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12 Seaside Restaurants with Great Wines on Deck

Head for the shore to enjoy these impressive wine cellars
At Spiced Pear Restaurant in Newport, R.I., French doors give a view of the ocean right from the dining room.
Photo by: Chanler at Cliff Walk
At Spiced Pear Restaurant in Newport, R.I., French doors give a view of the ocean right from the dining room.

Posted: August 3, 2017

An ocean breeze, a sun-soaked beach, a glass of wine in hand—the simplest pleasures sometimes make for summer’s best memories. Make some new ones at these 12 award-winning beach-town restaurants, from Hilton Head, S.C., to Big Sur, Calif., to Maui, Hawaii, that offer wine lists as broad as the horizon and as deep as the blue sea.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, dive into this selection of top restaurants located on islands and cruise ships and see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,700 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!

Restaurant 301 at the Hotel Carter

Carter House Inns, 301 L St., Eureka, Calif.
Telephone (707) 445-8062

Website www.carterhouse.com
Open Dinner, daily 

Grand Award

© Carter House Inns & Restaurant 301
The Carter House Inns are ideal for wine lovers seeking a seaside getaway.

Restaurant 301 is a hotel restaurant, but Hotel Carter isn’t your typical hotel. The 23-room inn is one of five lodging properties owned by the Carter family, whose hospitality business arose from a lofty project: Using plans he’d found in a thrift store, builder Mark Carter set to work on a 19th-century Victorian house. It was originally intended as a family home, but the Carters soon converted it into an inn. Located on California’s North Coast, Hotel Carter offers easy access to beaches and seaside festivals, like the Eureka Crab Celebration in January and an oyster festival in June. Restaurant 301 opened nearly 30 years ago, earning its first Wine Spectator Restaurant Award in 1995 and becoming a Grand Award winner in 1998. Chef Daniel Dagorret showcases local ingredients in dishes like a caesar salad with smoked Humboldt Bay oysters and agnolotti with vegetables from the restaurant’s garden. Wine director and general manager Michael L'Allier oversees the 3,665-selection list, which includes classic-scoring To Kalon Vineyard Cabernets from the family’s own Carter Cellars in Napa.

Sierra Mar

Post Ranch Inn, Highway 1, Big Sur, Calif.
Telephone (831) 667-2800
Website www.postranchinn.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Grand Award

Kodiak Greenwood
Sierra Mar offers a Grand Award-winning wine list of 2,900 selections and a view that's hard to match.

This Grand Award–winning restaurant offers floor-to-ceiling views of the Pacific Ocean from its perch on a cliff just off Route 1. Located in Big Sur, Sierra Mar is part of the luxurious Post Ranch Inn and offers local California cuisine paired to a 2,900-selection wine list. Chef Elizabeth Murray’s menu marries the familiar and the unexpected: shaved cured ham with truffle-honey mustard, Monterey red abalone with squid ink, honey-glazed ricotta fritters with lemon curd and lemon-buttermilk ice cream. Murray’s counterpart is wine director Dominique DaCruz, who delves into wines from California and the best of France—highlighted by Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône, Champagne and the Loire—and Italy. Wine-pairing dinners offer four- and nine-course options, and the by-the-glass choices change weekly.

The Chanticleer

9 New St., Siasconset, Nantucket, Mass.
Telephone (508) 257-4499
Website www.chanticleernantucket.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

The Chanticleer
The Chanticleer has New England charm and an impressive French-focused wine program.

After opening as a tea house at the turn of the century, the bucolic Chanticleer, a Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurant, is a quiet haven on the eastern tip of Nantucket Island. To pair with the à la carte French cuisine-meets-New England countryside menu, wine director Kelly Hulme focuses on French selections. Diners can explore more than 500 labels, from value picks from Minervois and Menetou-Salon to exalted wines from top estates in Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Charleston Grill

Belmond Charleston Place Hotel, 224 King St., Charleston, S.C.
Telephone (843) 577-4522

Website www.charlestongrill.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Charleston Grill
Chef Michelle Weaver's globally-influenced Southern dishes, like this Thai Fish, offer ample opportunities for exciting wine pairings at Charleston Grill.

Just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean is Charleston Grill, a jazz-fueled fine-dining spot inside the Belmond Charleston Place hotel. Off-shore activities include cruises showcasing the historic homes along the shore of Charleston Harbor, while back on land, Chef Michelle Weaver’s menu draws influence from Southern recipes, French techniques and global ingredients, and the wine program has diversity to match. Burgundy, California, Bordeaux, Italy, Champagne and Germany are all standout regions on the 1,140-selection list crafted by wine director Rick Rubel, earning a Best of Award of Excellence for the 11th time this year. There are plenty of bottles under $100, with a “Bucket List” section for bigger spenders that includes picks such as Gaja Langhe Costa Russi 2006 from Piedmont ($500) and Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 from Columbia Valley ($314).

Lahaina Grill

127 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
Telephone (808) 667-5117
Website www.lahainagrill.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Lahaina Grill
The veal chops at Maui's Lahaina Grill are served with herbed truffle risotto and a balsamic port demi-glace.

Dining at Best Award of Excellence–winning Lahaina Grill is a colorful experience. Amid the bright hues of the new American cuisine like sautéed local mahi-mahi and seared lion-paw scallops, this Maui restaurant values fresh local seafood and offers a substantial wine list. Wine director Richard Olson III’s 410-selection list focuses on hard-to-find, low-production selections from California, France and Italy.

Los Fuegos

Faena Hotel, 3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Fla.
Telephone (786) 655-5610

Website www.faena.com/miami-beach/restaurant/los-fuegos-by-francis-mallmann/
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Chef Francis Mallman showcases his signature open-flame cuisine at Los Fuegos, located in the heart of Miami Beach.

Los Fuegos was Argentinean chef Francis Mallmann’s first culinary venture outside South America—and his concept was well-received in the States. The restaurant is located inside the Faena Hotel on Collins Avenue, a bustling street that runs down the coast of Miami Beach. Chef Mallmann’s extreme cooking style—open flames and whole animals—creates unique flavors that make for exciting pairings with the wine list’s 525 selections. Wine director Zach Gossard’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning program shows particular strengths in Bordeaux, California, Champagne, Burgundy and, of course, Argentina. Los Fuegos offers by-the-glass pours as well as flights and large-format bottles, and noteworthy verticals include Cabernet Sauvignon from Heitz Trailside Vineyard and Amarone della Valpolicella Classico from Bertani winery going back to 1975. The dining room exudes Miami glamor, from leopard-print upholstery to plush blood-red chairs and gold detailing.

Red Fish

8 Archer Road, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Telephone (843) 686-3388
Website www.redfishofhiltonhead.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday; Dinner, Sunday
Best of Award of Excellence

Kaufman Photography
Red Fish pairs its scallops with a side of lobster macaroni and cheese.

As the summer heat in South Carolina creeps toward triple digits, Hilton Head is a welcome refuge of sea breezes and simple shoreline pleasures. Best of Award of Excellence–winning Red Fish is one of the top dining destinations in the area, and is the only eatery on the island that also has a wine retail component. The shop boasts around 1,000 offerings, while the wine list has 640—if diners select a bottle from the shop, they can enjoy it at dinner with a $10 corkage fee. The menu dives into Southern fare like blue crab, pimento cheese and Carolina shrimp and grits, while wine director and general manager Robin Shay oversees a list specializing in California, France and Italy. Chefs Matt Undergo and Chaun Bescos also prepare gluten-free dining options.

Sea Salt St. Pete

183 Second Ave. N., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Telephone (727) 873-7964
Website www.seasaltstpete.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Sea Salt St. Pete
From the fresh seafood dishes to the aqua decor, this Florida spot is inspired by the sea.

As its name suggests, Sea Salt St. Pete is all about the ocean. The menu changes daily depending on fresh catches, and aqua hues with gold accents reflect the colors of sand and sea. At the center of the open-air dining room is a 22-foot-tall cellar storing more than 4,000 bottles. Sea Salt St. Pete earned its second Best of Award of Excellence this year for the 715-selection wine list with strengths in California, France and Italy, overseen by wine director Justin Chamoun. The moderately-priced list offers selections from all over the world including Lebanon and Argentina. An extensive California section complements chef Kenneth Tufo’s coastal cuisine like swordfish Milanese and whole snapper.

Seablue Restaurant & Wine Bar

501 Highway 17 N., North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Telephone (843) 249-8800
Website www.seabluewinebar.com
Open Dinner, Monday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

For a rewarding meal after a day of golfing in one of the many nearby courses, Seablue Restaurant & Wine Bar presents an upscale dining experience in North Myrtle Beach, not far from the city’s main beach and even closer to the Intracoastal Waterway. The cuisine is similar to that of a steak house—think tomahawk veal chop and wagyu beef bacon cheeseburgers—so guests can expect classic wine selections with strengths in reds from California, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and the Rhône. Open for dinner only (a prix-fixe option is available), this Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurant offers a 610-selection wine list with a wide range of wines available by the glass. There’s an impressive whiskey collection too.


Windrift Hotel Resort, 105 80th St., Avalon, N.J.
Telephone (609) 368-5761
Website www.windrifthotel.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily between November and March
Best of Award of Excellence

Windrift is perched on a peaceful four-mile stretch of beach in southern New Jersey.

On the southern coast of New Jersey, Windrift offers oceanfront rooms and a Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurant with seafood-focused fare by chef James Kurtz. The town of Avalon is a popular yet tranquil vacation spot in the summer and a remote coastal escape in the off-season. Peter Compare manages the wine program, including the hotel’s four wine rooms storing 10,000 bottles. The 600-selection list shows strength in California, Italy, Argentina and France, with notable verticals of Napa Cabernet Sauvignons including Robert Mondavi Reserve and Shafer Hillside Select. With an extensive selection of bottles under $100 and a handful of organic wines, the list is full of options and value.

Wine Cask

813 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, Calif.
Telephone (805) 966-9463
Website www.winecask.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Friday; Dinner, Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Wine Cask
Wine Cask in Santa Barbara prides itself on a strong selection of local wines by the glass.

Wine Cask restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara (and less than a 15-minute drive from Stearns Wharf) is an elegant gem and local favorite. Vintner Doug Margerum and restaurateur Mitchell Sjerven of Bouchon Santa Barbara co-own the space, and together they lead a team that is well-versed in the art of dining and has access to top-quality local produce and excellent wines. Wine director David Fainberg manages the 370-selection wine list that shines in its exaltation of California (especially Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon) and holds a Best of Award of Excellence. The by-the-glass options focus on Santa Barbara producers, and there’s also a variety of half-bottles and magnums, creative cocktails and craft beers.

Spiced Pear Restaurant

The Chanler at Cliff Walk, 117 Memorial Blvd., Newport, R.I.
Telephone (401) 847-2244
Website www.thechanler.com
Open Breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Chanler at Cliff Walk
Spiced Pear offers their "New England Tasting Menu" available in six or nine courses.

The Award of Excellence–winning Spiced Pear restaurant fits seamlessly into the local lifestyle of Newport, R.I. It’s located inside the Chanler at Cliff Walk mansion hotel, with double French doors in the dining room that open onto the beach of Easton Bay. Wine director Christopher Giglietti oversees the wine list, which focuses on California and France, with a respectable collection of half-bottles and a sizable Champagne selection. In this sun-drenched atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to celebrate summer with a glass of bubbly.

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