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Dixie Queen Seafood, Winterville NC

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I ate at the Dixie Queen last night for the first time in a couple of years. I'd heard that they'd changed up the menu a bit, and they have. They still have the old standards- so-so fried oysters and clam strips, somewhat better fried trout and flounder. But they're also offering locally sourced spot and croaker now. I had two whole fried spot. They were cooked perfectly, and had good breading on them. The tails were very good. Not quite up to the level of the spot I had at Tryon Palace Seafood in New Bern a few months ago- I think the fish weren't quite as fresh as at TPS, or it could have been the oil. But they were very good nonetheless. I need to ask if they can fry a trout with the tails on- trout tails are bigger and also very tasty. This was also a very good value at $5.99 for two spot and two sides. They had a large plate which was a dollar more(IIRC) for three spot. I believe the prices on croaker were the same. One of my old gripes with the Dixie Queen was that the portion sizes were too large, but a couple of spot or croaker for six dollars pretty well hits the mark for me.

I noticed they are also offering frog leg plates now, although I wasn't able to ask about the sourcing for those. If you're in the area and had written them off as excessively Q-tip in their sensibilities, give them another try.

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  1. I agree Naco. It's so easy to write off and take for granted places like Dixie Queen. Not trendy at all but has always been decent at what it does and has a huge following so they know their audience tastes. Honest, unpretentious, fried seafood served at a reasonable price is what they do best. DQS is a local institution and also draws well from the surrounding communities. Just show up on a Saturday night , take a number, and prepare to wait for a table. Before I moved away, I was a semi Saturday night regular and often saw the same people there time after time. That says a lot about a place. The "trendy" spots can only wish for such a loyal following.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bluemold

      I am not usually someone who favors or frequents trendy places- I like traditional, heritage-based food above all else. But it is nice to see is somewhere like the Dixie Queen, which was always emblematic of post-World War II, middle class aspirational restaurant food; in other words, culinary generica- nice to see them embracing local traditions a bit more and being rewarded for it. A nice fried fish fillet can be perfectly fine, but I've always been used to whole fish, and not just trout and flounder, but all the small, bony ones like spot and croaker, too.

    2. I remember growing up having fond memories of either going North to Dixie Queen or East to Sandpiper. I miss the latter circa late 80s at least as far as decor goes. Though one of my earliest seafood experiences was at a place called Al's in Kinston. I don't recall much about it other than there being nettting on the wall and its location.

      Anywho, I can't recall ever having an issue with DQ though it was few and far times between visits. Since going out for seafood was a treat.. huge portions for me were never a problem and well if I got tired of the seafood.. I'd kill off any hunger with hushpuppies.

      3 Replies
      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        Burgeoningfoodie. I grew up in Kinston but don't remember Al's but sometimes places are called other names despite the actual restaurant name. Example I have always called the Skylight Inn in Ayden, Pete Jones, for the owner/operator. Pharo's in Kinston served the best hamburger (The Big Boy) I have ever tasted. To this day I've never had one that even came close. Pharo's ground their own beef in small batches on-site and to my knowledge it was never frozen. Shady's wasn't shabby either.

        1. re: Bluemold

          I think Pharo's may have been before my time and the same with Shady's. So the place that I thought was called Al's.. was located almost directly across the street from Banks School on Banks School Road (not Falling Creek Rd). It was a pretty tiny Red building.. I believe the building is now white see link...

          http://tinyurl.com/y8ur236

          Growing up the only thing I remember people going nuts for was Bojangles, Captain's Corner Hot Dogs, Kings, Pizza Villa and Lovick's Dough burgers..

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            I don't know the place in the photo but that's not surprising.