Where the Locals Eat in Hilton Head Island

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Did you know there are over 250 restaurants in Hiltion Head? That’s a lot of places to eat in such a small area! So, what’s it like to eat like a local in Hilton Head? Here’s a list of some of the best restaurants in the area.

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Kenny B's Cajun Seafood Hut

Kenny Ballard, the head chef, lived in Hilton Head in the 1980’s and moved out of the area for a period of time. He figured he might as well head back since he loved it there so much. Thus, Kenny B’s was created.

The restaurant is New Orleans-style cooking with brunch and a buffet. Locals enjoy the gumbo, crawfish or shrimp etouffee, and barbecued shrimp. It’s festively-decorated and different than all other restaurants on the island.

A Lowcountry Backyard

A casual-Lowcountry fare restaurant serving shimp and grits, sandwiches, fried green tomatoes, meatloaf, crab cakes, and banana pudding. The locals eat here because of the delightful atmosphere setting with a covered garden. Sit on the white porch swing and listen to live music is played on the stage in the back area.

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Santa Fe Cafe

A rustic, New Mexico vibe sets this restaurant apart in the minds of the locals in Hilton Head. Santa Fe Cafe is celebrating the 22nd year of serving Mexican dishes in the form of burritos, chimichangas, fajitas, ribeye, margaritas, guacamole, and salsa. An outdoor eating area on the roof with a bar allows for a casual experience. Listen to live music around a cozy fire when it’s cooler.

May River Grill

A modest restaurant serving American dishes such as veal, lobster, oysters, flounder, crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, salad, and other options. They also have a gluten-free menu as well. This easygoing, brightly colored grill will have you coming back for more local food and hangs.

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Hudson's Seafood House On the Docks

Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks is one of the oldest seafood restaurants on Hilton Head Island. This area was converted into a restaurant from a seafood processing plant in 1967. Over 90% of their seafood comes from local fishermen. Sit right on the edge of Port Royal Sound and eat flounder, she crab soup, oysters, shrimp, crap, unique hush puppies, and other tasty dishes. Sit any one of the tables for a spectacular view of the sunset.

Ombra Cucina Italiana

A stylish spot for elevated Italian cuisine, wine, and vibes. They have locally-sourced seafood dishes using salmon, calamari, halibut, and other seafood prepared by Executive Chef, Michael Cirafesi. He’s been voted Best Chef on Hilton Head award by Hilton Head Monthly Reader’s Choice Awards in 2013, 2014, 2015,  2016, and 2017, 2018, and 2019. OMBRA was also named Best Italian three years in a row 2017, 2018, & 2019.

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