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Beaufort/Morehead City/Atlantic Beach/Swansboro NC seafood recs?

  • m

I'll be traveling down to this area of coast for a short getaway next week. Any recommendations for restaurants that serve fresh and well-prepared seafood down there? I'm not looking for perfect ahi, salmon, monkfish or anything like that, but more of "just-off-the-boat" grouper, shrimp, crab, etc. Either fried calabash style or more intricate is fine. The key is "fresh and local."


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  1. I'm in New Bern and have had lunch is one or two spots down there.
    In Beaufort we recently had lunch at the Spouter's Inn on the deck overlooking the sound. Good sandwiches and Great views.
    Morehead City: We've never eaten here but everyone who has said it was very good italian. A Taste of Italy 4466 Arendell St.
    The Sanitary Reataurant in Morehead City is supposed to be good also.
    I know that Yana's in Swansboro is really good! Great Breakfasts!!

    1. Ive got your best and freshest place down there..in Emerald Isle.."Jordans" not much on looks but the fish of the day is the freshest and its quite cheap. The spot and croaker are great when in season..also their fried softshell crab sandwich is great...been going the for 15 years...tried them all...

      1. I would warn anyone away from the Sanitary - I'm too young to know if it was ever very good, but the meals I have had there in the last couple of years have been disappointing and extremely overpriced.

        I second the nomination for the Spouter for lunch, that's one of our favorites - and it's got lovely water views. For simple but excellent seafood, we go to the Net House on Turner Street in Beaufort. It's nothing fancy, but they always have fresh fish, well-prepared, and my parents are addicted to their chowders. It's a friendly place, too, very unpretentious.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dubedo

          The Sanitary's day, such as it was, was long, long ago. Recent reports from people dragged there have not been good.

        2. Beaufort Grocery on Queen St. in Beaufort.

          1. Beaufort Grocery is pretty expensive for what he's looking for

            Mrs. Culpepper's Crab Cafe is a tiny, very unknown place which has a pretty limited selection (fried shrimp, oysters, squid, sometimes scallops, flounder or some other fish, crab cakes, soft shell crab, great hush puppies, and some Thai food (yes, Thai)), but what they do (basic fried seafood and... Thai) they do very well. They catch the soft shells themselves, and the seafood is always as fresh as possible for the season.

            1. I forgot about Mrs Culpeppers...I agree its a grreat find but a little out of the way...actually as you come into the area on 70....interesting atmosphere...

              1. I'm interested in more specific directions to Mrs. Culpepper's Crab Cafe - can you help?

                1. It's in a small shopping center on the left side of highway 70 (if you're coming, right if you're leaving) before you enter the town. It's hard to spot from the road if you aren't looking carefully, and the best way to find it is to be on the lookout for the large saloon-style place that's right by the center (Midnight Rodeo or something like that, I think).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: billobob

                    Assume you mean coming into Morehead?

                    1. re: Aromatherapy

                      Then it's on the left side of 70, a minute or two before you actually get into the city

                  2. Thanks for the directions to the Crab Cafe.

                    I have a couple of more suggestions for mikeh -

                    El's Drive-In on Highway 70 right in Morehead City - going toward Atlantic Beach is on the left hand side near the hospital - has been there for over 35 years - a little light green building surrounded by dirt parking lot with trees - great shrimp burgers.

                    Also - never ate at this place but gets a lot of business and I hear it is good is the Channel Marker Restaurant - a the foot of the bridge on left hand side when you're entering Atlantic Beach. (we usually buy our own seafood and cook but sometimes go to the Island Grill or go to Amos Mosquitos in Atlantic Beach)

                    1. Oh--I think A.J.'s is decent too (if just a tad more expensive), however I really don't like their hushpuppies.

                      1. Thanks for the recommendations. I'm waiting for this heat wave to break before heading down there, but I'll try some of these and report back.

                        1. El's is still okay, just not what it used to be. For my money, I'd drive over toward Emerald Isle and eat at Big Oak Drive In... all the seafood style "burgers" there can't be beat.

                          Two "locals" places in Morehead City that are good are:

                          Cox's Restaurant on US 70 headed into town. Not much to look at, but you don't pay for the atmosphere either. Fried seafood as good as any you'll find anywhere, hands down. Breakfasts there are great as well...

                          Also, Mrs. Willis', also in Morehead City. Generations long family run place also with good food. Worth a visit; they have prepared "requested" combination dishes for us several times that weren't on the menu. Can't go wrong there at all, and they have enough variety to satisfy most anyone in your party.

                          Neither of these places are "shiny" and "flashy", so if that's what you want, don't go there. If you want good food however, I suggest you try them.


                          1. Thanks for the Big Oak info - I may have had their shrimp burger before - will definitely check it out in a couple of months when I'm back down there.

                            Nice website:


                            1. Big Oak
                              I beleive is gone after the last hurrricane..wasnt there last year most of the Salter path area there was hit hard..

                              1. Big Oak is there; I just spoke to a very nice woman there who told me they are open till 9 PM tonight... still time to drive down for that shrimpburger if I leave Raleigh now.


                                In Salter Path, NC. Call 252-247-2588.