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When travelers venture to the United States’ East Coast — no matter where they may be along the roughly 2,000-mile Eastern Seaboard running from southern Florida to northern Maine — as they get close to the Atlantic Ocean’s shoreline, they’re sure to find fresh seafood. And while the types of fish and other sea creatures on the menu may often overlap, the styles of cooking can vary greatly from region to region along the coast.
Visitors to the Grand Strand may find it hard to miss references to “Calabash Seafood,” a style of cooking that’s both unique to the region and quite popular among restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area. Characterized by the crispy crunch that’s created when the seafood is delicately seasoned, lightly battered and deep fried, the cooking style originated in the 1940s in nearby fishing village of Calabash, North Carolina — also known as “the Seafood Capital of the World” and located just across the state line from North Myrtle Beach and Little River.
Next time you and your hungry crew are in the mood for some fresh seafood on the Grand Strand, check out one of the following restaurants serving authentic Calabash-style delicacies of the deep. And heed this pro tip: Don’t miss out on the hush puppies — many consider them a treat on par with the seafood when hot out of the fryer and dipped in a honey-butter sauce.
Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood: A Grand Strand staple since opening in 1986, Benjamin’s is best known for its award-winning, all-you-can-eat seafood buffet that serves up 170-plus items. Calabash-style treats on offer at the two Myrtle Beach locations (one on North Kings Highway, the other on South Kings Highway) include shrimp, scallops, flounder and oysters, and much of the seafood is also served steamed, baked, stuffed or blackened, too. Other highlights include a made-to-order pasta station, a carving station, a crab station and an in-house bakery. Learn more at originalbenjamins.com.
Bennett’s Calabash Seafood: Serving its Calabash-style seafood on the Grand Strand since 1978, Bennett’s now has three area locations — North Kings Highway, North Myrtle Beach and Broadway at the Beach. The top draw here is also the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, where the fresh catches on hand include crab legs, shrimp, flounder, salmon, tuna, scallops and more — most served in a variety of styles, Calabash among them. A raw bar, salad bar and dessert bar are also big hits with Grand Strand diners. Visit bennettscalabash.net to see all of the offerings.
Crabby Mike’s: Found south of Myrtle Beach on Highway 17 North in Surfside Beach, Crabby Mike’s is known for its Calabash-style cooking, Alaska snow crab legs and slow-roasted prime rib, all of which are available on its 120-item all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. The hot bar features an array of fish, shrimp, scallops, crab and more that are boiled, steamed, broiled and (yes!) Calabash-fried, while the cold seafood bar offers boiled shrimp, mussels and crawfish, as well as shrimp and seafood pasta salads. Explore all of the offerings at crabbymikes.com.
Ella’s of Calabash: Serving authentic Calabash-style seafood in Calabash, NC, itself since 1950, Ella’s is a favorite among the coastal town’s roughly 1,800 residents — and for good reason. The seafood cooked in the town’s signature style here includes shrimp, scallops oysters, filet of flounder, clam strips, soft-shell crabs, catfish and more. To learn more, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Calabash Seafood Hut: Established in 1969 and also located in Calabash, this might be the most casual of the area’s Calabash-style seafood restaurants. But don’t let that discourage you — despite the lack of frills here, the Seafood Hut’s fresh seafood is fantastic. Calabash options on the menu include flounder, shrimp, oysters, clams, deviled crabs and scallops. Learn more at the restaurant’s Facebook page.
After sampling some of the Grand Strand’s finest Calabash culinary creations, venture back to North Beach Plantation to take in the resort’s comfortable accommodations and luxurious amenities while resting up for another day of discovery on the Grand Strand. Book your Myrtle Beach area getaway today, and start making your plans to taste of the best dishes that the Grand Strand has to offer.