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Caswell Beach/Southport

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We'll be heading to Caswell Beach on the weekend. I've looked around on this board and found that most people find the Provision Company just okay and seem to like Little Bit's on Oak Island. We're not looking for fine dining but are curious if there are any other tips on any not-to-be-missed local joints with good food and a fun atmosphere.

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  1. Actually just drove back from there today! Have been going there for over 10 yrs, but am picky and usually much better to cook ourselves than to go out, but will try to give you quick rundown.

    Best dinner out by far is Joseph's Bistro in the new marina off Fish Factory Rd. This is located off the main road going to the island, across from Clem's Seafood. Follow all the way to end and to the left. NY Italian - eggplant rolotini was good as app. They also offer steamed mussels, clams, fried calamari as apps.

    All entree include a small salad, no other salads are listed on menu. Entrees run from simple marinara sauces, carbonara (10.95,) all parmesans, veal saltamboca 17.99. I ordered a mixed grill special, filet, grouper, 2 large shrimp, angel hair with a sherry cream sauce with spinach and sun dried tomatoes. BE SURE to ask price of specials!! I thought that since no entree on menu was over 18, how much could it be? $32.95! Other specials were offered as well. Other entree ordered was chicken parm - 15.99 which was good. We were able to sit outside on deck overlooking marina, but I think weekend will be too hot. Suggest reservations.

    Had lunch at Thai Peppers in downtown southport. Nothing fancy, but passable.

    Island Brews in Southport on 211 is good for brk and coffee.

    Port City Java in downtown southport is so slow to the point of frustrating.

    We refuse to eat at Fishy Fishy by Provision anymore. Always understaffed, harried, uncaring. Last time we were in health score was 81.5 and that was a re inspection. Usually that doesn't bother me too much, but being the staff is always confused, and it is a seafood rest. in a fairly new (3 yr) est. (which means all health codes had to be updated when it became fishy fishy) I couldn't eat there.

    Haven't been to Pharmacy in a long while - menu never seems to change. They are across from Thai peppers.

    Live Oak Cafe might be good still. Bella Cucina hired away their chef, but at least they offer something other than fried seafood. They are on Howe street in an old house, diagonally across from Port city java.

    I haven't found anything else on the island. Thai by the Sea has americanized there menu so much, all sauces have gotten sweet and similar to each other. Turtle Moon I think has closed and I think Little Bits is also closed is now a
    BBQ place.

    One suggestion, there is a shrimp tent on left across from Church on 211. (If you are coming off Dosher cut off, it will be on your left, a few hundred yrds. down)..Got shrimp there yesterday that was only off boat for hours. Head on , $4.25 lb, various sizes all mixed up. If you get Seafood at Clem's make sure you see them get the shrimp out of the case in front of you, they are known to take older stuff out of back when you order it.

    There is also a new Japanese Steak house by the old Food Lion across from Lowe's foods. Haven't been though.

    For Cheap eat, fried seafood heaven, I guess Jones Seafood on the island is the place to go.

    Have fun!

    7 Replies
    1. re: winedine

      Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed response. I'll have to print it out and take it with me. So the restaurant at the Provision Company is now called Fishy Fishy? And it's still basically the same....only a bit more dubious? Bummer.

      1. re: suse

        Woops,

        Sorry for confusion. fishy fishy is next to provision company. To it's credit, fishy fishy has wonderful outside seating (if they have staff) with table service. Would be safe for a drink, they have outside bar too.

        Please let me know where you end up and how you like everything. I am always trying to find a reason not to cook there, so if you stumble upon something worthwhile, please let me know. You might like to pick up a copy of the Southport Pilot, which comes out on Wednesdays for ads, things to do, etc.

        1. re: winedine

          Well, it turned out that we ate out twice in our short time there and we ended up going where our friends wanted to go - since they were visiting from England and used to go to Oak Island frequently. This means we ended up at the Provisions Company - fun enough atmosphere, but the food really is only so-so. My shrimp were slightly overcooked - oh well. At least there was a whole biker gang that kept us amused and watching people working in that hot, hot kitchen always gives one a new appreciation for life. We also ate at Dry Street Pizza/Subs in Southport. I have to say I found the quality of the food very good. I had the roastbeef sub and the meat and bread were both top-notch - the portions may seem skimpy to a full grown male of our species, but it was perfect for me. The service, though - lord help me, were these children slow. I thought I was going to my arm off before it was all over. A young woman who looked like she hadn't eaten in weeks with tatoos all over her sadly shrivelled body was making all of our sandwiches and looking at the order every five seconds while the rest of the crew were cleaning up from a lunch rush (this was around 1:30. It was almost 3 by the time we left. Sorry, but I just had to rant....Next time - Little Bits and definitely a different seafood joint. Thanks for the tips, everybody. Sorry I couldn't really follow them.

      2. re: winedine

        Are you sure about Little Bits? I think it moved a few years ago, and anyway last time I was there it was right next door to the new(ish) BBQ place . . . can't imagine 2 BBQ joints that close to each other on Oak Island, and I can't imagine Little Bit's going under unless Little Bit retired.

        1. re: rossgrady

          Probably my mistake. Is little Bits next to the Boogey's (?) that closed last year and is still closed? That is where I saw the BBQ place and thought it was the former Little Bits.. (Green light, had to move - ha ha). While on the topic, have you been to Island way? We went a looong time ago when it was Table One, and thought it was very underwhelming at best. Please post if you know of a place that offers food you wouldn't cook at home. Have you been to Live Oak since the chef went to Bella Cucina. Have you been to Bella? We walked in there and left not long after they first opened.

          1. re: winedine

            Little Bits is still there (as of a month ago.) People standing in line for a place to sit, so you may have the two confused. She does have strange hours, only open until 3pm, not open on Monday (or is it Tuesday?) and I think Sunday. Better to check the hours on the door.

            1. re: billonthehill

              Lil Bits is def. open - but not on tuesdays and sundays. except for fridays and saturdays are only open til 2pm. Lil Bits is not really competing with the barbeeque place because their specialty seems to be the burgers. the "regular" burger is huge and hangs out from the bun about 1.5 inches on all sides and is delicious! I get the small burger all the way mustard, chili, red slaw and onions. Also Lil bits has breakfast.

              One of our favorite places to go is the fish house at blue point marinara (at the end of the island).

      3. I like Provision Co. Not great, but acceptable, and nice to sit out on the water. We tried Fishy Fish last year & decided not to go back. The Blue Point marina restaurant on Oak Island is our favorite. Not cheap, but it has the most consistently best seafood in that area that we've tried. But be prepared for a long wait. We tried teh new pizza place on Oak Island, something calle Azzi (or something close to that ) Pizza. Its on teh main drag. We liked it better than the Pizza Shack. We swore off Jones Seafood restaurant years ago due to crappy seafood they kept serving. We haven't tried the BBQ joint we saw there. Would like to know if anyone else has. Good luck, and have fun.

        1. Be careful about the Live Oak Cafe. We made reservations there and then they said they didn't have them. Basically they screwed up and we were left without a reservation.

          Chasers is great for lunch

          1. As a resident of Southport I find that dining out is a major problem. Mr. P's on Howe Street is very good but you will need a reservation. Joseph's at South Harbor Village is excellent...and a reservation is suggested but not always required. A couple doors down from Joseph's is The Village Market and Deli. Opened M-S 8-4. Delicious freshly made sandwiches, daily specials (tomato basil soup and Manhattan clam Chowder) are delicious also. South Harbor Village is located to the left right before you go over the bridge to the Island. It has a marina and the views from either Joseph's or Village Mkt is fantastic.

            3 Replies
            1. re: dixies

              Just came back from Labor day Weekend. Only had 1 meal out, most places closed for lunch on Sunday. Pharmacy was open, but I don't really care for it. PJ's open but long lines, unfortunately ended up at Oak Island Rest, next to Turtle Moon (which I think is closed?) Terrible experience. Rude people. Watched an elderly woman ask to sit inside because it was hot out while they waited for table, and was told no. What was annoying was that there was an open table by door, with chairs that was only being used for pick up orders and wait list. She would not have been in way. The person who told her no was obviously the manager, if not owner, who was far from being young - i would have thought if anyone had any symphony for an older person suffering in the sun and heat, it would have been here. After hearing waitresses joking around 'kiss my grits' because a table asked to have their table wiped off with a DRY towel, I started to feel like I was in bad movie/time warp. We were seated in a strange table that was kind of in the server area, in between the kitchen and register. Food was certainly cheap, $3.50 for burger and fries, but quality was low. Thankfully I ordered a bowl of pinto beans with cornbread ($2.75) but cornbread was two hushpuppies. A bit of ketchup and Texas Pete made them. I have been going to Oak Island since '94, but my goodness, that place made me ashamed to be supporting them.

              Agree on Joseph's. Please log a post if you have been to Bella Cucina - walked in there once and didn't want to stay. Southport is doing a lot to build up its downtown area, but I hope restaurants step it up. I think Mr. P's is good, but very expensive for what you get. I don't mind paying for quality, but we were unimpressed. I liked them better when they were in the marina.

              Also, is Zachary's going to be a 'Wingtown' or something? Or was the sign for one of the smaller places?

              1. re: dixies

                Hate to brake the news - the dali is closed now and Joseph's no longer take reservations. However, there are a new place. and the very end of the marina..it's called "the dead end saloon".

                Cheers

                1. re: artdeco

                  FYI for anyone reading - Dead End Saloon isn't new but is good for hanging out for drinks and decent food at average, non-island prices. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there, but its nice to have a place that isn't really trying to be something to attract tourists.

              2. Although Southport/OI is not the East Coast center of culinary excellence, the food and the choices are far better than 15 years ago. As for any of the ethnic choices, they are not completely authentic because of the clientele but still enjoyable. I also think that restuarants are dealing with customers that do not want to spend a lot of money. Let me mention a few places that we have liked recently...

                On the Island you can consistently get a good meal at Thai by the Sea. Try the summer rolls, these are just the best that can be found. The owner and chef are family members and the service is very friendly and attentive. I especially like going there in the off-season because you can eat in the smaller, "blue" building.

                We have consistently had good seafood at the Fish House at Blue Water Point. You will not go away hungry. We do not like it as much in the summer because it is crowded and sometimes dirty. We almost always take guests there though, because of the view. Waiting goes quickly -- there are boats and fishing related activities to watch. Get a glass of wine in the battleship room and go outside & chill while you wait.

                The most amazing view can be found at Duffers, it is on the second floor of the OI Country Club. They have steaks and burgers, some specials. We have always had a good meal but if they are not serving dinner in the dining room, you will have to eat in the bar... it can be smoky and loud.

                For the old-timey NC seafood meal with lots of sweet tea, I like Captain Stanley's and Jones', both on OI Drive. I agree that Turtle by the Sea is great, and we did have nice breakfasts at the Oak Island restaurant. Did not experience any rudeness like the other poster. We like Beanas (formerly Edna's) for breakfast the best though. The staff is fantastic and food is consistently good.

                Moving off island, we do like Josephs and Bella Cucina for Italian. The Mexican restaurant next to Peebles and Lowe's is really nice. Very clean, fun atmosphere, great service, great food. And this past summer we ate twice at the Japanese restaurant in shopping center across the street (behind Pizza Hut), it was fantastic (for NC) both times. They have sushi, tepanyaki (the thing where you sit around the table & they throw knives) and regular dishes.

                A couple of years ago I went to Eric's in the Wal-Mart shopping center for a burger. At that time is was great... hand molded. They serve fries and maybe hot dogs. That's all. The funny thing was I asked for lettuce & tomatoes & the reply was "we don't do vegetables". Cracked me up. I believe they do serve a chili cheeseburger, which is a NC classic. Caution -- I have not been back for a couple of years -- maybe some other chowhounders can chime in on this.

                I am not a big fan of Yacht Provision. Although the food is great I get a little grossed out at the cleanliness of the place. And I also get tired of people who are "in-crowd" types. But in the off season I go there sometimes. Fishy Fishy next door has been good for us, but I agree it is dirty. Your arms stick to the table.

                As for Live Oak vs. Mr. P's -- I strongly prefer Live Oak. We have never had a bad meal there, and I really think it is the best place in the area, considering. Mr. P's food seems greasy and salty to me. Some people would prefer that, I guess!

                Pizza -- I like Dry Streeet, a longstanding place. That's always a good sign. Also Bella Cucina. If you are on the Island, then just get a Dominoes. The local place is not very good. That is one thing I wish we could find -- good pizza. But I am from the NE, it is going to be a tall order.

                Hope this helps -- going down in two days -- will try and report anything new.

                1. I grew up on Caswell Beach and go there pretty often to see my parents so I have a few thoughts.

                  For a higher-end, but still authentic seafood meal that will blow you away go to Turtle Island (Long Beach)...if it's the weekend you might want to make reservations. Food is SO good. Try the Grouper Fingers omg.

                  Thai By The Sea (Yaupon Beach) is my favorite Thai place, but I prefer to go there for lunch. You actually get more food for cheaper if you go then and the crowds aren't so crazy.

                  Port City Java (Downtown Southport) has THE best all-fruit smoothies but you gotta be PATIENT haha.

                  Best hot dogs around can be found at The Trolley Stop (Downtown Southport).

                  I don't care what anyone says...the burgers at Provision Company (Southport Marina) can't be beat and the view is awesome. If you want something similar but on the beach there is a newish place next to the Yaupon Pier that's pretty decent. REALLY great fried flounder.

                  Looks like quite a few new places have opened up on the island...a BBQ place...some new Seafood joints...but I haven't yet been able to check 'em out.

                  What I WISH they would get down there is some sort of pub-type bar (NOT a biker bar) that is spacious yet dark and cozy. Sometimes you just want a place to unwind when you first get down there y'know?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: shrixer78

                    Was down last week end and was surprised to see the tiki bar place by the lucky fisherman is gone, razed, just dirt. The Island brew has opened a new one on the island, by Marg. Rudd building just when you come off bridge. Good coffee and sooo much quicker than Port City.Didn't go out for any meals. Beautiful shrimp at Clem's with head on.

                    We have had mixed experiences at Turtle. Apps are always decent. Entrees have always been disappointing.

                  2. Lived on Oak Island (Caswell, then Long Beach) from '84 to '95. Go back every couple years or so for a week of vacation. Can't believe how much things can change! Most of the restos mentioned are completely unfamiliar to me. I remember when Provisions was "the" new thing. Yikes---I sound like my dad! The next trip (hopefully this fall), I will search this board for recs. Thanks for keeping me current. (p.s. back in the day, I had to drive to Wilmington to find fresh parsley. When I used to see TV chefs say you could find an ingredient at "any" grocery store, I used to think---they've never been to SE NC!!)

                    1. My wife and I enjoy the Island Way on E. Beach Dr., Oak Island. The restaurant has a great ocean view and it is nice to walk out on the pier after dinner. One of my wife's favorites is Taylor's Cuisine on Howe St., Southport. It is a fairly small place but has a very creative menu. It is a great place for lunch. Joseph's Italian Bistro is our favorite place for a nice dinner. Great food and atmosphere. It does tend to get crowded on weekends and I don't believe they take reservations. We did try Surfers after they moved to the old Sandfiddler Restaurant for dinner and were very disappointed. The prices were resonable but the portions were extremely small. My wife ordered a baked sweet potato with the meal and it was literally the smallest I had ever seen. They offer a selection of three sides with dinner and a "small" salad counts as two. We have had good luck with the Live Oak Cafe and have reservations for this evening.