The Little Restaurant That Could

by Apr 30, 2024Pub Scout, Restaurants & Bars

South Beach Grill might be small but it has been a big hit in Wrightsville Beach for more than 25 years.

South Beach Grill in Wrightsville Beach is not a big place. With just 14 tables inside (with a bunch outside if weather permits), and a bar that’s smaller than most in private homes, the first-time customer could be forgiven for not being aesthetically wowed. Though the fact that South Beach Grill exists at all is the stuff of legend.

Wedged between two larger buildings on South Lumina Drive in what the restaurant calls “our island paradise,” the restaurant almost looks like an afterthought, and in some ways, it was. The building has been through many iterations, starting as a cottage in the 1930s, then becoming a bank (the first with a drive-thru) and a variety of dining establishments.

Wrightsville Beach South Beach Grill

It even had to withstand the slings and arrows of a capricious Mother Nature, when in 1996 it was devastated by two hurricanes, and then the juggernaut called Hurricane Florence passed directly over Wrightsville Beach to deliver the knockout blow.

Undeterred, the owners completely renovated the building, paying homage to the WB community that helped them in many ways.

For the past quarter-century, South Beach Grille has been catering to not only a faithful local clientele, but also a large number of tourists.

South Beach Grill Wrightsville NC

Executive Chef Michael Overman, who has deep roots in the area, has a menu with offerings that quite simply will knock your socks off, regardless of your food preferences.

From his cornbread (actually his mother’s recipe, chock full of actual corn) to succulent seafood dishes to short ribs, steak and chicken, Overman takes deserved pride in his menu. What’s more, Southern hospitality comes with every dish.

Fried Shrimp

My team was impressed. The cornbread began the show to rave reviews, and the ceviche, made with swordfish on this night, was killer. My pal Lisa could not say enough about her Grouper Linda, the missus raved about her Maker’s Mark Salad (made with Bourbon and Honey dressing) but waxed poetic over her Benne Shrimp (which, after sampling, I confess, almost made me regret not getting it).

South Beach Grill Salad

Almost. My Shrimp and Grits, prepared the Overman Way, was simply outstanding. Mike tells a funny story about being beset by “the villagers with rakes, hoes and pitchforks” when he altered the dish from its original iteration. “But that’s the Shrimp and Grits I grew up with, and that’s what I wanted to share,” he says. He’ll get no garden-tool complaints from me.

Seafood Stack

Apparently, he also grew up under the watchful eye of his grandmother, Betty Lou “Mollie” Shearin, who besides being a good cook herself, had the distinction of being named the very first Miss Raleigh in 1948. Mike confesses that he still has many handwritten recipes dating back to the 1940s.

Dr Sonny and Betty

While that might be before our time, dear reader, we can still savor the flavor of good old Southern cooking, as well as the delights of a varied menu, at South Beach Grill. Reservations are not mandatory but given the capacity of the “Little Restaurant That Could,” it wouldn’t hurt to make one anyway.

Parking can be tricky at times, but the food is well worth any effort you’ll need to make.

And, like us, you’ll be back.

Want to go?
South Beach Grill
100 S. Lumina Avenue, Wrightsville Beach
(910) 256-4646

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