You may come to Myrtle Beach for many reasons - the golf, the beach, the entertainment, the shopping - but no matter what your reason for coming, you must eat. But where?
There are more than 1,700 full-service restaurants in the area spanning price range, fare, theme and quality of food. So how do you begin to determine which establishment suits your needs?
Everybody knows the big chain establishments. You probably have most of them in your hometown. They usually have good food and a decent price. But, the real dining gems in the area are the ones that are local to Myrtle Beach.
If you're looking for a fine dining experience to celebrate or forget about your day's round, Thoroughbreds Restaurant is the place to be.
Offering an excellent combination of high-quality steaks and seafood along with an elegant atmosphere, by the time your main course arrives you'll feel like you are really on vacation. The average entree price is around $20 per plate.
"If you are coming to Myrtle Beach on a golf trip, you have to hit Thoroughbreds," said Michael Martin, a mortgage broker living in Raleigh, N.C., but born and raised in the Myrtle Beach area. "The food is great. You really can't go wrong with anything you pick on the menu."
If you really want to go all out, you can even attend one of the Dinner Concert Series events to get a real triple crown of great food, great atmosphere, and great music.
Of course, any true golfer and fan of the game will want to check out Greg Norman's Australian Grille.
Like Thoroughbreds, it's also near the top echelon of dining options in the area. The entrees include steak, seafood, pasta, rack of lamb, and poultry. And in true Norman fashion, the standards are set high. The entree price is roughly around the low $20s per plate.
The dining room is done in an Australian outback motif, complete with Aboriginal artwork, huge wall-length murals, and other items to make you feel like you're dining Down Under. You can even pick up a new Greg Norman golf shirt or logoed ball from their golf shop.
What would a list of restaurants be without including an Italian food option?
Benny Rappa's is a true local establishment. Owned and operated by Benny and Michele Trattoria, this is a real family-run business.
If Greg Norman's Australian Grille did its best to make you feel like you were in Australia, it has nothing on Benny Rappa's authenticity. Sitting down to dinner here, you may have to look out the window to make sure you haven't left the country.
The menu is written on a large chalkboard, with the items changing daily. The prices on the menu are significantly lower than Thoroughbreds or Greg Norman's, but the quality of food is not.
"This is a great local place. They are always offering something new," Martin said. "You never know what will be on the menu when you walk in, but whatever it is, you are going to be pleased with it."
The staff and service are as much of the reason as the food and atmosphere for why customers return so often.
Of course, sometimes you may simply be in the mood for a hamburger or wings and a beer. Hamburger Joe's is a great place to feed that craving.
At Hamburger Joe's, the menu may be limited compared to some of the higher-end places, but what they offer they really deliver on.
Located in an old bungalow, pull up a rocking chair on the front porch and relax while you wait for your table. The juicy hand-pressed burger may help make up for that double bogey on 18 earlier.
"My friends and I have been coming to Myrtle Beach twice a year to golf since we were in college, and we always make a point of stopping at Hamburger Joe's at least once while we're here," said Lance Lockhart, a golfer who flew in from Detroit to meet up with his buddies for a long weekend of golf.
If you're coming to Myrtle Beach for the golf, then chances are you're also a sports fan. In case you want to relax with some good food and catch the games, then Oscar's Bar & Grill is a place you will strongly want to consider.
There are TVs at nearly every angle, so you will be sure to have a good view regardless of where you sit. There's also a cool decor, full of collectables and other interesting things, and the staff is friendly and accommodating.
"When I was younger, I worked right across the street from Oscar's at a restaurant that is no longer there," Martin said. "We used to go over to Oscar's every night after work. It's a great place to eat, drink and watch games - whatever you are in the mood to do. I still stop there as often as I can when I'm home visiting."
The food is the usual bar and grill fare - and is every bit as good as the atmosphere.
The bottom line is that there are hundreds of great places to eat on the Grand Strand. This list could go on for pages. Chances are you will be hard pressed not to have a good dining experience.
But, keep an eye out for the small, usually low-key, local establishments in between all of the flashy big chain restaurants. There's a good possibility that you will stumble onto a place that you will want to return to each time you visit the area.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.
© copyright 1995-2005, WorldGolf.com. All rights reserved.