Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, and Beaufort are three lovely towns on the beautiful Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Beaufort, founded in 1709, is a sailing harbor town with a great view of the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve. Morehead City, founded in 1860, is home to a large ship port and a fun fishing waterfront. Atlantic Beach, founded in the 1880s, is on the Bogue Banks between Fort Macon and Pine Knoll Shores.
Eating fresh seafood is a major activity for me when visiting the Crystal Coast. I always try to make time for dinner at Amos Mosquito’s in Atlantic Beach. This restaurant and bar is located on the sound side and is open Tuesday through Saturday at 5 pm. I like to sit in the comfy booths in the bar, but the restaurant has fun décor and a view of the water. Crab, shrimp, oysters, and tuna all have beautiful spots on the appetizer and entrée menus. The cooking is eclectic with Southern, Asian, and Latino spins. It’s really fun to go with enough people to be able to order all the appetizers! Local beers on draft, a nice wine list, and fun cocktails round out the offerings. The restaurant does not take reservations, and the line starts forming well before 5 pm. http://www.amosmosquitos.com/
A great place for lunch is the Big Oak Drive-In in Salter Path. Head west on Fort Macon Road and Big Oak is on the ocean side. You get out of your car and stand in line at the order window. You can choose North Carolina pork barbecue, hamburgers, corn dogs, or a fried seafood plate. Plates come with hush puppies, coleslaw, and French fries. The Big Oak is famous for their shrimp burger, a North Carolina specialty. A nice hamburger bun is coated with tartar sauce. A layer of coleslaw is added, then fried popcorn shrimp, and a touch of ketchup. We enjoyed ours by driving across the street to a parking lot with a view of the sound, rolled down the windows for some ocean air, put some beach music on the radio, and enjoyed this wonderful mixture of flavors. There is something about eating just-fried fresh shrimp at the beach that can’t be beat. http://bigoakdrivein.com/
The Oceanana Fishing Pier is the only fishing pier in Atlantic Beach. The Pier House serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lots of sandwiches and seafood are the highlights. You can get fried, blackened, or grilled seafood. The seafood tacos are good as is the fried shrimp basket. It’s simple beach food in a beachy venue. You might enjoy fishing in the moonlight from the pier! http://www.oceananapier.com/
I’ve been enjoying dinners at the Sanitary Fish Market my whole adult life. This mainstay of the Morehead City waterfront was opened in 1938 and named Sanitary to let people know how clean it was! Shrimp, scallops, oysters, crab, and fish are available in all kinds of preparations. Many folks just stick to the Shore Dinner which has some of everything! Sanitary’s stuffed potatoes are really delicious. The restaurant is surrounded by large glass windows and I’ve always liked watching the boats come and go while relaxing with a good dinner after a long day at the beach. https://www.sanitaryfishmarket.com/home
Next time I plan to go to Tight Lines Pub in Morehead City and Beaufort Grocery in Beaufort.
Map of Crystal Coast
- Dining in Emerald Isle Area
- Discover the Crystal Coast
- Morehead City Heritage cookbook
- Dee Gee’s Gifts and Books
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