6 International Restaurants – Around the World in Myrtle Beach

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Chef Hart holding bowl of freshly tossed gnochhi in red sauce

You can go around the world with food in Myrtle Beach’s international restaurants. In an area known for fresh seafood dishes, chefs also serve international foods from one end of the Grand Strand to the other. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has over 2,000 restaurants – many specializing in traditional seafood dishes – the original sea-to-plate! Myrtle Beach has more restaurants per capita than Paris.

Let me “math” it for you. If you went to a different restaurant every day, it would take you five and a half years to try them all. I’ll never manage it, not just because I couldn’t afford it, but because my favorites call to me; over and over, I go back, secure in the knowledge that every time will be as good as the first. There’s a lot to be said for consistency. I want to share some of my favorites with you, and please indulge me as I tell you what you simply have to eat. I’m just trying to save you from the trial-and-error method of finding great food in the best restaurants. *smile*

International Restaurants in Myrtle Beach start with Café Old Vienna

Café Old Vienna specializes in traditional German soul food and serves it in an authentic German-Austrian alpine lodge. Michael and Petra Jerabek opened a tiny place in an old strip mall back in 2001 with the help of Petra’s nephew, Werner. He and his wife Martina, trained chefs, left Germany for Myrtle Beach to help with the new family business. Nine years later, the couple bought out the first generation, and international Cafe Old Vienna became one of Myrtle Beach’s second-generation restaurants.

Five years later, the popular restaurant needed a bigger space, so it moved to 1604 North Kings Highway (locals will remember it as the Village Inn Pizza, among other things).

Menu highlights at this international restaurant—a local favorite for over a quarter-century—include Veal Wiener Schnitzel, Sauerbraten, Gulash, Pierogies, Spätzle (made fresh daily), and a scrumptious Apple Strudel. The German and Austrian dishes have a French flair and are integrated with local seafood.

The café has a shaded beer garden to enjoy happy hour menu options year-round. They offer a variety of beers, including German beers and wines, and a full bar, so there is sure to be something for everyone in your group.

They serve an early afternoon menu from 2 to 4 p.m., seamlessly transitioning into a happy hour menu and dinner items. Be sure to inspect the dessert case by the door as you enter so you know how much space to allocate for sweets.

Cackalacky Fish Company

Cackalacky is known for selling fresh seafood that customers take home to cook themselves. But they also have a counter for food cooked to order, with various sides. Ask William what he thinks you should try (blackened or grilled triggerfish if he has it!) Don’t skip the grouper bites or the hush puppies! And that butter served with the hush puppies? Please don’t say I didn’t warn you about using your finger to get the last of it! But leave room for William’s homemade Key Lime Pie! Oh, so good!

Southern staple dishes that I love are fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and collards. And there’s the traditional dishes like sweet potato fries, mac and cheese, and roasted red potatoes…you get the picture. Nothing spells comfort food like Southern sides. Now, you may not think of Southern foods as anything but “country” or “soul,” but this southern gal can tell you that many of those foods came right from Africa with the Gullah people…international restaurants? Check!

Cackalacky is easy to find. It is on the main road across Highway 17 from the roller coaster and Merry-Go-Round at Family Kingdom Amusement Park.

Hart’s Café and More

Hart’s is a chef-owned and operated restaurant offering everything from breakfast coffees and fresh-baked pastries to restaurant meals to cooking classes. Classes range from knife skills to sushi rolls, from gnocchi to perogies. Hart’s Café is a great place to learn new skills. I made gnocchi in my class and brought home enough dough for two more batches. As good as the red sauce was, I admit that my browned butter and sage sauce melted in my mouth. Washing it down with a favorite white wine just added to the giant smile on my face.

If you love to eat, you have to learn to cook!

Chef Hart’s German heritage shows in his cooking, while his wife Doreen loves the bakery side of the kitchen. Her sugar cookies are creamy and browned perfectly, with the crisp crunch I love. Appropriately named “café and more,” the “more” indicates cooking classes and even an edition of Cooking with Hart, a cookbook with lots of Chef’s secrets disclosed.

Hart’s Café and More is the new kid on the block, but the talented owners have years of culinary training and experience and will be here for many years.

The Search for the Best Bloody Mary

My friends (not-bloody) Mary, Bill, and I went in search of the Best Bloody Mary at the beach. Fortunately for us, Murrells Inlet’s Wicked Tuna and Tito’s Vodka put on a springtime fundraiser where you can sus out the best of the best in one day and vote for the winner.

Around here, bartenders pride themselves on making a tasty drink that can also be an appetizer. A couple of these, and you can call it lunch. Local creators top Bloody Marys with Ahi Tuna, Shrimp, Bacon-wrapped Scallops, BBQ, and whole Crawfish.

Villa Romana

Villa Romana Italian Restaurant has presented authentic Italian cuisine on one of the most exciting menus in Myrtle Beach since it opened in 1985. Owners (and chef) Rinaldo and Franca use local ingredients in their dishes and make their pasta in-house. For many Americans, Italian is probably one of the first international restaurants they experience. Most dishes at Villa Romana come from traditional family recipes handed down from generation to generation, and inspiration from Mamma Lucia’s recipes is always mentioned. Dishes are by native Italians, and it shows. Rather than piped-in music, diners enjoy the talented Michael Del Gardo on the accordion.

The nightly soup choice, the Stracciatella (Roman-style Wedding Soup), is always tasty. Of course, by the time you finish the soup, bread, and antipasti, you may wish you had planned to share an entrée to be sure you have room left for cannoli—who am I kidding? There’s always room for cannoli! I have difficulty resisting ordering the eggplant parmigiana, but occasionally, I succeed and try something new.

In an industry that sees 60% of new restaurants fail in their first year and 80% of those that remain close their doors by the fifth year, forty years (next year!) is a real cause for celebration. And in a beach area, you have to stand out to attract locals, who keep you in business through the winter months. Villa Romana has stood the test of time.

Man playing an accordian at one of Myrtle Beach's Italian international restaurants
Talented Michael Del Gardo entertains nightly at Villa Romana, one of Myrtle Beach’s historic international restaurants

Pho Claire

Pho Claire is a Vietnamese noodle house specializing in traditional Vietnamese fare, such as savory soups, noodle dishes, and rice dishes. Popular options here include pho, noodle soups and bowls, banh mi house sandwiches, fried rice, and stir fry. Diners can wash it all down with bubble tea, Vietnamese iced coffee, smoothie, or a selection of beer and wine options, including Mimosas and Sangria.

The Spring Rolls come with a fresh peanut sauce for dipping. Rolls are available in various flavors, but the grilled shrimp called my name on this visit. The Hoanh Thanh Mi Kho (noodle soup with egg noodles, wontons, pork, shrimp, fried garlic, lettuce mix, and bean sprouts) was filling, delicious, and big enough to feed two or three people. The Pho with Rare Beef and Brisket was a treat, too, and barely left room for the Vietnamese Donuts, which arrived with strawberries, bananas, whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate syrup.

The food was fresh and different, which will keep me coming back, but waiter Austin is the real reason to return. He clearly loves his job and happily shares his food knowledge with customers. And he’s a pretty good photographer with a phone, too.

Surfside Charlie’s – the Cheers of Surfside Beach!

Nightly specials, happy hour appetizers, drink specials, and live music keep locals returning to Charlie’s week after week. Their self-proclaimed description is “Good food, good drinks, good people.” They’re right on all counts. The restaurant has frequent fundraisers to help others in our area who are struggling.

The pulled pork sliders are yummy, and I always look forward to Friday’s Prime Rib special. I’ve stopped in for an appetizer and ended up eating two or three and calling that dinner.

A huge slice of Prime Rib on plate with roasted  and broccoli
Surfside Charlie’s may not be one of the international restaurants, but when the slice of Prime Rib doesn’t fit on the plate, well…

International Restaurants in Myrtle Beach Attract Foodies and Students

Myrtle Beach has a progressive community college, Horry-Georgetown Technical College. Besides the expected educational programs of study like the Business Department, where I taught many moons ago, HGTC has an excellent Culinary Arts school, the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach. The students learn and train in restaurant industry operations like café service, buffet operations, and fine dining. To achieve all this, students operate the Fowler Dining Room, where you, too, can be a test subject. Besides, with 2,000 area restaurants, someone is always hiring on the right career path!

Myrtle Beach is an undisputed top tourist destination—I mean, 20 million visitors a year can’t be wrong—but it has also become a foodie destination in its own right. So, on your next visit to The Beach, as we call it, enjoy dinner in another country after a day of fun in the sun and surf, or playing putt-putt.

My list is just a starting point! Diners seeking international restaurants from Armenian to Vietnamese can find them along the Grand Strand, but to get the complete A to Z experience, for the Z, you’ll have to venture all the way to Charlottesville, Virginia, in search of Zweli’s for Zimbabwean food. A South African-inspired eatery in Myrtle Beach may have a similar flavor profile–I’ll update you next time!

Podcast on A Taste of Myrtle Beach in Fabulous Local International Restaurants

Click here to listen to the Jo Goes Everywhere! monthly podcast. You can download and enjoy listening at your leisure.

Plan Your Next Trip!

For more exciting vacations, try these locations! Plan a trip to South Carolina’s Georgetown, a visit to New York City, or take off on a road trip to visit beautiful Yadkin Valley Wineries.

2 Comments

  1. Mary

    So informative. I can’t wait to try some of these restaurants.

    Reply
    • Jo Clark

      Thanks, Mary

      I think you’ll enjoy all of these – and a lot have GF options!

      Reply

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