Most restaurant action in Mount Pleasant centers on the picturesque shrimping village of Shem Creek, which is dotted on both banks with bars and restaurants, most dealing in fresh local seafood. As with Murrells Inlet up the coast, some spots on Shem Creek border on tourist traps. Don’t be afraid to go where the lines aren’t.
Tasty Greek cuisine is the order of the day at the relatively new Samos Taverna (819 Coleman Blvd., 843/856-5055, Mon.–Thurs. 5:30–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30–11 p.m., $15), named after the Aegean island from whence one of the partners came. The decor is upscale, if the prices aren’t. Best thing to do here is sample several of the mezethes, or small plates. Don’t forget the octopus!
A well-regarded spot on Shem Creek is Water’s Edge (1407 Shrimp Boat Lane, 843/884-4074, daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m., $20–30), which consistently takes home a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its great selection of vintages. Native Charlestonian Jimmy Purcell concentrates on fresh seafood with a slightly more upscale flair than many Shem Creek places.
Right down the road from Water’s Edge is another popular spot, especially for a younger crowd: Vickery’s Shem Creek Bar and Grill (1313 Shrimp Boat Lane, 843/884-4440, daily 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m., $11–16). With a similar menu to its partner location on the peninsula, this Vickery’s has the pleasant added bonus of a beautiful view overlooking the Creek. You’ll get more of the Vickery’s Cuban flair here, with a great black bean soup and an awesome Cuban sandwich.
If you find yourself thirsty and hungry in Mount Pleasant after dark, you might want to stop in the Reddrum Gastropub (803 Coleman Blvd., 843/849-0313, www.reddrumpub.com , Mon. and Tues. 5:30–9 p.m., Wed.–Sat. 5:30–10 p.m.), so named because here the food is just as important as the drink. While you’re likely to need reservations for the dining room, where you can enjoy Lowcountry/Tex-Mex fusion-style cuisine with a typically Mount Pleasant–like emphasis on seafood, the bar scene is very hopping and fun, with live music every Wednesday and Thursday night.
For a vegetarian-friendly change of pace from seafood, go to the Mustard Seed (1026 Chuck Dawley Blvd., 843/849-0050, Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m., and 5–9:30 p.m., $14–18). The pad thai is probably the best thing on New York–trained Chef Sal Parco’s creative and dynamic menu, but you might also get a kick out of the sweet potato ravioli.
For a real change of pace, try The Sprout Cafe (629 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., 843/849-8554, www.thehealthysprout.com , Mon.–Fri. 6 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–3 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–3 p.m., $3–10) on U.S. 17. Dealing totally in raw foods, the obvious emphasis here is on health and freshness of ingredients.
You might be surprised at the inventiveness of their breakfast-through-dinner, seasonal menu—memorably described by the staff as “grab and go”—which might include a tasty crepe topped with a pear-and-nut puree and maple syrup, or a raw squash and zucchini “pasta” dish topped with walnut “meatballs.”