Though there are still a few weeks left of spring, it already feels like summer on the Grand Strand and locals know that if you’re going to sweat, you may as well have fun doing it. People of the area have been patronizing and partying at the aptly named Hot Fish Club near the Marshwalk for literal centuries.
Despite the original location being long gone, the spirit of those first revelers lives on in the oldest restaurant building found in the Grand Strand. Like the majority of businesses found in this stretch of Murrells Inlet, the parking lot is dirt, the building is wood and the times are good. The Hot Fish Club and its adjoining gazebo are well taken care of, so no one could be the wiser of its true age.
There is already a decent crowd making their way to the restaurant when it first opens up, especially on the weekend. Business continues to increase into the evening, particularly out on the gazebo, where guests can jam to live music while enjoying cold beverages and food on a first-come, first-served basis. A small lawn area neighbors the gazebo as well, allowing room for outdoor games.
Inside the main building, the atmosphere is naturally nautical and cheerful. The sleek wooden bar by the entrance gives way to a wine cellar and leads to the main dining area. Carpet helps absorb some sound, and with large paintings of the inlet on walls, the restaurant gives a feeling that it could be casual or fancy and look good either way.
The menu swims with seafood and, as expected of a restaurant in Murrells Inlet, the selection is fresh and mouthwatering. The Hot Fish Club is particularly known for its gorgeous Lobster Pot Pie, a mix of lobster, shrimp, and scallops drowned in savory sauce and vegetables then topped with a perfectly toasted puff pastry.
Much of the ingredients are locally sourced, often coming out of the inlet themselves, including but not limited to fish and shrimp. The restaurant also has a small section for land animals, so guests can choose a steak or even a burger.
The Hot Fish Club will work in daily specials but also always has early bird deals from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., in keeping with the Happiest Hours theme from the restaurant’s origins. Those two hours also include bar deals at the interior bar and gazebo.
The Hot Fish Club does take reservations, which can certainly be helpful during these busy months of the year, otherwise parties arriving a little later in the evening will find themselves waiting for a bit. Nevertheless, the teams in the kitchen and on the floor are practiced hands and not only work quickly, but happily. No doubt the original members of the Hot Fish Club would be pleased to see the party still going on.
If you go
What: Hot Fish Club
Where: 4911 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet
Hours: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Tue-Sun
Information: hotfishclub.com, 843-357-9175
Price: $10-15 starters, $12-40 entrees