In Pamlico County, “eatin’ good in the neighborhood” doesn’t mean that we’re going to meet you down at the local Applebee’s. If you’re looking for Starbucks, you’re going to be looking for a while.
We have swapped out chain restaurants for mom & pop shops that (in our humbly-biased opinion) are much preferred.
‘Down in the county’, we’re brewin up everything from coffee to beer, and cookin up everything from fresh catch to pizza with an extra dose of delicious from what must be that “local flavor”.
Here are a few of our favorite eateries that might make you think twice before crossing county lines in search of a great plate.
Gary’s Downeast Seafood & Oyster Bar is pretty much as local as it gets. It’s the kind of place where you walk in, sit at “your table” and your drinks show up without having to order them. You’ll likely be taken care of by Rosie at lunch or Amber at dinner. You can’t go wrong with either. They make you feel right at home alongside Gary Hardison, the restaurant’s owner and namesake.
Their clam chowder served in those nostalgic crocks is so darn good and we love their pulled pork BBQ, made fresh daily by Gary. He’s a butt man, nothing but the pork butt will do. Which is actually a shoulder cut… never understood that one.
Gary says “it’s done when the bone slides out”.
He prides himself on having perfected the recipe over the years. Always flavorful, never fatty, with a Carolina kick from his vinegar sauce. We agree. Perfection.
Their seafood doesn’t disappoint and they seem to have everything that swims on their menu, from scallops to deviled crab. Surf: I’m a big fan of their local shrimp fried-grilled-sauteed-scampied, I’ll take them all. Turf: the Cattleman’s burger (local beef from Dawson’s Creek Cattle Company down the street) is full of beefy goodness and just awesome.
The oyster bar serves up extra fresh seafood, often with a live music backdrop.
And if you’ve run out of time (or groceries), call in an order and pick it up at their to-go window where they also sell beer and wine for prices that rival the grocery store. Their BBQ special (pint of BBQ, pint of coleslaw and hush puppies) have saved me many a night and I always order 10+ for our neighborhood potluck events.
Did I mention it’s two miles from AP?
The real deal
The Silos in Oriental has the winning combination of good food, cold beer on tap and lots of local music.
Why the weird name? We’ll, it’s literally a silo… two converted grain bins actually.
The vibe is musically inclined with guitars everywhere, wood beams, galvanized walls and bucket lights. But the biggest ice-breaker is the old vinyls covering the ceiling that gives The Silos a personality unlike any other.
We like to go on Tuesdays for BOGO pizzas or Thursdays for $1 draft beer. Still can’t figure out which is a better deal for our crew??
Wednesday is open mic night and they host a bunch of events throughout the year at their backyard Red Rooster bar and outdoor stage. SILOS palooza in May (12 hours of bands) is not to be missed.
They are branded as an Italian restaurant but have a bit of everything on their menu. Many of the lunches are $6… I feel like that’s unheard of these days, even fast food can’t compete. This is the real ‘meal deal’! Do yourself a favor and get the Reuben… or the Swiss Mushroom melt burger… or the meatball hoagie… or all three actually and you’re still under 20 bucks!
Their pizzas are always delicious and piled high with fresh toppings. Great crust, which I’m convinced is an art form… and I think I could just about drink their red sauce.
The thirst quincher
The New Village Brewery & Taproom opened a few years ago and quickly became the go-to watering hole for locals and weekend warriors.
Craft beer + food trucks + live music, what’s not to love?
Frank and Lili Bacon transformed a classic Victorian house on main street Oriental into a growing hot spot with patrons filling three rooms inside and often spilling onto the front porch and into the backyard beer garden. The beer garden hosts most of the live music, and on Fridays and Saturdays you can usually find the food truck de’jour parked in the front lot. We’re talking Dank Burrito, Fired Up Pizza & BBQ, Mari’s Hella Fat Food… just to name a few in their killer lineup. And yep, they all taste good with one of their home brews or rotating ‘tap takeover’ selections that feature a different Carolina brewery each week.
And get this, Carolina Brew Scene awarded our little brewery #1 BEER and #2 BREWERY in all of NC in their 2019 Top Flight awards!
Everyone loves the hometown vibe. And if you don’t… pull up a stool, have a few, talk to some locals, and then tell me what you think. Places like this, and folks like Frank and Lili, are part of the reason people who Visit ONC end up putting down roots here.
Start your day sweet at the newly opened Sweet Annie’s Coffee Shop & Bakery on the waterfront right when you turn down 304 in Bayboro. It’s only been open for a week and is already getting rave reviews and quite a local following… and for good reason.
Fresh baked, fresh brewed and much needed in the county.
Satisfy your caffine and sweet tooth cravings with fresh donuts, apple fritters, muffins and lots-a-lattes. If savory is more your thing, they have spinach pastries and bagels from Carolina Bagel Co (my favorite bagel shop in New Bern).
We adore the family that runs Sweet Annie’s and are excited to spread the word about Pamlico’s newest addition!
The fresh catch
The Mayo & Ireland families have deep roots in Pamlico County and commercial fishing, so it’s only fitting that they have one heck of a seafood restaurant. The walls of Mayo’s Seafood are adorned with black and white’s of commercial fishing’s historic past that paint the picture of the families rich heritage.
The menu is big with all of your home-cooked favorites, and they rotate awesome daily specials.
The only bad thing about eating there is that it’s so hard to choose what to order!
I’d say the seafood is an obvious choice but really everything is tasty. And the sides? They are throwback-classic-Southern-mama’s house for Sunday dinner kind of good. Country cookin doesn’t get much better than this… except when you live on the coast and throw fresh seafood into the mix.
As you can see, we make do just fine without the bloomin’ onions and venti soy frappuccinos.
Local businesses, the people that run them, and the delicious eats they crank out of their kitchens, are one of the reasons we always say IT’S GOOD TO BE HOME and LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE… because it really is, and we really do.