Ok, so a couple weeks ago, I was invited to try Rita’s out on Folly. Never one to turn my nose up at free food, I gladly made the jaunt out to Folly Beach (although I did feel a bit like a traitor for not eating at Lost Dog Cafe). Rita’s is owned by the Halls family of Halls Chophouse, but could not be more different. It’s a very casual, laid-back, beachy kind of atmosphere with food that is both inventive and traditional at the same time.
We started with an order of the tuna nachos (crispy corn tortillas, queso, jack, jalapenos, black beans, peppers, onions, watermelon pico, choice of blackened tuna, grilled chicken, pulled pork, $11). They were good, but I thought the tuna was a little overcooked and chewy. I came back the next week with my mom and we got them with chicken instead and they were awesome. The one really great thing about this dish is that they top it with a housemade watermelon pico de gallo, which adds a layer of freshness to a traditionally uninventive dish.
We also got an order of their house smoked wings (house smoked jumbo wings, served with celery, ranch & blue cheese, tossed with choice of sweet & spicy, dry rub, BBQ, buffalo, 6 for $9 or 12 for $15), tossed in the sweet & spicy sauce. I really liked the sauce and the touch of smokiness that was in every bite. The second time I went, we got them in the dry rub, and I didn’t like them as much, so I definitely recommend the sweet & spicy sauce. Tina thought they were a little too smoky, so if you aren’t a fan of things tasting smoky, then I wouldn’t recommend these.
I also tried their beet & goat cheese salad (ruby & golden beets, arugula, pickled red onion, crumbled goat cheese, lemon thyme vinaigrette, $13). I’m not a huge fan of beets, but I thought this salad was pretty good. Then again, I tend to like anything with chunks of goat cheese in it. The vinaigrette was really light and citrusy, and I think it went really well with the tanginess of the pickled onions and the creaminess of the goat cheese.
For the main course (like I needed more food, right?), I tried the Barnyard burger (fried egg, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, seasoned fries, $12). I really liked this burger despite the fact that it had egg on it… I think I’m starting to not dislike eggs as much as I used to. As long as they’re either covered in cheese or on a cheeseburger, at least. The burger was seasoned really well and it was pretty big. I also liked the bun and thought it had a nice bread-to-burger ratio. The fries were also really unique and delicious. They’re nice and crispy and topped with a good mix of seasonings. It tasted like there might have been brown sugar or something, because there’s a little bit of sweetness, which I really enjoyed.
I had inquired about the drink menu, because there’s nothing like a daiquiri on the beach. I was presented with a couple of different drinks to try because their cocktail menu is super unique, especially when it comes to frozen drinks. The first one I tried was the Key Lime martini (vodka, coconut liqueur, cream of coconut, fresh lime juice, graham cracker rim, $8), which was super yummy. It actually tasted like key lime pie in a glass and I absolutely loved the graham cracker rim.
The next drink I tried was their signature “frizzle” (frozen light rum, dark rum, amaretto, ginger beer, orange and pineapple juices, mango & strawberry puree, $9). If there was ever a drink to embody “summertime” this is it. Take one sip and close your eyes and you’d feel like you were in the bahamas. It’s not a cocktail, it’s a mini-vacation in a glass.
After the meal was over, the chef came out to thank me for dining. She was very friendly and happily posed for a picture for me.
Rant Alert: My second visit to Rita’s with my mom was not as smooth as the first. We sat out on the patio since it’s dog-friendly and she had Penny with her. Our waitress was nice, but forgetful. We ordered a plain chicken breast for the dog when we put in our appetizer orders and it still hadn’t arrived 20 minutes after we finished our entrees. Chicken breasts take no more than 15 minutes to grill, usually, so there’s no reason that it should’ve taken over an hour. Additionally, my mom had ordered ribs as her entree and asked for the bbq sauce on the side which also didn’t happen. When my mom asked to replace the 2 sides that came with the rib platter with 2 other sides, the waitress happily obliged, and then charged her for additional sides when the check came (without telling us that there was going to be an up charge. AND after forgetting part of our order). When we asked for the check and told her to just forget about the chicken (which she mentioned still hadn’t even been put on the grill), the waitress didn’t apologize and in fact tried to get us to order dessert, which really annoyed me. She didn’t offer to comp the dessert or anything for her mistakes, but instead was trying to get us to up our order, despite the fact that she hadn’t even been able to deliver the rest of our meal properly. I’m hoping that the issue was with our particular server and not with the usual level of service that they offer. I guess my advice here is that if you sit out on the patio for dinner, don’t be in a rush and be prepared for things to take a lot longer.
Sorry about that rant. I’m still annoyed, as you can tell, but I don’t want to let that discolor my entire experience. The food was really good and the first time I went, the service was great. I would want to go back for brunch (did someone say “Captain Crunch French Toast?!”), but I won’t be sitting out on the patio, that’s for sure. But if you’re looking for a restaurant out on Folly Beach that offers more than just fish and chips, and you don’t want to wait an hour for a table at Lost Dog, I think Rita’s is a pretty solid choice. The food is a tasty and can make up for the fact that the service doesn’t always hit the mark.
Rita’s Seaside Grille
2 Center Street
Folly Beach, SC 29439