Pet Friendly Hilton Head Restaurants

"Dog friendly" sign at Bistro 13

Dog friendly patio at Bistro 17

Hilton Head is meant for dog lovers.  What with their gorgeous pet-friendly beaches and nice dog parks, we weren't surprised to find that many restaurants are also pet friendly.  We ate at three that are worth mentioning:

Our Favorite: Black Marlin Bayside Grill

Black Marlin Bayside Grill

Black Marlin Bayside Grill

The word "patio" does not even begin to describe the vast outdoor space with tiki bar and tables facing the water that is the patio at Black Marlin Bayside Grill.  Most of the restaurant patrons were outside, either at the bar or the tables, enjoying the weather under the shaded trees.  (Keep in mind that sand flies and june bugs are common in Hilton Head; we wished we  had put on bug spray before leaving the hotel.)  The bar and restaurant were obviously pet friendly as there were several other dogs at Black Marlin, from a tiny chihuahua to a tall Weimaraner. 

Chewy and Abby at the restaurant

Chewy and Abby relaxing at Black Marlin Bayside

Service was, in a word, fantastic.  We never waited for water or our food and I think every waitress at the restaurant stopped by to pet Chewy and Abby.  They brought out a water bowl for the dogs and a small bowl with Milkbone treats. 

Panko crusted mozzarella

Panko crusted mozzarella

Tilefish at Black Marlin Bayside Pasta

Our meal at Black Marlin Bayside Grill

We shared gooey panko crusted fried mozzarella, which was better than the usual version because the panko added a thick crispy crust.  Patrick had the grilled local tilefish, with a dungeness crab and avocado salsa, doused in a spicy chile sauce, with a creamy yucca puree and crisp Mexican style corn on the cob.  I had the Primavera Pasta with shitake mushrooms, snow peas, spinach, sundried tomatoes, and goat cheese tossed with angel hair pasta.  Everything was delicious and it was, without a doubt, our best meal in Hilton Head.  It is a bit on the pricey side . . . but, frankly, everything in Hilton Head is expensive so don't go there unless you're willing to shell out a bit of money.

The Cheap Option: Main Street Cafe & Pub

Chewy at Main Street Cafe

Chewy eyeing a sandwich at Main Street Cafe & Pub

Main Street Cafe & Pub is fine.  Just that.  It's not bad by any means but rather a fairly standard cafe with decent food, a decent patio, and nothing particularly exceptional.

Main Street Cafe & Pub

Seating at Main Street Cafe

The patio area overlooks the parking lot of a grocery store so the views are, understandably, uninteresting but, the space is quite large with ample space for our dogs to settle down.

Chowder fried green tomato sandwich

Seafood chowder and fried green tomato sandwich

The Disappointment: Bistro 17

Patrick had their "famous" seafood chowder and the fried tilapia melt and I had the fried green sandwich.  Meh.  They were fine but nothing to write home about.  On the plus side, the pricing was quite good, especially compared to many of the price-gouging restaurants in Hilton Head.

View from Bistro 17

View from Bistro 17 Patio

My first reaction to Bistro 17 was Wow.  I have rarely come across a more stunning patio. 

Bistro 17 Patio

Bistro 17 Patio

Set directly on the water, overlooking yachts and power jets, the Bistro 17 patio is enclosed and heated in the winter, and opened up in the summer.  A "Dog Friendly" plaque greets visitors at the patio and when we sat down, the waitress brought Chewy and Abby water and treats in hand-painted ceramic bowls.

Bistro 17 water bowl

Bistro 17 Dog Menu
Puppy dinner at Bistro 17 Puppy meal at Bistro 17

Dog bowl, dog menu, special beef and rice meal, and Chewy eating it


It got better, though.  I knew beforehand that Bistro 17 offers a special "Puppy Menu" which I requested (actually, the waitress seemed surprised I asked for it), and ordered Chewy a Beef and Rice meal and Abby a Turkey and Rice meal.  The meals are prepared by Lucky Dog Cuisine, a local purveyor of fresh high quality dog food, and their meals are served in several other restaurants in Hilton Head, as well.  Chewy and Abby gave four enthusiastic paws up to the meals.

Brie en croute

Spinach crepes at Bistro 17

Steak en croute

Our meal at Bistro 17

Unfortunately, we were not as impressed with our selections.  Of the three items we ordered, the only one we enjoyed was the brie en croute with a berry sauce.  My spinach crepes were ordered from the lunch menu because they did not have any dinner vegetarian selections.  Cheese clogged the crepes and the spinach was barely presented in the dish.  Patrick's steak en croute was very thin and overdone, and the truffle fries didn't have any passing resemblance to truffles.

It's really too bad because this restaurant has excellent potential in pet-friendly Hilton Head.  We hope they continue to work on improving their people food so it matches the service and food given to our pups.


Black Marlin Bayside Grill
Located dockside at Palmetto Bay Marina
86 Helmsman Way, Suite 103
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Main Street Cafe & Pub
1411 Main Street
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

Bistro 17
17D Harbourside Lane
Shelter Cove Marina
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

06/30/2011 12:16
Karen Magno
We have a 7 year old blonde American Cocker Spaniel whose name is Charlie. We would love to stay in pet friendly hotels but Charlie does not left to be left behind and yelps quite lowdly and it sounds like he is in distress. I was wondering if you have experienced this with Chewy? If so do you have any recommendations? Love your blog!
06/30/2011 12:53
Karen: Chewy used to have TERRIBLE separation anxiety so we couldn't leave him at hotels alone. We've heard that separation anxiety is a major problem for Cocker Spaniels, in general. When he was young, he wouldn't even let us leave him at home alone without crying nonstop. We spent quite a bit of time training him out of it.

(1) We started at home where he was comfortable. We gave him a treat, said "Ok, we'll be back soon," and walked out the door (we used a door that was not glass so he couldn't see out.) Then we stayed outside until he stopped crying, immediately returned once he stopped crying/barking and gave him another treat so that he would associate NOT barking/crying with receiving attention and a treat. We practiced this for almost two weeks until he didn't start barking/crying when we left.

(2) Then, we did the same thing in hotel rooms. We *always* bring something comfortable and something both Chewy and Abby associate with home when we travel --- usually a blanket they both like or a toy. We left and waited for him to stop crying/barking, returned immediately, and gave him a treat. It was a lot easier to train him at the hotel because he had gotten over the separation anxiety at home.

All that being said, even now, when we go to hotels, he will often bark for 30 seconds or so when we leave and we'll stand outside and make sure he stops crying/barking before we leave because we don't want to annoy the guests. Usually, he plops down after 30 seconds and sleeps. :)

Good luck with training your dog! Cocker Spaniels are so affectionate that I think they hate to be without us --- it's what makes them so lovable, right?
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07/07/2011 13:35
Yes we love Charlie to pieces. Thanks for the tips!
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06/09/2013 10:42
I had the same proplem with Pepe..a cocker..I would hire a babysitter when necessary
07/21/2013 16:52
Thanks Karen! Chewy does have some separation anxiety, too, but we've been able to (mostly) train him out of it. We try to make each hotel room very "homey" by bringing his familiar blanket, toy, and food bowls to each place. Then, we usually spend the first hour or two just hanging out in the hotel room so that the dogs can get used to the place and the smells. Once it looks like he's settled in, we'll go out for dinner or wherever. We always stand right outside the door and make sure that he isn't yelping before we leave. If he yelps, then we immediately walk back in, calm him, and then walk back out again. Usually, a few times is enough to get him completely calm. However, on the rare occasion, we've had to cancel dinner plans or we've had to eat one at a time to make sure he's not barking/yelping. It takes patience to train cockers out of the separation anxiety so I wish you lots of luck!
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Akila writes. Patrick takes photos. Chewy eats. Abby runs. We live, love, and travel in this world.
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