Dining in Crystal Coast, North Carolina

Famous Food in Crystal Coast, North Carolina

Chefs understand that vacation is the one time of year that you can get away without having a care in the world. Because of this, they want to make food the last thing you worry about but the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Crystal Coast. From upscale seafood restaurants to local barbecue joints, there will be something on the menus to suit every budget and every palate.

While the big season for farmers’ markets lies between the beginning of May and Labor Day, a few of the more well-known farmers’ markets are open all year-round and allow you to sample all sorts of local treats that burst onto the scene well after summertime. Some of the favorites here are sweet potatoes, acorn and butternut squash, pumpkin, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, kale and wild mushrooms.

Produce at the Farmers' Market

Produce at the Farmers’ Market

Let’s not forget the main attraction that draws folks from all around to North Carolina’s shores: the fresh bounty of seafood. During various parts of the year, seafood markets will supply locally caught offerings of:

  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Soft shell crabs
  • A rich assortment of fish
  • Some of the most popular seafood dishes you’ll find on restaurant menus are shrimp burgers (fried shrimp on a bun with coleslaw and sauce), clam chowder and anything made out of crab. Perhaps the most famous way to serve crabmeat is in the form of crab cakes. Every chef has their own recipe, and of course every chef claims that their recipe is “the best there is,” although few are willing to share the secret ingredient.

    The fresh catch of the day is also served in an endless amount of ways—steamed, fried, blackened or “Calabash-style,” which means lightly breaded in seasoned cornmeal. Area chefs use their creative license to create delicious dishes you could never dream up on your own, combining seafood and fresh ingredients from local farms.

    flounder caught fishing

    Caught Flounder

    However, the most famous dish in the Tar Heel state has to be Carolina barbecue. First, understand that the word “barbecue” and the word “grilling” are not synonymous, and in this neck of the woods, barbecue means pork; not chicken or beef. Carolina barbecue is a combination of pork, heat and smoke that makes for tender, rich, succulent meat that is chopped and usually paired with a thin vinegar sauce. There are some varieties in the way barbecue is cooked, but nobody is more proud of their barbecue than North Carolinians.

    Whether you choose barbecue, seafood or juicy steak, you’ll be delighted by the dining options on the Crystal Coast, from casual family restaurants to upscale eateries—or dining in the comfort of your beach home. But no matter where you eat, rest assured you’ll get a scrumptious helping of local treats with a side of that good old-fashioned Southern charm with every meal.

    See here for a list of Restaurant Guides while vacationing in Crystal Coast!

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