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Me, Myself, Maranda

Fat Girl Life & Style Blog

RAVE: Mellow Mushroom Pizza Restaurant

Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored in any way. It is just my honest opinion and thoughts. However, the free pretzel bites certainly sweetened the deal (read on to get yours!).

Mellow Mushroom

The Grand Strand region of South Carolina is saturated with restaurants and tourist traps. My husband and I are on a mission to try new places each time we visit. The Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant chain has been on my “to eat” list for quite some time. Our travel route took us right past it last week… for which I’m very thankful!

Some quick backstory via Wikipedia: Mellow Mushroom was originally established as a single pizzeria in Atlanta back in 1974. It currently has more than 200 chain locations spanning 20 states in the USA. Each store is locally owned and decorated (more on this below).

While they specialize in hearth stone baked pizzas, their menu really has “something for everyone” with salads, hoagies, calzones, burgers, wings, and more. Equally as impressive is their drinks menu, which is the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen. From a ridiculously long list of craft beers (on tap and bottled) to wine and cocktails, it’s almost overwhelming… in a good way!

First Impressions

Maranda stands with a giant Transformer-style robot statue made from Volkswagen parts outside Mellow Mushroom in Murrells Inlet, SC.
Can’t resist a photo with the giant Transformer out front!

Speaking specifically for the Mellow Mushroom location we visited in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, the first thing you’ll notice is the giant Transformer-esque statue right outside the front door. It’s nearly as tall as the building and forged from real Volkswagen parts. This techno-hippy-steampunk creation is the perfect photo op for kids and gearhead adults alike. The intricate details and sheer massive size is really impressive!

Now, we visited during mid-afternoon hours on a weekday, so the place wasn’t busy at all. I can imagine that nights and weekends are probably much more popular for this joint, so your mileage may vary.

The clean and vibrant interior impressed us immediately. It’s quite spacious, with high ceilings and remarkable artwork in every direction.

Giant hand-painted retro florals cover the walls, lending heavily to the hippy vibes. The amazing light fixture had us transfixed; it features small metal letters making up a word search and hangs over the center booths. The bathrooms are not ‘restrooms’, they’re ‘flushrooms’ (like mushrooms, get it?). An authentic VW bus is parked along one wall, opened up with wrap-around seating for group reservations.

It’s all the special details and unique attributes like these that give each Mellow Mushroom location its own personality and character. After visiting this one, I want to go experience them all!

Interior view of Mellow Mushroom's main dining area, including booths, hand-painted floral wall art, and colorful lighting fixture.
Interior view of Mellow Mushroom’s main dining area.

Getting Mellow

Most people visiting Mellow Mushroom are probably here for the pizza. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with it. The center of their colorful menu is devoted to ‘house special’ style signature pizza creations. If you want to get a true taste of Mellow Mushroom pizza, you need to order from this list. These are the unique creations that you won’t get anywhere else.

Mellow Mushroom signature pizza, Kosmic Karma, featuring spinach, feta, pesto, roasted and fresh tomatoes.
Kosmic Karma signature pizza.

For example, I chose the Kosmic Karma. I typically enjoy a good spinach / feta combination, and I do love pesto, so it felt like it would make sense for me.

I didn’t realize how truly savory a pizza could be until this arrived at the table.

It’s like an explosion of Italian flavors highlighted by sweet sun-dried roasted tomatoes and super creamy pops of sheep’s milk feta cheese. A generous dose of pesto on top ensures that every bite is bright and herby from start to finish.

If you like Italian flavors and are feeling adventurous, I strongly recommend giving the Kosmic Karma a try!

I should mention here that Mellow Mushroom can make basically any type of pizza, so you don’t have to get weird or daring if you don’t want to.

My husband, for example, is a very picky eater and fairly rigorous with his pizza topping limitations. He’s definitely not one to go out on a limb and try something new.

Mellow Mushroom pizza with custom toppings: pepperoni, pineapple, mushrooms and green peppers.

He stayed within his comfort zone and ordered basically the same thing that he would get at any pizza joint: mushrooms, pineapple, pepperoni, and green peppers.

Even though his pizza was a more traditional order, one bite sealed the deal for him. He quickly voted it one of the best pizzas he’s ever had. That’s comparing apples to apples, considering he always gets the same toppings across every pizza restaurant. It also speaks volumes because this man is culinarily hard to please.

It’s also worth noting that everything can be made gluten-free, for those with dietary restrictions. Major bonus points for food inclusivity!

Sizing and Pricing

This ain’t no Hot ‘n Ready cheap eat. You can expect pricing on-par with any decent sit-down restaurant. I’m not saying it’s overly expensive; don’t get me wrong. I am a self-proclaimed cheapskate, but I absolutely believe this pizza is worth the price.

Signature pizzas have a fixed price by size; build-your-own pizzas are priced based on size and number of toppings. Standard procedure.

Each pizza is available in small, medium, and large. Being unfamiliar with Mellow Mushroom sizing, we each ordered our own medium (averaging $18 each), plus a separate large (about $25) to take home and share. Let’s just say that the mediums would have been plenty! Neither of us could finish more than half of our respective pies. We ended up taking home enough pizza to eat on as leftovers for the following three days.

Inset of Mellow Mushroom menu with colorful psychedelic artwork and text explaining what makes this restaurant and process special.
Inset of the menu; a great explanation of what makes Mellow Mushroom better than your average pizza joint.

Free Pretzel Bites

Let me back up to appetizers and tell you about the icing on the cake. (Or is it the cheese on the pie? Oh, that’s corny. Or is it cheesy? Nevermind.)

I found this restaurant while scoping Google Maps down Highway 17 for restaurants on our route. Initially intrigued by the high customer reviews, I clicked on through to their website for more info. Down at the bottom of the homepage, hiding in plain sight, is a link to Join the Shroom Room for free Pretzel Bites.

Just enter your email address and you’ll instantly receive the coupon (a numerical code) for use on dine-in or online ordering.

Pretzel Bites are bite-sized chunks of baked dough with a buttery finish, topped liberally with parmesan cheese. You receive a long platter full of them (regularly $8) which, truthfully, could make a meal itself for a single person. They’re served with a few dipping sauce choices.

Our server (shoutout to Sage!) recommended the new Spicy Beer Cheese queso sauce. It was a luscious, creamy dip with tons of flavor and enough jalapeno heat to make your mouth water (but not kill your taste buds!). For a completely random comparison, we identified the flavor as being exactly the same as the filling in Cheesy Pepper Jack Tornados by El Monterey that you find on hot rollers in some gas stations. (If you’re addicted to those, like I used to be, you must try this spicy beer cheese dip. You can thank me later.)

Final Thoughts

Selfie of Arnold and Maranda inside Mellow Mushroom restaurant.

Mellow Mushroom is more than your average pizza restaurant; it’s really an experience.

From the laidback vibes and design to the quick and attentive service, it’s impressive. But the food itself – specifically the signature pizza creations – really makes this place stand out.

The ingredients are top-shelf, fresh and wholesome, and this is a big part of why the pizza is so, so damn good. Toppings are piled high. The pricing is in alignment with the value.

I feel like Mellow Mushroom isn’t as well-known as it should be. We’ve lived in South Carolina for seven years and just now actually experienced it; that’s unacceptable. We have a lot of wasted time to make up for. I foresee a lot of Kosmic Karma in my future.

More food and restaurant reviews coming soon to Rants & Raves.