"It doesn’t get much fresher than this Hilton Head Island mainstay, where 90% of the seafood served comes directly from the surrounding waters. Because of its enviable position on the edge of Port Royal Sound, guests can watch a local fishing fleet (one of only two on the island) unload the day’s loot, which could include anything from white shrimp to soft shell crab.
Order: From November through March, opt for the steamed local cluster oysters in the shell ($12 for a half bucket): The restaurant farms and harvests them."
Guests get to dine on succulent oysters, shrimp, soft shell crabs, and more—all delectably prepared for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Mimosas were the ideal brunch accompaniment to our Chargrilled Oysters starter with Cajun butter, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, lemon, and parmesan cheese.
Hilton Head is home to a diverse array of culinary styles, but the island’s coastal location has allowed it to excel at one particular type of cuisine—namely, seafood. In particular, Hudson’s Seafood House On The Docks has mastered the craft, providing local patrons with fresh, wild-caught fare since the 1920s. While the menu is packed full of tantalizing dishes including coconut shrimp, fried green tomatoes, and lowcountry boil, the restaurant is also renowned for its ideal location, providing diners with a gorgeous view of the water as they dine.
We loved the cuisine of each of the Lowcountry destinations, but Hilton Head was quite the surprise. Restaurants located on the island’s creeks and bays tout the freshest seafood and are not the typical touristy fare. Two of our favorites are Hudson’s Restaurant on the Docks and Skull Creek Boathouse. Not only do they offer incredible views, but their hushpuppies are divine, and if you’re there during soft shell blue crab season, you’ll be in heaven.
- Travel Pulse
Today, Hilton Head's rich cultural and natural history is evident in a tray of oysters at Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks, or in the sweetgrass baskets on display at the Coastal Discovery Museum . . . Dating back to 1967, Hudson's may be an institution, but it doesn't rely on tourists to keep business bustling. The forward-thinking restaurant doubles as an aquaculture operation, growing its own oysters and allowing the kitchen to source 90% of its seafood from the waters around Hilton Head. The laid-back vibe extends through the winding dining rooms and expansive outdoor porch. First come, first served.
- Travel & Leisure
"With miles and miles of white sandy beaches, biking trails, family-friendly resorts like the Omni Hilton Head, golf courses, and delicious Low Country cuisine (try the stuffed shrimp or fried oysters at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks), it’s no surprise our readers voted this southeastern getaway the number one U.S. island. "
- Conde Nast Traveler
"Watch the catch come in from a dockside table at Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks while sampling the absolute freshest shrimp served every which way, including New Orleans–style barbecued beauties."
- Southern Living
Andrew Carmines grew up checking in shrimp deliveries and bussing tables at his parents’ seafood restaurant, a busy dockside haunt on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
“A lot of oysters came through here,” says Carmines, who left the island for college and then a career in hospitality in California before moving back home in 2006 to work at Hudson’s. His return was as much the beginning of a new legacy as it was a continuation of the old; Carmines began looking into creative ways to ensure that, as often as possible, the seafood Hudson’s serves has spent mere hours out of the water, not days. What began with striking deals with shrimpers grew into shedding out soft-shell crabs on-site and forming a side business, Shell Ring Oyster Company, to farm his own oysters—and Carmines is just getting started.
- Coastal Living
In 2014, Andrew Carmines, owner and general manager of Hilton Head’s Hudson’s Seafood on the Docks was driving three hours a day to and from Lady’s Island, South Carolina, for fresh soft-shell crab.
Previously, he ordered from local seafood purveyors, who, gun-shy about shipping the freshest, and therefore most-delicate and perishable soft-shells, would instead ship the molted crabs after the new shell had begun to form. When customers at the time complained about the papery texture, Carmines decided to change the system at his restaurant.
So, he built a soft-shell crab nursery. And, like many love stories at the beach, this one starts with a large male strutting his stuff to the ladies.
Hudson’s Seafood House on the Dock is the perfect spot to bring your family and friends for a true Lowcountry dining experience. Hudson’s brings local, fresh seafood straight from their docks to your table by employing the largest fishing fleets on Hilton Head Island. If you are lucky, you’ll see a Hudson’s shrimp boat unload its catch; watch the sorting process as the shrimp make their way to the restaurant tables.
So, while you’re in Hilton Head, do as the locals do and head to Hudson’s on the Dock for some of the freshest seafood in the area.
- Low Country Oyster Trail
Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks lets their soft shell crabs take the spotlight with a specially crafted menu.
With the spring bloom comes our favorite short (but ever so tasty) season at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks: soft shell crab season! This year Hudson’s is serving a thoughtfully crafted, limited-time daily menu centered on their soft shell crabs. As the only restaurant on the Island with an in-house shedding operation, Hudson’s will have more than 10,000 tender crabs thanks to their tight quality control and detailed process of making these southern treats ready for you to dig in to!
- Island Packet
If you’re hankering for seafood, it doesn’t get much fresher than at Hudson’s, a dog-friendly restaurant right on the water. Grab a seaside seat with your pup on their dock, order up some fresh-caught oysters, shrimp or soft shell crabs, and settle in to catch the sunset.
Photo Credit: Rita Beltran