By LARRY VAUGHT
Finding a terrific spot to eat on Hilton Head Island is really not that hard. There are way more restaurants on the island than anyone can possibly visit during a routine vacation. I’m not even sure how long it would take a year-round Hilton Head Island resident to get to all the spots.
We always look for something a little different on our trips. It can be the menu. It can be the location. It can be the atmosphere.
We found exactly the perfect spot — thanks to suggestions from University of Kentucky fans who have been there before.
Captain Woody’s has a full menu with seafood, salads, steaks, soups and burgers. It also has live music many nights.
But what we liked — and other UK fans will like — is that it is owned and operated by UK fans and you can find Kentucky memorabilia all through the restaurant at bar. That includes an autographed John Calipari basketball and I brought a basketball autographed by Jeff Sheppard, Allen Edwards, Nazr Mohammed and Cameron Mills.
There is an Anthony Davis poster. There’s a Kyle Macy autograph as well as that of several other former UK players on a framed poster.
You can also find Keeneland posters and prominent UK-themed Maker’s Mark bottles are on display behind the bar.
General manager Tracy Wilson is originally from Lexington and went to UK. Owners Shannon Wright and Russell Anderson both went to UK also.
“Russell is from Bowing Green and his wife Shannon grew up in California and then St. Louis before her parents moved to Lexington,” said Wilson. “We were all good friends and came down here (to Hilton Head) at the same time. We all came down in the summers between college to make money and never left. They don’t work regularly any more, but they are still around.”
A frequent patron at Captain Woody’s is former UK basketball player Jerry Hale.
“He comes in here quite a bit. He brings us memorabilia, a lot of really good stuff,” Wilson said. “We love Jerry Hale here.”
Wilson says numerous Kentucky fans come to Captain Woody’s year-round. I have fans reach out to me on Twitter about Captain Woody’s. One watched the 2012 national title game there. Another watched UK beat Notre Dame in the 2015 season when UK went 38-1. Others told me about watching SEC Tournament games.
Captain Woody’s is all-in with UK — and terrific food. (Larry Vaught Photo)
“We are just kind of known here as the Kentucky bar,” Wilson said. “If Kentuckians are in town, people on the island obviously suggest us and once a Kentucky fan has been here, they tell others about us.”
It’s also the place to be the first Saturday in May.
“We do a big Kentucky Derby party with hot browns and mint juleps,” Wilson said. “It has got to the point that some other restaurants here now are actually doing Derby parties, too.”
They also annually do a Kentucky Derby T-shirt — and Wilson was wearing one the night we stopped by. I loved the shrimp burger and he-crab bisque, especially with the hushpuppies that Wilson brought out. I hope to go back another night for the shrimp chili and some of those highly-recommended nachos.
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For more information on Captain Woody’s, go to https://www.captainwoodys.com/.