2009 Season Reviews:
THAI BY THE SEA-- Great as usual, I'm happy they downsized to the original building, I like it better.
TENGYU -- (old Food Lion strip mall) -- very good Japanese food, we were pleasantly surprised with the decor -- the inside does not match the outward view!
BLUE WATER POINT-- Food is acceptable, location/view is great, and that is the key to this place's success in my opinion. Huge portions, seafood is well prepared straight up, but the sides and other dishes are just passing, nothing to write home about.
ISLAND WAY-- We were pleasantly surprized. Have not been there in years and they have taken it up a notch. It is expensive but you get what you pay for... this is another place with a view that is amazing.
MR P's -- atmosphere is kind of dreary, seems musty and humid, food OK but not the best I've had
MEXICAN -- can't remember names (but they are in Wal-Mart, and Lowe's Foods strip malls) are consisently clean and a good value. Not a gourmet experience but certainly quality food, pleasant and fun.
BELLA CUCINA -- After years of going to Josephs we were pleasantly surprised. We are from the NE and think BC is more authentic . Also a little more healthy and less expensive. Service was good, too. Joseph's has the view, though.
YACHT PROVISION -- it is what it is -- and that is a waterfront place to get a beer and casual food. The quality of food is very good, the view stellar. It's the kind of place that gets hosed down instead of cleaned. Paper plates, sticky plastic tables & chairs, etc. are the order of the day-- YP is best enjoyed in flip flops and shorts. Everyone needs to go there, preferably in the off season.
Places open and close every 6 months in this area. half of the places mentioned in these past posts are no longer there. Anyone looking NOW; Oak Island has really good BBQ @BBQ Place on OI Dr. Russell's is good B'fast, Chagall is good too, we foun Joesph's to bee VERY pricey for what we got, Blue Water at the end of the island is the same, but really good food.
I also think Blue Water Point is really good. Excellent even. Their fried flounder is among the best I've had in some time. It is a little pricey, but the portions are huge to match - I could've shared mine with someone easily.
I would skip "Lil Bits". Service is rude, and not in the kitschy-diner semi-acceptable way. Not worth putting up with for the mediocre food.
I noticed in your Southport post you mentioned Dead End Saloon. I was trying to think of the name of that place. Easy to pass by because I don't remember any signage on the main road, but the food is pretty good and they have a deck overlooking the waterway. What I really liked about it is the menu is a little more varied than most of the places around.
Just got back from a week in Oak Island. Have to agree that the Blue Water Point restaurant at the marina is still great. We've never been disappointed in the food.
We tried Thai By The Sea. A great disappointment. The Red Curry w/Chicken was passable, but my 3 kids decided to try the Pad Thai. It was the worst I ever tasted. Don't see any reason to go back.
Decided to bypass Turtle Island this time, after mediocre food and lousy service last season.
For fresh seafood to take home and prepare, try Haag & Sons. We've never been disappointed by them. I did want some live blue crabs to steam, but Haag didn't have them. I went to 2 other places. Clems, and Pelican Seafood diagonally across the road from Clems. We got the first batch from Pelican. Big mistake. The crabs they gave us were apparently kept in mud. They were filthy. I grew up on the Virginia cost, and have bought and caught crabs many times in my life. I've never seen anyone store them in mud. Several of the crabs they gave us were barely moving, and some were so small, they should be embarrased to sell them. These should have been thrown back into the sea when caught.
Clems was a lot better. Crabs were larger, clean, and very lively. My one disappoinment w/Clems is that they don't tend to clean their scales between seafood sales, so the liquid residue dries. Could be cleaner.
We were just there as well. Second the vote for Haag and Sons. I do like that they cut your fish fresh to order. Hint, ask to see the fish first though. After being promised the yellowfin tuna was sushi grade, we were presented with a tail end piece that was not sushi grade. Another loin was brought out and cut, and that was wonderfull! They do know where their fish is from and are honest. We are had 'unhonest' experiences from Clems and Pelicans. Haag's is hands down the best.
Only had one meal out, lunch at Fishy Fishy. Service is better this year, more staff. Food is still passable. Oh, and we had stuffed oysters at Mr P's and were thankful we did not get sick. I heard them describing specials to another table, $41 for a tuna entree?? in Southport??. Almost thought we were in Vegas there for a moment.
I'm not excited about dining on Oak Island with the exception of Joseph's - yummy. Don't bother with Bella Cucina...worst fettucine alfredo I've ever had - have eaten better from a box. My favorite place: Mr. P's on Howe St., Southport. The Phipp's family is awesome! Do call for reservations especially Thurs. - Saturday. Closed on Monday. If they have the lemon/blueberry cheesecake, don't miss it. Also try crab wontons, shrimp and grits, any of the seafood and the prime rib. Excellent, courteous service, fresh, fresh food and top-notch preparation. How often do I go? I live around the corner! Burgers and prime rib sandwiches are also great. Dinner only - opens at 5.
Best local spot for breakfast - P J's - locals favorite for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Delicious lunch specials every day. Go early or late for breakfast on weekends. (At the end of W. West Street in Southport near the marina) Very affordable - kid-friendly.
Tourist mecca: Provision's at the Yacht Basin in Southport. Featured in Southern Living as one of the best seafood "dives." Their burgers, special with peel and eat shrimp, and grouper salad are very good. Can be very crowded - go early or late - opens at 11:00.
Favorites for seafood to cook at home: Clemm's on the causeway to Oak Island and Potter's at the Yacht Basin in Southport. Both families won't sell it unless it's right.
Don't miss Famous Subs and Chicken in Southport. (at the light at Howe St. next to Kerr Drugs) Excellent fried chicken!!! Buy a bucket. Real Greek salad. Call it in and pick it up. (Subs are good too)
Rosa's Deli on Howe St. in Southport. For real Yankee Deli...exellent non-greasy, not breaded eggplant parm. Variety of frozen goodies to cook at home.
If you get to Wilmington, go to Elijah's on the waterfront. Don't miss the shrimp and cheese bread, soft-shell crab (if they have it), chicken salad; it's all good! Reservations on Friday and Saturday nights.
I grew up on Oak Island and still go frequently to visit my parents.
I gotta say there are only a handful of places I LOVE:
Provision Co, Southport - grab anything on the menu, a beer and take in the scenery
Turtle Island, Long Beach - grouper fingers are awesome as well as the grits. Trust me.
Lil Bits, Long Beach - I haven't been, but have heard they have *the* best burger.
Oak Island Restaurant, Long Beach - best fried flounder on the island
Thai By The Sea - I haven't noticed any changes, but lunch is definitely the better deal.
You can find some prior reports by searching this board, try southport as well. In a nutshell:
Chez Joseph at the marina off Fish Factory Rd (turn off of the main rd. going to Oak Island) decent Italian, outdoor seating that overlooks the marina.
On Oak Island -
Chagall is a new restaurant on Oak Island dr I have not been, but have spoken to others that have; good decent basic french style fare. Nothing avant garde by any stretch - pork tenderloin with a black berry sauce (?), baked brie, and I can't recall other menu items, but your basic chicken, fish, etc
Brk - Russells on Oak Island Dr - be prepared to wait for table. Known for waffles and basic egg, hash browns type. Nothing outstanding by any means, but not terrible either.
Island Brew beach side - on the right soon after crossing bridge - while I have only eaten at the one in Southport, it is the same owner, menu (or close too)- good coffee, good brk wraps, toasted bagels, etc. Also serve lunch
There is also Island Way that overlooks ocean but I haven't been in yrs after disappointing experiences.
Turtle Moon or Bay? on the main drag - Oak Island Dr greats good reviews. Their apps are ok - mussels, clams etc. Entrees ok.
Thai by the Sea - better off going to Thai peppers in Southport. When this place first opened they were decent enough, then all the sauces started tasting the same and too sweet. I think they dummied down the flavors.
In Southport -
Live Oak - probably the 'finest' dining. If weather is cool enough, try to get table on screened porch. I haven't been in a few yrs, think they have new chef.
The Pharmacy - 'fine dining' , limited dinner hours, reservations preferred for dinner.
For the seafood 'dive' experience The Provision Co. at the marina in Southport - not the same marina as Josephs.
Also in the marina by the Provision Co is Fishy Fishy. Very mixed experiences there. The one positive thing is the outside seating on the water. Basic seafood, service can be okay or absolutely terrible.
There is a new wing place in front of Wal - mart - The wing house - I have not been, but have seen them advertise live music on weekend.
There is also Bella Cucina on 210 by the hotel (can't recall name of hotel) but the area is very small and you will not have trouble finding things.
Surfers just moved to a bigger location on 210. Decent breakfast and lunch.
For seafood we have been happiest with Clems on the rd going to Oak Island (Long Beach Rd?) not all the seafood is local, so if that is a concern, ask. Shrimp has not been running and with Bertha causing rip currents and waves, etc, I don't think the boats have been going out as much (plus gas prices!) The grouper they had was bought by a seafood company but was good. Clams were local and tasty. They also have basic produce.
Also try Potters Seafood in the Southport Marina. Sometimes you can get things right off the boat.
You may want to pick up a copy of the Southport Pilot which comes out Wed afternoon. You can get it at Lowes Foods and prob a few gas stations. Of course, it is available at the office in southport.
If you are looking for basic food that will fill your stomach, you will be okay. If you are expecting a dining experience, you may be a bit disappointed. There are lots of other small places on the island and being busy is not necessarily an indication of being good. It is more likely because it is cheap.
Enjoy your stay and be careful of the rip currents. If you have any other questions I will try to get back to you!
You seem to appreciate quality and good food, so I am shocked that you have not been to/ did not mention Haag & Sons Seafood market on Oak Island! That is where Chagall's and Joseph's Italian Bistro get their seafood! Quality and locally caught is the most important thing to Jon Haag, the owner. Check it out! 7901 E Oak Island Drive 910.278.1234
Love the nomiker 'Quality Counts'. You are right that quality is important. We used to go to Haag & Sons years ago, but nothing really stood out as anything being better than anywhere else. We have found the best local shrimp to be from the coolers on 210 just before Dosher cut off. When they are there, the shrimp have been very good. However, based on your input, next time we are there I will def. check Haag out again. Haven't been to OI in a few months, anything new or interesting happening? Last time we were there in Sept, we went to the recently opened Dead End Saloon (?) at the end of Fish Factory Rd. Although the kitchen was extremely slow, the food was worth the wait on most marks.
Hey Quality Counts - you were right on about Haag and Sons. We were there yesterday after a very disappointing experience at Pelicans. Lockwood folly oysters, Beaufort Oysters, off the boat head on shrimp. Very happy and will certainly check them out again. It had been a few years since we had been in there so thanks for the nudge.