One—well, sometimes the best—thing about vacation is trying out new (at least to me!) restaurants. Husb and I had the pleasure of a week in my favorite place in the world. I only admit where it is because this is a travel blog and it would be dumb to say how great a place is without mentioning it.
Ocracoke Island, southern end of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is not for everyone. It’s got no boardwalk. It’s got no McDonald’s. If you want “action,” this is not the place. You can walk from one end of town to the other—and you should walk, or bike, instead of renting a golf cart (off my soapbox now). What it does have is fourteen miles of national seashore. Beach as far as the “I” can see! Heaven.
Ocracoke also has some wonderful shops and restaurants. New since the last time we were there is the Ocracoke Seafood Company, which sells the day’s catch from the Ocracoke watermen. I can’t say it any better than they do on their website:
Ocracoke watermen are clammers, crabbers, oystermen and both commercial and recreational fishermen. Together they manage Ocracoke’s only fish house, institute restoration projects, provide educational outreach, conduct research and is a collective voice in an industry that is often misrepresented to the public.
Husb and I stopped there a number of times to buy dinner—yellowfin tuna, red drum, bluefish, and tilefish—which we then grilled at our rental house. (Making dinner’s not work when Husb does it, is it?)
But part of the fun of a vacation, as I said, is the restaurants. And since our first visit the number of restaurants has grown quite a bit. Café Atlantic, where we’ve always gone, was bustling; I miss their lemon cake and would love to get a copy of their cookbook. This visit we tried some new places. We stopped at the Flying Melon at the end of their brunch time for a very peaceful lunch. I had something I’ve never seen anywhere before: a BLFGT (bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato!) sandwich. I could go into the whole (PA Dutch) debate about whether fried green tomatoes should have gravy or not, but since the Flying Melon says “inspiration from traditional Southern and Creole cooking,” I’ll let it go. The sandwich was great.
We also walked (yes, walked)
into town one evening for dinner at Dajio, a charming little restaurant with
outdoor dining under the trees. I ventured outside my comfort zone when Husb ordered the grilled Ocracoke clams and oysters ("grilled with garlic and herbs and served with cherry-tomato bruschetta and garlic crostini") appetizer. Normally I would not touch clams, but I'm glad I listened to Husb and tried them. That easily could have been an entree.
When it came to ordering my meal, one look at the top of the menu was all it took: the crabcakes are “fresh jumbo lump crabmeat bound with a touch of our famous cornbread as well as cherry-smoked bacon, onions, and peppers, topped with red chile remoulade.” I am usually a purist about crabcakes—I want crabmeat and only enough binder to hold it together (Frazier’s in Baltimore is always my standard by which others are measured). I always feel like anything else in a crabcake is just a financial decision. But Dajio’s interpretation really works. I could distinguish the flavors but still knew there was crab in my crabcake.
If we had had more than a week, I would have happily returned to Dajio or the Flying Melon to try them again. We did stop at Zillie’s Pantry for supplies for a beach picnic (note to self: check to see how windy it is before you decide to picnic on a beach!). Ocracoke definitely has more options than it did when we first visited so many years ago. But it is still a little slice of heaven.
I didn’t take any pictures of my food (we were on vacay, after all) so you’ll have to just admire the beach.