Set in the heart of South Carolina lowcountry, Bluffton is a charming coastal city near Hilton Head and Beaufort, with much to offer. On top of plenty of things to do there are some amazing restaurants in Bluffton. It’s known for its rich cultural heritage, enchanting scenery, and thriving arts community.
However, a recent revitalization of the authentic cuisine of this region has left this idyllic little hamlet with an abundance of amazing eateries to explore. Discover delightful dishes everywhere from rustic cafes, to down-home neighborhood joints, to refined fine dining destinations. Below are the best Bluffton, SC restaurants.
The Best Bluffton, SC Restaurants
The Cottage Cafe
Located in the center of the historic Old Town, the Cottage Cafe is the cutest spot to go for afternoon tea, baked goods, and Southern eats. The atmosphere is cozy and quaint, set inside of a restored 1896 cottage making it one of the best restaurants in Bluffton, SC. The fare is creative with classic lowcountry flavor.
They’ve been around for over a decade, and the front porch has always been a favorite for al fresco dining in town. They offer many different menus, including one just for any furry friends. The Dirty Shrimp and Grits and the Heirloom Tomato Pie are some of the heralded plates to try.
This down home counter-service spot is well known among locals and visitors alike as one of the best restaurants in Bluffton, and rightfully so. Pro-tip, go early to avoid disappointment as they tend to run out of all the best-selling stuff quickly.
They use hickory wood to smoke the meat for eight to twelve hours each day at just the right temperature to ensure maximum flavor and tenderness. They use a dry rub and a secret sauce that really sets them apart.
Be sure to say hi to their mascot on the way in, Stitch the Pig! Usually dressed up in some funky fits, you can’t miss her. The Pulled Pork Sandwich has actually won awards and the Fat Bastard Plate is not for the faint of heart but is for fans of serious feasting.
The motto at Craft Kitchen is to savor the flavor, and they won’t have to tell you twice! It’s one of our favorite stops to enjoy a lovely and leisurely meal in Bluffton.
Famous for their charcuterie cheese boards, which come in either savory or sweet, it’s a delightful way to spend a day enjoying some snacks and a craft beer from their rotating taps.
For more hearty mains try the Fried Chicken Sandwich or the Fish and Chips. The menu is simple, but everything is so carefully and thoughtfully created here.
The Bluffton Room
Focusing on New American fare, the Bluffton Room is a modern yet rustic intimate space, including an open-air bar and patio. All the freshest ingredients are used to make a mouthwatering seasonal menu and table-side preparations add a special touch.
The eats are seriously elevated, and they also offer bar bites to pair with their handcrafted cocktails. The Faroe Island Salmon and the Veal Bolognese come highly recommended here. On Fridays, there’s a New Orleans-style lunch that’s so fun, complete with Creole creations and discounted martinis.
It’s the ideal experience for a nice night out on the town, just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time as it does tend to fill up fast.
Old Town Dispensary
The Old Town Dispensary is a lively tavern in the heart of historic downtown. It’s open late every day and often hosts fun community events like live music performances. They’ve got cornhole, fire pits, and even a farmers market.
The happy hour deals here tend to be the best around town, and the full bar is always stocked with craft beer on tap and creative cocktails.
They serve up all the classic pub grubs alongside some more unique cuisine like Gator Bites and Oyster Shooters. You can’t go wrong with any of the traditional Southern-inspired fare here such as the Sweet Tea Fried Chicken and the Beef Brisket Melt.
This bright and colorful cantina offers traditional Mexican fare that we can’t get enough of in the heart of the Old Town. All the staples grace the menu here, including tacos, burritos, empanadas, rice bowls, and best of all a truly impressive margarita bar.
The Ceviche Shrimp Stuffed Avocado is our surprise stand out and the more classic culinary feat is the Grilled Pork Belly Taco. What’s more is they offer Anejo, Blanco, and Reposado Tequilas, best used to make a Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita if you ask us.
Farm-to-table food in a quaint cottage setting, it doesn’t get much cuter than the Chicken Kitchen at Cahill’s Market. Family-owned and operated, they’re focused on lowcountry cuisine made with fresh and local ingredients. It’s comfort food served up home style.
The menu changes every day so there’s always something new to try, aside from their famous staple Fried Chicken, of course. The space feels like a celebration of the local spirit, with vintage decor covering the barn style walls and all surrounded by colorful flowers.
Be sure to check out the country store on-site before you go so you can take some fresh produce and handmade treats home with you!
May River Grill
- Price: $$$
- Cuisine: Seafood restaurant
- Address: 1263 May River Rd UNIT D, Bluffton (GPS)
- Website: See menu
May River Grill is an easy going spot for eclectic American grub. The atmosphere has a whimsical fish theme, and the brightly colored space feels vibrant and lively. Seafood is the main affair here, all locally and sustainably sourced. It’s a great choice if you happen to have any food sensitivities, there’s even an entire gluten-free menu available.
The Scallops Meuniere and Pete’s Crispy Duck stand out, though we always like to start with some oysters or crab cakes, as well. The wine list is extensive and well curated so there’s a perfect bottle to pair with any plate. You can also bring your own for a small corking fee.
Bluffton Oyster Company
Family run since 1898, this is a long standing legend of the city and one of the oldest companies in South Carolina. Set right along the stunning seafront, Bluffton Oyster Company has more to offer than just its impressive surroundings. It’s a lowkey eatery that offers fresh and local seafood in several forms. If you are looking for seafood, this is one of the best restaurants in Bluffton for you!
You can build your own steam platter or simply kick back with a cold one and a fry basket. Every oyster is harvested and shucked by hand. They also have shrimp, crab, mussels, scallops, and clams. They also cater for clambakes and lowcountry boils if you’re planning a more traditional feast for your time in Bluffton.
Bluffton Hidden Gem
The name says it all with the adorable treasure for tasty bites in Bluffton. It’s part of an old school cigar bar, which is part of the novelty. The menu is always changing, and is constantly full of innovative and craveable cuisines to try.
Everything from the Shaved Ribeye Cheesesteak to the Salmon Croquettes is cooked to perfection. They’ve certainly earned their rave reviews around town, and the front porch is lovely for a few drinks as well.
Local Pie Bluffton
For that perfect piece of pizza in Bluffton, Local Pie is the ultimate location. It’s the first and only authentic Neapolitan style wood-fired pizza available in the area. Everything is regionally sourced and super fresh and they strive to create a sense of community in everything from their sustainable practices to the staff to the atmosphere.
Order one of their classic pies, featured pies or build your own custom creation. They also offer freshly baked subs, calzones, salads, and starters any crust can even be made gluten-free. The Parma Princess tends to be our go-to here. If you are lucky you may even catch some live music during the week.
For fare perfectly balanced between Southern comfort and Tex-Mex, Chow Daddy’s always hits the (mouthwatering) mark. The space is informal and rustic, as the name implies, with repurposed light fixtures, warm woods, and plenty of plants. They have so many types of tacos, including Spicy Fish, BBQ Mushroom, and even Fried Chicken.
It feels very family friendly and still stays open quite late. There are gluten-free options and plenty of shareable plates that are just as good as the mains, like the Jalapeno Cornbread or Pork Nachos.
- Price: $$$
- Cuisine: New American restaurant
- Address: 1301 May River Rd, Bluffton (GPS)
- Website: See menu
A focus on community through food takes the forefront at Farm in Bluffton. It’s the epitome of rustic chic, and is one of the trendier New American picks for any foodie palettes in town. Every dish is seasonally inspired and locally sourced from farmers, fisherman, and artisan producers in the area.
They partner with a lot of local organizations, like the Bluffton Self Help program, and have even started their own non-profit for mental health in the industry called Rootstalk, which just makes eating here feel just as good for your mind as it does for your body.
Go for a guaranteed delightful dinner or Sunday Brunch, and you won’t be disappointed regardless of your order, though the four course Chef’s Tasting Menu is a magical experience here.
Truffles is a polished spot that feels more like a lounge than a cafe with its relaxed yet refined ambiance. It first opened in 1983 and has been owned and operated by the same family ever since. The menu is eclectic with something for everyone and the full bar offers classic cocktails and over 40 bottles of wine from all over the world.
It may sound simple, but the Tomato Dill Soup is to die for here, as is the French Onion and the Fried Coconut Shrimp. They also offer gourmet sandwiches and several seafood and meat entrees right off the grill.
Saigon Cafe is a casual eatery offering authentic and fresh Vietnamese fare. While the space is minimal, its surprisingly funky decor of green walls and black and white checkered floors offers a whimsical touch.
The menu is extensive to say the least, packed with all the iconic staples like Pho anyway you want it as well as an array of noodle and rice dishes.
There are a ton of vegetarian options to enjoy here. The Combo Crispy Egg Noodle and Spicy Basil Chicken are probably the most popular. You can wash it all down with a craft beer or traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee.
Alvin Ord’s Sandwich Shop
This is Bluffton’s (self-proclaimed) best sandwich shop, and we really must agree! You can get a small, medium, or large size and they all come with cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses. The Salvation is the true original here and easily the most famous order. Always be sure to check out the daily special for the best deal as well.
The namesake of the place first opened it in the 1970s, meticulously following family recipes passed down over generations. Then one day he was gone, vanished, reportedly off to join an order of Trappist Monks, leaving the shop in the hands of his nephews ever since.
This casual bar and grille feels familiar in all the best ways. It’s widely known for its rooftop deck, which offers sweeping panoramas looking out over the scenic surroundings.
Inside it’s a no-frills space that looks exactly like you would imagine the neighborhood watering hole. They have a happy hour daily, live music seasonally, and brunch on Sunday.
They offer a little bit of everything with apps from the sea and the land, burgers, fried seafood baskets, fish sandwiches, and salads. The drinks menu boasts a couple of cocktails and craft beers to enjoy as well.
The Pearl Kitchen
The Pearl Kitchen is commonly called Bluffton’s best coastal restaurant, both for the setting and the cuisine.
They serve up fresh seafood dishes in an idyllic front porch environment that feels perfectly South Carolinian. The boutique style bar mixes up refreshingly creative drinks, like the Lemongrass Martini and Lowcountry Sour.
It opens at 5pm each day, so it’s ideal for an evening of clean eating all the local catches of the day. Every plate is super contemporary, and designed to be a full sensory experience. The Pistachio Crusted Ahi Tuna and Lobster Thermidor will both blow you away.
Bricco Ristorante Italiano
Bricco boasts the best traditional Italian fare in town. The ambiance is warm and inviting in a way that’s refined for lunch or dinner. The Bocconici is an outstanding Antipasto start. From there go for one of the handmade from scratch pasta plates, like the Fedilini Maruzzella.
Anything made in their beautiful brick oven is sure to tantalize your taste buds as well. From the first bite you’ll feel transported right to Capri, but with all charms of good old fashioned Southern hospitality.
- Price: $$$$
- Cuisine: American, seafood
- Address: 41 Boat House St, Bluffton (GPS)
To indulge in some fancy fine dining in Bluffton, grab your most elegant evening wear and check out the Canoe Club at the Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort. The porch is picturesque with sweeping palm covered views and the arched wooden dining room engulfs you in an elevated atmosphere right away.
The Paella is a showstopper here, though the Foie Gras and Ahi Tuna and Crab Beignets also come highly recommended. The plates arrive at the table almost too pretty to eat every time, so no one will judge you for needing to snap a few photos before digging in. You’ll want to indulge in drinks and desserts here if you’re wise as well.