Coastal Delights: The Best Restaurants around Oak Island, NC

Ask any traveler what they prioritize when picking a vacation spot, and many of them will answer good restaurants. Luckily, Oak Island isn’t just a paradise for beach bums; it also serves up some great culinary experiences. With its prime coastal location, it’s no surprise that the area boasts some pretty amazing seafood restaurants. The area’s laid-back beach vibes extend to restaurants, where shorts and t-shirts are welcome in pretty much any eatery you choose. Read on for our list of the best restaurants around Oak Island, NC.

Joseph’s Italian Bistro: Waterfront Italian Goodness

Located in the charming village Marina at South Harbour, and just a few steps from our condo, Joseph’s Italian Bistro is a favorite with locals, and once you’ve eaten there, it’s easy to see why. The waterfront setting is second only to the food, which includes classics such as Veal Parmigiana and Chicken Piccata. Seafood selections include Frutte de Mer, a combination of shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, and fresh fish in a white wine sauce over linguine, or Shrimp Scampi with a touch of sherry, Joseph’s twist on the classic favorite. Steaks and lamb also appear on the menu, and daily specials take advantage of the fresh seafood available seasonally. An impressive wine selection as well as a full cocktail menu rounds out the menu.

The attentive and friendly wait staff will make you feel like family, and you’ll often hear customers greeted by name. It’s that attention to detail in every aspect of your dining journey that makes for a memorable dining experience. Whether you’re on a romantic date or enjoying a family meal, the impeccable service and warm hospitality add an extra layer of charm, making Joseph’s a spot worth visiting again and again.

dining room of Joseph's Italian Bistro with candles and lights

Fishy Fishy Cafe: Seafood Bliss with a Coastal Vibe

For seafood enthusiasts looking for an authentic coastal vibe, Fishy Fishy Cafe captures the essence of waterfront dining around Oak Island. Located in the town of Southport overlooking the picturesque yacht basin, this charming cafe boasts fresh seafood, inventive cocktails, and a laid-back ambiance reminiscent of a Jimmy Buffet song.

The menu at Fishy Fishy Cafe is a seafood lover’s dream, featuring an enticing array of dishes showcasing the bounty of the sea. From succulent shrimp and crab cakes to impeccably grilled fish tacos and seafood platters brimming with fresh catches, every mouthful is a testament to the cafe’s dedication to quality and flavor.

And let’s not forget about their vibrant cocktail menu, offering refreshing libations crafted with local ingredients and artisanal spirits. Whether you’re sipping on a signature mojito while catching the sunset or enjoying a glass of wine with your meal, the beverage selection adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your coastal dining experience.

Beyond the food and drinks, Fishy Fishy Cafe’s waterfront location offers breathtaking views that enhance the overall ambiance. Opt for al fresco dining on the covered patios with their brightly colored tables and chairs for a front row seat of the yacht basin.

colorful chairs, tables and signs in Fishy Fishy Cafe Southport NC

Mr. P’s Bistro: Southern Charm Meets Culinary Excellence

Located in the heart of Southport, Mr. P’s Bistro seamlessly blends Southern hospitality with low-country flavors. Don’t let the casual decor fool you, this family-owned restaurant has been a beloved staple in downtown Southport for nearly 30 years, consistently earning its place as a top choice for special occasions. It’s one of the reasons it made our list of the top restaurants around Oak Island, NC.

Mr. P’s menu has a variety of seafood dishes from appetizers to main courses, as well as steaks and chicken for those who prefer land fare. Whether it’s their signature shrimp and grits, which perfectly marries Gulf shrimp with creamy stone-ground grits, or their platters that cater to those craving traditional NC fried seafood, every dish at Mr. P’s is crafted with care and attention to detail.

You’ll want to make reservations, particularly on weekends in the summer season.

Moore Street Oyster Bar: An Upscale Pub in the Heart of Southport

Housed in a historic building in downtown Southport, Moore Street Oyster Bar is a lively, pub-style restaurant with exceptional seafood. Instead of the traditional fried North Carolina seafood options, though they do offer a couple of these, the menu focuses on fresh oysters and steam pots.

Oyster selections change daily to showcase the freshest ones available. You can mix and match to sample oysters from different regions, or order a sampler to try them all. Add one of the toppings (or try them all!) for a truly unique experience. Toppers include The Kathryn, with artichoke, white wine, parmesan cream sauce and basil; Casino, with bacon, peppers, and onions; and Simply Southern, with collards, ham, bacon and pimento cheese.

Choose a Steamer Pot if you have a group or want to try a variety of seafood. Choose from snow crab, clams, mussels, and shrimp served in a variety of flavors, from Old Bay, Cajun, and Lemon Pepper.

Try the Lobster Grilled Cheese sandwich for a decadent spin on a childhood favorite. Burgers are available topped with pork belly or lobster, or you can go for a more traditional option. Definitely try their homemade chips, seasoned with Old Bay or Lemon Rosemary.

Provision Company: Simple Seafood Served on the Honor System

A vacation in Oak Island is not complete without a visit to Provision Company. This ultra casual spot is located right on the Southport waterfront. If you have access to a boat, you can pull right up to the dock and tie up. The open air, covered dining is as close as you can get to the water!

Their motto of “We keep it simple here” is literal and starts with the honor system. Order your food at the counter, grab your drink from the cooler, and find yourself a seat. Help yourself to drinks throughout your meal, but be sure to keep count. You let the cashier know what you had when you leave. This system began when the spot was originally a waterfront convenience store. Customers would keep track of their beer tabs on a ledger inside the store, and use the honor system to settle up. It’s a method that has worked in the restaurant for more than 30 years.

Food choices are also simple, with Peel ‘N Eat steamed shrimp and deep fried crab cakes being the menu staples. Homemade potato salad and cucumber/tomato salad are the star sides, though the onion rings are also a popular choice.

If you show up in anything other than t-shirts and flip flops, you’ll be overdressed. Be prepared for a wait in the summer months, as locals and tourists alike line up around the building for lunch and dinner. It is, after all, one of the best restaurants around Oak Island, NC. Oh, and refer to the spot as “Provisions” if you want to seem like a local.

That’s a wrap on the best restaurants around Oak Island, NC!

There are a number of great restaurants around Oak Island, NC. These are just a few of our favorites. If you want to stay at 201 The Inn at South Harbor, check the calendar for availability. Or you can head over to the VRBO page listing to check dates and book your stay.

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