Famed for its preserved history, blazing sunsets, Spanish moss-covered live oaks and relaxed lifestyle, Beaufort has a perfect southern vibe that make it the perfect escape from everyday life. Not only does the area have scenic views and a one-of-a-kind local charm in abundance, but it’s also becoming known as a food lover’s paradise.
Beyond the fresh seafood, which is a staple here thanks to Beaufort being an island surrounded by saltwater, you’ll find local specialties for every type of taste; from fresh farm-to-table fare to the most incredible Lowcountry dishes.
Once you work up an appetite in paradise, be sure to seek out these destination-worthy dishes and eat like a local.
Shrimp & Grits at Blackstone’s Cafe
Shrimp & grits is a simple meal that was traditionally a breakfast dish. Many prefer it as a lunch or dinner dish today. It was invented by local fishermen as an easy-to-get seasonal dish of shrimp cooked in bacon grease served over creamy grits. The kitchens in many of our homes here in Beaufort know how to make it, and you should do yourself a BIG favor and head over to Blackstone’s Cafe and order it up. Blackstone’s makes theirs with fresh local Beaufort shrimp and just the right amount of seasoning to give you the taste you’re looking for when you visit the Lowcountry.
Blackstone’s Cafe • 205 Scott Street • Downtown Beaufort SC
Local Fried Green Tomatoes at Dockside
In the 20th century, agriculture on our sea islands shifted from cotton and indigo to tomatoes and at one time were a major supplier to the rest of the U.S. Working with what locals had at their disposal, a dish of fried green tomatoes is simply made from unripe (green) tomatoes coated with cornmeal and fried. Dockside Restaurant goes way beyond traditional and offers up a fried green tomato appetizer that’s out of this world. Dressed in a secret sauce and covered with black beans, tomatoes, corn and scallions, it’s definitely an old staple with a new twist.
Dockside Restaurant • 71 Sea Island Parkway • Ladys Island SC
She Crab Soup at Panini’s on the Waterfront
She Crab Soup is a rich soup similar to a chowder or a bisque, made of heavy cream, crab or fish stock and local crab meat. It’s very popular along the coast from Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA and will quickly become one of your favorites. It’s named after the female crab, because its eggs (roe) are a key ingredient and some of the best in all of Beaufort can be found at Panini’s on the Waterfront in downtown. Creamy and crabby, the she crab at Panini’s definitely goes hand-in-hand with being in the Lowcountry.
Panini’s on the Waterfront • 926 Bay Street • Downtown Beaufort SC
Toasted Pecan & Cranberry Chicken Salad at Wren Bistro
Other than toasted pecans and cranberries, the recipe for the chicken salad at Wren Bistro is known to be a secret. Image courtesy Wren Bistro
There’s nothing sexy or squawk-worthy about chicken salad. That is, until you’ve tried it at Wren Bistro & Bar in downtown. Folks rave about it. Other than toasted pecans and cranberries, the recipe for the chicken salad at Wren is known to be a secret. A perfect selection for lunch, it’s served up with whole grain bread and on a friendly plate beaming with fresh fruits.
Wren Bistro & Bar • 210 Carteret Street • Downtown Beaufort SC
Fried Local Shrimp at Q on Bay
You can’t be in Beaufort and not enjoy our fresh local-caught shrimp. It would be like being in St. Louis or Memphis and not trying ribs, or being in Pittsburgh without eating pierogies. It’s just not proper, and you would probably regret it. If you’re going out looking for local shrimp and want to enjoy some that are right off the boat, order up the fried shrimp at Q on Bay in downtown. Battered and seasoned just right, they’re amazing. Or try them grilled, steamed, blackened, BBQ glazed or buffalo fried at Q. You’ll go home with an understanding that no shrimp is better than what you had in Beaufort.
Q on Bay • 822 Bay Street • Downtown Beaufort SC
Local Tomato Pie at Herban Market & Cafe
Tomato pie is a special dish that’s available during the summertime here in Beaufort SC when local tomatoes are harvested. It’s typically made with a combination of tomatoes, Vidalia onions and herbs covered with a semi-hard topping made of a mix of mayo and grated cheeses. Served either hot or cold, it’s a local favorite and will quickly take over your taste buds and become something you look forward to each year, just like many of our locals already do. The tomato pie at Herban Market & Cafe is a lighter version of this classic southern dish. Made with organic tomatoes, Greek yogurt, havarti cheese, and a flakey crust, it’s a healthy (AND VERY TASTY) modern day version of the classic southern dish that goes way back to the early 1800s.
Herban Market & Cafe • 1601 North Street • Beaufort SC
A Shrimp Burger at Shrimp Shack
Shrimp burgers are definitely a local favorite. Once, nothing but a hearty lunch for local shrimpers, the burgers are now a staple here in the Lowcountry. A shrimp burger is simply a cake of shrimp and seasonings served on a bun, with lettuce, tomato and your sauce-of-choice. Simply put, Shrimp Shack has the most sought-after shrimp burger in the entire Lowcountry. Just ask Southern Living Magazine. They’ll tell ya. No foodie trip to Beaufort is complete without a trip to St. Helena.
Shrimp Shack • 1925 Sea Island Parkway • St. Helena Island SC
Salmon at Breakwater Restaurant & Bar
Breakwater Restaurant & Bar does some very special things with fresh Scottish salmon. As a menu item it’s prepared with an orange & lemon infused olive oil, but as a feature, the sky is the limit. We’ve seen a fantastic seared salmon steak with an apple cider glaze, and even salmon lox with frites. If it’s not wild-caught salmon, Breakwater won’t serve it.
Breakwater Restaurant & Bar • 203 Carteret Street • Downtown Beaufort SC