Anyone who knows my husband and I, knows that we spent some of the best years of our lives as South Carolinians. Back in 2011, my husband’s position in the military required us to leave the Tar Heel State for our neighbors to the South, for a two-and-a-half year stint in Charleston. We adapted quickly to coastal living and lowcountry cuisine (obviously very challenging), and the Holy City became a place that truly felt like home. We had our first child in Charleston, and both started our grown-up careers there (in fact, I still work for the same Charleston-based company today).
Once we posted up in Charleston, we didn’t feel inclined to venture too far out from our home near IOP. Admittedly we still haven’t explored much of SC today, that is, except for a little beach town called Pawley’s Island.
Pawley’s has always been important to my inlaws. My husband has been traveling there annually with with his family since he was born, and the tradition started long before then, with his grandmother back in the 1940’s. I started tagging along on their yearly vacation several years ago, and while I may not have the same ties to the island as my better half – the trip always serves as a cozy reminder of our lowcountry life years ago.
Over the past week we received messages and requests for recommendations in Pawley’s Island, so I thought it might help to share a few select experiences (both old and new) for anyone planning to visit.
Location: The Hammock Shops Village, off of Ocean Highway
bisQit has become one of our standbys over the past couple of years. One reason, frankly, is convenience; it’s close to our rental, and it’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has also become a favorite for our kids because of it’s location inside the Hammock Shops Village, which also houses a play ground, hammocks, and numerous gift shops. All of this aside, it’s also yummy.
While the food is great, we find that our motivation to rinse off the sand, and pile into the car is usually due to their beverages.
My husband’s go-to drink this week was the Nutty Cup (vanilla ice cream, chocolate chips, peanut butter, chocolate syrup, and Frangelico), while mine was (and has been for years past) their Rosemary Vodka Lemonade.
For breakfast, we usually opt for bisQit sandwiches. They have several available, plus the option to build your own with delicious à la carte items like horseradish white cheddar, root beer-braised pork belly, or country ham.
Beyond their namesake offering, bisQit also serves pancakes, eggs, breakfast burgers and tacos, as well as a massive breakfast burrito.
Come lunchtime, choose from more sandwiches (both bisQit and traditional), soups, salads, and a slew of great burger options. Similar to the bisQit sandwiches, burgers can be customized with add-on items like pimento cheese, chorizo, and avocado.
It has become our habit to end every visit to bisQit with a trip to the Candy Cottage, a short walk away through The Hammock Shops Village. After perusing the the candy and toy selection, we slip into the connecting building that houses apparel, shoes, and some really cute gifts. If you have someone on your list, chances are you can find something for them here, or in another close-by shop.
The Chive Blossom Cafe
Location: 85 N Causeway Rd, Pawleys Island, SC 29585
The Chive Blossom Cafe is located right on the Causeway we take onto the island, so we’ve passed it many, many times, but this was the first year that we actually ventured in. We’ve heard before that you need a reservation, and that it should be made a week ahead. We had done no such thing, but decided to roll the dice and see what they could do for a party of slackers.
We entered through the side door to see a seriously adorable spot. There were shell light fixtures, cozy lighting, and I’m sure more details that I missed. Before I could take more in, we were informed that there was a patio outside that was first-come, first-served. We completed our walk through the small dining room and exited out the other side. Across the gravel lot was a generously-sized patio under a lovely canopy of trees and string lights.
We began our dinner with drinks: a Washed Out (above) for me, and a Westbrook One Claw for my husband. For the kids, it’s important to note that they did not have milk as a beverage option. If it’s a must-have for your kiddos, it will be a BYOM situation.
For starters, we tried their Shrimp Stuffed Medjool Dates, followed by the She Crab Soup, both of which were fantastic. My husband and I usually have different opinions on how she crab soup should be, but this one won both of our favor.
For our mains, we tried the Shrimp and Scallops, and Local Grouper. These were winners as well. We order shrimp and grits pretty regularly, but the truffle butter The Chive Blossom Cafe added was a welcome departure from what we’re used to.
Overstuffed, but incapable of passing on dessert, we ordered two of about five or six dessert offerings that evening. A warm housemade Ghirardelli brownie smothered with vanilla bean ice cream, and a banana pudding crème brûlée.
Pawley’s Raw Bar
Location: 9448 Ocean Hwy, Pawleys Island, SC 29585
Pawley’s Raw Bar is another place that has become a favorite in years past. They offer some of our favorite beach comfort foods – creek shrimp, crab legs, scallops, she crab soup, and fresh caught fish (just to name a few).
A new favorite of mine is the Bangin’ Shrimp Salad. I get to enjoy fried shrimp, fried wonton strips, topped with the Raw Bar’s house made creamy, spicy sauce – but I still get to say I had a salad for dinner.
Another benefit (at least for our group), is that it’s very kid friendly. They have a solid kids menu, crayons with brown paper on the tables, and a fully fenced-in play ground off the front of the building. In fact, one of our favorite ways to begin our trip is heading straight to the Raw Bar after check-in, so adults can get a beer and the kids can stretch their legs after being in the car for four hours.
Location: 115 Willbrook Blvd, Pawleys Island, SC 29585 (but they deliver!)
After several meals out, we usually hit a mid-week wall with getting the kids ready (and convincing them that they want to go out for dinner). We hit that wall a little early this year, on Monday. Enter Massey’s Pizza.
The first few pizza places we looked into were closed on Monday, but we were happy that we landed on Massey’s.
The Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger Pizza was my choice: beef, bacon, cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone. The kids ordered a regular cheese pizza, which I didn’t get to try, but understand that it was really good.
Location: 10683 Ocean Hwy, Pawleys Island, SC 29585
Our last meal this trip was brunch at another new-to-us spot, a restaurant called Rustic Table. Close to the Hammock Shops and right off of Ocean Highway, we had passed it several times throughout the week and wanted to fit it in before we left.
It’s owned by the same folks that own Bistro 217, a stonesthrow from Rustic Table, and a favorite among my inlaws. I’ve personally never been to Bistro 217, (for fear of how my children would behave) but I hear it’s a great experience, and the Crab Nachos are a must-order.
As for Rustic Table, the kids were well-accommodated, and so were we. I enjoyed a monstrous Monte Cristo with thick slabs of ham, melted cheese, and raspberry sauce for dipping; my husband ordered the Chicken Waffles, which were drizzled with a Tabasco® maple syrup.
Rustic Table had a great kids menu, and also one of the prettiest kid plates I’ve seen (while still being food my kids will actually eat). It was 10:00 in the morning, but our kids were able to select some delicious chocolate chip pancakes, as well as a hot dog with fries and a good serving of real fruit.
Note: the chocolate chip pancakes weren’t actually on the kids menu, but we didn’t mind helping him with his adult-sized portion.
Alice Flagg’s Grave
Location: All Saints Cemetery, 3560 Kings River Rd, Pawleys Island, SC 29585
We are complete gluttons, and don’t get out of the condo much for things we can’t eat. That being said, this last experience is one that many view as a must-do while visiting Pawley’s Island, and as a lover of ghost stories, I agree.
If you’re unfamiliar with this particular piece of lowcountry ghostlore (and there isn’t a dogeared copy of local ghost stories in your rental), a cursory google search can fill you in nicely.
In short, Alice Flagg’s story is a tale of love, secrecy, classism, and of course, untimely death. She fell in love with a man that her family deemed beneath her, and in the end her brother stole her engagement ring as she was on her death bed.
After she died at her home in Murrell’s Inlet, she was laid to rest at All Saints Cemetery in Pawley’s Island.
Her gravesite has become a popular tourist stop, and not just because of the story. At some point, a ritual was invented involving her tombstone. The word is, if you do below (at least as this is how I’ve heard it), she will grant you a wish, and maybe even appear:
- Start at the “A” on the grave, and walk around six times, counterclockwise.
- Starting again at the “A,” walk around six times clockwise.
- Leave an offering, and make a wish
This is why if you go to visit her grave, you’re almost guaranteed to see it glistening with bracelets, rings, and other trinkets.
A dark way to end our trip, but part of Pawley’s history that we wanted to experience (and such a short drive from everything else, that you might as well). Here’s hoping that all we brought home with us were a few seashells.
We’re already missing the unseasonably mild days we had at Pawley’s, and looking forward to our trip next year. It will definitely include return visits to our favorite places, and hopefully some new ones as well.
On our list for next year:
- Frank’s Outback
- Bistro 217
- Brookgreen Gardens
If you’re familiar with Pawley’s, let us know what we missed!