A quick glance at the website for Athena's Bar and Grill would lead you to believe it's just another eatery specializing in traditional bar food.

This couldn't be further from the truth. We're happy to say Athena's is one of the Myrtle Beach area's true hidden gems, and one you need to search out immediately.

Located on Broadway Street in downtown Myrtle Beach, this quaint little restaurant immediately catches your attention with its comforting décor. The bar area is very inviting, with a large, flat-screen TV that is perfect for catching that big game.

The menu is a combination of American and Filipino cuisine. Trust us, be daring and try something that might be outside of your culinary comfort zone.

Start with the lumpia, a scrumptious spring roll filled with fresh vegetables and ground beef. The savory dipping sauce makes this one a real treat.

Even the homemade cheese sticks offer a twist on what's been a bar staple for years. Marinara isn't needed for these flavorful appetizers.

For the main course, go with the chicken bihon. It's a wonderful combination of chicken, rice noodles, cabbage, carrots, snow peas, onion, garlic, scallions and a lemon wedge served with a tasty, spicy sauce. If you're not a fan of any added kick, avoid the sauce. There's still so much flavor in this traditional Filipino dish. We haven't stopped thinking about it since lunchtime.

The real star of the restaurant, however, is co-owner Athena Smallridge herself. Very friendly and personable, she spends time talking to her customers before whipping up a meal they'll be telling their friends about. It's obvious her heart and soul is in her cooking, and we, the patrons, are luckier for it.

Athena