The formula for long-term success among Grand Strand restaurants is simple: Serve good food and provide good service at a good price.
Hot new restaurants and fun gimmicks come and go. But food, service and value are always in high demand.
“You go where there’s good food and they make you feel comfortable,” said former Grand Strand golf pro Paul Kline, who began each morning of a recent visit with breakfast at Dino’s House of Pancakes.
On the Grand Strand, restaurants need to make locals feel special and tourists feel like locals. Hence the “where the locals go” claim on many a sign up and down U.S. 17.
“If you do that, you’ll be successful,” said Divine Prime manager Scott Foster, who owned and operated Foster’s Café and Bar, a Myrtle Beach establishment that had a strong corps of local customers for more than a decade.
Below are 10 Grand Strand restaurants that have passed the test of time thanks in large part to good food, friendly and attentive service and good value.
Dino’s House of Pancakes
• 2021 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach
The place to go for breakfast in North Myrtle Beach before Vanna White was turning letters on “Wheel of Fortune.” Many of the members of owner Tom Kandris’ staff has been there for years. The retro sign on the highway looks like something out of the old Jetsons cartoons, and the food is out of this world. Pancakes, biscuits and gravy, omelets and a house specialty, corned beef hash. Comfort and make Dino’s so popular. The service is always quick and friendly, the food solid across the board. The prices are what you’d expect in your hometown rather than a tourist town.
Stevens’ Oyster Roast
• 3912 Sea Mountain Highway, North Myrtle Beach
This longtime locals’ favorite located next to North Myrtle Beach High School offers big bang for the buck. Roasted oysters are the specialty, but Stevens also scores high with local seafood. You don’t pay for service or ambiance. The interior of the family-owned restaurant features simple tables and chairs that you might expect to find in the teachers’ lounge next door. Lightly battered seafood dinners get high marks from regulars. Want a good seafood dinner in North Myrtle Beach for under $20? Stevens is your place.
Hoskins Family Restaurant
• 405 Main St., North Myrtle Beach
A great meal – any meal – at a great price. Head over to Hoskins. Don’t believe it? Drive along Main Street in North Myrtle Beach around meal time and look for the line running outside the door along the sidewalk.
The Hoskins family has been packing in customers for the last 64 years with a wide selection of tasty food – from hamburgers to steaks and local seafood – at a value price. If you want to eat at Hoskins after church on Sunday, you might consider an early worship service to avoid the longest lines.
River City Café
• Six locations
OK, River City is a chain – but a local one. Hard to penalize it for creating a concept so popular that it’s spawned five others up, down and across the Grand Strand.
River City is known for its thick, juicy burgers (add a second thick patty for another $1.99) and long, thick, hand-cut French fries. Really hungry? The graffiti-filled wooden booths and license plates from all over the country serve as the main décor, unless you count the shells from complimentary peanuts that cover the floor.
The patio at the original 21st Avenue location in Myrtle Beach is a gathering spot for locals and frequent visitors to have lunch and enjoy the breeze from the ocean only a block away.
Sea Captain’s House3002 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach
Operating beachside since 1962, Sea Captain’s House has long been the standard for seafood dining in Myrtle Beach. Enjoy great local seafood while gazing out the picture window at the roaring surf.
Sea Captain’s House isn’t cheap, but it won’t break your vacation budget, either. Despite the great reputation, there’s not much pretense. Sea Captain’s House serves golf package buffets (as well as seafood specialties such as crab cakes Benedict) during breakfast hours.
Start your meal with perhaps the Strand’s best she-crab soup. Finish by enjoying a homemade dessert as the tide washes in.
Radd Dew’s Bar-B-Cue
• 3430 S.C. 701 S., Conway
Outside the Conway city limits, Radd-Dew’s Barbecue has offered big-time barbecue at small-town prices. The buffet line always includes pulled pork with a variety of sauces, tender fried chicken, chicken bog, great macaroni and cheese, fresh vegetables and a variety of desserts (yes, including banana pudding) – all for about $10.
Great barbecue at a great price is the reason for the daily pilgrimage of employees from all lines of work to rural Horry County.
• 4031 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet
Of the dozens of seafood restaurants in Murrells Inlet, the seafood capital of South Carolina, Drunken Jack’s is the standard bearer. As big inside as many of the vast seafood buffet restaurants, Drunken Jack’s manages to maintain bistro-quality seafood at Murrells Inlet prices.
The seafood is fresh, the portions are generous. Drunken Jack’s may not be a treasure chest for snobby foodies, but for decades it has ranked at the top with almost everyone else. Get there early or expect to wait in line with golfers, vacationing families and locals.
• 1703 Main St., Conway
The place for home-cookin’ at home-cookin’ prices in Conway. The fried chicken is regarded as some of the best around. From the worn exterior on the outside to the casual, homey feel inside, Donzelle’s offers no pretense, just comfort food at comfortable prices.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner – Donzelle’s is a longtime favorite for locals and Coastal Carolina University students.
• 1155 S.C. 9, Longs
Ask anybody in western Horry County where they go for great seafood and you’ll likely hear Horry’s. Located along S.C. 9 between North Myrtle Beach and Loris, Horry’s serves up fresh seafood in generous helpings at small-town prices.
Friendly service is another Horry’s specialty. The small white restaurant is easy to overlook when closed, but surrounded by cars during operating hours.
Mr. Fish and Mrs. Fish Seafood Grill
• 3401 N. Kings Highway; 919 Broadway, Myrtle Beach
A split-up in the “Fish family” gave Myrtle Beach one more place for great seafood at a great price. Yes, the original Mr. Fish dates back only to the mid-1990s, perhaps creating questions why it belongs on this list. But there are no seafood restaurants on the Grand Strand that attract more local business or repeat tourist traffic.
The reason is simple: Mr. Fish and Mrs. Fish serve a wide variety of fresh, locally caught seafood at very low prices. Large sandwiches with a side go for less than $10. For the record, the original Mr. Fish on Broadway is now the home of a remodeled Mrs. Fish. Mr. Fish, which offers the same great fresh seafood at bargain prices, relocated to a bigger location north on Kings Highway.