Disclaimer: I received no incentive for writing this post. All experiences and opinions are fully my own.
Having been to Hilton Head Island several times, I’ve had the opportunity to frequent restaurants all over the Island. Not only does HHI offer a wide variety of cuisine to suit every palate, but there are so many local and unique restaurant choices that choosing a chain restaurant (which is somewhat limited on the Island) over one of these local faves just doesn’t seem very vacation-y.
Since my family and I have made Sonesta Resort our unofficial home base, we are all partial to restaurants on the South end of the Island, near Shipyard Plantation. Although we continue to venture beyond Shipyard, our personal favorites seem to be within a bike ride’s distance of the resort.
Favorite Restaurants on Hilton Head Island (mostly near Shipyard Plantation)
Coffee and Breakfast – Watusi Cafe – Breakfast is our favorite meal to eat on vacation, probably because we are so busy on most days of the week at home that we rarely get to eat a proper breakfast, sitting down together as a family. Watusi Cafe has become our favorite breakfast spot over the past year for its amazing-tasting and abundance of breakfast options from waffles/pancakes, eggs of all kinds, to yogurt parfaits, etc. As a huge bonus…the coffee and smoothie drinks are incredible. It’s hard for me to leave the restaurant without ordering at least two housemade coconut milk lattes and not be tempted by their many flavor add-ins, including toasted marshmallow and butter pecan. Their smoothies are also divine. More like a milkshake, the flavors (and their corresponding names) are enough to make you drink one with your breakfast and order one to go. Try the banana peanut butter flavor with the nondairy base – you may or may not be able to finish this one, just sayin… And what really makes this place rock is that they are putting in a separate, attached coffee bar for to-go orders.
Breakfast/Lunch- Salty Dog Cafe – Located in the Sea Pines area of HHI, Salty Dog Cafe is known for its waterfront location, great food and casual vacation vibe. But because the cafe is somewhat of an iconic Island institution (and it does not take reservations), it can often be over an hour wait to be seated. Luckily, we’ve gone during “off” times and were able to get seated in under an hour. If you visit, be sure you’re hungry as there are plenty of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner – from salads and sandwiches to seafood entrees, and their portions are fairly large. Don’t miss the fried chicken and waffles! And don’t forget about the drinks – order a new concoction or your standard favorite, after all, you’re on vacation, right? And one of the best things about the Salty Dog Cafe is that it sits amidst a cluster of touristy shops – most of which garner apparel and other novelties themed to the restaurant’s namesake – the legendary Jake the Salty Dog. So if you do have an hour wait, at least you have something to do to pass the time. Oh, and get the t-shirt, for you or someone else – it’s kind of a right of passage for anyone visiting the Island.
Dinner – Pomodori Italian Eatery (photo source: Pomodori)- This restaurant is a perfect reminder to not judge a book by its cover. Pomodori may be in a strip mall (which many HHI restaurants are) and have somewhat limited seating, but the food here does not disappoint. The restaurant boasts housemade sauces and pastas, including gnocchi and tagliatelle, and it has a range of secondary course options, including Italian chicken dishes served Milanese, Piccata, and Marsala style, not to mention their yummy desserts. My favorite? The orecchiette con salsiccia (housemade sausage, broccolini, short pasta and pecorino). I don’t normally eat all of my pasta in one sitting, but this is definitely a no leftovers and no regrets type of a place.
Dessert – The Ice Cream Cone at Coligny Plaza – What better way to end each day of vacation than with ice cream! The Ice Cream Cone is located in the shops at Coligny Beach and has a ridiculous amount of flavors to choose from EVERY DAY. Seriously, they have over 60 flavors and so many fun and unique blends to choose from – and it’s very hard to choose, almost overwhelming. My personal faves are coconut castaway, peanut butter cup and salted caramel. Remember, there’s no shame in trying several flavors each day so that you know which is your favorite to order on your last day.