TOP CHEFS: Sam Houston

Coligny Plaza

Being Hilton Head Island’s downtown for more than 60 years doesn’t just mean that Coligny is the premier place to shop, explore and enjoy the island. It is, in fact, all of those things, but if there’s one thing that more than anything else makes this south end treasure a true downtown — it’s the dining. 

Tucked in and among the shops you’ll find any number of welcoming eateries to please any palate, from fresh local seafood to upscale pub fare and plentiful options for a quick and easy lunch. Every bite is a new delight at Coligny Plaza, where your appetite for something fresh and delicious is never more than a few steps away from being satisfied. 

Behind these great dining options are some of the best and brightest chefs who call Hilton Head Island home. 

Head up the steps to the wide balcony at Big Bamboo and you’ll find a smorgasbord of approachable pub fare par excellence. Gleefully dancing between American, Pacific and Latin culinary styles and finding flavor everywhere, the menu is a masterclass in satisfying every taste. 

As one of the most happening spots on the island among visitors and locals, you’d imagine that keeping the multitudes fed would be a tall order. 

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But that’s just how head chef Karl Lammert likes it. 

“The chaos in the kitchen is my favorite part of the job,” he said. “I like a kitchen when it’s busy and I know we’re putting out a good quality product… if you’re busy, it says something about the job we’re doing.” 

Following our nose to where the inimitable aromas of Caribbean cuisine drift on sea breezes, we find ourselves at The Sandbar Beach Eats, where head chef Sam Houston puts his 30 years of experience into every dish. A self-described country boy who grew up cooking venison with his dad, Houston took to Caribbean cuisine with ease, having trained at fine dining hotels in Orlando and in the kitchen in Negril, Jamaica. 

“I love cooking,” he said. “That’s my heart and my everything. I love coming up with creative ideas and putting out something different from what everyone else does on the island.” 

One of the newest headliners of Coligny’s thriving culinary scene is FISH, where the emphasis is on local seafood prepared using authentic Lowcountry techniques. That suits chef Wendell Osborne to a tee, having grown up on Hilton Head Island in a home where “everything happened in the kitchen.” 

“Being raised around here, I know we have some really good food,” he said. “Bringing that to FISH was kind of second nature because that’s just what I eat at home.” 

Having come up through the Richardson Group at South Carolina Yacht Club, Osborne embraces the hustle and bustle of a restaurant at the heart of ever-popular Coligny. 

“That’s what I love the most – the hustle and bustle, and watching people enjoy our food, knowing what you put into it to get to that point.” 

Each chef brings immeasurable culinary talent to their roles at the restaurants of Coligny, and their own perspective on what makes a great meal. Next time you’re in Hilton Head’s downtown, stop on by and taste for yourself. 

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Coligny Plaza Shopping Center 
101 Pope Ave, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 
843-342-7263 | sandbarhhi.com