My wife and I are wrapping up a four-night stay in Myrtle Beach to attend a conference. Over that time, we've found several places that served delicious, thoughtfully prepared meals, and in categories well outside the range of fried seafood. I rely on Chowhound for ideas about places to try when I travel, so I just logged on to see if I could keep the yummy streak going for one more meal before we head home. This time, I didn't get much help; so many posts were some iteration of "there's nothing good to be had in MB," or "just leave and go to Charleston, Murrels Inlet, etc." I disagreed with these enough to sit down to tell you about the good experiences I just had here.
Wednesday night was a late bite at Bimini's, about which much has been said on this board already. It's good for a plate of fried seafood and a cold beer, and it's a bit cozier than the giant seafood barns sprinkled up and down 17.
Thursday lunch was at Indo Thai (there's another one in Pawley's Island, according to their website), a pan-asian-looking place in a mall in the Grande Dunes area. I'm genetically incapable of ordering anything other than red curry with chicken the first time I try a new Thai place, and I give Indo an "A" for theirs. The sauce was the right consistency and heat, the chicken wasn't overcooked, and the ratio of all the constituent parts was just so. My wife had a basil, tofu, and noodle dish that she loved, too.
Thursday night we went to Benny Rappa's, an old-school Italian place that reminded me of a few places I've visited in the Little Italy section of Baltimore. The wine selection was good, and had several solid choices south of $30. I started with a calamari steak appetizer -- not ringlets 'n' tentacles, but a flat steak (unrolled cone, I guess) that'd been lightly coated with breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs, and fried just right; I could've ordered two more helpings and called it a night, I enjoyed it so much. My entree was the veal special of the night (basically peppers, mushrooms, and a wine/butter/pan dripping sauce), and it was everything I'd hoped for. I wish we had a place like this in Columbia.
Friday night was at the Aspen Grille, where we dined with 12 friends in a private room off the bar (and I'm sure the other patrons were happy that the room had a door which was usually closed. I had French onion soup and a goat cheese salad that were both solid versions of these dishes, followed by duck grilled to a nice medium rare and lightly sauced that was as good as any duck I've had anywhere ever (including the Mustard Seed in Napa!). The server did a great job taking care of 14 somewhat boisterous patrons needing more than half as many separate checks.
Saturday lunch was at Collectors Cafe and Gallery. Service was a little slow (between the ordering and the getting; we were promptly seated and given the right amount of time to order), but so worth it; I had a filet and Gorgonzola flatbread sandwich, and the filet was requested and delivered perfectly medium rare. The sandwich was a bit messy, but I wasn't all that interested in putting it down anyway. My wife had a spinach and mushroom quiche that she loved, and we both started with tomato basil soup which was quite good, if a little predictable. The desserts we shouldn't have ordered were delicious, too.
Saturday night we headed downtown (such as it is) to Redi-Et, the state's only Ethiopian restaurant. Everything was perfectly prepared, and they had a good selection of Ethiopian beer (which is actually worth a try). If you like Ethiopian food, you won't be disappointed, and if you've never tried it, you'll love it so long as you like rich savory and/or spicy stews, and you'll really love it if you'd like the chance to consume said stews by pinching mouthfuls of them in a folds of spongy bread and eating with your fingers.
So, don't despair if your travels bring you to Myrtle Beach; it's not the foodie mecca that Charleston is, but neither is it the culinary wasteland some would have you believe. I'd daresay it may have more to offer than Hilton Head, which, aside from the Sunset Grill, hasn't impressed me much.
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