Have you ever traveled to your dining destination via a relaxing cruise with friends on a pontoon boat? Also known as ‘party boats’, these leisure vehicles are very popular in the south and allow for hours of fun under the sun with friends and family or cruising along just before sunset to take in the evening’s palate of colors. We recently accompanied friends on a ritual ride to Daufuskie (pronounced ‘duh-fuss-key’) Island in South Carolina ourselves and enjoyed a local eatery called Marshside Mama’s!
Part of the charm of Marshside Mama’s is just getting there. Accessible only by water if you don’t live on the island, our group left from one of the Hilton Head Island marinas and crossed the Calibogue Sound anticipating the traditional southern fare served here. Daufuskie Island is an undeveloped residential sea island located between Savannah, GA and Hilton Head Island, SC that still maintains its natural charm. Roughly eight square miles of southern tranquility, the island offers a lighthouse built in 1873, rare tabby ruins, historic graveyards and many more unique sites one can visit while here. Daufuskie Island happily welcomes visitors and tourists alike to tour the island.
I snapped several photos of the view on our serene boat ride from one island to the next. I really enjoyed the untouched attributes this island has to offer. Also serving as inspiration to local artists and writers alike, Daufuskie Island gained national recognition as the setting of Pat Conroy’s novel The Water Is Wide in 1972. Additionally, the island was named a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places due to its Gullah and Civil War history.
Once we docked our watercraft, we walked along the dock and arrived at Marshside Mama’s. Massive moss-strewn oaks hovered overhead and the view of the surrounding marsh was just stunning from our table. We met a few visitors and chatted with several locals we knew as well. After our party enjoyed a few refreshing cocktails, we were ready to dine at this casual boater-friendly locale.
The menu at Marshside Mama’s is simple. There are no frills here. But then again, there don’t have to be. The enchantment and fascination of the environment is enough extravagance for anyone. The above poster board sized sign is given to the table and passed around for diners to choose their selections. This menu changes daily, and offered us many items from Shrimp and Grits to fresh Carolina seafood choices to BBQ Baby Back Ribs.
How huge is this salad! This was great. Comprised of crisp lettuces, locally-grown tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, sliced carrots and a delectable vinaigrette, this basin of happiness was devoured in no time as we waited for our remaining orders to arrive…
Marshside Mama’s House Salad
The Spinach and Artichoke Dip was sensational. Creamy and lighter-tasting than other traditional dips of the same name, I literally could have eaten an entire bowl of this myself…
Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Behold…the BEST gumbo I ever remember having in my entire life! Having lived in the South for most of my life, that’s saying a lot. I’m not sure what went into this dish besides tender loving care, but whatever it was I would like the recipe please! Seriously.
When in the South, Shrimp and Grits are a popular favorite. There are several variations to this southern delight. This version above was by far one of my favorite preparations that I’ve had in a long time, however…
Marshside Mama’s Shrimp & Grits
The Grilled Mahi Mahi & Shrimp plate was another alternative. Cooked to perfection, this moderately-flavored flaky fish was enhanced with fresh jumbo shrimp, a side of white rice, a lemon wedge and garnished with a sprinkling of green onions…
Grilled Mahi Mahi & Shrimp
Goodbye, Daufuskie Island! Above, the wake behind our boat as we headed back to the Hilton Head Island marina as I watched Daufuskie island slowly disappear in the distance. Below, the evening’s approach as the sun began to set.
We really enjoyed our visit to Marshside Mama’s. It was nice to let our hair down, settle back and to not have to be concerned about just being ourselves with good friends, great food and the sound of the tide washing against the banks of Daufuskie Island.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The beachy decor will force you to relax and remember that you came here to do just that! Don’t expect white tablecloths and a sommelier’s wine suggestions because you won’t find that here. What you will find is a local boater’s abode with a friendly essence and an overpowering sense of island life. Plastic chairs and tablecloths at the tables, hovering southern oaks overhead, a couple of canines from local residents roaming around and a full bar attached to the main building all combine to equal one thing…fun! Don’t let the relaxed casual ambiance discourage you, because you would only be missing out a great and memorable experience!
- FOOD / DRINK: Marshside Mama’s offers a full bar and a southern-style menu with local favorites and traditional choices. You just can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here.
- LOCATION: Marshside Mama’s is only accessible by water for non-residents, and is located at 15 Haig Point Road on Daufuskie Island, SC 29915.
- HOURS: Don’t forget to call for reservations at this island eatery. Despite what you may think about it’s casual ambiance and laid-back feel, the restaurant does book up for lunch and dinner quickly due to it’s popularity. Closed on Mondays, Marshside Mama’s is open for lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 3 PM and on Sundays from noon to 5 PM. Dinner is served Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6 PM to 10 PM.
- SERVICE / STAFF: Efficient, friendly and they seem to enjoy what they’re doing.
- PRICE / VALUE: Price concerns are not an option here. We were very satisfied with what we paid for what we received.
- CORKAGE FEE: $15 per bottle.
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (843) 785 – 4755, Website: www.marshsidemamas.com. (Don’t forget to call ahead for reservations, to see what’s on the menu board and to check if there are any private parties going on before you visit.)
- PARKING: Just pull your watercraft up to the dock outside of Marshside Mama’s, tie up and forget about everything!
- TOTAL BILL: Our total bill came in just over $70 (including tax) for three main entrees, the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, a large salad for the table and a few drinks. Not bad at all!