Grocery stores - Outer Banks - Topsail
I'll be traveling to Topsail next week. We will have a kitchen, so that leads to - Where are the good places to buy food?
I'm specifically curious about Topsail, but will drive a bit for better options. I don't need a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, just good fresh produce and a decent selection of pantry/dairy, etc. Sometimes it seems like beach grocery stores are some of the worst - for example the only 'parmesan' they have is in a green jar.
Also, are there any farmer's markets in the area? I checked Local Harvest, but they didn't have anything listed.
Or fresh local seafood?
Everyone else has covered most of the bases. The "Just Baked" bakery that used to be part of the restaurant right after you turn south onto 50 moved a couple or so years ago to its own location on 210 right before the turn. It's pretty good, especially for sweets. I'm not as big on the bread but they're better than the La Brea parbaked stuff at Harris Teeter. Between Surf City Crab and the Harris Teeter we never need to go into Wilmington anymore. I've never found a produce stand I like at all though, including those mentioned here so far; would like to get some more suggestions. There must be someone who puts out just-picked summer vegetables within reasonable driving distance, maybe heading towards Sneads Ferry.
We like eating at the Beach Shop Grill near the pier since we normally stay nearby; we also liked the Bistro at Just Baked the few times we ate there; and we'll usually get a meal at Keith Rhodes' place Catch, on 17 not so far from Topsail.
The Harris Teeter is only 5 minutes from the Surf City Swing Bridge, left at the first traffic light and it's just down the road. it stocked rather well. There are two fish markets really close to the swing bridge, heading off the island, both are on the right, one just before the bridge and one just after the bridge.
The Hampstead Harris Teeter is a full-feature version of the chain--that is, once inside, you wouldn't know you weren't in the Triangle. Very well stocked. No evidence of anything local.
There's a produce stand across the street from the Teeter, but it was never open during our stay (8/5-12).
The only on-island grocery is an IGA in Surf City, which carries only the basics. Worked fine, though, when we figured out there was no salt in the house.
We bought crab from Surf City Seafood and shrimp and crab from Shrimp Shack, which is about a mile over the "big bridge" toward Sneads Ferry. Both were good, but I especially liked the presentation at Shrimp Shack. In-your-face honesty about what was local, what wasn't and what you should be wary of when shopping elsewhere. They also carry lots of things to prepare seafood with, from Old Bay to the fairly exotic, and a pretty good selection of wine and beer.
Enjoy your stay! After more than 30 years of trying different NC-SC beaches, it's our fave.
Topsail isn't considered part of the Outer Banks. Its far south of the OB and much closer to Wilmington. Its also not exactly a foodie paradise. On the island itself, there isn't a great grocery store. In Hampstead (20 minutes or so?) is a Harris-Teeter, a nice regional chain. Wilmington is another 20 minutes or so, with pretty much everything you can think of, food wise. There is a decent seafood market on the island:
There are usually folks set up along the side of the road approaching the island, as well as on Highway 17 on the way to Hampstead, selling local produce. Hope that helps.