When you need to get away, try these locals favorites

Barbara Crady, a master baker, mixes up her recipe for fruitcake at her restaurant Crady's on Main St. in Conway. File photo.
Barbara Crady, a master baker, mixes up her recipe for fruitcake at her restaurant Crady's on Main St. in Conway. File photo.

We love hosting tourists on our beach this time of year. They drive the income of the service industry to a respectable level, they enjoy our attractions and they keep our local golf courses thriving.

Even with all of the wonderful things that tourists bring to Myrtle Beach, locals still have moments where we just need a little break from the action. A place where we can go to eat, drink and be merry without a waiting line.

When it comes to eating and drinking, a few-minute drive can give the locals a place to go for refuge for a little while.

Conway is overlooked by many of the tourists because of its location. It is far enough away from the ocean to avoid most of the tourist influx. Crady’s Eclectic Cuisine on Main (332 Main St., Conway) is an all-time favorite lunch spot to get out of the traffic for a second, eat some great food and relax on Main Street of small town USA.

Open for lunch or brunch only, this place is perfect for a local who needs a break. The food is outstanding and the service, in my experience, has always been warm and friendly.

As one of the few places that serve up a real Sunday brunch on the beach, Crady’s food is just as they describe it. Eclectic. However, it is not so far out of bounds that you can not recognize the dish.

Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict, Mustard Fried Pork Tenderloin and Tarragon Chicken Salad all have the Crady’s spin on some classic dishes. From Quiche to French Toast, breakfast is injected into the brunch menu with expert flair.

The lunch menu, served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., offers much of the same food stylings. Candied pork belly and watermelon salad, ginger scallion wings and a fried green tomato B.L.T. evoke familiarity and adventure. The best part is that Crady’s is a locally owned and operated restaurant.

If you are on the north end and have a taste for an Asian meal, Jay’s Asian Fusion (2186 S.C. 9 E., Longs) is the real deal. About five minutes outside of North Myrtle Beach, Jay’s offers some of the best Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes in the area.

Hibachi to sushi, General Tso’s Chicken to Ton Yum Goong soup, Jay’s does it all. Prompt service and authentic flavors make this spot worth the small trek from the beach.

If you don’t know about pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, you are missing out. I Noodles Vietnamese Cuisine (1486 U.S. 17 N., Little River) serves some authentic, delicious and soothing pho.

A phenomenal blend of noodles, spices, beef or chicken and slow-cooked broth that is heart warming. The ultimate hangover food, pho has just started to show up on our beach. This place does it best.

If pub grub is your thing, Handley’s Pub and Grub (3873 Renee Drive) is the place to be. Catering more to the college and Carolina Forest crowds, they do gut-sticking bar food better than most around.

They’ve got excellent wings, tasty burgers and some specialty dishes that complement the extensive beer selection nicely. The only glitch is that Handley’s is one of the few smoking friendly places around. If you go early for happy hour and sit outside, it is not too bad, but I would steer clear on the busier nights if you do not like smoky bars.

Completely avoiding vacationing families is very hard to do, but, with some planning, you can make it happen. Joe’s Bar and Grill (810 Conway St., North Myrtle Beach) grabs some of the tourists because of the location. However, the location also hides it away from the masses who are not in the know.

Located behind Olive Garden on the marsh, Joe’s is, hands down, some of the freshest seafood around. It is not uncommon to eat fish that was caught the same morning at Joe’s. The specials are always outstanding. If beef is your thing, prime rib is always wonderful. They run out fast, so plan ahead.

Aside from being a long time locally owned and operated business, Joe’s also boasts a deck back that overlooks the marsh. I consider it one of the most romantic spots on the beach. You can have a nice glass of wine, a wonderful meal and watch the wildlife. It is not an altogether secret spot, but it is underutilized. If you make reservations, get there before the sun goes down and you are in for a relaxing evening with stellar service, Joe’s is the place.

Just like Joe’s, Salt Water Creek Cafe (4660 U.S. 17 Bypass, Murrells Inlet) does not avoid all the tourists, but it does offer a little relief from the other spots around town. The proper brunch on Saturday and Sunday are always a win.

Their Filet Mignon Benedict is, in my opinion, one of the best dishes of any restaurant on the beach. It just so happens to be on the brunch menu, but it combines everything that you want to eat in one plate.

Seafood is not taken lightly at SWC. Prince Edward Island mussels are a big hit as are the fish tacos. You really can not go wrong on their menu. Great service and fresh food at reasonable prices.

Locals to Myrtle Beach love the tourists. We also love a little pause in the action. These places definitely fall into the category of hidden gems, but they also do their part to entertain the visiting patrons.

It does not matter if you live here year round or just for a week every summer, these should be on your short list of restaurants to not miss. They are the ultimate culmination of good food, service and not very much of a waiting line. At least not yet.