South Atlantic Seafood Dives

Text by the editors of Coastal Living

NORTH CAROLINA

Big Oak Drive-In and Bar-B-Q, 1167 Salter Path Rd., Salter Path, NC; 252/247-2588. Strictly carryout. Get the shrimp burger: fried shrimp, tartar sauce, coleslaw, and ketchup. (2003)

Calabash Seafood Hut, 1125 River Rd., Calabash, NC; 910/579-6723. In a town synonymous with seafood ("Calabash-style" generally means fried food lightly battered), a small, friendly purveyor of shrimp, scallops, fish, and clam chowder. (2002)

Eb & Flo's, Bald Head Island, NC; 910/457-7217. Eb & Flo's gets everything right, including the screened-in deck, the relaxed ambience, and especially the steamed seafood. The wine list may not be native to the seaside-shack genre, but it's a welcome touch nonetheless. (2004)

Jordan's House of Seafood and Oyster Bar, 8106 Emerald Dr., Emerald Isle, NC; 252/354-5722. This plain concrete-block building turns out wonderful broiled items, especially shrimp and scallops. (2005)

Provision Company, 130 Yacht Basin Dr., Southport, NC; 910/457-0654. Dockside dining without walls. Great steamed shrimp, friendly atmosphere. (2001)

SOUTH CAROLINA

Admiral's Flagship, Business Highway 17, Murrells Inlet, SC; 843/651-3016. Huge all-you-can-eat buffet―try the gumbo, oysters, and fried whiting. (2002)

Bowens Island, 1870 Bowens Island Rd., near Folly Beach, SC; 843/795-2757 or bowensislandrestaurant.com. This legendary wreck of a place with great fried shrimp and, in season, roasted oysters, has reopened after a 2006 fire. Those nice, new walls are just begging to be covered with graffiti. (updated in 2008)

Ollie's Seafood Restaurant, 71 Sea Island Parkway, Beaufort, SC; 843/525-6333. Spicy steamed shrimp, crab cake sandwich, and ShrimpBurger in Paradise. (2002)

Pepper's Porch, 1255 May River Rd., Bluffton, SC; 843/757-2295 Start with the "can't choose platter" of bacon-wrapped scallops, deviled eggs, fried pickles, and fried green tomatoes. Then sample the shrimp and grits cooked in brown bacon gravy. (2005)

Russell's Seafood Grill & Raw Bar, Business Highway 17, South Murrells Inlet, SC; 843/651-0553. Great oyster stew, broiled seafood, and Key lime pie. (2003)

The Sea Shack, 6 Pope Ave., Executive Park Rd., Hilton Head Island, SC; 843/785-2464. Wonderful fried seafood cooked to order and served hot. The crab cake doesn't thrill us, but we love everything else―especially a creamy chowder called Seafood Stir-A-Bout. (2006)

The Shrimp Shack, 1929 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena Island, SC; 843/838-2962. All the shrimp dishes are great, but do try the shrimp burger. (1997)

Steamer Oyster & Steakhouse, 168 Sea Island Parkway (on Lady's Island), Beaufort, SC; 843/522-0210. Start with the seafood bisque. Also sample the local favorite Frogmore stew―not really a stew but rather steamed shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob. (2001)

Whaley's at Edisto Beach, 2801 Myrtle St., Edisto Beach, SC; 843/869-2161. This old filling station serves to-die-for fresh local shrimp on cheesy grits. Other divine offerings include crab cakes, pan-seared mahi mahi, and linguine with clam sauce. (2007)

The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene, 106 Haddrell St., Mount Pleasant, SC; 843/884-0052. You'll never find it without directions, but the shrimp, scallops, fish, and oysters are fabulous. (1999)

GEORGIA

The Crab Shack, 40 Estill Hammock Rd., Tybee Island, GA; 912/786-9857 or thecrabshack.com. "Where the Elite Eat in their Bare Feet." The elite love the Capt 'n Crab's Sampler and the Low Country Boil. (1998)

Desposito's, Route 14, Box 187, Macceo Dr., Thunderbolt, GA; 912/897-9963. Everything's boiled or steamed and served on newspaper-covered tables. (1997)

Driftaway Café, 216 Johnny Mercer Blvd., Wilmington Island, GA; 912/898-4161 or wilmingtondriftawaycafe.com. Try the tuna tartare―bits of tuna atop crispy wontons and cucumbers, drizzled with a wasabi-and-miso sauce. Crispy scored flounder with sweet apricot sauce appeals to more-traditional tastes. Driftaway Café's Sandfly location (912/303-0999 or driftawaycafe.com) offers virtually the same menu. (2006)

Love's Seafood & Steaks, 6817 Basin Rd., Savannah, GA; 912/925-3616 or savannahga.net/dining/lovesseafood.html. This rustic family restaurant has served customers along the languid Ogeechee River southwest of Savannah since 1949. We especially like the fried shrimp and the creamy crab stew. (2007)

North Beach Grill, 41A Meddin Dr., Tybee Island, GA; 912/786-9003 or northbeachgrill.com. Southern- and Caribbean-influenced seafood next to the lighthouse. (1999)

Pelican Point Restaurant & Lounge, Sapelo Ave., Crescent, GA; 912/832-4295 or pelicanpointseafood.com. Enormous seafood buffet; go for the shrimp, spicy crab stew, and crab au gratin. (2000)

FLORIDA

Bayside Hut Seafood, 3501 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL; 305/361-0808. A palm-camouflaged, open-air hideaway at a marina with views of the Miami skyline and a nice seafood platter of fish, shrimp, calamari, scallops, conch, and crab sautéed in garlic. (2001)

Chowders Seafood Grill, 6485 S. U.S. 1, Rockledge, FL; 321/757-7200 or chowders.com. Some swear by the lobster-and-cream starter―shellfish and cream cheese served with tortilla chips―and a well-mixed margarita. Others show up for specials, such as the catch-of-the-day grouper with a light Parmesan-cheese crust. But in the end, it's all about Chowders' coconut cream pie. (2006)

J.B.'s Fish Camp, 859 Pompano Ave., New Smyrna Beach, FL; 386/427-5747 or jbsfishcamp.com. Anything fried is good; steamed rock shrimp are great. (2000)

Rustic Inn Crabhouse, 4331 Ravenswood Rd., Fort Lauderdale, FL; 954/584-1637 or rusticinn.com. You can sit inside, on a screened porch, or on the glassed-in patio overlooking the Dania Cutoff Canal. The menu features the signature garlic crabs and (our choice) the crab sampler. (2005)

Rusty's Seafood & Oyster Bar, 628 Glen Cheek Dr., Port Canaveral, FL; 321/783-2033 or rustysseafood.com. Wonderful platter of steamed seafood: You get steamed oysters, clams, and shrimp, plus a big dish of tiny broiled scallops, each the size of a pencil eraser but still wonderfully tender, juicy, and flavorful. (2004)

Sunset Waterfront Grill and Bar, 500 W. Cocoa Beach Causeway, Cocoa Beach, FL; 321/783-8485. Most mingle in the tiled bar, open-air dining room, or dockside deck for the namesake setting and conviviality rather than the food. But no one leaves hungry (try the Sunset Seafood Platter) or thirsty (dare to finish the triple-rum Sunset Grabber). (2007)

Singleton's Seafood Shack, 4728 Ocean St., Mayport, FL; 904/246-4442. Fresh grouper and Mayport white shrimp, and a room full of boat models made by the late owner, Capt. Ray Singleton. (1999)

Theo Thudpucker's Raw Bar, 2025 Seaway Dr., Fort Pierce, FL; 772/465-1078. Great oyster stew. (1997)