Back before I met Mandy, fell in love, moved to Hilton Head, proposed, and started a very wild journey to build Luna Shark, I worked in Savannah and Hilton Head for Westin Resorts (and we hope to see you at the Westin Hilton Head at our Cups Up to the Holidays Party on December 29th).

I lived in Savannah and commuted the hour or so between Savannah, Bluffton and Hilton Head, rarely stopping along the way to enjoy all the amazing cuisine that Bluffton and Hilton Head had to offer. I was a marketing guy who’s job it was to promote the area and activities so that people would stay at the resorts, but most of what we pushed to potential guests was internet research and rarely personal experience.

I rarely left the resort’s offices to explore this magical island or surrounding areas. I was a Savannah man, a “city mouse” and spent much of my younger days painting the downtown streets of Savannah red… or Green on Saint Paddy’s Day. While it’s only an hour away, life down in the lowcountry dictates that a ride greater than 25 minutes might be a stretch too far.

I lived in Savannah and so when Mandy and I started dating she would come visit me or I would come visit her and the adventures began. Mandy helped broaden my horizons and together we enjoyed her favorite places and discovered some of our own.

Much to my surprise – I LOVED every bit of what Bluffton and Hilton Head has to offer. Mandy and I created the list below and we hope you get to enjoy some of the places that are so special to us when you plan your next visit.

Hilton Head Island

Molto Bene Italiano: Pomodori Italian Eatery – If Pasta Is Your Love Language, You’ll Be In Heaven At Pomodori In South Carolina… It really is something special and Chef/Owner Amanda Cifaldi truly captures the flavors of Italy – one of Mandy and my favorite places to visit.

Taco’s Taco’s Taco’s: Cactus Street Cantina – If taco’s are your jam… then Cactus Street Cantina on the “North End” will be right up your alley. Its a delicious blend of traditional Mexican cuisine while also adding a twist of Island flavor to some menu favorites. The cozy atmosphere and welcoming ambience create the perfect setting for most any occasion. Mandy and I discovered it in the summer of 2023 and it’s now our go-to for those intense editing sessions.

Fancy Like: Bowdie’s Chophouse – If a venture capital firm ever knocks on your door to buy your business and offer’s to chat about prospects over dinner… Bowdie’s should be your swift reply. It’s cozy dining room on the “South End” boasts all the trimmings of a Hall’s or Mortons, but with personalized service and a better value. Not cheap, but for a special occasion or just drinks at the bar – Bowdie’s delivers.

For a Good time: Jarvis Creek General Store – At Jarvis Creek General Store, they pride themselves on being the go-to destination where tourists and locals come together to shop, eat, drink, and relax. When Mandy and I moved into our first house, we really wanted a neighborhood gathering place. Shockingly just a few months later, Jarvis Creek started transforming a former law office into one of our favorite places. It boasts giant outdoor TV’s for football, an impressive wine-by-the-glass program, wine tastings, amazing daily food trucks (shout out to Tin & Tallow), an awesome beer and snack selection, delta 8 seltzers, fine restroom accommodations, and an array of delicious popsicles and frozen treats. I’ll usually bike there every couple days to enjoy the sunshine and find something new and unique to enjoy.

Fresh From The Sea: Hudson’s Hilton Head – With a history dating back to 1912, Andrew Carmine now leads a tremendous crew of servers, chefs and fisherman. Parking is tight on high turn days, but there’s overflow in the adjacent lot. Mandy and I LOVE frequenting Hudson’s on a brisk sunny day in the fall and winter to enjoy heaping trays of local oysters. Softshell crab season happens quick, but we aim to visit Hudson’s every year to take advantage. Outdoor seating is especially welcoming at sunset.

Gourmet Trucks: Tin & Tallow – With fine dining roots and food-first culture, this family run food truck’s signature is using beef tallow instead of butter or oil. Reportedly better for heart health – its absolutely better for making out-of-this-world smash burgers and the most amazing fried chicken sandwich you’ve ever had. And their Parmesan Truffle Fries round out the easy to navigate menu. Tin & Tallow can often be found at the Jarvis Creek General Store (another great place on this list!).

For Brunch: Smokehouse – If its a Sunday and we’re not diving into a plate of award winning wings, burnt ends quesadillas or a bloody mary complete with perfectly smoked rib garnish, then please send help. This island staple offers a killer menu and full bar that can satisfy any hungry palate. Try the homemade BBQ sauces next time you’re in town and you won’t be disappointed!

Stay Well: Westin Hilton Head – The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa isn’t just a great place to stay, it also used to be the home of the “Trial Lawyers Convention” noted in Mandy’s book, Blood on Their Hands. The Westin Hilton Head is home to a variety of seasonal events (visit to learn more) and their newly renovated guestrooms and super cozy. Zero rooms face a parking lot and they have a super friendly team from restaurants, to housekeeping and beyond.

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa

Honorable Mention in Bluffton!

We’d be remiss to not mention these great places in Bluffton too!

Nueva Vallarta – It’s wild and amazing! My favorite is the Molcajete de Mariscos

Bluffton Room – Only open for evenings, this place has a Kale salad to die for…

Craft Kitchen – Great beers on tap and a super creative menu

Burnt Church Distillery – Very unique and well-designed distillery offering light fare and elevated cocktails

Farm – You can often find Mandy and I brunching at this amazing eatery in the heart of Bluffton’s old town.

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