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Hi All,

Headed down to the Outer Banks starting Saturday and into the following week. (I'll be staying in Southern Shores, south of Duck and North of Kitty Hawk.)

About a dozen of us have a house rented and will be doing most of our own cooking, but is there anything not to be missed?

With so many people and varying schedules, we won't sit down to anything fancy, but I'm sure we'll do some exploring, so I thought I'd see if anyone here was familiar with the territory.

Are there any walk in places where you can grab some fresh seafood (even maybe to cook up ourselves?), or maybe some BBQ? Where do the locals go?

Thanks for your attention!

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[Wrightsville Beach]

I have recently returned from a week-long vacation in WB and, as a public service to others who may follow ,shall offer the following observations.

First of all, we shared a beach house with three other couples so we prepared communal dinners four of the nights while we were there. As for restuarants, we had several trips out to eat.

Sweet and Savoury is an excellent choice for breakfast (and from the quality of the ingredients, for lunch and dinner as well I would wager) and close to the beach to boot. I kinda regret only visiting it once.

Hotdogs seem to be the ubiqiutouis lunch food. Several places, including the pick of the litter, the Trolley Stop (?), will actually deliver to you on the beach! The Palm Room (actually a divey beach pub on Salisbury Street) seems to hold universal acclaim from the locals for the best dogs in town. However on three trips to it, the "hotdog dude" never seemed to be available to man the grill. And the bartenders had no interest in filling in (however, if you just need to get out of the sun for a little bit, the Palm does offer free pool, foosball, darts and cheap beers until six).

We visited three restaurants for supper (dinner if you prefer) and had a couple of good experiences and one disappointing:

Jackson's Big Oak BBQ - seven miles from the beach on S. Kerr in Wilmington. Although I prefer my ribs with a KC or Memphis dry-rub, these unseasoned ribs were meaty and fall-off-the-bone tender, even if not as smokey as I expected. With a little bit of the good home-made vinegar sauce or hot sauces on the table it was quite good. The chicken was quite good as well. Excellent sides- especially the hush puppies and cornsticks.

But the star was the pulled pork - one of the top five I've ever had. I took a side-trip on the way out of town and bought a pound to go. My only qualm with the place was the lack of a wood-pile out back (admittedly there was a huge locked shed right next to the back door, so who knows).

The Fish House - right in Wrightsville on the Intracoastal with trawlers all around it. Sounds promising right? Fuggetaboutit! I'd rather have gone to a Shoney's. Only redeeming factor was a helpful and...well...cute...waitstaff.

22 North - on Lumina in Wrightsville Beach and finalist for 2005 Restaurant of the Year in Wilmingtonian(?) magazine. Superlatives fail me! One of the best seafood restaurants I've EVER been to.

Since they buy their seafood from Motts Channel Seafood each morning the menu specials change with whatever Mott's trawlers brought in. Everyone at our table, with the exception of your's truly ordered the flounder and grouper entrees of the night and both dishes might well have been the best fish I've ever tasted. Although a rather odd combination, our waitress suggested people try the mashed potatoes with their entree. Excellent call! Buttery, just slightly garlicy and a hint of pepper as well. I would have ate a plate of that alone.

I bucked the trend and had the shrimp scampi, mainly because I wanted to taste local as opposed to farm raised shrimp for once. Generous mound of shrimp serverd up on a fettucine which proved an excellent mop for the sauce (which might have been better served with a tad more garlic, but that would be a petty quip).

Appetizers: and excellent crab and spinach dip and chicken wings which included a good traditional buffalo style sauce and a honey/ginger sauce that garnered 22 North the "Best Wings in Town" award from the local version of Washingtonian magazine.

As an aside I should note the drinks. Most of our table ordered martini's. Each person got a glass and a shaker which held three glasses worth of martini! Price? $6.50! Heck, my gin & tonics were just $2.50.

One further note on 22 North - it has a huge bar in the back (bigger than the restaurant in the front in fact) and after 10 p.m. they start clearing tables out of the front. Come midnight it is apparently the "in" scene on the island. Although we weren't in anyway rushed, by the time we left at 10:30 p.m. the transition was becoming very obvious. So, if you're ever there get seated by 9 p.m.

Although I've never been to WB, NC before, I've already resolved to go again next year just to justify visiting 22 North again.

However, food shopping in Wrightsville was a trial. Robert's Grocery Store (in business since 1919!) is the only grocery on the island and has a limited selection of fresh meats, but a serviceable selection of fresh vegetables. A similarly decent wine and beer selection as well. Fortunately, probably just about a mile over the Intracoastal Waterway (maybe three miles from the beach) is a Harris-Teeter that offers everything you need. Not walkable like Robert's, and kinda hidden off of U.S 74, but close enough. Mott's is very close by as well.

I endeared myself to the housemates by firing up the house Weber and bbqing a boston butt (regular price just $1.89 a lb!!!) overnight and during the one day it rained and there was little else to do except play UNO and Scrabble anyway. It wasn't too bad, but not as good as Jackson's either - I couldn't find any oak or hickory. And a whole grouper (en papillote) and shrimp (skewered) fresh from Mott's on another evening.

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I go to Topsail every year, and have found that for the most part I am best off cooking myself. I will need to give 22 North a try next summer.

You should take the time to get some shrimp right off the boat and cook them yourself. I find that if you create a flavorful pot of water, bring it to a boil, turn off the heat, and dump in the shrimp. It only takes about a minute to cook them through to be just turning opaque.

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Robert's chicken salad sandwiches and Trolley Stop dogs sustained me through many a summer at Wrightsville. Glad you had fun down there.

We've been going to Holden Beach about 30 miles south for as long as I've been alive. One of our favorite parts? No restaurants (well none worth patronizing - my favorite is one with a giant shark crashing through the front...very inviting). Just Cap'n Pete's seafood under the bridge for fresh off the boat shrimp, fish and crabs.

It's funny how some people's idea of vacation is never cooking and for others it's having time to cook every day. :lol:

PS - As an NC native, I LOVE your signature Stitch.

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My uncle owns a place called the Red Drum Taphouse near mile 10 or 11 (?). Local hangout with great fried oysters. I haven't been in about five years, but if they're still around, you may also want to check out Tortuga's Lie for some local color.

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Sthitch and oliveDC:

For my future reference, I read quite a bit about Calabash style dining while I was down there. Would it be worth a road-trip down the coast? Or will I find just as good in Carolina Beach, Holden and Topsail?

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I have never driven down to Calabash so I cannot say. Like I mentioned before, I generally cook while I am there. I find that it is calming for me to spend a day in the kitchen while my screaming nieces and nephew are roaming the beach.

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PS - As an NC native, I LOVE your signature Stitch.

Dennis Rogers writes for the Raleigh News & Observer, and has proclaimed himself the "Oracle of the Holy Grub".

I should say that the best food I find is on the way to the beach when I stop in Ayden, or Goldsboro for some BBQ. Next year I hope to try B's in Greenville.

Edited by Sthitch

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Sthitch and oliveDC:

  For my future reference, I read quite a bit about Calabash style dining while I was down there. Would it be worth a road-trip down the coast? Or will I find just as good in Carolina Beach, Holden and Topsail?

To be honest, all Calabash dining amounts to is deep fried seafood served in portions large enough to induce cardiac arrest. If you've found a good fried seafood place to get your fix, then there's probably no point in driving down there. That said, it can be fun working through your heap of greasy seafood in one of the dingy places down there.

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Headed down to Corolla in the Outer Banks for all of next week -- anyone have any suggestions? We'll be dining in most of the time, but I'd love to hear of some good seafood and BBQ places. The Red Drum sounds right up our alley.

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Well I'm back so I thought I'd give a brief report.

The house we got was so swank and so close to the beach that I didn't leave the compound the entire time I was there. But I did manage to stop at the High Cotton BBQ place on the way out of town since it was right on the way.

While not the best I've ever had, it was pretty darn good stuff, and cheap. For $4.95, I got a pulled pork sandwich combo that came with two sides and cornbread. One of the sides was a Brunswick stew, which was filled with pulled chicken and vegetables. I'm still impressed that it was considered a side when it was hearty enough to be a main course. The corn bread was unique in that it was more like a corn brownie. I think I would have preferred traditional, but it wasn't bad. The pork itself was also tasty.

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We have a house in the OBX which we go to usually during off season. We went this past weekend and my favorite restaurant was closed for renovations.The Blue Point Bar and Grill. This place could compete with alot of the restaurants here in DC. Check it out hereBlue Point

I also noticed that a bunch of new places have opened. Did anyone go this past summer? Any reviews on the new places? Thanks, I am going back in a few weeks to work on the house.

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We went last summer but I don't think we went anywere "new". Here's a report I made on Chowhound shortly after returning.....

Just returned from the Outer Banks and had three good-great dining experiences. We went to Meridian 42 for an evening out without the kids. It's a lovely space with a Mediterranian flair....but their AC could use a little help. It was pretty steamy. We started off with the White truffle foudue which was decadant and everyone was surprised how much they enjoyed. Perfect for sharing. The table also had two orders of the tuna sashimi, which was raved about by all. All three salad options were quite tasty and had lovely presentation. For entrees, a couple had the crabcake special. They enjoyed both the crabcake and the monster stuffed pastas as a side, but felt the crabcake would have been better if served a little more simply. The sea scallops were big and plump, but slightly over seared, in my opinion. The shrimp on the side out-shined the scallops. The rest of the table ordered the Pistachio crusted white fish (I think it was halibut??) and enjoyed it greatly. Desserts were ordered...but I can't remember any expect the lemon-buttermild gelato, which was refreshing and lovely.

The next evening we took the kids and headed to long-time favorite Tortuga's Lie. The restaurant has such a great beachy feel; without feeling touisty. The staff was terrific; especially when dealing with a group of 13! There were plenty of options on the regular menu for the kids (who got to sit alone and order for themselves!) Two of the adults had the steamed seafood platters (Shrimp, clams and Alaskan King Crab Legs). I was sorry I hadn't gotten the same. I had the grilled pineapple shrimp kabobs with black beans and rice. Quite tasty but slightly over cooked.

Our last evening we stopped in to the Kill Devil Grill for dinner with the kids. Several in our group had been before and had been itching to return. We all had the steak and cheese eggrolls for starters. They were rich and cheesy with an unnecessary marinara sacue on the side for dipping. The kids menu was terrific with VERY generous servings. I had the shrimp and cheese grits which were terrific! It was the first time during the week that the seafood I'd ordered hadn't been slightly overcooked. Two at the table had the ribs which were absolutely fall-off-the-bone tender. YUM! Two ordered a couple of their entree salads which looked fresh and nicely topped with tuna and a crabcake, respectively. While the menu at the Kill Devil Grill is somewhat more narrow (and not as beachy), the quality of the food was somewhat higher and cheaper than that at Tortuga's Lie.

All three restaurants come with solid recommendations and the hopes of returning in the future.

Edited to add: I decided to take a quick gander at Meridian 42's menu to see if I could remember any more about our dinner there. They have obviously updated their menu for winter seasonality and it sounds great. So my comments in regards to the August dinner may no longer be relevant. But I'd still happily give it another try based on my positive experience.

Edited by Free Wilma

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Anyone been to the OBX this summer? Any new places to recommend? General we do at least one night out without kids. We're staying in Nags Head so I'm not as interested in driving all the way up to Corolla. We enjoyed Meridan 42, Tortugas Lie and Kill Devil Grill greatly last summer.

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Are there any good restaurants in the Wilmington area
Only if you like fried seafood. Other than that I have yet to find anything worth while. I understand that half way between Wilimington, and Jacksonville there is a decent restaurant, I will try to find out the name of it. This would only be a realistic option if you were in the Topsail/Surf City area.

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Is it Indigo Landing? My mom lives in that area & she told me that she & some friends ate there the other night & that it was delicious...

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Wow. I had many good meals in downtown Wilmington when I spent a summer there during law school. In fact the original Port City Java is in downtown Wilmington. I used to love Deluxe

These places look extremely promising:

Portland Grille

Water Street Restaurant

Also, there was this total greasy spoon downtown that I loved for the atmosphere and grease.

If you don't like beach food, then venture to the adorable downtown for what is probably not bad food at all...

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Wow. I had many good meals in downtown Wilmington when I spent a summer there during law school. In fact the original Port City Java is in downtown Wilmington. I used to love Deluxe

These places look extremely promising:

Portland Grille

Water Street Restaurant

Also, there was this total greasy spoon downtown that I loved for the atmosphere and grease.

If you don't like beach food, then venture to the adorable downtown for what is probably not bad food at all...

We had a very pleasant dinner at the Water Street Restaurant this summer. Very friendly. pubby atmosphere. The food was not spectactular, but quite good, and you're across the street from the river.

Ignacio

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Down-home joints-RiverView restaurant in Sneads Ferry, good fried rock shrimp, home-made pies, close to Topsail Beach, -unfortunately , these local places are being phased out....

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what's the deal with Wilmington? I have never been but friends are considering buying down there. is it a good beach vacation location?

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I guess I can answer this-Wilmington is a smaller town, w/ lots of northern immigrants. Beach property is probably priced a little lower than some places-Wilmington has some small businesses, a state university-UNC-W, but if you want privacy & quiet, go a few miles north to Topsail Beach-I grew up in this area & Topsail is still very isolated & quiet-there is literally nothing in this area-the beaches are still wide open (& not totally safe, there are undertows in the area)....

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