Having lived in Beaufort SC my entire life, I thought I could give some reccomendations to anyone visiting the area. I've worked and still work the Food and Beverage Industry in Beaufort for many years and have noticed many changes through out. But enough with my ramblings about my life story let me begin. These are the Restaurants in Downtown Beaufort SC.
Sea Is. Wine and Gourmet-Besides Emily's (which I'll get to later) this is easily the best restaurant in town. It's located the furtherst from Bay St. but don't let it hinder you from ever stopping in. Their lunches are superb, the among the top are the Chicken Salad, I know, it sounds weird, but it truly is the best yoiu will ever have, and the Grilled Chicken Club. They also serve dinner on Thursday Friday and Saturday nights and the menu is very unique as it changes every week, they do this rather than running specials. There are a few constants, like the wonderful crab and artichoke dip or the eggplant stack with fresh mozzarella and fontina, but for the most part, it's something new every week! The restaurant also doubles as a retail store, selling gourmet cheeses and dry goods and a fabulous wine selection in the Wine Cellar. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable and willing to accomidate all sorts of requests. They also do special orders and can have them in the store in about 2 days! I highly reccommend this to anybody who is looking for something that is different. The restaurant really feels like walking into someone's house and fitting right in. The tea is the best you'll ever have also, it'a a mango flavored tea, delicious.
Emily's Tapas Bar and Restaurant-This is definitely one of the very best restaurants in
Beaufort. It's a block away from Bay St. which can be a good thing if you want to get away from the busy main street. The food is out of this world, it being the only restaurant in town with a full tapas menu, 28 items to be exact, with things ranging from Oysters rockefeller, softshell crab, and emu steak to escargot, frenched lamb chops and the best french onion and she crab soup in the world. All the tapas are $8 and it's great to just get a few tapas for each person and share. If you are getting dinner, I highly reccomend the Steak Au Poive, easily the best filet mignon in town. The service is excellent and the atmosphere is classy but very casual as well. So don't be embarassed to walk in wearing a fanny pack and a bermuda shirt, or a tuxedo. On Friday Nights, there is a couple who sing and play the grand piano located in the bar side of the restaurant. It really creates a mood for dinner. Also, the Chocolate Cake is the best you'll ever have, it's three layers!!
Saltus River Grill-A bit overpriced but the food always tastes fresh. The atmosphere is very metropolitan with a sense of Southern Hospitality. The Sushi is among the best there is in Beaufort, though the choices of it are very limited. The flat-iron steak is fabulous, service is very good and you are bound to have a good time. It was featured in Southern Living Magazine. While to food is good, it has had a noticable downturn in quality since Saltus was first opened, the portions are noticably smaller, but the prices are still high. www.saltusrivergrill.com
Plums Restaurant-A very nice restaurant, with similar food to that of Saltus, they are owned by the same man, but with a bistro atmosphere and a very casual dress code, the prices for the food would concieveably be reduced. This is not the case. The prices are still higher than should be. Paying $30 for a Tuna entree that is appx 5oz is something that could border on robbery. Still, the food has a fresh and clean taste. And Chef Will's Crabcake appetizer at dinner IS the BEST YOU WILL EVER HAVE!!!! The salad dressings are all homemade, my fav is the balsamic vin. but the deserts are not, don't let them fool you! The lunches are very tasty, with some unusual things on the menu. Try the Factory Creek Shrimp Roll or the Plums Club, or the Grilled Turkey. Also, the ice cream that had made Plums famous, (i.e. Prince of Tides) is no longer available. The company that made the ice cream was bought out, the former owners being the family of the man who ownes Plums. Plums does still server ice cream, It is mostly edy's and haggan daz. However, the other ice cream is still available on Lady's Island in a restaurant called Berry Island. www.plumsrestaurant.com
Nippy's Fish-A great dive where you can get a great fried shrimp roll, or oyster roll. They also have things like homemade chili and a lobster salad. Again the prices are a little out there, It also being owned by the man who ownes Saltus and Plums. It is the perfect type of restaurant for a quick bite to eat. You go in to the counter place your order and wait for it. it comes in a brown paper bag, and you can get a can of coke, a beer, or a Sundrop to drink. The service, well what is there to say, its kind of like a gas station. self-serve. But the food is highly reccommended by everyone and is a great place to get food before work. They also have oyster roasts and shrimp boils every friday night, depending on season and live music outside of the restaurant. It took the place of Bay Town Grill.
Luther's Rare and Well Done-Luther's took the spot of Banana's and they returned the name to Luther's. It was origionally a pharmacy in the early 20th century. This is just a burger joint. The food is excellent but don't expect anything too fancy from them. The entire dining room of the restaurant is surrounded by a HUGE bar, with a few tables scattered around the perimiter of the dining room. They have great burgers and the crab dip is among the best you will ever have. They have a very sports bar atmosphere but still cater to large parties with a big table in the very front of the restaurant by the door. Service is excellent and I usually leave no less than satisfied everytime I go there. The fries are my favorite, along with the buffalo wings. You are beginning to get an idea of the fare they serve.
Kathleen's-Kathleen's took the spot of Ollie's by the Bay a few years back. The food is average, run of the mill food. There is not much going by means of taste. There is a type of atmosphere that surrounds the Restaurant that tends to drive off customers. It is not one of my favorite places to go, and while service is not terrible, the servers always make you feel like you are imposing yourself on them, and that they would much rather be elsewhere. The entire setup of the restaurant, in terms of architecture is obscure. And all I can say, is you have to see it to believe it. This would be a place that I would definitely skip had I the opportunity.
Panini's-It's a type of Italian Mediterranean restaurant. The pizzas they serve thare are fantastic, they let you create your own or you can select from a wide variety of unusual styles. But don't let it scare you, they really are quite good. my favorite being the blanco. The rest of the food-I much prefer the lunch menu to the dinner. All of the dinner food has the same type of cream taste to it that becomes overpowering in a sense, while the lunch food, like the chicken-cheese hogie are fresh tasting and satisfying. The service tries to be on par with the likes of Saltus or Emily's, which I'll mention later, but the servers are not much older than 18 and are lacking in some skill. A running joke is that if you ever have a bad server in Beaufort they must have been trained at Panini's. Panini's took the place of The Bank and subsequently Bay Breeze. There is also a Panini's in Bluffton, near Hilton Head Island.
Hemingway's Bar-It's a great location, underneath one of the old buildings on Bay St. and the outside is surrounded by Ivy and plants. The food, is a little off par with the rest of Beaufort but is not bad, They have a very small kitchen with limited Resources but all in all, it's not a bad place. In the daylight. At night, Hemingway's turns into a full-fleged bar, they only serving lunch, and often it's not uncommon for a fight to break out if you're not careful. I suggest going for lunch but not staying all night.
Breakwater-Is the new name for Bistro 205. The food is very similar to Saltus, and the atmosphere will almost remind you of Starbucks, if you catch my drift. A lot of cool lights and wooden furniture. The tuna tartare is the best i've ever had, but again, as with Saltus, the portions are small and the prices are high. They are only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, and it is always packed, this may be because it is a very very small restaurant. The service is excellent and the food is delicious.
The Beaufort Inn-Sadly the Beaufort Inn restaurant Veranda is closing.
I know it seems like I have written a lot, but I simply am trying to give you some reccomendations on where to go and eat. I hope that you have stuck with me and read all I had to say. And I sincerely hope that you will give Emily's, which is only open for dinner, and Sea Island Wine and Gourmet, a try, they are two restaurants that tend to get overlooked that need not be. Happy Eating
P.S. All the Restaurants on Bay St. have porch seating so you can look at the Waterfront Park and the Beaufort River.