Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >
Jun 17, 2009 11:42 AM

Emerald Isle NC area good eats?

We leave for Emerald Isle NC in just over a week. I've done a search and most of the reviews are at least a year old. As we know in general (and especially in this economy) things change quickly. So wanted to ask folks for recommendations for places to eat in the EI, Morehead City, Beufort area. Looking for anything good including places to buy seafood.

Usually we eat at Big Oak Drive In at least once and get our seafood at some shack near the bridge onto the island (isn't that specific?).

Also looking for a more upscale good eat for a dinner out. Read good reviews previously of Cafe Zito - is it still good? Any place else?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Big Oak is good, as always. We have bought our seafood from Capt. Willis' on the island. Always found it to be worth the price.

    Generally, we go to Watermark at least once, sometimes more, while we're there. Living in Raleigh, sometimes we'll drive down just for dinner there, spend the night, have breakfast at Cox's in Morehead City and drive back home. Not sure about Zito, but Watermark may fit the bill for what you're after.

    1. We are currently at our place on the ocean at Pine Knoll Shores.

      For more upscale:

      On the Atlantic Beach side = Carltons'. Watermark is pretty good but not great in atmosphere. Also Island Grille is good and on Monday & Tuesday have a two for one night but make reservations ahead of time as this is popular pretty much year round.

      Morehead City - My favorite is WIlliam's, we had great soft shell crabs there Sunday night, Bistro By the Sea and a new restaurant, Chef's 105 ( have not eaten there yet but have frequented their first restaurant in Greenville, Chef's 505 which is always good) and Wind N Sea (it was packed last Sunday night) We go to Cafe Zito occasionally as it is pretty good.

      Over in Beaufort my favorite is Blus Moon Bistro, runnerup, Front Street Grill.

      All of the above take reservations only BIstro By the Sea for a minimum of 6 people.

      4 Replies
      1. re: NXS

        Sorry for my spelling error, in Beaufort it is BLUE MOON BISTRO

        1. re: NXS

          You ROCK! This is why i love chowhound - i wouldn't have known anything about Chef's 105 but the menu and limited reviews i found online, look very promising. And your other suggestions make me think that we will need two nights of babysitting from the grandparents as i'm thinking we may need to hit Williams as well.

          Do you know anything about White Swan BBQ and Chicken? I LOVE BBQ, esp southeastern style but haven't seen much about it...

          1. re: BorntoEat

            Regarding White Swan if you want BBQ & fried chicken it is OK. When we are down there that food is really not on our list. I do not know what type of accommodation you will have but we stopped last Saturday & today back home to Richmond at Garner's ( a produce farm on 70 West just out of Morehead & they now have killer sweet white corm & great tomatoes, even though at this point they are from the hothouse). Have been going there for 25 plus years and that is the best meal you can have. Fix it in your home with a steak on the grill or fresh seafood!!!!

            As we are fortunate to have a second home in Pine Knoll Shores we limit our dining out between Memorial & Labor Day. Had much rather be sitting on our deck in the evening watching the waves roll in as opposed to going out. We do however support our favorites year around as listed in my previous comments.

            I hope you enjoy your stay at the Crystal Coast as it is a wonderful area.

            1. re: NXS

              Good point about the cooking. Thanks for the rec on the produce - we do mainly like to cook while there as well. If we lived closer we would love to have a place in the area as well - glad you are enjoying it!

        2. Aqua in Beaufort is very good - they have small plates, big plates:

          Also, Windansea in Morehead City is definitely worth checking out!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mesporas

            Aqua: great food, poor service (just our waiter--the other server was running her butt off while ours left the food in the service window to wilt). Great deconstructed caesar salad, amazing wasabi-crusted tuna with pineapple curry coulis, better crabcake than many I've had in Baltimore, which is crabcake-central! (theirs had fresh dill inside for a nice change of pace)
            I would avoid The Crab's Claw, though (unfortunate CHOW recommendation): the conch fritters were too salty, the steam pot for two had some average lobster, (great clams), average shrimp, and was missing the crab claws! WTF?

          2. Cafe Zito is great for mediterr. fair -- incredibly fresh ingredients. Never had a bad meal there. I'm on Atlantic Beach - minutes up the island from Emerald Isle. I can easily recommend Island Grille (esp. 2 4 1 nites Mon/Tues) Make reservations. Quaint and cas atmosphere but gourmet food. Piccatas in Morehead is great for lunch and dinner. Their meatloaf sand at lunch is fab - great ribs - and incredible fresh fish dishes. Blue Moon and Stillwater at Front Street in Beaufort -- amazing. Check out the Rhum Bar at Stillwater in the back. Tell Zack Boone the bartender Mary from Twitter said hi. Amos Mosquitos on Atlantic Beach is killer if you've got yunguns and like a really casual atmosphere. Good food and great service. No reservations so the only way to go is to get there early. Nice bar area - tell Sandy (owner) that Capt John and Mary sent ya. Floyds in MOrehead City - also good lunch and dinner. Amazingly creative interpretations of soul food meats gourmet seafood. The shrimp over grits cakes with tasso gravy is to die for. Have fun and follow me @atlanticbeachnc on twitter for me.

            1. Aqua in Beaufort is our fav., but we had a wonderful meal at Beaufort Grocery last week. When we don't want to leave the island, Portofino is really good Italian (pizza is fantastic) and kid friendly even though it's steps above a "family restaurant". Can dine in or out. Kathryn's Bistro and Martini Bar on the island continues to be consistent and very good with nice atmosphere. (Kathryn's and Portofino have same owner.) It's such a treat to talk about really good restaurants in Emerald Isle. That's a recent phenomenon. Can't leave out lunch specials at The Crab Shak in Salter Path or drinks at The Dock House in Beaufort where you will find the best people watching period.