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Lee’s Farmers Market, an Italian Gem in Murrells Inlet, SC

Our contributor from South Carolina details the delicacies of an Italian market tucked off of the highway in South Carolina's Murrells Inlet.

Lee's Farmers Market in Murrells Inlet, SC.

Lee’s Farmers Market in Murrells Inlet, SC.

Lee's Farmers Market looks like a little house tucked away off of Highway 17 in Murrells Inlet, SC, near Myrtle Beach. The Italian market is owned by Scott Lee and Ed “Skeeter” Dombrowski, who ironically are not Italian but are from the northeast. It opened in 1999 as a produce stand, because that was Skeeter's background. Then he brought in the cheese and eventually imports from Italy at many customers’ request.

Lee’s is a locals' favorite for specialty and imported foods, and the transplants can get almost anything they miss from up north. When you walk through the door, you can expect to see Skeeter at the register, and the rest of the Lee’s Market family moving around. They are always very busy! 

Ed “Skeeter” Dombrowski behind the counter at Lee's Farmers Market.
Ed “Skeeter” Dombrowski behind the counter at Lee's Farmers Market.

Behind a cheese counter is Daphne, a sweetheart of a Southern girl who will gladly grate some Pecorino Romano or offer a taste of their 150 varieties. Magic is also happening there in the form of prepared foods: homemade tomato pies (a house-specialty courtesy of Daphne), eggplant Parmesan, meatballs, hand-cut meats, guanciale, fresh lump crab cakes, and homemade sausage. On top of the counter, you will find Sfogliatelle, a pastry that is not very common here in the South, as well as ready-to-fill cannoli. 

Daphne's "Tomato Pie" is a specialty of Lee's Farmers Market.
Daphne's "Tomato Pie" is a specialty of Lee's Farmers Market.

The produce section offers more than just the norm. One can get long hots, broccoli rabe, and fava beans. Down South, good tomatoes are usually available only in summer, but Lee’s finds beautiful tomatoes from all over the U.S. to stock year-round.   

Fresh produce at Lee's Farmers Market.
Fresh produce at Lee's Farmers Market.

As you walk to the back of the store and down the steps, there are shelves and shelves of imported pastas, canned goods, and olive oils. There is never a pastina “shortage” here!

The breads are shipped in from a bakery from New Jersey. Customers can purchase par-baked loaves and finish them at home or get them fully baked. There is nothing like Semolina bread with Sunday dinner, and I'm grateful that I can find it here. Lee’s also carries private-label local products, such as produce, honey, and preserves. 

The many Italian products on the shelves at Lee's Farmers Market.
The many Italian products on the shelves at Lee's Farmers Market.

Before you walk into the market, there is a café on the left with daily specials. The local’s favorite is hot pastrami and corned beef, made with meat shipped in from New York. The deli also provides catering, and all of the salads are made from scratch, including macaroni and potato salads.

Let's not forget the wine! The owners of Lee’s formed a relationship with an Italian import company, bypassing the distributor in order to pass on the savings to their customers.  

I go into Lee’s once a week, intending to purchase a few things, but my basket fills up quickly. There is just so much goodness there, it’s hard to leave without it all!

4883 Highway 17, Murrells Inlet/Myrtle Beach, SC 29576, 843-651-7398.

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