As Johns Island locals, we’ve spent a lot of time around the table at Johns Island restaurants. From five-star French cuisine to farmstand joints specializing in fresh catches, we’ve tried them all, and we’re here to dish on what we’ve learned. Read on to discover our top five favorite Johns Island restaurants.
You might recognize this French favorite from its TV appearances: it’s been featured on nearly a dozen shows from Food Network to the Travel Channel. The first solo venture of Chef Fred Neuville, The Fat Hen serves up French fare with a healthy dose of Southern flair. Mouths water for the coq au vin, but also for the fried green tomatoes, and an extensive wine list means you’ll find a pairing for whatever cuisine you choose.
It’s a beloved spot not just for dinner but also for Sunday brunch (think corned beef, duck, and apple sausage gratin). What many guests like about Fat Hen is the city-worthy dining in a Southern farming community. The food is world-class but the ambiance is low-key—and the new Fat Hen Coop offers a tree-shaded spot to sip a cold coffee or signature Fat Hen Buckshot if you’re waiting for a table.
The rustic-chic Wild Olive specializes in traditional Italian dishes made with local Lowcountry ingredients. The result is delicious in its simplicity: pastas like ravioli with roasted apple and ricotta or baked penne with sweet sausage, and hearty entrees that range from pork saltimbocca rollatini to seared sea scallops.
Between the fantastic fare, the wine list that leaves no corner of Italy unrepresented, and the warm and professional service, it’s easy to see why Wild Olive has become a cult favorite among locals and tourists alike. Our big tip: don’t skip the appetizer. If you’re hankering for seafood during your time on the coast, you’ll love the charred octopus. Otherwise, opt for the signature marinated warm olives.
Nestled in the Stono Market of the Ambrose Family Farm, The Tomato Shed is the place for a farm-fresh dish on Johns Island. The menu changes with the season, but the chef’s specials skew towards seafood: you can expect offerings like seared wild Scottish salmon, North Carolina wahoo, and whole roasted rainbow trout.
But the sides themselves are enough of a reason to visit this down-home favorite. Veggie lovers will delight in inventive options like local roasted baby squash with pomodoro sauce and goat cheese and roasted baby turnips and greens topped with pomegranate seeds.
El Mercadito & Taqueria
This strip mall Mexican spot doesn’t look like much from the street—but we’d argue it’s among the best Johns Island restaurants. If you’re looking for a spot to wash some traditional Mexican favorites down with an ice-cold margarita, El Mercadito & Taqueria can’t be beaten. It also fits the bill if you’re looking for a low-price option for takeout—it’s just minutes from the Angel Oak, so stop by and pick up lunch to bring back to your vacation rental.
The menu is packed full of the classics, from enchiladas to quesadillas to chiles relleno. Not sure which Mexican dish suits your taste buds? Come during lunchtime on a weekday to discover a new favorite at the all-you-can-eat buffet.
The Royal Tern
Looking for a restaurant where kids are welcome and the food is still worthy of a gourmand? Look no further than The Royal Tern, a neighborhood eatery headed by Chef David Pell. Seafood and steak are the highlight here—you’ll see endless orders of ribeyes and daily catches being whisked out of the kitchen. Be sure not to skimp on the raw bar—the truly hungry can share the signature seafood tower.
But it’s not just the delectable seafood that draws visitors—it’s also the ambiance. Warm wood accents and natural light are featured throughout this Johns Island restaurant, from the formal dining room to classic Southern porch seating.
Stay near the best Johns Island restaurants.
Planning a trip to Johns Island? Stay at an ocean-view or scenic view rental just 15 minutes away in Kiawah Island. Explore our vacation rentals and start planning your trip.