The dapper dressing and debutante culture of Charleston does not extend out to Folly Beach, only 11 miles down the road. No way. Folly is funkier. The six-mile-long island of old and new beach houses, maritime forest, and the best surf in Charleston is where artists, fishermen, and vegetarians unite—elderly hippies, wahine surfers, and young skateboarders, too. Folly is for crowds in bikinis, t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. Busy Center Street has always had a line-up of bars with cheap beer, but finding a tasty plate of food on Folly used to be a tough task. Lately, the laid-back island has stepped up its food game. Food trucks cruise by with Asian and French specialties. And now you can get your shrimp and grits with an ocean view at Blu, gourmet pizza at the ‘Wich Doctor, or a black bean burger and Bloody Mary at the Lost Dog.
Lost Dog Cafe
Bring your pup to the Lost Dog Cafe and grab a seat on the beach house’s porch. They’ll have bowls of water waiting for Fido, but you might have to wait in line for the huevos rancheros or crab cakes if you don’t get there early enough, particularly on weekends.
The Drop In Bar & Deli
Sit under the surf art that covers the bamboo-lined walls, and order grilled grouper sandwiches in this narrow space on Center Street with a surfboard on the wall out front. Most nights you can also order spicy tuna rolls at the Sushi by Lisa booth, along with sake or a PBR.
Blu Restaurant & Bar
Overlooking the beach and the fishing pier, Blu is a champion of the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood program and it’s where local high school kids bring their dates to impressive them on prom night. Lined with windows, it’s part of the largest hotel on the island, Tides Folly Beach.
The ‘Wich Doctor
I’m willing to bet you’ve never had a white clam pizza before. At the ‘Wich Doctor on Hudson, it’s a thin-crust, Neapolitan revelation. The tiny take-out spot makes sandwiches, poboys, and pizzas in all kinds of interesting combinations, and also has indoor seating and tables on a red-painted deck.
Rita’s Seaside Grille
The shutters and wall-sized windows of Rita’s Seaside Grille are propped open when it’s warm outside, and the burgers come stacked high with all your favorite fixings. Meanwhile, live music is often being played on the patio, and there’s a West Coast surf town vibe—all within yards of the beach and pier.