July 11, 2022
The food on Hilton Head Island is outstanding. I’ve been there twice now, and the food ranks right up there with the pool and the beach. For an overview of the island see my other Hilton Head post, but here I focus on the best, the three things you cannot miss. It wasn’t easy to narrow it down, but here it goes.
3. Dinner at Lucky Rooster
I considered just recommending collard greens at Lucky Rooster because they are that good. I love collards and have eaten them many places, but these rank right near the top. On our visit, they were served with “Some Pig,” a breaded and fried pork cutlet, the aforementioned collard greens, sweet potato puree, and a mustard cream sauce ($30). The pork is from Peculiar Pig Farms, the same farm that sources pig for Lenoir and Husk in Charleston. It was all delicious, but those collard greens will be the memory I’ll hold onto the longest.
Before the pork, came the Stuffed Eggs, deviled eggs topped with just the right amount of smoked seafood ($10). This was excellent as well. It was hard not to order a second round. For dessert, a non-traditional peach cobbler, heavy on the cinnamon and topped with bread cubes and ice cream.
Drinks at Lucky Rooster were good too. The Slightly Sweet and Bitter Piglet was featured in the March 2022 issue of Whiskey Advocate. It’s a blend of rye, vermouth, amaro, and Italicus ($16). They of course stock the local Bulrush Gin, but they also have an African gin from Uganda, Kakira, that was new to me. The service was casual, but very friendly and the atmosphere was simultaneously upscale and welcoming. There were couples, families, and even a few large groups. Lucky Rooster is a place everyone should go to.
2. Seafood Purloo at A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant
A year ago, I had never heard of purloo. Today I can’t imagine going to Hilton Head and not having it. Purloo, also spelled perloo and perlo, is a dish of the Gullah people, combining rice and shrimp. At Lowcountry, red rice is topped with succulent pan sautéed shrimp. Then they level up by adding smoked sausage, the same sausage they add to their award winning shrimp and grits.
The purloo is topped with the fish of the day, on our visit wahoo, a firm, meaty white fish. The fish is finished with a ranch sour cream and a sweet chili sauce. The price changes with the fish, but wahoo purloo goes for $35, pricy but absolutely worth it. Not only is Lowcountry’s purloo delicious, it is an exceptional example of Lowcountry cuisine and a chance to eat the food of the Gullah people. It isn’t something your are going to find many places so don’t miss it.
1. Local Shrimp at Hudson’s Seafood on the Docks
There is one dish I will never skip when visiting Hilton Head, peel and eat shrimp at Hudon’s. Steamed Local Shrimp in the Shell appears on their dinner, lunch, and brunch menus. You can get 1/3 of a pound for $10 or 2/3 of a pound for $17. Heavily seasoned in Old Bay and served with lemon and clarified butter, you might want to order it twice. Wash it down with their Lowcountry Lemonade, an enticing blend of peach whiskey and pink lemonade.
You don’t have to stop there. The shrimp po boy can be ordered blackened or fried, and if you are lucky you can find blackened shrimp tacos among the specials. Three flour tortillas each holding shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, chipotle sour cream, and four heavenly shrimp, are served alongside a tangy salsa verde. For sides, don’t pass up the 7 Day Slaw. It’s a simple blend of cabbage, onion, and vinegar, but it’s so famous that the recipe appears on the dinner menu.
There are plenty more shrimp dishes that I haven’t had a chance to try. And I bet some of their other dishes are great too, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to them. I’m still hoping to try dessert at Hudson’s but I keep eating so much shrimp that I have no room for the Brandy Bread Pudding.