls on sandwiches, Fox’s also offers a choice of the ingredients “wedged” between two pieces of its fresh pizza crust. Thus, this will be a wedgie you won’t soon want to forget.
• Travinia Italian Kitchen
One of The Market Common’s upscale offerings is frequently visited for its fine Italian cuisine and ample wine selection, but it’s a simple “small plates” dish that will have you craving your next trip to the shopping staple. The seared scallops, which come in a serving of two or four, are perfectly cooked and melt in your mouth about the same way cotton candy does, but with a bevy of more flavor. They are cooked in basil oil and served over artichoke-pesto risotto and perfect, as the menu suggests, for small appetities or the announcement of forthcoming meal sure to please the palete.