Beyond Typical Beach Fare
Thanks to a blossoming food scene, visitors to Carolina Beach can indulge their palates alongside a laid-back island vacation. From a handful of restaurants known for their fresh, locally grown and sourced menus to notable hotspots, dining at Carolina Beach takes you beyond your typical beach fare. Add in an off-the-beaten-path seafood market and food-themed tours and events, visitors have a fresh possibility to consider for a food lovers’ vacation.
Sea- And Farm-To-Table
Calabash seafood meets elite craft cooking at Coast Craft Cocktails & Calabash. The restaurant pairs sustainable regional seafood with the best of local farms and rivers. Chef Craig Love strives to highlight and extend a shared culture of food, friends, family, fish and surf in everything he does. Coast focuses on elevated calabash cooking and coastal cocktails like the House Punch with fresh citrus flavor, pomegranate, bourbon and ginger beer. While the menu changes often, visitors will always find a fresh catch of the day, oysters and some of the South’s most beloved dishes including hush puppies, fish n' chips and more.
Salt Fish Restaurant and Tiki Bar serves up eclectic dinners with Caribbean and Polynesian influences all made using fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant has created a casual, island dining atmosphere showcasing seafood and meat entrees, enticing appetizers, fresh vegetables and more. Start your meal with Smoked Fish Dip or Jerk Chicken Lettuce Wraps, followed by a Shrimp, Chinese Sausage and Fried Rice-Stuffed Pineapple. Or try the Saigon Style Noodles tossed in a ginger soy sauce, or Crab Cakes with a smoked tomato remoulade for the main course. Savor the fresh flavors with a festive cocktail served in a tiki-themed glass.
Soul Flavor Kitchen & Bar offers everything from fresh catch dishes to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options – all using the freshest possible Southern ingredients. Everything is prepared completely in-house, including one of the signature dishes, Nana Maria’s Paella – a savory preparation of seafood in a vegetable and saffron tomato broth.
The beloved BBQ restaurant featured on PBS and the Food Network, Carolina Smokehouse, moved from its original location in Cashiers, N.C., to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. The western-style, fall-off-the-bone BBQ seaside restaurant with a view is known for its hardwood-smoked brisket, pork, ribs and chicken, as well as a homemade tomato-based barbecue sauce. Carolina Smokehouse serves Certified Angus Beef® and uses local fish and produce in all of its offerings.
"Delicious is an understatement," said Guy Fieri of the Duck Confit Wings when Fork N Cork was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The restaurant originated in downtown Wilmington and has expanded to include a location in Carolina Beach. Nosh on gourmet burgers with toppings like pimento cheese and Carolina slaw, savory sandwiches like the salmon club and sharable appetizers like classic poutine, and see why the restaurant has become a local favorite.
Lake Park Steakhouse welcomes guests of all ages to indulge in delicious steaks and seafood, offering everything from filet mignon to pork chops to scallops. Locals and visitors alike rave about the prime rib and build-your-own salad with over 20 toppings from which to choose. To accompany your dish, peruse the well-curated wine list.
For a polished but casual lunch or dinner, head to Havana’s where you’ll enjoy favorites like Cha-Cha Salmon, Fat Daddy Crab Cakes and Shrimp and Grits under the twinkly lights of three outdoor dining areas. Set in a 100-year-old beach house, the front porch and outside deck of the restaurant is also the perfect spot to watch the fireworks during the summer’s weekly Fireworks by the Sea and Boardwalk Blast.
Situated at the Carolina Beach Marina, Stoked Restaurant provides dock-and-dine, picturesque views, a menu offering something for everyone and seasonal live music. You’ll be stoked to enjoy “forkless features” like the Captains Fish Sandwich or Stoked Up Island Tacos for lunch. Dinner options include “from the sea” and “from the land” selections, ranging from the fresh catch to a bone-in pork chop or ribeye.
With daily specials including seafood, tacos, burgers and sandwiches showcasing local seafood and fresh ingredients, Hang Ten Grill is an island favorite. Relax on the elevated deck next to Carolina Beach Lake Park while enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner. Southern ingredients like fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese are combined with local shrimp, softshell crab and fresh beef to create a surf-inspired meal.
Expertly combining sweet and savory into unique pancake flavors, foodies will enjoy the variety of breakfast options at Kate’s Pancake House. Try Sweet Potato Pancakes with cinnamon chips, nuts and whipped topping, or indulge in the Death by Chocolate Pancakes smothered in chocolate syrup. This breakfast spot also serves up Chicken Waffles, more than 15 omelet options, a variety of benedicts and vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options like the Tofu Skillet and Healthy Breakfast Burrito.
Named one of the "Best Seafood Dives in America" by Coastal Living, Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar serves fresh seafood in a casual atmosphere. The menu features fresh seafood and the restaurant’s spin on surf and turf: oysters, shrimp or crab legs with chicken wings.
Nollie’s Taco Joint bills itself as the “Best Tacos and Burritos at the Beach” and operates on the belief that simplicity is best. Inspired by a skater vibe, meat options for its On-Time Tacos, Back-Flip Burritos, Kick-Flip Quesadillas, No Comply Nachos and Slash Grind Salads include “Airwalk Asada,” “Cross Bone Chicken” and “Power Slide Pork.”
Carolina Beach regulars have been coming to Gulfstream Restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner near the Carolina Beach Marina for more than 40 years. Diners can feast on a range of daily specials, classic Calabash-style seafood and creative offerings that range from tacos to Cajun pasta and more.
Foodie Tours and Events
Every year for more than a quarter-century, the annual Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival brings together freshly prepared local seafood and an impressive lineup of Grammy Award-winning blues & jazz performers set against a coastal backdrop. The event takes place in April at Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area in nearby Kure Beach.
Combine a love of good food with a thirst for learning during a Tasting History Tour of Carolina Beach and its neighbors, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. As you enjoy samplings from local restaurants, you’ll learn about the significant history of the island dating back to the Civil War during this guided walking tour.
Blackburn’s Brothers Seafood may be off the beaten path, but it’s known for providing the freshest seafood around. Offerings include a variety of fresh fish, mussels, oysters, clams, shrimp and crabs, along with fresh spices, sauces and knowledgeable, friendly staff.