I'm planning two potential itineraries for a day-trip to the NC Coast for lunch, dinner, and to pick up some fresh-off-the-boat seafood to take home. I have two potential "routes" in mind.
Potential itinerary 1: drive to Wilmington, NC. Have lunch at Catch. http://www.catchwilmingtonnc.com Spend the afternoon touring Airlie Gardens and the S. tip. of Wrightsville Beach. Drive over to Sneads Ferry for dinner at Riverview. Find a seafood market in Sneads Ferry with fresh-off-the-boat seafood (suggestions?)
Thoughts: I'm pretty sure Catch features local seafood. Question is: should I order the "choice of 3" fried platter there, or take advantage of the chef's culinary skills by ordering more complex dishes, like the crab cake and mahi filet. Does Riverview have fresh local seafood, or do you get a view of boats coming up the channel but the seafood off your plate is from Vietnam? Any "best bets" for seafood markets with short turnaround times from boat to store along the Wilmington/Sneads Ferry corridor?
Potential itinerary 2: drive to Salter Path, NC for a shrimp burger at Big Oak Drive In. http://www.bigoakdrivein.com I don't care if the shrimp there are local or not - those burgers are righteous. Spend the afternoon at Hammocks Beach State Park. Load up on seafood at Clyde Phillips between the bridges at Swansboro (is this my best option, or is capt'n Willis in Emerald Isle better, or is it a tossup?). Have dinner at Red Barn in Hubert near Swansboro (is this seafood local and fresh?). What about Icehouse in Swansboro? Any other locally-procured restaurants around that area?
So the grand decision: between the two itineraries, which one would you do? Itinerary 1 involving Catch and Sneads Ferry would be completely new to me, but then again nothing beats an afternoon on Hammocks Beach SP...or that shrimp burger from Big Oak.