Good Child-Friendly Restaurants in Emerald Isle Area
My extended family and I will be staying in the Emerald Isle area week after next. The house we are renting is in Indian Beach. We will have 8 children (8 and under) and 8 adults. For obvious reasons, we are planning to cook most meals at the house. However, we would like to go out to dinner at least one evening, and I would like to find a place that has really good food and that would be ok for a group of children that large. I understand that this may be a tall order. We are willing to drive as far as Beaufort or Morehead City. Any info about good markets for seafood and produce would also be much appreciated. Thanks!
Just back from the Emerald Isle area and I wanted to report back. First of all, we loved the area. Great place for a family vacation! Circle Pizza in EI received a thumbs up from all. Best of all, they delivered to the house we were renting in Indian Beach. Great pizza and timely delivery. We ended up going to the Ruddy Duck for our family dinner, which was another hit with everyone. Nice casual and non-touristy setting on the Morehead City waterfront. Outboard motor dividing wall was a cool touch. They have one table in the back that will accommodate up to 14 people, so they split us into two tables of 8 next to each other. They have a limited kids menu (no seafood) which is not posted on their website but also allow sharing regular menu items without an extra charge, which is what we did for our 3 seafood loving boys. They do not take reservations so we arrived at 4:30 to make sure we got the table that would work for us. Ordered an appetizer and waited for the specials that are introduced at 5. I had the pecan encrusted flounder, which was very good. Other highlights were the seared tuna salad with Thai chili vinaigrette and the mixed seafood jambalaya. RD also has a full selection of fried Calabash-style seafood, lightly breaded and cooked well, and for the best price I saw in the area. I highly recommend Ruddy Duck.
We also stopped at the Big Oak Drive-In for shrimp burgers, which my husband enjoyed. Great fries, hush puppies, and Onion Rings.
The only thumbs-down dining experience was The Queens-Anne Revenge in Beaufort, which was recommended by the Maritime Museum Staff. We were told that Beaufort Grocery Co. and Spouter Inn would not be appropriate for 3 small children. QAR has a nice outdoor dining area on the waterfront but that is the best thing I can say about the restaurant. My grilled mahi tasted boiled and my husband's soft-shell crab sandwich was so hard he couldn't chew it! Cant recommend.
Thanks for all the recommendations!
Port of Call would work and is very good. Neither Amos Mosquitos nor Ruddy Duck probably would be a good choice with that many children at one time, although both are good and worth a try. Sammy's Ice House, across the street from Ruddy Duck, would be a good choice as well. A place closer to you that could accomodate your party would be Rucker John's. The Crab Shack probably would work, but call first just to make sure and perhaps get a reservation.
Great take out pizza close to you is Circle Pizza at EI. Jordan's Seafood Restaurant at EI could accomodate your needs also, but the food can be spotty... both Sanitary and Captain Bill's (in Morehead City) are horribly bad now and are living on past reputation only.
As far as seafood markets, try Captain Willis'. They have a location in EI and another one in Salter Path.
Thanks so much all for the advice. Question for goodeatsinadive. Why do you say that neither Amos Mosquitos nor Ruddy Duck work for our group? As for the Crab Shack, I couldn't find an online menu, and online reviews, which are granted questionable, were really mixed. Seems like mostly standard fried seafood, which is OK by everyone but me : > (but I'll deal with it), and a good location. Do you know anything more about the place? Thanks again for your detailed response!
Crab Shack is primarily fried (Calabash style). It is very good; we've eaten there for years. It is typically a locals joint - we have friends that I grew up with that have lived there for the past 15 or so years, they're the ones that introduced the Crab Shack to us.
Between Amos Mosquitos and RD, you may have better luck with AM. The main reason I said I didn't think they'd work is both space wise and the fact that during tourist season they tend to try to turn tables as quickly as possible. AM would probably be better able to accomodate your space issues and also may have a more kid friendly menu tha RD.
RD can be tight inside, and I've never seen a large group that included a number of children there during this time of year. Between the two, RD is my favorite and we always dine there (frequently on extended stays) when we visit that area. I would advise you to call ahead to both places and inquire about the possibility of them being able to serve you. If they both say they can, then by all means, go to both!
Port of Call has a nice outside dining area on their dock; it's covered and has picnic tables that will seat 6 or 8 at each one. It's especially nice when there's a little breeze in the late afternoon / early evening. As with the other places, call ahead and let them know about your group.
Good luck; enjoy your trip, and please let us know how you fared!
Hmm, in Emerald Isle now and was just going to post about produce/farm stands--also looking for one and didn't see many/or any open on our way in yesterday on 58. Would love to know of a good one near here.
Wish I could help you on the restaurant scene. We used to always go to the Sanitary Fish Market in Morehead City when I was a kid (30+ years ago). They could def accomodate your group, but the last meal we had there (maybe 6 years ago or more) wasn't that great. But it is on the water and an institution.
I can't give you a definitive answer to your question, but I can say that you are going to have a hard time finding a place that can accomodate your group AND provide great food. Most of the top flight places in Morehead City/Beaufort are pretty small, and not really suitable for large groups with lots of small children.
That said, I would recommend you look at Amos Mosquitos, in Atlantic Beach, and the Ruddy Duck, in Morehead City. I haven't eaten at either, but I've seen comments on here that indicate at least some people think the food is decent, and I think they can accomodate your group. i'd definitely call them and ask, and see if they take reservations for a group your size. Good luck!
Here is a previous post that has some info on seafood markets and produce stands: