The authors enjoying scallops at Fat Patties. (All photos by Seldon Ink)

When we first saw the ad for “Off the Eaten Path: Port Royal” in Lowcountry Weekly, we were hungry to pursue it and happy to be in town the last half of August for the first helping of a concept we really hope they’ll repeat next year.

Held from August 17th to August 27th, this progressive culinary tour featured 11 participating establishments this year, with 11 unique offerings and a lot of variety. That gave us 11 days to complete it, which most definitely wasn’t a hardship for these two self-professed foodies.  The laminated “Port Royal Plate Pass” had space for checking off each stop and encouraged participants to use #PORTROYALFOODIE in their foodie photos on social media, giving them a chance to win a free gift card.

Some hotspots featured something that was already a favorite on their menu and others offered a new creation. Here’s a rundown in alphabetical order of what we (and many other participants) enjoyed:



*Carolina Cuppity Cakes: Mystery Cupcake (which was their tasty chocolate-y and mocha Pluff Mud cupcake the day we visited)

*Carolina Tavern: Pretzel Dippers (their fresh baked pretzels, rubbed in garlic butter and dusted with parmesan cheese and served with

Shellring, Harissa Chicken

yummy cheese sauce and honey mustard for dipping)

*Chef Frank’s Bistro: Grilled Swordfish (pesto crusted swordfish, roasted garlic and vegetable risotto, summer asparagus, and lemon butter)

*Fat Patties: Seared Sea Scallops (with roasted cauliflower puree, applewood smoked bacon lardon, and sundried tomato basil oilCHECK)

*Fish Camp on 11th Street: Calamari & Pickles (crispy fried calamari and dill pickles, lemon aioli, and spicy tomato sauce)

*La Nopalera: Sharkarita (a bright blue Port Royal-themed margarita)

*Madison’s: Shrimp and Grits (local shrimp, tasso ham, mushroom, and tomato in shrimp gravy over smoked cheddar grits)

*Sea Sea’s Honey Hole: Cuban Sandwich (a huge and tasty riff on a classic Cuban)

*Shell Ring Ale Works: Harissa Grilled Chicken (with Moroccan quinoa salad and green tahini and black garlic sauces)

Pretzel Dippers at Carolina Tavern

*The Smokehouse at Paris Avenue: Pork Loaded Fries (a huge helping of pork barbecue-smothered French fries, drizzled with barbecue sauce, shredded cheese, tomatoes and green onions)

*Toot Suite: Dessert for 2 (a special combo selection of macarons and allergen friendly desserts from Cappy’s)

We had already experienced nine of the participants many times, but Off the Eaten Path provided the impetus to revisit them and to try

Sea Sea’s Honey Hole Cuban Sandwich

several new (for us) offerings as well. It was thus our visits to Chef Frank’s Bistro and Sea Sea’s. We loved both and already plan to return (often).

Fish Camp, Pickles & Calamari

Some days, we completed just one stop; other days, we nailed two checks by making one stop our appetizer and the next stop our entrée; and on another day we even completed three stops in two hours (app, entrée, and dessert). Speaking of dessert, we enjoyed finishing off Toot Suite’s offering on August 27th to celebrate completion of Off the Beaten Pat (and Lynn’s birthday) on the final day.

The Off the Eaten Path concept came from the creative minds at the Beaufort Area Hospitality Association (BAHA), Visit Beaufort, Port Royal & the Sea Islands, the Town of Port Royal, and Nick Borreggine of Shellring Ale Works and Fat Patties fame. Ashlee Houck, president of BAHA, reports that they all wanted to celebrate Port Royal’s varied food and beverage offerings in a unique way, saying, “We got great feedback on the event and hope to have it next year.”

Sharkarita at La Nopalera

The concept was made possible with County ATAX Grant funding under the Activate Grant, an initiative brought on by BAHA to add activities to the area to promote economic activity and support local businesses. Sponsors included: BAHA; Visit Beaufort, Port Royal & the Sea Islands; the Town of Port Royal; and Beaufort County.

Madison’s, Shrimp & Grits

“Events like ‘Off the Eaten Path: Port Royal’ play a crucial role in celebrating and promoting local restaurants and eateries,” Ashlee says. “These small businesses not only help define a community’s identity, but also contribute to its economic stability. By supporting our local restaurants and eateries, we play a significant role in our community’s growth and wellbeing. We must continue to appreciate and celebrate our local culinary culture to help our businesses thrive and communities flourish.”

“Local restaurants aren’t just about the food,” Ashlee continues. “It’s about the people who prepare it, the atmosphere that surrounds it, and the stories that make every bite special. By venturing ‘off the eaten path,’ we’re not just exploring new dishes, we’re contributing to the economic vitality of our town. Every culinary experience we have at a locally owned eatery puts money back into our community, creates jobs, and helps to build a thriving culinary scene.”

For lunch one day, we started at the Carolina Tavern and enjoyed their pretzel dippers as an appetizer before heading to The Smokehouse at

The Smokehouse, Pork Loaded Fries

Swordfish at Chef Frank’s Bistro

Paris Avenue for their pork loaded fries and to Sea Sea’s for their huge and tasty Cuban sandwich.

For lunch another day, we shared Madison’s beloved version of shrimp and grits, which features local shrimp, tasso ham, mushrooms, and tomato and shrimp gravy over smoked cheddar grits. We also added a classic Caesar salad, which made for a perfect lunch to share.

For dinner one night, we started with calamari and pickles at the bustling bar at Fish Camp on 11th Street as our appetizer (accompanied by live music), and, for our entree, we strolled over to Shellring Ale Works for their flavorful harissa grilled chicken (accompanied by a cold beer for Nautical Light 98 wheat beer for Lynn, a crisp white wine for Cele (there wines are great, BTW), and a sublime Port Royal sunset).

Of the event, restauranteur participant Nick Borreggine from Fat Patties and Shellring Ale Works says, “Normally, when school starts, the local restaurant business slows down a bit. We wanted to create a fun new event for this slower season. It is always nice when the local restaurant community gets to work together.”

Tout Suite, Dessert for 2

It was most definitely a fun (and tasty) event and we’re so glad we were in town for this first

Cuppity Cake, Mystery Cupcake

helping of Off the Eaten Path: Port Royal. We can’t wait to see what’s on the menu next year.

For more about area food and beverage offerings, head to and





Beaufort-based travel journalists Lynn and Cele Seldon ( often cover culinary travel around the world and Lowcountry Weekly lured them to write a monthly feature covering the local food scene. This includes articles about restaurants, chefs, food-focused stores, farms, farmers, farmers markets, and more. They welcome suggestions for topics.