Located on Pleasure Island, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach are known as two of the nicest beaches in North Carolina. And the island name says it all: with its pristine sandy beaches, rich wildlife-watching opportunities, and endless Atlantic Ocean views, a visit to both is the ultimate pleasurable experience.

Still, there’s more to Carolina Beach and Kure Beach than just fantastic outdoors. Both cities are also fantastic culinary locations, inviting visitors to indulge in authentic flavors and exquisite local cuisine. From off-the-beaten-path seafood markets to star-studded world-class restaurants, they’ve got it all.

Let us be your guide. This blog will draw the curtain on the best restaurants in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

Prepare your palate for an upcoming culinary extravaganza!

 

 

Top Restaurants in Carolina Beach, NC

With amazing laid-back vibes, Carolina Beach is perfect for a beach family vacation in North Carolina. The city boasts a great boardwalk, a fantastic state park, and miles of alluring beaches.

Wondering where to head for food when the time comes? Below, we’ll dive into the best restaurants in Carolina Beach, NC.


Salt Fish Restaurant and Bar

This laid-back establishment serves seafood specialties along with a great selection of wines, beers, and cocktails.

Their eclectic menu features local dishes with Caribbean and Polynesian influences, all made with the freshest seafood you can imagine and local ingredients. For starters, the Fried Mahi Bites, Tuna Poke, and Spicy Kani Salad are great.

Then, you can enjoy the main delights such as Saigon Noodles and the Crab Stuffed Portabella. Everything is cooked to perfection, and the service is excellent. The ambiance is hip and fun, as are the Tiki drinks that will make for the perfect pairing with the food.

 

Shuckin’ Shack

Right on North Lake Park Boulevard in the heart of Carolina Beach, this family-friendly spot is said to have some of the best seafood in the state — and all at reasonable prices.

Some of the must-tries on the diverse menu include Fried Pickles, Cold Crab Dip, Mahi Fingers, Snow Crab Legs, Mussels, and Raw Oysters, to name a few. That’s not all. They also have amazing sandwich options.

An absolute must-try is The Shack Attack, Shucktini, and Oyster Shooters, which are all-time favorites, especially when paired with delicious Bloody Marys. The decor exudes that local vibe with quirky decorative items and several caps hanging from the ceiling.

 

Lake Park Steakhouse

This traditional steakhouse, just a few blocks from Carolina Beach Boardwalk, is known both for its beef and seafood served alongside massive baked potatoes and sides like Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese.

Options like the chargrilled ribeye, prime rib, and custom salads are very popular — you can build your own salad by choosing your choice of fresh greens and vegetables. The steaks were cooked and seasoned to perfection. The French Onion Soup is also a must-try. For drinks, the cranberry mojito is unbeatable.

The staff is extra attentive, and the atmosphere is charming and warm. It features private booths with high backs. As you can probably tell, this is a popular place, so try booking in advance, especially on weekends.

 

 

Havana’s

This casual seafood destination is housed in a 1916 cottage, a block from the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. It has a lovely interior as well as a patio area surrounded by flowers and a beachy bar.

They serve lunch and dinner, offering a range from seafood to steak to homemade pasta. Some favorite options include Cha-Cha Salmon, Lobster Seafood Bake, Fat Daddy Crab Cakes, French Quarter Pasta, and Seafood Paella.

The setting is both romantic and lively, and they sometimes host live bands. The patio is dog-friendly, so Fido won’t feel left out. The outdoor area is great, especially if there’s a fireworks show on.


Top Restaurants in Kure Beach, NC

Like Carolina Beach, Kure Beach is a perfect escape to pure beauty. Even though small, the city is home to great landmark attractions, such as an award-winning aquarium and the historic site of the largest land-sea battle during the Civil War.

There’s also a burgeoning culinary scene blossoming near these pristine shores. Let’s explore some of the best restaurants that have already appeared below.


Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill

This Caribbean-inspired restaurant incorporates local, flavorful ingredients into its dishes and is famous for having the best seafood, steaks, burgers, and chicken on the island – all reasonably priced. 

Among the options on the expansive menu, some favorites are the Calamari, Honey Sriracha Lime Shrimp, Signature Seafood Chowder, Fresh Catch served with your choice of sides, Ribeye, and Shrimp Alfredo. They also have a great selection of wine and specialty cocktails – The Painkiller and Bahama Breeze, for instance, are highly recommended.

The festive and colorful island ambiance is composed of colorful chairs, tiki huts, and vibrant lamps. The place is a hit with both visitors and locals alike, and the second floor boasts an outdoor patio with great ocean views – a great spot for a seaside meal.

 

 

Freddie’s

What are some genuine Italian cruises? Freddie’s is an Italian bar and grill offering both pastas and American choices, including steak dishes, on its menu.

Some all-time favorites include Chicken Parmigiana, Spicy Mussels, Baked Meatballs, House Garden Salad, Portabella Parmigiana, Freddie’s Special Spaghetti, Seafood Ravioli, Lemon Pepper Salmon, and Veal Piccata. If the selections are not exactly what you’re looking for, you can create your own pasta. Moreover, they have a great children’s menu and vegetarian options.

Interestingly, the specialty is its Italian dish, and they are famous for their Grilled Pork Chop. We highly suggest you give it a try too.

Don’t leave without trying their Limoncello Cake and Tiramisu for dessert. Regarding drinks, their martinis are legendary, and they also offer a wine menu featuring American and Italian reds and whites.

The picturesque ambiance is what you would expect from an Italian beachside restaurant: candles, and red-checked tablecloths. A lovely option indeed.

 

Extra Culinary Tip for Carolina Beach & Kure Beach, NC: Take a Food Tour

Want to dive deeper into the local culinary scene? Food tours are a great option. These guided excursions focus on exploring a destination’s culinary offerings, typically taking you to various local eateries, markets, food stalls, and restaurants — more often than not, uncovering hidden gems.

The goal is to provide visitors with a comprehensive understanding of local ingredients and food in the local context – and it’s also super fun and delicious.

Here’s a great option for when you are in the Carolina Beach & Kure Beach area:

 

Tasting History Tour

Tasting History Tour is a local company that takes you on an exploration of Pleasure Island — an experience that’s nothing short of a sensorial! You’ll not only feel the gentle breeze of the sea and see some major landmarks, but you’ll also learn about local history and culture and taste the incredible local flavors.

They offer three main tours:

  • Tasting History Tours: This tour takes you to sample local flavors as you step back in time and learn about the significant history of Kure Beach, Fort Fisher, and nearby Carolina Beach. As you explore, you’ll learn the rich history of the island while enjoying tastings from the best restaurants.

  • History in a Glass: This is the adult version of the above, featuring adult beverages. Great for the grownups to mingle and have a fantastic time.

  • The Signature Food Tour: This one is all about food. They’ll guide you through the streets of Carolina Beach and into several restaurants to taste some of what the locals have to offer. Of course, you’ll also get to learn amazing anecdotes about the island and both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

All tours are highly starred and recommended. They are super organized and engaging, and whether you choose the more adult version or the family-friendly ones, you’re sure to have a great time and learn a lot about the history of the region as well as its culinary delights.

 

 

Top Restaurants and Food Experiences in Carolina Beach & Kure Beach, NC

Both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach offer amazing culinary experiences, from fresh seafood served in starred restaurants to unpretentious beachfront eateries with beachy vibes. There’s something for everyone and every taste awaiting in these amazing North Carolina shores.

Besides food, there’s so much to do and see in both locations. In our destination blog, we’ve written extensively about both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, including the best time of the year to go fishing, what it’s like to visit the area with your pets, and even what it’s like to live in Carolina and Kure Beach year-round. Many more articles and local tips are awaiting you!


Wondering where to stay in Carolina Beach & Kure Beach, NC?

Here’s an idea: stay like a local by booking one of our Carolina Beach Realty rentals. Our rentals are primarily in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, ranging from small oceanfront condos to large beachfront homes.

Carolina Beach Realty is a family-owned and operated full-service property management and vacation rental company. We pride ourselves on keeping it local and supporting the surrounding community.
See what awaits you on our website, and book now with Carolina Beach Realty and have the ultimate vacation on Carolina Beach & Kure Beach, NC.