Few scenes seem more signature of a beach vacation than a restaurant patio overlooking waves lapping the beach or the tranquil waters of the Intracoastal Waterway; and in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, fresh seafood with fantastic waterfront views is in no short supply. Each of our islands and towns are bursting with flavor and brimming with beautiful coastal views. The area boasts waterfront dining set along the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Fear River, the Intracoastal Waterway and more, making for memorable meals for any getaway to the Brunswick Islands. With so many unique places to see and sample, discovering where to dine next will be an exciting culinary adventure. Top off your foodie bucket list with a visit to “The Seafood Capital of the World” in Calabash, and you’re in for a treat! Take your pick of the below waterfront dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.
The Calabash seafood phenomenon began in the town of the same name, now home to several restaurants along the Calabash River. The folks at Waterfront Seafood Shack own their fishing and shrimp boats, and the fresh catches go straight to the seafood shack, ready to be prepared and eaten all in the same day. Visitors to this dining locale find themselves in the vacation mood with tiki-style décor and outdoor picnic tables for a true coastal dining experience by the water. Diners looking for scenic river views and an authentic Calabash seafood dining experience will find the perfect setting at Captain John’s Seafood House, Captain Nance’s Seafood, or Dockside Seafood House Restaurant. Visitors can also check out Calabash’s newest waterfront dining option, The Oyster Rock. Diners to The Oyster Rock can enjoy fresh seafood and scrumptious raw bar items with a scenic backdrop of the Calabash River.
Moving up the coast, Twin Lakes by the Sea in Sunset Beach boasts panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Take in the beautiful sunsets while you dine on fried, sautéed, grilled, broiled or blackened seafood. Chef Clayton Williams creates Calabash-style seafood with southern flare for guests to enjoy by the Intracoastal Waterway.
On nearby Ocean Isle Beach, The Isles Restaurant & Tiki Bar sits along the ocean, serving fresh seafood in a family-friendly atmosphere. Enjoy a summer evening at The Isles’ oceanfront tiki bar. Over on the Intracoastal Waterway, Sharky’s Restaurant is Ocean Isle’s oldest restaurant and features 200 feet of boat docking for easy water access. The menu includes a variety of seafood, along with unique twists on other casual dining favorites. Next door on the Waterway, the Ocean Isle Fish Company Restaurant features a tiki bar on its upper deck where diners can enjoy expansive views (including boats bringing fresh seafood right to the dock) while feasting on coastal favorites. On the other side of the causeway, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille overlooks the water with spectacular sunset views each evening. Menu items highlight fresh, local seafood, and guests can also get on island time at the restaurant’s raw oyster and tiki bars. On the mainland, The View at Brick Landing Plantation offers Intracoastal Waterway views from multiple patios and the spacious dining room. The restaurant’s seasonal menu is full of fresh seafood options and traditional dishes.
Toward the mainland, The Grillin’ Crab sits along the river on Shallotte’s Main Street. The restaurant’s covered waterfront deck is positioned perfectly for sunset views over the Shallotte River. Featuring Southern Coastal Fare, the menu showcases fresh seafood, along with prime cut steaks, as well as casual lunchtime options. On the Intracoastal Waterway and Shallotte River, the Inlet View Bar & Grill has been family owned and operated for nearly 40 years. Diners can savor fresh seafood with the shrimp on the menu coming straight from the family’s boat.
Several restaurants sit along the Intracoastal Waterway in Holden Beach. Dock House Seafood and More offers an eclectic menu with unique items including a seafood pot pie and a mac-n-cheeseburger with an elevated view of the Waterway, including outdoor seating. Famous for their incredible shrimp burgers, Provision Company is a laid-back, open-air dining destination providing views of the boats passing along the Waterway. Betty's Waterfront Restaurant specializes in seafood including combo platters and items from the steamer. It's menu favorites includes a Low Country Boil Pasta and shrimp & grits.
Back on the ocean, Island Way in Oak Island is a fine dining establishment with 18 large windows for guests to enjoy the coastal views. Perfecting steaks and seafood, the restaurant is ideal for celebrating a special occasion. On the other side of the island, the Fish House Restaurant offers fresh seafood and Intracoastal Waterway views. Just over the bridge to the mainland, The Dead End Saloon Fish Factory Grille is located at the South Harbour Marina on the Intracoastal Waterway. Bring the whole family to enjoy the dog-friendly patio, and the restaurant’s “fun” (rather than “fine”) dining and casual atmosphere. Also on the Marina, Joseph’s Italian Bistro serves award-winning cuisine with fantastic views of the Waterway. Try the fresh seafood options with the restaurant’s authentic Italian flavors.
Head over to Southport for views of the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway as they meet the Atlantic Ocean. The Historic Yacht Basin is a picturesque waterside area with a host of eateries featuring scenic water views, many accessible by both land and water. The well-known Fishy Fishy Café has true vacation vibes with colorful décor, fun cocktails and delicious seafood small plates and entrees. Be sure to catch a sunset from the outdoor deck! The menu at Yacht Basin Eatery includes homemade comfort food and North Carolina beers, all to be savored overlooking the stunning waterfront views. Next door, The Provision Company of Southport is a no-frills seafood shack offering quality seafood with unobstructed water views. Sit on the covered patio for a delicious meal, and feel the waterside breeze.The Frying Pan offers yet another option for admiring a breathtaking waterfront view with a spectacular meal, including variations of classic seafood dishes with southern twists. Oliver’s on the Cape Fear, originally a ships chandler dating back to the 1700s, is now a fine dining restaurant with large windows facing the water, ideal for watching boats make their way up or down the river from the Atlantic. Sip on a seasonal cocktail at the restaurant’s outdoor patio just steps from the water.
Half the fun of vacation is discovering new dining spots to taste culinary creations and local flavors of the area.
To explore more dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/dining.