A Fresh Look at Calabash

Shrimp boats bring fresh seafood to the Calabash waterfront

Outstanding food, beautiful views, and a rich history lead to a memorable dining experience and few places can match Calabash in these attributes, especially for seafood lovers.

For generations, visitors to the Brunswick Islands and surrounding counties have made the trek to Calabash for its world renowned seafood. At first, local fishermen and their families served up fresh seafood straight from the boat right on the banks of the Calabash River. Then in the 1930s, these families opened restaurants near the waterfront serving uniquely delicious, lightly breaded fried seafood. This style of cooking became known as Calabash-style seafood and led to the sleepy fishing village earning the nickname “Seafood Capital of the World.” Other restaurants have tried to imitate the Calabash-style of preparing seafood, but nothing compares to enjoying authentic Calabash seafood where it all originated.

calabash seafood

Even today, shrimp boats still call the Calabash waterfront their home and their daily catch can be purchased fresh from the boats right on the docks. These days, the shrimp boats are joined by fishing charters and head boats providing half day and full day fishing excursions. Not a fisherman? Try a two hour dolphin cruise or a sunset cruise that will delight the whole family! Or simply take in the quiet beauty of a walk on the docks after a perfect meal of shrimp, clams, oysters, fish or scallops. And if you’re there in the early morning or in the evening you’ll be amazed at how the shrimp boat captains deftly maneuver the large boats along side the docks.

Delight Your Taste Buds

Whether you are a tried and true Calabash traditionalist or looking for a contemporary variation, longstanding and new restaurants abound with seafood choices. From a classic Calabash fried seafood platter to signature oyster dishes to the catch of the day served fried, broiled, blackened or sauteed, you’ll be sure to find a dish to dazzle your taste buds along with a friendly atmosphere. Whether you choose a restaurant with a waterfront view or one located “up the hill”, you can’t go wrong. The restaurants of Calabash routinely make the lists of must visit seafood establishments in publications such as Southern Living and Coastal Living. Be sure that Beck’s RestaurantThe Boundary House, Calabash Seafood HutCapt. John’s Seafood HouseCaptain Nance’s SeafoodDockside Seafood HouseElla’s of Calabash, The Oyster Rock or Waterfront Seafood Shack is on your dining list.

Enjoy Calabash seafood with waterfront views

Non-Seafood Offerings

For visitors looking for alternative dining options, Calabash has something that will please every palate! Calabash Gourmet & Sushi Bar offers fresh sushi and sizzling Mongolian fare. Grapevine Restaurant serves up pastas, salads, and seafood with a Mediterranean flair. MMM Que Rico brings the tastes of Peru and Argentina to Calabash. There’s also places serving deli favorites, pizza, southern fare, bagels, hot dogs, burgers and more. If you are in the mood for something sweet, try the delicious ice cream flavors at Calabash Creamery. Its Cow-a-Bash Crunch ice cream was included by USA Today in its list of “50 irresistible ice cream flavors.” Then once you’ve completed your culinary adventure through Calabash, grab a brew at the craft beer bottle shop, Coastal Craft Beverage Co.

Half the fun of vacation is discovering new dining spots to taste culinary creations and local flavors of the area, and if Calabash isn’t on your foodie radar yet, it should be. To explore all of the dining options in Calabash or to plan your trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

5 Outstanding Oyster Dishes in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

oyster

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… oysters! Oyster season is upon us here in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! Serving up classic dishes like Oysters Rockefeller to steamer pots big enough for the whole family, there isn’t a better place to kick off oyster season than in the Brunswick Islands!

From upscale waterfront restaurants to casual, family-friendly eateries to a major festival dedicated to these yummy mollusks, the options for oysters in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are endless!

Check out these five outstanding oyster dishes found in the Brunswick Islands:

1. Pit Roasted Oysters – The Oyster Rock, Calabash

The Oyster Rock is known for many things but most notably is their oysters – I mean it is in the name! They offer a variety of oyster dishes but one of their most popular entrees is the Pit Roasted Oysters. Cooked over a custom outdoor pit, these oysters are served up plump, juicy and piping hot, ready to eat! As an added bonus The Oyster Rock is located on the banks of the Calabash River and has a beautiful outdoor seating section perfect for watching the fishing boats come in.

If you prefer your oysters fried, then stick around Calabash for some authentic Calabash seafood! This unique style of seafood comes lightly breaded and fried to perfection. Get your seafood prepared Calabash style whether it be oysters, shrimp, flounder, scallops or the catch of the day!

2. Steamer’s Pot – Castaways Raw Bar and Grill, Holden Beach

Head on over to Castaways Raw Bar and Grill in Holden Beach for your next oyster feast! This local hot spot is home to many unique, mouthwatering dishes but none more so than the Steamer’s Pot. Made to share, this southern staple consists of oysters, crab legs, clams, mussels, shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, sausages and red potatoes, all steamed together in a pot with Old Bay and herbs. Or, if you want a cooler option try the Seafood Tower! Served on ice, the Seafood Tower is built with little neck clams, mussels, peel-n-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell and a half pound of crab legs.

3. Oysters Rockefeller – Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille, Ocean Isle Beach

Located on the Ocean Isle Beach Intracoastal Waterway, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Nothing can beat the view of a sunset from their outdoor deck, except maybe their food! Jinks Creek serves up a variety of oyster dishes, but if you are looking for a coastal classic then try the Oysters Rockefeller- freshly shucked local oysters topped with pernod cream, chopped farm greens and bacon, oven broiled and served at the perfect steaming temperature!

4. Oyster Toppings – Moore Street Oyster Bar, Southport

Located in what was a 19th century pharmacy in downtown Southport, the Moore Street Oyster Bar has been beautifully transformed into a lively, family-friendly restaurant. Depending on the season, Moore Street Oyster Bar offers a rotating variety of oysters brought in from all over the east coast. Once your oysters are picked then comes the difficult part… choosing the toppings! Moore Street Oyster Bar has six hot oyster dish toppings to choose from and three cold options. And for the oyster lovers 21 and over in the group, try a Moore Street Oyster Bar specialty… The Oyster Shooter! This shooter combines Tito’s Vodka, lemon horseradish ice, house-made hot sauce and a raw oyster! This is one oyster stop you won’t want to skip.

5. Beginner vs Pro Oyster Baskets – Swain Seafood Shack, Oak Island

As the largest of Brunswick County’s barrier islands, Oak Island is home to many incredible dinning options, but one restaurant that comes to mind is the Swain Seafood Shack. With oyster baskets designed for the eager and the hungry, this is the family oyster lovers paradise! The Beginner Baskets serve up 6-7 ounces of fried oysters along side homemade shack chips, hush puppies and coleslaw, where as the Pro Baskets come with a hearty helping of 9-10 ounces of delicious fried oysters!

oysters

From classically coastal dishes to pit roasted oysters to uniquely topped oysters on the half shell, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is serving up the best raw, steamed and fried oysters around! Not convinced? Well then check out the 39th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival in Ocean Isle Beach on October 19 – 20! This event features live entertainment, an arts and crafts show and a variety of delicious food options, including all the oysters you can eat. And for a little healthy competition, check out the oyster shucking contest, oyster eating contest or the oyster stew cook-off.

For more information on dinning, events and more in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

FALL in Love with North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

september and October in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are packed with events attracting everyone from music lovers to runners to anglers to foodies to festival goers. Adults and children alike can enjoy a variety of attractions including fishing tournaments, movie nights on the lawn, grape stomping, sandcastle building, and a surf off. Add these exciting events with mild weather and great rates on accommodations and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable fall getaway. Here’s just a taste of our fall featured events:

Sixth Annual Southport Wooden Boat Show

Southport Wooden Boat ShowThe Southport Wooden Boat Show offers a chance to admire wooden boats, and talk with those who are passionate about making and owning them. The event will feature a contest where judges will be awarding the outstanding boat in a variety of categories, “Nauti-kids” activities for the young sailors, and nautical and maritime demonstrations. Exhibits from the North Carolina Aquarium and The Ft. Fisher Underwater Archaeology Branch will be on display throughout the afternoon. There will also be a Seafood Chowder Cook-off featuring five teams competing to win cash prizes and the title of the 2015 “SWBS Chowder Champion.”

North Carolina Oyster Festival

DSC_1242_Oyster EatersThe biggest food event of the season is the 35th annual North Carolina Oyster Festival that transforms the streets of Ocean Isle Beach into an open-air walking district, and boasts the best local cuisine, arts, crafts and entertainment. An Oyster Shucking Contest features professionals competing for the state title, perhaps dreaming of the national, or even the World Championships in Galway, Ireland. Amateurs are welcome to try their luck at local recognition. An Oyster Stew Cook-off allows attendees to try and rate local chef’s best recipes. More than 15 food and beverage vendors will be there offering everything from seafood and landlubber delights, to healthy or fun festival food.  Live music will be featured throughout the weekend.

NC Festival By The Sea

P1000027This two-day event kicks off with a parade down the Holden Beach causeway –  the one day of each year that locals and guests alike can enjoy the views of the Holden Beach Bridge on foot. Hundreds can enjoy taking pictures and absorbing the sights from the top of the bridge. A horseshoe tournament and sandcastle contest entertains the more competitive while kids can enjoy face painting, kite flying and more. The festival will also feature live music, arts and crafts and food vendors.

Check out our calendar of events for a full list of fun fall events!

Oyster Lovers, This Festival is Just for You!

Love fried and steamed oysters? Then plan to be in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands the weekend of October 18-19, 2014 for the 34th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival.

This two day event is full of food and fun activities that everyone can enjoy. Popular events at the North Carolina Oyster Festival include the Oyster Shucking Contest (Saturday, October 18), where festival goers can enjoy watching the shuckers compete for the title of 2014 North Carolina Oyster Shucking Champion. At the Oyster Stew Cook-off (Sunday, October 19), competitors are given the chance to show off their culinary skills and draw attention to their delicious oyster stew.   The NC Oyster Festival Road Race (Sunday, October 19) will include a 5K, 10K and 1 Mile Fun Run.

Two new events added this year are an Oyster Eating Contest as well as a Shag Competition, where people can compete for the “Shaggin’ Oyster” titles hosted by the Coastal Shag Club. The festival will also feature live music, arts and crafts vendors, a kid’s area and plenty of other local cuisine, including seafood, BBQ, pizza and crab cakes, desserts and beverages.

The festival will be located adjacent to the Museum of Coastal Carolina on Ocean Isle Beach, which will be open and decorated for Halloween. Admission to the Festival is $5.00; children eight and under, free.

Parking for the festival is on the mainland of Ocean Isle Beach, just across from the airport as well as Causeway Drive.  Handicap drop-off is available, while parking and shuttle service to the festival are complimentary.

If that’s not enough oysters for you, you’re in luck.   The Shallotte Oyster, harvested from the creeks and marshes along the Shallotte River starting in October, is highly-prized for its extra-salty flavor. Distinguished from more well-known single oysters, the Shallotte Oyster is longer and narrower in shape and grows in clumps of four to five, making it best served steamed. During the fall, visitors can find them at area seafood markets and restaurants – if the locals haven’t scooped them all up yet!

North Carolina Oyster Festival

Ocean Isle Beach

Saturday, October 18, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sunday, October 19, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.