Welcome to Calabash: “Seafood Capital of the World”

Seafood Capital

“Good Night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…”

 

Fans of classic television and radio will remember star Jimmy Durante and this infamous phrase, but not many know its connection to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Legend has it that while visiting Calabash, Durante was feeling a bit under the weather. A local restaurateur offered to fix him something to make him feel better. When she did, he told her he’d make her famous, and from that day forward, he closed each and every show with this tribute!

Fast forward to today and Mr. Durante would be right at home –  still delighted to find delectable shrimp, clams, fish and oysters coated in a light batter, quickly fried to lock in freshness and served up in very generous portions!  This is dining Calabash-style, and the reason the town has earned the title of “Seafood Capital of the World!”  Restaurants from coast to coast have tried to replicate the style, but there is nothing like the experience of enjoying it in its home town of Calabash.

Calabash seafood

As you drive down to the docks that line the Calabash River, restaurant after restaurant beckons – family-owned and each holding their secret recipes tight! Enjoy a bucket of oysters, platter of Calabash shrimp, crab, flounder and even a full menu for land lubbers, if you must.

Calabash waterfront

Check out this list of dining options that any foodie or seafood aficionado will appreciate:

Beck’s Restaurant

Calabash Seafood Hut

Capt. John’s Seafood House

Capt. Nance Seafood

Dockside Seafood House

Ella’s of Calabash

The Boundary House

Waterfront Seafood Shack Market and Eatery

Insider Tips:

After a filling meal of local Calabash seafood, a stroll along the docks is the perfect way to walk off those generous portions and take in the ambiance of a working waterfront.

Try a scoop (or two) of Calabash Creamery’s Cow-a-Bash Crunch ice cream named one of “50 irresistible ice cream flavors” by USA Today.

If you prefer cooking up your own seafood, you can buy freshly caught fish and shrimp right from the docks along Calabash’s waterfront. Or you can catch your own by going out on one of the charters that leave from Calabash.

Enjoy a Labor Day Getaway Without the Crowds in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

escape to the beach vacation of your childhood this Labor Day weekend in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While other vacation getaways become packed with fellow vacationers, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands remain a laid back retreat with plenty of elbow room along the beaches. Enjoy a quintessential island escape on this long weekend getaway to the Carolina coast.

DSC_7872_LRStroll through charming island towns and reminisce of your childhood seaside vacations. For the quintessential island experience, rent a beach bike to discover the treasures of the Islands for yourself. Meander through the historic tree-lined streets of Southport to admire historic picturesque Southern homes or wind your way through the dozens of specialty shops, art galleries and antique stores. Play one of the area’s 30 plus golf courses or take your adventure to the sky and climb one of the Brunswick Islands’ historic lighthouses for endless views of marsh, beach and water.

Dining HRaltWhat would a Labor Day Weekend be without memorable mouthwatering dining? Experience authentic Calabash seafood in the town that created “Calabash style”. Take advantage of outdoor dining options with gorgeous views along the Intracoastal Waterway. For dessert, sprinkle some extra sweetness on your weekend by testing out the frozen treats at numerous locally-owned creameries and ice cream shops throughout the Islands and the mainland.

kayaks at bridge SBSoak in the warmth of summer while sailing across salt or freshwater. Spend the day aboard a boat gazing out on the crystal blue ocean while deep sea fishing or basking in the sun alongside loved ones. If you’re looking for a more personal experience on the water, rent a paddleboard, kayak or canoe or take a guided tour to explore calm freshwater rivers or saltwater tides.

For an experience unique to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, grab your board and get ready to hang ten in the Oak Island Labor Day Surf Off. All levels and ages are invited to join in the sun, sand and surf at this annual event. Various age and surf categories will compete throughout the day in 15-minute heats. Children and adult surfers alike are welcome to join the Stand-Up Paddle board race later in the afternoon.

DSC_8114_BICYCLEThere is no need to face crowded beaches with a maze of umbrellas and towels this Labor Day Weekend. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the place to relax into the quintessential beach holiday getaway. And while some might consider Labor Day Weekend the last of summer, summer temperatures linger in the Brunswick Islands throughout all of September.  So even if you miss Labor Day in the Brunswick Islands, you still have time for that last summer vacation to the beach.  But don’t wait too late!

The Inside Scoop!

Flava Decorations 1“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that’s kind of the same thing!” says the sign outside Flava’s Ice Cream in Southport, NC. And who are we to argue? Better to step inside and enjoy a scoop of Death by Chocolate or their most popular flavor, Nutty Coconut, after a day out on the water or any of NC Brunswick Islands’ miles of pristine beaches!

In fact, you can easily satisfy your sweet tooth no matter where you are in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – each town and island has several choices as unique and individual as the islands themselves!

Holden Beach is home to two ice cream shops that are must-stops. Beaches N Cream’s all-original, small batch recipes use only the freshest, local ingredients that are free of harmful preservatives, additives and hormones for the ice cream purist. Try the Apple Crisp, Boston Cream Pie, Butter Brickle, or County Fair Funnel Cake – the winner of the 2016 New Flavor Contest! With a new flavor featured almost every day, there is always a reason to go back! Head to Fantasy Isle Ice Cream for a one-of-a-kind miniature golf course experience, shaded and hidden by oak trees. Their ice cream however, is no secret. Hundreds of photos of satisfied customers line the walls, and they boast a solid five-star ranking on Trip Advisor. Known for their brightly colored buckets of retro-50s candies, Sandman’s Candyland on Holden Beach also serves ice cream and shakes.

IMG_8791Calabash may be known as the “seafood capital of the world,” but Calabash Creamery sets the standard for old-fashioned ice cream by making it with 16 percent butter fat cream to give it a one-of-kind taste. More than 50 year-round and seasonal flavors, including Brownie Batter, Cinnamon Bun, Mango Tango and the home-town favorite, Cow-a-Bash Crunch, offer just as many reasons to stop in.

DSC_3847_OCEAN ISLE ICE CREAM_LRThe cute yellow building that welcomes you onto Ocean Isle Beach is the home of the Ocean Isle Creamery where you will find at least 17 homemade flavors every day! All the ice cream has its start from a dairy farm in Dunn, NC, and some of the creative creaminess includes Pecan Caramel Swirl, DreamSicle, Cotton Candy and the perennial favorite, German Chocolate Cake. The Ice Cream Shoppe, another favorite place to chill out on Ocean Isle Beach, celebrates its 30th summer this year with a great selection of splits and the best Strawberry Milkshake around!  Build your own sundae at Build a Sundae or have a side of fudge with your ice cream at Pete’s Sweets.

Because a trip to Sunset Beach isn’t complete without a stop at How Sweet It Is, make sure you sample the brightly primary-colored Play Dough ice cream at this adorable ice cream parlor! How sweet it is to have so many options, indeed! You can’t go wrong with their Dutch Chocolate, Banana Pudding or Sea Salt Caramel.

From their striped awning and walk-up window, Spike’s Dairy Bar in downtown Southport churns out favorites like Almond Joy, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and the “to-die-for” Coffee Mud Pie! Be sure to treat your four-legged family member with the ‘Pup Cup,’ a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a dog biscuit!

Leaky Tiki Sign 2cropThe largest of NC Brunswick Islands’ five barrier islands, Oak Island offers several choices. Frosty’s is legendary for its ice cream and the tantalizing aroma of house-made waffle cones. Top the cone with a generous scoop of Peanut Butter Chocolate or Butterfinger Ice Cream for the ultimate sweet treat! Also on Oak island, Leaky Tiki’s is great for a scoop of homemade ice cream and to pick up some house-made fudge for later.  In addition to ice cream, Tropical Treats offers a lighter take to cooling down with a variety of Italian ices and sno-cones. For a nostalgic taste, head to Dairy Queen for a Dilly Bar.

If you want to keep even lighter on the calories, touch down at Banana Boat Landing (Southport), Ocean Isle Creamery, or Back Porch Ice Cream (Calabash) where frozen yogurt is served alongside ice cream.

Maybe you can’t buy happiness, but you can certainly find it on NC’s Brunswick Islands!

Let Southport’s Yacht Basin Reel You In For Great Waterfront Dining!

Southport’s Yacht Basin is located where the Intracoastal Waterway, the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean meet; it’s also where an amazing convergence of waterfront dining options lure diners to experience local seafood, trend setting restaurants, seafood dives and quaint coastal-village charm.  This area in what was once a fishing industry town, connects firmly to Southport’s sea-faring history with a slew of restaurants now lining the docks.   Any of the decks, patios and outdoor dining options are perfect for watching for dolphins, sunsets and passing boats. What’s more, plenty of waterside “parking” means you can boat right up to dinner!

DSC_1482The eye-catching aqua exterior of Fishy Fishy Café hints at the Caribbean influenced fare of this favorite hot-spot!  Dine outside or in on specialties like Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp, Fish N Chips, Asian Tuna, or Blackened Salmon.  Live music makes for a great night out, and the bartenders can mix up a cool cocktail!  If Fishy Fishy looks familiar, fans of the guilty-pleasure TV series Revenge may recognize it as the setting for the bar where Jack worked!

A short stroll will take you to Yacht Basin Eatery.  A to-die-for view of the water and passing boats along with a wide selection of fresh seafood to burgers, sandwiches and salads, make this a favorite.  Dine on blackened grouper, Lobster Ravioli or Linguine with Red or White Clam Sauce while enjoying live music and a specialty drink from the extensive bar menu for a great night out!

DSC_1564Next door you’ll find Yacht Basin Provision Company, named #1 Seafood Dive in NC in the Spring of 2012 by Coastal Living magazine.  There’s always a line at the door as folks queue up for a menu featuring sandwiches from grilled yellowfin tuna to grouper salad to hamburgers and hot dogs as well as salads and sides.  Conch fritters and steamed shrimp are featured alongside daily specials, and cold beer is serve-yourself, straight out of the cooler on the honor system!  Does it get any better?  All seating is outdoors and offers prime views of the sunset and passing boats.

Sitting high atop pilings where the road meets the Cape Fear River, The Frying Pan offers a commanding view of the river and Bald Head Island.  From this lofty perch, fresh and local favorites such as sweet potato biscuits, pan seared seafood, a variety of fried seafood specialties, and mouth-watering homemade desserts are served up with spectacular waterfront views. Interesting fact, while its moniker certainly hints at a cooking style, the restaurant also pays homage to Frying Pan Shoals, a long, shifting area of rocky shoals just off the coast and nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic, as the area is littered with shipwrecks.

Flava Decorations 1And, what waterfront dining experience would be complete without a stop at an ice cream parlor? The tagline for Flava’s Ice Cream is “more flavors, more fun,” and with homemade brownies and cookies complementing custom and tried and true ice cream flavors, it’s the perfect after-dinner stop.  And, you can pick up the obligatory t-shirt, too!

Visit here to see  a list of additional great dining options in Southport and the rest of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.