Pawleys Island Tavern
Because of restrictive signage regulations – technically called a Commercial Overlay Zone – designed to keep the Pawleys Island corridor on U.S. 17 from becoming the in-your-face neon overload that is Myrtle Beach, some businesses in the Waccamaw Neck commercial hub wind up being hidden. Locals don’t mind this, but it can be tricky for visitors. Case in point: If you don’t know where Pawleys Island Tavern is, you’d better enlist the help of a GPS navigation app – but that might not even do it.
Nestled in the woods behind the Island Shops, for years, the landmark to look for in finding the P.I.T. (as it’s affectionately known by regulars) was the Mole Hole gift shop – but that is now gone now, replaced by Lowcountry Jewelers. And it’s even harder to find the tavern now that a large roadside sign has been removed. The best advice is to look for Lowcountry Jewelers and the PIT’s bright green mailbox on the side of the highway. Once you turn in, you traverse a long dirt driveway and you’ll find the PIT, and accompanying tiki bar, nestled under live oaks, and other foliage. Whereas parking used to be kind of iffy, there is plenty of space now behind and beside the P.I.T.’s sprawling campus.
Funky, in a good way, is the best way to describe this place. It’s got a ramshackle feel, like a cross between a jukejoint you’d see in the movies and a typical seafood hut you might encounter on a Lowcountry creek. It is a super laid-back kind of place – a dive, if you will, but again, in a good way – with friendly service, and return customers who rave about the seafood-heavy munchables and ice cold affordable beer, including Myrtle Beach’s New South.
The main eye-catching decor is the dollar bill wall paper – actual dollar bills with messages scribbled on them adorning nearly every inch of the tavern’s paneling. In addition to the bar area, there is seating on the various porches – and when weather permits, you can go al fresco at the out-front Tiki bar, which has several nearby tables and chairs, underneath the Lowcountry vegetation. (And if you’ve had too many adult beverages, there’s a Creekside Cab Hotline phone on the back side of the Tiki bar.
Now, back to the food…One of the P.I.T.’s mottos scrawled on a folk art sign and repeated on the eatery’s Web site reads: “Home of Shrimp, Beer and Blues.” Peel-and-eat shrimp seasoned with Old Bay and butter is a favorite, but the tavern touts its crab cakes “made with secret spices,” which are available as appetizers ($9), lunch plate special ($10.95), sandwich ($11), or you can grab them to take home to cook ($9 per uncooked cake). Other specialties include a wide range of pizzas, lunch Blue Plate specials and signature pimento cheese sandwich.
For the adventurous, there’s the Psycho Burger, featuring the tavern’s pimento cheese, with chili, jalapenos, slaw, hot sauce and topped with an over-easy egg. Ouch!
During the day, the PIT can be a ladies-who-lunch type of place although extremely casual, but at night the PIT gets rocking with local and regional music acts, which definitely go beyond the “blues” tagline mentioned earlier, and include everything from local acoustic singer-songwriter types to a monthly local tribute to the Velvet Underground. The PIT is closed on Mondays, according to its Website.