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May 31, 2024

New Eats in the Lowcountry

Jesse Blanco

Photography By

M.Kat
There has been a flurry of new eats recently in the area, and some are incredibly popular already.

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It’s a running joke over here on my side of the Savannah River that any new restaurant that rolls into downtown Savannah every year sets their sights on being open by St. Patrick’s Day. That makes a lot of sense, of course, because it is the one week of the year where everyone in and around Savannah’s historic district sees the most green – literally and figuratively.

In and around Hilton Head Island, there’s also a “north star” that new businesses chase every year. They all want to be open “by Heritage,” the island’s annual PGA tournament that brings millions of dollars to the region every year.

There has been a flurry of new eats recently in the area, and some are incredibly popular already. One of them has yet to open but should be in full swing by the time the calendar officially switches to summer in mid-June.

Photo courtesy of Joelle 

Joelle, 132 Bluffton Road, Suite 100, Bluffton

Joelle is Bluffton’s latest entry into the Italian food scene. Robert and Breana DeLeo are the husband-wife team behind this good-looking neighborhood spot. The vibe is a little more on the casual side than I expected, but that’s not a negative. There is a lot of energy in the room and a beautiful bar space holding it all together. They offer salads, sandwiches, and pizzas for lunch. At dinner time, pastas and entrees are added to the mix. First impressions have been good across the board, which is a good start because you don’t need me to tell you that practically every single resident of Beaufort County is required to have their favorite Italian restaurant on speed dial.  

Jicama Salad at Madre and Mercado

Madre and Mercado, 890 William Hilton Pkwy., #74 (Fresh Market Shops), Hilton Head Island

I had been told several good things about Madre and Mercado in recent weeks. The brand new Mexican concept in the Fresh Market Shops on the island are brought to you by the same folks behind the very popular Jane on the island, as well as Beaufort’s Wren, so I had to try it. Full disclosure, it took a minute to pin it down. They had been open a month and I couldn’t find a website or a Facebook page, which I found odd. Once I finally made it over there, I found a simply gorgeous restaurant. From my seat, it is one of the prettier spots on the island – simply beautiful. I stopped in for a quick lunch of some chips and dips with a promise to return another time. I suspect Madre will do well. This is a restaurant built out with locals in mind, from décor to menu. The cocktail menu was intriguing. I’m looking forward to a return visit once they get rolling.

Interior of Madre and Mercado

Zunzi’s / Zunzibar, 8 Executive Park Road, Hilton Head Island

At one time, Zunzi’s was Savannah’s best hole-in-the-wall restaurant. The South African-themed sandwich eatery and bar has since gone the corporate route with locations beginning to pop up across the region – Tybee Island, Atlanta, and now Hilton Head Island. Work is ongoing at their new location off Pope Avenue. Zunzi’s offers a variety of sandwiches and salads, including their most popular sandwich, The Conquistador, which offers their roasted chicken, provolone, special sauce, plus lettuce and tomato. That sandwich has been named Best in Georgia more than once.  It’s something you should try at least once if you haven’t already.  

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