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Oct 10, 2007 09:36 PM

Which of the following NC Coastal restaurants/markets feature local seafood?

I'm planning two potential itineraries for a day-trip to the NC Coast for lunch, dinner, and to pick up some fresh-off-the-boat seafood to take home. I have two potential "routes" in mind.

Potential itinerary 1: drive to Wilmington, NC. Have lunch at Catch. Spend the afternoon touring Airlie Gardens and the S. tip. of Wrightsville Beach. Drive over to Sneads Ferry for dinner at Riverview. Find a seafood market in Sneads Ferry with fresh-off-the-boat seafood (suggestions?)

Thoughts: I'm pretty sure Catch features local seafood. Question is: should I order the "choice of 3" fried platter there, or take advantage of the chef's culinary skills by ordering more complex dishes, like the crab cake and mahi filet. Does Riverview have fresh local seafood, or do you get a view of boats coming up the channel but the seafood off your plate is from Vietnam? Any "best bets" for seafood markets with short turnaround times from boat to store along the Wilmington/Sneads Ferry corridor?

Potential itinerary 2: drive to Salter Path, NC for a shrimp burger at Big Oak Drive In. I don't care if the shrimp there are local or not - those burgers are righteous. Spend the afternoon at Hammocks Beach State Park. Load up on seafood at Clyde Phillips between the bridges at Swansboro (is this my best option, or is capt'n Willis in Emerald Isle better, or is it a tossup?). Have dinner at Red Barn in Hubert near Swansboro (is this seafood local and fresh?). What about Icehouse in Swansboro? Any other locally-procured restaurants around that area?

So the grand decision: between the two itineraries, which one would you do? Itinerary 1 involving Catch and Sneads Ferry would be completely new to me, but then again nothing beats an afternoon on Hammocks Beach SP...or that shrimp burger from Big Oak.

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  1. I own a beach house in Salter Path & yes the shrimp burger at Big Oak is very good.

    I do not know Phillips so cannot comment.

    All of our fresh seafood we purchase at Willis just down from Big Oak on the sound side. We have had a very good experience with all of our purchases over the years.

    As a matter of fact we are heading down from our home in Richmond tomorrow & will pick up 2 pounds of Willis extra large shrimp to steam tomorrow night.

    Regarding a restaurant we have several favorites we frequent which are in order of our favorites:

    Williams -Morehead City
    Blue Moon Bistro-Beaufort
    Bistro by the Sea-Morehead City
    Carltons-Salter Path
    Watermark-Atlantic Beach

    1 Reply
    1. re: NXS

      Do you still recommend Bistro by the Sea? My mother and I usually make one day trip to Morehead City/Atlantic Beach during my visit to New Bern and like to have lunch there. We'd had a very nice lunch two years ago at the Crab's Claw, but last year she insisted on all day breakfast at 4 Corners Diner.

    2. Order anything at Catch and you're likely to land local. If you're not sure, ask Chef Rhodes. The kitchen's semi open and he's a friendly guy who grew up on good fresh seafood.

      Good fresh, local seafood at Riverview. Go with what's in season; obviously, don't order salmon. Still some shrimp, whole flounder around. Oyster season in NC doesn't start until Oct. 15, and locals only eat them with it's nippy out. Hard-core, anti-import vibe in Sneads Ferry. These are real fishermen.

      Clyde Phillips is the spot. Be sure to say hi to Vern. Now's a great time for mullet on the grill.

      Red Barn is great for shellfish, as they deal in lots of clams and oysters. Too early for local oysters. I buy shellfish there (but on the way down Queens Creek Road you'll pass a few road signs for shellfish, too), but haven't eaten at the grill. Locals go nuts for this place.

      Skip the Icehouse and its sister T&W on N.C. 58. Unreliable.

      For real seafood, stick to Itinerary 1. If you can take N.C. 172 through Camp Lejeune, you could do Sneads Ferry and time at Hammocks Beach. Fishermen used to run stock back and forth when the road was open to civilians up until this summer.

      And good for you for seeking out the local stuff. Long live the NC watermen.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cake Ladies

        i hate to burst your bubble but the only local seafood you will get in Sneads Ferry are local Oysters in the shell.Sure you can get fresh off the boat shrimp right now but you wont get them in the restaurants here.The Flounder once in a while might be local if it is whole flounder go for it.They sell so much seafood nowadays they just buy it from Sysco and PYA already peeled ,fozen and sometimes prebreaded.It wasnt always like this but times have changed.

        1. re: jellybear

          That's disappointing to hear. Would I have better luck going east of Jacksonville, NC? Like I've heard the Red Barn Grill in Hubert (near Swansboro) is a local favorite and they have a seafood market attached to it. Do they do the fresh and local thing?

          1. re: jellybear

            Just had a great meal at Red Barn Saturday night, when a local fisherman stopped by to pick up a burger after a day on the water. I tend to disagree on no local seafood in Sneads Ferry -- never had a bad whole fried flounder at Riverview -- but I know the community has changed a lot in the past few years and since NC 172 closed, I've mostly been sticking to Red Barn and Clyde Phillips Seafood in Swansboro. mikeh, you might also check out Bright's Seafood, 120 Willie Kellum Rd, Jacksonville, (910) 346-3897.

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