Photo of shrimp: a common dish at the Emerald Isle restaurants

Try These Local Favorites for Seafood and Southern Cuisine on Emerald Isle

Photo of shrimp: a common dish at the Emerald Isle restaurants

Try These Local Favorites for Seafood and Southern Cuisine on Emerald Isle

Are you searching for a vacation destination where you can lounge on the beach and dine on mouthwatering seafood? If you answered yes to this question, then consider planning a getaway to beautiful Emerald Isle on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. Emerald Isle restaurants reflect the unique culinary traditions of North Carolina, from freshly caught seafood to southern soul food. Today, we’re sharing some of our favorite restaurants in Emerald Isle for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Start the Day with Breakfast in Emerald Isle


Start your morning with the most important meal of the day at Gaffers. Their breakfast items are a great introduction to southern cooking – and yes, you can have seafood for breakfast! Their menu has everything from shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy to pancakes and omelets.

The Village Market

The Village Market is a local favorite for breakfast on the Crystal Coast. They have something for everyone with bagels, biscuits, breakfast sandwiches, Belgian waffles, eggs, and hearty breakfast plates. Order a cup of Joe with your breakfast, and you’ll be ready for a day of adventures in Emerald Isle.

Giovanni’s Brooklyn Bagels

If you want something light for breakfast, we recommend stopping at Giovanni’s. The bagel flavors include cheddar, everything, asiago, garlic, cinnamon, sesame, poppy, and jalapeño cheddar served with various spreads. These bagels are not to be missed during your vacation!

Emerald Isle Restaurants for Lunch

Flipperz Family Bar and Grill

Flipperz is an excellent restaurant for a hearty lunch in a family-friendly atmosphere. They specialize in seafood, but you can also find steaks, sandwiches, and salads on the menu. Seafood lovers will love the crab cakes, shrimp, scallop, and oyster platters available here.

Surf’s Up Grill and Bar

Surf’s Up Grill and Bar is located at the Bogue Inlet Pier and offers beautiful ocean views. Unwind with a frozen drink while watching the waves and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere during your meal. With a variety of mouthwatering appetizers and seafood entrees, you are sure to love your lunch at Surf’s Up.

The Best Dinner Spots in Emerald Isle

The Trading Post

Southern hospitality is a central part of The Trading Post, where you can get more than just a delicious meal. The outdoor patio features activities for your family, such as cornhole and hula hoops. They have extensive options for seafood and burgers but are best known for Southern dishes like shrimp-n-grits, fried green tomatoes, hushpuppies, and chicken-n-waffles. The Trading Post is a must-stop for dinner in Emerald Isle!


If you are looking for a romantic date night spot, stop at Caribsea for an upscale dining experience. They focus on locally sourced seafood, exceptional steak, and signature cocktails. The menu constantly changes to reflect seasonal ingredients, but the baked oysters and crab dip are local favorites.


RuckerJohns offers a unique dining experience with fresh made to order dishes. They have something for everyone with sandwiches, salads, seafood, steaks, and flatbreads. The waterfront views, outside dining options, and relaxing atmosphere offer a wonderful ambiance for your dinner in Emerald Isle.

If you are looking for a sweet treat after dinner, we highly recommend getting some ice cream from Sweet Spot or Ben and Jerry’s!

Photo of one of our Emerald Isle properties with Bluewater

The Perfect Family Vacation in Emerald Isle

The Emerald Isle restaurants have something to satisfy even the pickiest eaters with fresh seafood and southern comfort food. If you’re interested in visiting the Crystal Coast choose Bluewater Vacation Rentals to host your getaway. Our Emerald Isle properties offer close proximity to the oceanfront and nearby restaurants. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your vacation in Emerald Isle today! 

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Emerald Isle? Kick-off the comment by adding your favorites below! One lucky commenter will be chosen to win some Bluewater swag! 

Lighthouse photo of the Crystal coast

A Guide to Crystal Coast Activities and Attractions

Lighthouse photo of the Crystal coast

A Guide to Crystal Coast Activities and Attractions

Whether you’re looking to buy real estate or invest in a vacation rental on the Crystal Coast, you might be wondering what attractions and activities are available in the area. There are endless Crystal Coast activities; that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top attractions and restaurants to get you started.

Popular Things to Do on the Crystal Coast

North Carolina Aquarium

The North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores features the largest saltwater aquarium in the state. The aquarium has replicated a sunken submarine to create a unique environment. The 300,000-gallon tank is home to various fish, sharks, and turtles. Several tours and activities are available that allow you to get behind the scenes and learn more about incredible marine life and conservation efforts.

Fort Macon State Park

This state park has something for everyone on the Crystal Coast. The site includes a 19th century Civil War fort that you can explore on your own along with guided tours. Fort Macon State Park also has several beautiful hiking trails, fishing spots, and fun on the water for the avid paddlers. 

Graveyard of the Atlantic

The North Carolina Coast has often been dubbed “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” since thousands of ships have sunk in this area over hundreds of years. These historic wrecks are a top destination for scuba divers and adventurers on the Crystal Coast. Embark on an unforgettable diving charter with Discovery Diving or Olympus Dive Center

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Three miles off-shore is Cape Lookout National Seashore that is accessible by a short boat ride from Atlantic Beach. This is the best place to experience some of the top outdoor activities in one place. Learn about the importance of Cape Lookout Lighthouse or walk through historic villages. You can also find some of the best fishing on the Atlantic Coast from the beach at Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Our Favorite Crystal Coast Restaurants

34 Degrees North

For fresh seafood, local produce, and incredible waterfront views, check out this historic Beaufort restaurant. The menu includes local mahi-mahi, pan-seared grouper, shrimp, and grits, along with an expansive selection of wine. Perfect for a romantic dinner on the coast!

Ruddy Duck Tavern

This Morehead City restaurant features locally caught seafood made with high-quality ingredients at an affordable price. Ruddy Duck Tavern is an excellent choice for lunch as you gaze out at stunning ocean views.

Front Street Grill

Visit Front Street Grill for a delicious dinner on the Crystal Coast and take in a panoramic sunset while you eat. The menu includes a variety of coastal food with a southern soul that will soon have you coming back for more.

Amos Mosquitos

Amos Mosquitos is a local favorite and offers a unique coastal dining experience in Atlantic Beach. Choose from a variety of excellent seafood dishes or try out Amos’s famous meatloaf topped with bacon and a brown sugar glaze. 

Table 9

If you are looking for the perfect restaurant for a romantic dinner on the coast, look no further than Table 9. Couples will love the relaxing atmosphere as you dine on fresh oysters, lobster ravioli, or crab-stuffed Mahi. And if you aren’t craving seafood, you can find lamb chops, ribeye, and filet mignon on the menu as well.

Red Fish Grill

Admire the Morehead City waterfront in a casual and friendly atmosphere at Red Fish Grill. One of the most popular items at the restaurant is the crab-stuffed Mahi, but you can’t go wrong with any of the redfish features or dinner entrees.

Photo of the beach and a gazebo on the Crystal Coast

Learn More About Crystal Coast Activities

These Crystal Coast activities, attractions, and restaurants only scratch the surface of things to do in the area. Each town on the coast offers something different and a wealth of attractions waiting to be explored. If you want to learn everything our slice of paradise has to offer, then visit our Vacation Rental Blog to keep up to date with the best things to do on the coast.

What attractions and restaurants would you have included in your Crystal Coast bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

A Few New Food Options in Emerald Isle

Get To Know Some of The Newest Hotspots Around Emerald Isle

As expected, there’s lots of fresh seafood- but all prepared and served in a variety of ways.


A healthy alternative to those good vibe mornings, and a lunch fix that will last all day.

A chef driven spin on your everyday Juice Bar. Brandon & Elizabeth Shepeard, owners of Nourish, set out to bring an elevated juice bar to the Island with fresh eats to go along with it (and they did just that!). It’s evident that they take pride in working with small local businesses in the area to bring a great experience and strive to include the freshest, local ingredients into every serving.

With a wide variety of menu items including, Avocado Toast, Acai Bowls, Poke Bowls, and hand-crafted juice, lemonade and canned kombucha- there’s something for everyone. If you’re palate isn’t particularly familiar with some of these unique items, we’re not judging- this is truly a new and exciting experience for most on the island. One thing’s for sure- you’re letting yourself (and your taste buds) down if you don’t give it a try.

Nourish is located at 129 Bogue Inlet Drive. On occasion, the Urban Street Eats Food Truck will be on site, which is also owned and operated by Brandon & Elizabeth. Stop by to welcome these fine folks to the island, and keep an eye out for new menu items popping up all summer!

*Worth Noting: This is the spot just before the Bogue Inlet Pier that the famous Flip Flops Donut Shop occupied for the last few years. Flip Flops hasn’t gone far, and if you’re craving your doughnut fix- they moved in with Polish Water Ice at 7702 Emerald Drive (Next to Circle Pizza).

The best mode of transportation to check out Nourish might be by bicycle. There’s limited parking, and you’ll be juiced up for a nice ride around town after a tasty smoothie!

Fish Hut Grill coming through with fresh seafood, cold beer, and island vibes. Tough to beat!

Fish Hut Grill

A fun & fresh, open-air grill serving up some tasty local seafood, cold beer, and drinks made-to-order.

This new buzz-worthy, no frills grill & bar is floating around town and is conveniently located right across from our EI office, in the K & V Plaza. In the spot formerly known as The Emerald Grill, now stands The Fish Hut Grill, the island’s new home for relaxation and refreshment! The menu offers a variety of local seafood, burgers, wings, tacos. Fresh fish can be grilled or fried, and served on a bun or in a salad- whichever you prefer.

Walk-through the front door and you’ll most likely see a line at the counter. Have no worries, there’s likely a cooler within arms reach with plenty of cold beer that you can enjoy while you wait. (Don’t forget to grab a koozie from the bucket to prevent beverage sweat!) Once you drool over the menu, and narrow it down (and agree to swap some with the rest of your party), you’ll place your order at the counter, give them your name, and try to find a seat. There’s a casual bar area to the right, family-style seating to the left, and a few shaded picnic tables out on the side. They’ll come find you when your food is ready, and you come find them if you need another beverage. Once all is said-and-done and everyone has proclaimed their fat-and-happy status, you’ll make your way back to the counter to pay and thank them for the wonderful experience. Walk-it-off along the bike path back home, or hop in the car and head down to top it off with some ice cream at one of the many fine frozen-dairy establishments around town.

Parking is probably going to be a little tricky, once this place really gets going. If you’re nice and come ask to use our parking lot, we’ll most likely return the favor and allow it.

The Village (Oriental?) Market

Sushi & Hibachi- A match-made in heaven, now being served at one of our favorite local spots, The Village Market.

Undoubtedly one of the most popular daytime spots in Emerald Isle, the Village Market is primed to ‘Come Alive in the Nighttime’. Owner Josh Sawyer has teamed up with Aaron Cruz for an Asian-inspired menu starting at 5 PM. Featuring over 15 unique rolls of fresh sushi & tempura, plus chicken, shrimp and steak hibachi plates- you’re surely going to be stuffed to the gills by the time you’re ready to leave. The portions are huge, so you can bring a friend to mix and match, or choose to be a little glutenous and take some home to save for later. The Yum-Yum sauce has an interesting blend of tangy spices mixed in, which you’ll be scraping every last bit out of the container, unless you’ve already gone back to get more.

If the raw fish or grilled rice isn’t technically your thing, definitely stop by The Village Market in the morning or afternoon for a delicious breakfast or cup of coffee or at lunch for a sandwich or salad before you hit the beach. *Pro-tip: If you call your order in and tell them you’re headed out on the boat or on your way to the beach, they’ll wrap it up nicely so you won’t have to worry about carrying a bunch of trash around for the rest of the day. The Village Market is located at 7802 Emerald Drive – directly next to The Reel Outdoors, your one-stop shop for everything fishing related.

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Who said Brooklyn style bagels can’t be found on the beach?

Brooklyn Style Bagels on the Island

Jackie’s American Grill has teamed up with Giovanni’s Brooklyn Bagels for a breakfast treat the whole family can enjoy!

For the folks down Coast Guard Rd. who don’t want to head ‘into town’ for a quick breakfast, check out Giovanni’s Brooklyn Bagels at Jackie’s American Grille. The menu includes a wide variety of homemade items the whole family is sure to enjoy. Bagel types include: plain, cheddar, everything, asiago, salt, cinnamon, sundried tomato, spinach dip, seasame, and poppy seed. You can get almost any of these style bagels topped with a variety of homemade cream cheeses, or as a sandwich with bacon or ham, egg and cheese. Be sure to ask for the daily special, and fuel up for a big day out on the beach. Giovanni’s bagels are also available at some other locations around town including, the Emerald Isle Wine Market and the Cedar Point Market.

Guest Favorite Resturants

We wanted to know what restaurants were our guest favorites during vacation. So we asked! Below is what we found out. Feel free to share with us your favorite restaurant and share pictures of what you ate!

Rucker Johns – Emerald Isle

Michelangelo’s Pizza – Emerald Isle

The Crab Shack – Atlantic Beach (Salter Path)

The Trading Post – Emerald Isle

Lazzara’s Pizza & Subs – Emerald Isle

Amos Mosquito’s – AtlanticBeach

Flipperz Family Bar & Grill – Emerald Isle

The Island Grille – AtlanticBeach


El’s Drive-In – MoreheadCity

Shark’s Den Sports Bar & Grill – Emerald Isle

4 Corners Diner – AtlanticBeach

Ruddy Duck Tavern- Morehead City

Port of Call – Salter Path

Big Oak Drive In & Bar-B-Que – Satler Path

Molly’s Beachside Bar & Grill – AtlanticBeach

Roma Pizza & Subs – AtlanticBeach

Jordan’s House of Seafood – Emerald Isle

Crab’s Claw – Atlantic Beach

Fishbar 58 – Emerald Isle

Kathryn’s Bistro & Martini Bar – Emerald Isle

Channel Marker – AtlanticBeach

4 J’s Bakery Inc. – Emerald Isle

El Zarape Mexican Restaurant – AtlanticBeach

Frank & Clara’s Restaurant – Salter Path

Riverside – Riverside

Shark Shack – AtlanticBeach

The Sweet Spot – Emerald Isle

Bogue House Restaurant – Cedar Point

Front Street Grill at Stillwater – Beaufort

McCurdy’s on MoonlightBay – AtlanticBeach

CaribSea – Emerald Isle

Monkey Bar & Grill – AtlanticBeach

Ben & Jerry’s – Emerald Isle

Cap’n Willis Seafood Market – Emerald Isle

We are all Foodies at heart! Enjoy trying new restaurants!

banner image of the docks at beaufort for the much ado about beaufort blog post

Much Ado About Beaufort

banner image of the docks at beaufort for the much ado about beaufort blog post

There’s Much Ado About Beaufort

There’s much ado about Beaufort! My name is Pat Copeland and I have been in real estate for close to 15 years.  Being raised in Beaufort has been a treat.  If you are visiting Beaufort, these are the places I highly recommend you must see. Don’t miss out! 

Restaurants and Dining Out and About Beaufort

Spouter Inn – A high-class restaurant with water views (deck seating available) and reasonable prices.

Beaufort Grocery – Excellent food just off of Front Street.

(both Spouter-Inn and Beaufort Grocery serve Sunday Brunch)

Stillwater/Rhum Bar – – Premium atmosphere meets amazing food (accessible by boat or land)- – If you give Stillwater a chance, be sure to sample the Tuna Tacos.

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about beaufort maritime museum

Check out the Maritime Museum to soak up some of our area’s history, including artifacts from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge wreckage recovered near Beaufort Inlet.

Activities and Adventures

Pay a visit to the Cape Lookout lighthouse as well as the Wild Ponies on Shackleford Banks by way of Lookout Ferry Service.

Beaufort_Activities  RibbonOfSand

shackleford horse  horses

Take a leisurely cruise of our local waterways with the crew of the Crystal Coast Lady. You’ll want to visit their website for all of the Crystal Coast Lady cruise packages and options! 

crystal coast ladyIf you are looking to get your heart rate up, Beaufort Inlet Water Sports rents kayaks at reasonable prices.  If you’d like more of an aerial view, they also offer Parasailing.  There’s no better way to see all of Beaufort’s beauty.


Nightlife and Entertainment

For nightlife, I would recommend the famous Dock House (located on the water; offering live entertainment), Cru Bar, and Back Street Pub all located on Middle lane.

Dock House

About the Author, Pat Copeland

real estate agent pat copeland

Pat Copeland, a captivating young man with a “can do” attitude, was born in Carteret County and has lived here his whole life. There is no place finer in his opinion. In the hotel management business for ten years prior to his real estate career, he is an accomplished problem-solver who will make your real estate transaction smooth and easy. He knows the county and its waterways intimately. Pat is a multi-million dollar producer with a passion for boating and giving his clients stellar service.

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local dining on the crystal coast

Local Dining on the Coast

local dining on the crystal coast

Local Dining on the Coast

As a coastal girl born and bred in Carteret County; I have a salty palette and know a thing or two about local dining on the coast; where to go and where to avoid. Our seaport community offers up so many options for treating our taste buds. I generally get to dine out with some friends of mine once a month and we always choose a locally owned restaurant, of course!

Pictured: Lauren, Shawna, Allison & Me at Front Street Grille in Beaufort

Pictured: Lauren, Shawna, Allison, and Me at Front Street Grille in Beaufort


Dine Like Locals

Allison, Lauren, Shawna, and I have known one another since birth, so this time together is always filled with laughter remembering some story of the time I did this or that time you did that. We are now Moms, juggling our home and professional lives. When we gather it’s as if the stars have aligned and we have never missed a beat.

What I remember most is riding my bike all over Beaufort as a kid. We would ride bikes from our neighborhoods and get together at Famous Pizza (RIP) in the Beaufort Square Shopping Center on Saturday to have the best pizza buffet any 12-year-old girl has ever had. We would laugh and carry on about stuff that 12-year-old girls find funny. I can’t remember but I’m sure Allison could tell you everything we talked about, she never forgets anything! After lunch, we would go to Rose’s for the latest single tape (I’m an 80’s child). The point of this is that we have been dining in Beaufort and beyond since we were 12 and we know where the food is fresh and where the food is good. We’re basically honorary Food Critics.

Happy Cakes

Allison is a property manager at Bluewater in the Atlantic Beach office. She is smart as they come and procrastination isn’t really her style, it’s mine. For example, it’s April 21st and I’m just writing my first blog post for the month. Allison and I may be different as night and day we still fight over which is better HoHo’s (gross) or Swiss Cake Rolls (delish) but we do share a love for Happy Cakes Oreo Overload and Cookie Dough cupcakes. Take our advice and have one while you’re here, you won’t regret it. Happy Cakes makes their cupcakes each day, no leftovers. There’s a calendar of flavors of the month so you can decide which day you want to swing in for your taste of choice.

Island Grille

dining out at Island Grille

Pictured: Me and my sweet husband, Benji at Island Grille for our Anniversary.

If you’re here on a Tuesday you MUST go to Island Grille in Atlantic Beach. Located on Money Island Drive, it’s a small establishment so make reservations. The Buy One, Get One special is a long-standing favorite. You can order the fresh catch special and the Filet stuffed with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked bacon, and fresh basil, finished with a roasted red pepper cream sauce, chef’s potatoes and vegetable or my favorite the Seafood Trio which is cold water lobster meat, lump crab and sea scallops with Roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts and fresh baby spinach tossed in a basil cream sauce over linguini with shaved parmesan. Do yourself a favor and go there.

Front Street Grille

Sunset view from Front Street Grille

Sunset view from Front Street Grille at Still Water.

The next suggestion is Front Street Grille at Still Water in Beaufort. It’s waterfront. Do you really need more information than that or will waterfront work for you? Outdoor dining and COVERED outdoor dining, how’s that? They have indoor dining year-round as well. The sunsets at this place are Zen-like. Trust me on this. I have lived on the water my whole life, sunsets still take me away. Front Street Grille is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday and offers a Sunday brunch as well as dinner. The night we went ordered the Black Angus Cheeseburger which has smoked bacon, pimento cheese, onion, pickles, lettuce, tomato, parmesan truffle fries. Us southern girls love some pimento cheese. It was marvelous, you must try this! FSG also has the Rhum Bar. You can have cocktails at sunset to accompany your very own Zen moment. 

crystal coast pizza

Pizza on the Crystal Coast

crystal coast pizza

Enjoy some Pizza on the Crystal Coast

Who doesn’t love pizza? No matter what style of pizza you enjoy the most, the Southern Outer-banks has it covered. There are many different places to grab a pizza on the Crystal Coast. 

Many locals have their go-to places and you will quickly learn the most popular ones. We think you should try them all and make your own decision. For your convenience, we’ve put together a list of the most popular places along our southern Outer Banks.

New York-style, traditional, and even gluten-free options can be found around the Crystal Coast. Many of these have other options to go along with your pizza or for those who want something different. You can find salads, wings, burgers, subs, and much more. Be sure to check out the list below and find the best pizza restaurant for you. You can never go wrong with a large hot pizza. Take out or Eat In, it is your choice! We would love to hear your favorite!

Pick your Pizza Place

Michaelangelo’s Pizza

8700 Emerald Drive, Emerald Isle & 1010 West Fort Macon Road, Atlantic Beach

Lazzara’s Pizza and Subs

9104-C Coast Guard Road, Emerald Isle

Circle Pizza

7702 Emerald Drive, Emerald Isle

No Name Pizza and Subs

5218 Highway 70 West, Morehead City

Luigi’s Pizza

 5167 US-70 #120, Morehead City

Pizza Inn

7903 Emerald Drive, Emerald Isle

Bella Pizza and Subs

311 Atlantic Beach Causeway, Atlantic Beach

Roma Pizza and Subs

100 South Charlotte Avenue, Atlantic Beach

Restaurant Options

Looking for something completely different? Don’t miss this list of some of our most popular Crystal Coast restaurants.