Published by Angie. Last Updated on February 3, 2023.
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On our recent trip to Hilton Head Island, we had several meals on the water but the restaurant with the best combination of great food and beautiful views had to be The Old Oyster Factory.
Although this one sits on the inlet of Broad Creek and not along the ocean, we thought the ambiance and setting was just beautiful. Add in a delicious raw bar, wonderfully executed seafood dishes, and a solid wine list, and you have one of our favorite restaurants on Hilton Head Island.
The Old Oyster Factory is Popular for a Reason
The Old Oyster Factory sits quite literally on the location of an old oyster factory that processed and canned locally harvested oysters well into the 1990s. The views of Broad Creek are serene and picture-perfect, especially at sunset. The restaurant has outdoor seating (although not as much as I would have expected), but they do not accept reservations for outdoors (only inside).
We visited on a weekend during the near-peak dinner hour and were told it would be a 45-minute wait for an outdoor table, but that we could be seated right away inside. Our hunger pangs got the better of us and we chose to take the first available inside table.
Perusing the menus, we knew we had to first start with some selections from the raw bar. There were half a dozen or more different types of oysters, shrimp cocktails, ceviche, smoked salmon, and seafood towers. Although everything sounded wonderful, we decided to stick with a half dozen South Carolina oysters (2 each of 3 different kinds), and a shrimp cocktail.
Some of the oysters still had a bit of grit in them, but otherwise they were perfectly delicious with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of house cocktail sauce. Likewise, the shrimp in the shrimp cocktail were plump, fresh, and juicy.
Although the cocktail menu caught our eye, along with the all-local draft beer list, we ultimately had to go with a bottle of wine to pair with our seafood feast. The list is moderately sized with a mix of old world and new world wines by the glass. While there are plenty of popular regions and producers represented, we focused in on a few unique options from Hungary, ultimately choosing a Hungarian Chardonnay that had just the right amount of oak influence and butteriness.
Choosing entrees was the trickiest decision of the meal, as there were nearly a dozen seafood options. Did we want the cioppino brimming with shrimp, clams, mussels? The decadent-sounding blue crab cakes? Or a platter of crisp fried seafood? Ultimately we landed on the grilled grouper and the southern fried catfish. The grouper was cooked well, perhaps a touch on the dry side, but you could tell the fish was of excellent quality. It was served on top of a sweet and creamy pea risotto, bourbon-glazed carrots, and a sherry tomato butter that gave an accent of acidity and tang.
The fried catfish was also amazing with a crispy cornmeal batter and was served with rice studded with blue crab, collard greens, and a swoosh of sweet red pepper jam. It was an excellent display of contrasting flavors and textures. Both entrees left us wishing we had extra stomachs to sample some of the other seafood entrees!
Alas, at that point we were tapped out and had to forgo dessert, probably one of our only regrets of the meal. While many of the restaurants on Hilton Head and the meals we had while there were forgettable, The Old Oyster Factory stands out as an all-around winner in terms of atmosphere and well-executed, fresh seafood dishes.
The Old Oyster Factory is located at 101 Marshland Road in Hilton Head, SC. A large parking lot is available on-site but if you visit during peak dinner you'll do well to simply grab the first spot you see to avoid having to drive around a few times.
About the Author: Angie is a contributing author. She has been to nearly 60 countries and seeks out the best restaurants, bars, bakeries, and other unique food items wherever she goes- often with her husband, Jeremy.