Myrtle Beach Restaurants: ART serves up sushi, burgers in unique oceanfront bar
For many years, downtown Myrtle Beach has walked a fine line between gaudy and gorgeous, known as much for its airbrushed T-shirts, colorful characters and cheap, quick eateries as for its breathtaking oceanfront views and awesome attractions.
Looking to bridge the gap between classy and casual, there’s a new spot in the heart of downtown that’s equal parts sushi restaurant, burger joint, art gallery and beach bar.
Called simply “ART” this new “art-eclectic, beach-infused” eatery is hoping to bring a touch of coastal charm to the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk with a menu that combines Japanese and American cuisine into a unique fusion unlike anything else on the beach.
“We do some different things here, but it’s meant to be a casual experience,” said owner Larry Bond. “I built it for people who have sand in their toes and beach towels on their backs.”
Known officially as ART Burger • Sushi • Bar, the restaurant is now open seven days a week from noon to 1 a.m. and located at 706 N. Ocean Blvd., just a few blocks south of the SkyWheel between 8th Avenue Tiki Bar and Shark Attack Mini Golf.
Owned by Bond — who previously ran popular spots including Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse, Capriz Italian Feast and Flying Fish Public Market — and his wife Fabiana, the new restaurant is dedicated to providing an artful experience for local diners and tourists alike.
An artful atmosphere
Whether you’re wandering in off the adjacent Myrtle Beach Boardwalk or strolling in from the Ocean Boulevard side, the first thing you’ll notice about ART is its long, narrow interior.
Lined with bright red booths on one side and a long bar/sushi bar that opens up to the kitchen on the other side, its not big inside but makes the most of its space.
The entryway is packed with colorful, hand painted works of art, while the wooden paneled far wall is dressed up with a half dozen or more flat-panel TVs, dressed up to look like picture frames and displaying colorful artwork on a loop.
According to Bond, ART will donate each of the LCD screens on its wall to a local arts guild, which will then invite their members to contribute HD slides of their work to be displayed in the restaurant.
“We really want to get local artists involved with displaying their work and just bring a little bit of an artistic vibe to bring a little culture and diversity back to Myrtle Beach,” said general manager Phillip Evans.
It’s an admirable goal, and one that extends beyond just the decor.
“We’re all artists here. Whether it’s mixing a drink, making the sushi or grilling up a burger it’s very important to us to infuse that artistic flair throughout everything we do.”
Not to be lost in the midst of all the beauty inside, the restaurant’s location also contributes to its overall atmosphere, with great views of the ocean available from the bar area or on its small outdoor patio.
‘Out of the box’ eats
On the menu at ART, as you might imagine, are a wide variety of sushi rolls and burgers, as well a selection of salads and Asian-inspired appetizers such as Ahi Tuna Lollipops, Fried Mozzarella Wontons and Firecracker Shrimp.
The sushi menu includes a small sampling of standards such as Nigiri and Sashimi, Temaki, Maki and pressed California and Philadelphia rolls. Things get quite a bit more creative — and tasty — with specialty rolls including ingredients like Sweet Potato Tempura, Broiled Unag and Torched Crab Salad.
Then there’s the totally wild “out of the box” rolls, Americanized versions of sushi packed with ingredients such as hamburger, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese and Carolina BBQ.
“They aren’t something you’ll generally see in any kind of sushi place,” said Evans of these unique rolls. “What we’re doing is really bringing American and Japanese culture together and we think by offering these ‘Americanized’ rolls maybe we can get some folks who’ve never tried sushi to check it out and open their eyes to the whole experience.”
You can even opt to be artistic and “Name Your Own Roll” by combining any 3 ingredients on the menu and a sauce.
“Sushi is just an art. It’s not necessarily what’s inside the sushi as it is how it’s prepared. And we have an amazing head sushi chef straight from Japan,” said Evans.
On the American side of the menu, you’ll find plenty of burgers & such, with more than a dozen creative choices all named after famous artists including Monet, Da Vinci, Picasso and Van Gogh.
These handmade burgers are sculpted from Grass-Fed Beef from a local S.C. farm and topped with everything from pork bellies and chorizo to hummus and fried pickles.
“I love the Munch. It’s got roasted pork belly and fried egg on it and it’s amazing,” said Bond, who also notes the eponymous “ART” Burger among his favorites.
At the bar
If you’re just looking for a beachside hangout or want to kick back with a few drinks, the bar menu at ART offers a wide variety of beers, cocktails and specialty drinks.
There are quite a few different types of Sake, more than a dozen wines, a beer list that spans from Asia (Sapporo, Kirin) to South Carolina (New South White Ale) and a number of cocktails and martinis.
The most interesting of these specialty drinks are the liquid nitrogen cocktails, which use an infusion of this ultra-cool chemical to flash freeze liquors into “dippin’ dots”-like frozen balls or smoothie-like shakes.
“Not only does it look great, but they taste amazing,” said Evans.
While these concoctions may be common in swanky metropolitan bars and are also offered in places like Charleston and Charlotte, ART will be the first spot in Myrtle Beach to offer the drinks.
“If you try them in a big city bar, you’re likely going to pay at least $18 for a liquid nitrogen drink and we’re doing them for half that,” said Evans. “It’s just another way to bring something different to the area and maybe give people something that they haven’t tried before.”
In addition to solid prices on these unique drinks, the bar will offer Happy Hour deals throughout the week and a late night menu with drink specials to cater to the nightlife crowd.
“We just want to be the best at what we do, whether it’s sushi or burgers or nightlife,” says Evans. “It’s just great to be able to give people that variety — of the American side and the Japanese side — and also to be able to specialize in these things and do them really well.”
More than just a name
Though the name “ART” may seem simple enough for a restaurant filled with colorful paintings and digital art, the inspiration behind it is more than just a superficial theme.
“The whole idea came from my mom,” says Bond. “The concept is really dedicated to her.”
Bond’s mother, Linda Weatherspoon, had been following her dream to become art teacher, when she unexpectedly suffered a stroke in 2007. Though the aneurysm and resulting coma had a stark impact on the family Weatherspoon could not be deterred..
After a long road to recovery that included art therapy treatments and stroke support groups, Bond’s mother was able to achieve her dream.
“The art community has really helped her recover from her stroke and now she’s teaching art therapy,” he said. “Opening this place is just a way to combine what I love and also give back to the art community which means so much to her.”
Want to go?
• Where: 706 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach (About three blocks south of the SkyWheel on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk)
• Hours: Noon to 1 a.m., seven days a week
• Contact: (843) 839-4774
• Website: www.artsushibar.com