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Uncrowded beaches area are what we usually see along the Crystal Coast.

We also are used to restaurants that are mostly small, family owned, and specializing fresh seafood.

I hope to review a number of restaurants on this site and to bring over a number of reviews that I have already done.

If you have good candidates for a review, drop me a note at

Here is a quick trip through some of my favorite area restaurants.

On the trail of some treats from the sea

If you are new to the area or just visiting, you might not know about some of the fantastic seafood treats that can be found in local restaurants. As we have sampled local restaurants over the last year, I believe we have upgraded our status to locals. While we still haven't hit every eatery, this list of favorite seafood meals provides something for everyone.

Shrimp are abundant on the Crystal Coast. They even make a great breakfast food. Yana's in Swansboro has great pancakes, but they also have a wonderful shrimp omelet.

Mike's in Emerald Isle also does some great omelets, but my favorite lunch dish there is their fried oyster special which usually comes with a cup their homemade soup. Sometime they even have stuffed pepper soup. I often sneak into Mike's just before their 2 pm afternoon closing.

If I am looking for a dinner order of fried oysters, Jordan's Seafood on Emerald Isle is really hard to beat. They also have some very good fried flounder. If it happens to be a Tuesday when Jordan's is closed, you can also get some great fried oysters at Capt. Charlie's Restaurant in Swansboro. Captain's Charlie's also has a wonderful broiled Tilapia.

One of our popular area fishes that visitors often have not tried is grouper. A great lunch sandwich served along our coast is the Grouper Grandwich which is available at the Ice House in Swansboro and at T&W's Oyster House on Route 58. It is a huge slab of fried grouper that dwarfs its bun.

Riverside Seafood and Steak has one of my favorite dinner grouper dishes. It is their House Grouper which is topped with lobster buerre blanc and two jumbo shrimp.

Soft shell crabs are one of the local delicacies that some folks are reluctant to try. If ever there was a soft shell crab appetizer that could win over a lot of converts, it is the one that is expertly prepared by Kathryn's Martini Bar and Bistro. It is stuffed with spinach and all sorts of other goodies.

One of my personal favorite dishes is fried whole clams. Until I found them at the Crab Shack in Salter Path, I thought I might have to go back to Boston to find the real thing instead of clam strips. Of course the Crab Shack also has blue crabs which are served steamed with Olde Bay spice and ground red pepper. Having lived in Maryland, I can confirm that they are Maryland style. They even come with saltines. North Carolina is a major source of blue crabs so everyone should enjoy some crab while on the Crystal Coast.

When it comes to shrimp, the choices are almost limitless. I have really enjoyed the wonderful fried shrimp at Rucker John's in Emerald Isle. My wife claims that the shrimp and grits dish at the Fairway Restaurant on Route 58 is the best that she has tasted. I also am fond of the shrimp melt sandwich as prepared by Finz when I am in the Beaufort area. Then there is wonderful shrimp burrito that El Zarape's in Emerald Isle fixes, and the tempura shrimp in Beaufort at Front Street Grille at Stillwater.

Also in Beaufort, I have had some great tuna at the Spouter Inn which accommodated me once by adding a fried softshell crab as a side to one of my meals. One of the well known North Carolina seafood spots is the Net House in Beaufort. While you hear mostly about their fried seafood, my wife loves their broiled grouper with dijon mustard. I think their steamed clams are pretty hard to beat.

I can also remember having a very good fried flounder lunch in Clawson's Pub in Beaufort and some very good shrimp and scallops at the Beaufort Grocery Store. Then there was that great salmon we had at the Blue Moon Bistro on our 31st anniversary three ago in Beaufort.

Of course, my absolute favorite seafood is fresh shrimp which I usually get from Clyde Phillip's Seafood between the bridges in Swansboro, we just clean them, boil them, chill and enjoy with some cold Kelchner's Cocktail Sauce. Of course that leads me to my favorite seafood recipes, but I will save those for another time.