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Monday,  July 22, 2024   4:43 PM
Getting a taste of Myrtle Beach's culinary scene

While the warm weather and many golf courses ensure Canadian travellers will keep coming to Myrtle Beach, developments in the region’s culinary scene are giving tourists another attraction to sink their teeth into.

As the busy summer season gears up, representatives from the destination were visiting the Canadian travel trade this week with Chef Brian Sonoskus and mixologist Tyler Alford of the Tupelo Honey Café, a restaurant serving “made-from-scratch” southern food, with a focus on local ingredients. The restaurant, based in Asheville, North Carolina, opened its Myrtle Beach location at the popular Market Common shopping district in March. The 743-square-metre eatery features 270 seats and a full bar, complete with outdoor seating. Onsite mixologists create custom cocktails, while a unique selection of craft beer from the state – along with premixed versions of cocktail standards like gin & tonic and whiskey sours, poured from a tap – are also on offer.

While Sonoskus and Alford had to return early to the new restaurant, Susan Phillips of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce told PAX that the establishment has seen a packed house every day since opening, as locals and visitors alike line up for a table.

“When they opened up, there was a line outside the door,” Phillips said. “Until now, we didn’t have a true Southern cooking restaurant, but there’s more to it than that – Chef Sonoskus brings different influences in the cooking, from Asian to Cajun, while keeping that Southern core.”

The new restaurant is part of what Phillips describes as a culinary explosion in the destination, now boasting 1,800 restaurants offering every form of cuisine imaginable. Food has long been a part of the region, she explained, from South Carolina’s seafood capital of Murrels Inlet (where tourists can visit oyster beds and see where their food comes from firsthand) to the former rice plantations, many of which have seen their homes converted to golf course clubhouses, Philips explained.

Kimberly Hartley of the Myrtle Beach CVB described the regional culinary style as ‘coastal Carolina cuisine’ – southern cooking with a focus on local ingredients such as seafood, peaches and pecans. Combined with food and beverages is a unique Southern charm and hospitality, Hartley said, found throughout the destination.

“It’s homey, cozy and hearty food, and we’re fortunate in the area that we have so much local fresh fish and seafood,” she said.

Murrels InletOf course, there’s more to Myrtle Beach than just the food.

According to Hartley, Myrtle Beach welcomed 1 million Canadian tourists in 2014, drawn by both the destination itself as well as its proximity and affordability. Commemorating those ever-increasing numbers, the annual Canadian American Days – a celebration of welcoming Canadian visitors during a 10 day festival offering CAN AM Days Deals – will return for its 55th year in 2016, Hartley said, featuring a wide range of activities, many free-of-charge, Hartley said. Also returning in the autumn shoulder season is the 60 More Days of Summer promotion offering various travel deals.

“It doesn’t what matter your age or experience is,” Phillips said, “because from four to 94, there are ways that everyone can enjoy this destination.”

Things to see and do in 2015

Dinosaurs: The Exhibition

This interactive educational experience will feature 25 animatronic dinosaurs, some life size, as well as programs such as “Dig a Dino” where kids can find real dinosaur fossils, a Dino Movie Room and T-Rex Fun House. Visitors can also sit on top of a life-sized T-Rex or Triceratops.

Thunder and Light: New Show at Calvin Gilmore Theatre

All That!, the nationally renowned clogging group formally on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, has added a new exclusive show to The Carolina Opry’s live entertainment options. Directed by Jeffrey Gilmore, the show will include exclusive, original choreography by All That!, interviews and background on the group, and the same multi-colored 5-laser show that toured with Pink Floyd and Madonna.

Ripley’s Aquarium

This year, a major expansion will include a larger lobby and three new exhibits with an additional 557 square-metres added to the facility and an upgraded ticket area and plaza with completion by June 2015.  A slime exhibit, a jellyfish exhibit and a new glass bottomed boat ride in the reef exhibit are part of the expansion.

Festivals galore

Special events take place throughout the year including Beach, Boogie BBQ over Labor Day weekend, the 68th Annual Plantation Tours, 32nd Annual National Shag Dancing Championship Finals, Carolina County Music Festival, Coastal Uncorked, 43rd Annual Art in the Park…just to name a few of the hundreds of special events, which can be found at www.grandstrandevents.com.

Getting there

WestJet service from Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) to MYR runs until Oct. 22, flying Thursdays and Sundays.  WestJet Vacations offers full packages with air and accommodations. 

Spirit Airlines offers Canadians cross-border options with seasonal non-stop service to Myrtle Beach each spring, summer and fall from Niagara Falls, NY, Plattsburgh, NY and Detroit, MI.

Porter Airlines’ service from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) to Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) concludes for the season on May 18 and will resume next year.

PHOTO: Kimberly Hartley, Canadian account manager, Myrtle Beach CVB; Susan Phillips, director of marketing, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

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