Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Best Seafood at a Gas Station

What do you expect to find when you travel to a beach town in the South and stop at a building that looks like a gas station? For visitors to Edisto Beach, SC, you may be searching for seafood if Whaley’s Restaurant & Bar is your destination.

The pumps in front of Whaley's serve as a reminder that
the building was once a gas station.

Whaley’s achieved prominence when it was listed among Coastal Living’s top 25 seafood dives of the South Atlantic. When I visited Whaley’s website and saw that it served food in a former gas station, I was intent on going there whenever I was within an hour or so away. There I found a framed display on the wall attesting that Whaley’s is a seafood dive that Coastal Living loves. Even Southern Living considers it a top spot for local seafood.

The Coastal Living cover and article are prominently displayed.

True to its history as a gas station, Whaley’s still has the old pumps in front of the building, which opened for business in 1948. Instead of customers pulling up for a tank of regular, they now stop for something to drink and eat. A visit to the restrooms proves how old the building is – they are located outside in the back, appropriate for a building designed in the 1940s as a gas station.

Finding the restrooms at Whaley's is easy -- they're outside.

All sandwiches come with “raw fries,” which are Idaho potatoes sliced thin and then fried. They were extremely addictive, and I finished them well before my sandwich, a “Sarah Jane BLT” (a BLT with grilled shrimp and avocado) that alone was worth the drive to Edisto Beach. I also shared an order of shrimp and crab bisque with my wife, who described it as one of the best that she had ever tasted.

My wife (right) meets Whaley's famous owner/operator/bartender,
a veteran of the Korean Conflict who at 82 stays young by working.

After I had ordered, I overhead a customer at a nearby table order the “Big Ugly” burger, which I had seen on the menu. However, it didn’t match its name; it looked too good – not ugly at all. He and his companion were traveling from Florida and were also visiting Whaley’s for good food.

Whaley's is picturesque -- it even received a beautification award in 2012 from
the Council of Edisto Beach (the vines in front must have been the clincher).

Let’s hope that Whaley’s keeps serving local bar customers, seafood lovers, and wandering tourists for a long time – and that its building continues to evoke memories of an era that has slipped away from many beach towns.

The ocean surf is only two blocks away from Whaley's in Edisto Beach, SC.

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