Sweet Caroline

 

So, it turns out that I make better homemade pizza dough than homemade spaghetti noodles. As a result, you are getting a recap of my adventure with Megan in Kure Beach, North Carolina. There are six spots that we visited that are worth blabbing about. There are no fine dining photos as we were on a 13 person family vacation. Kure beach was family friendly and chill and it was nice to get a chance to relax after being exhausted from the typical schedule of an educator in the summer.

For starters, Kure Beach is roughly 635 miles from Columbus, Ohio. The HUMIDITY is a different animal in North Carolina. Holy cow, anytime that we were more than a mile from the beach, I thought I was melting. That beach breeze is a real thing and is of great assistance to me and my bald, Irish brethren.

The first place that should get a mention is Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn. FABB is a fast casual restaurant and not the assembly line style of Chipotle, Subway, etc. According to their website, they use four words to describe their concept: Hot, Fast, Cheap and Easy. This seems to be accurate as a FABB could be cosmically related to Columbus’ own Dirty Franks. The proof is in the cornhole boards:

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FABB had a full bar, a full house and an understaffed lunch crew. The chips were fresh and warm and the salsa was served from a salsa bar with 8 different types of salsa. My favorites were the peach and the wasabi. The peach was chunky, full and fresh with the right amount of sweet. The wasabi was not gimmicky like I had originally thought it would be. It had the perfect amount of heat and was a pleasant surprisingly appropriate partnership to a fresh and warm chip.

I ordered the Shrimp ‘Fajitarito’. In case you couldn’t tell from the title, the Fajaitarito is a marriage between a fajita and burrito. Peppers, lettuce, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and miniature shrimp were stuffed inside a very floury tortilla – in fact, the tortilla had too much flour for me. However, that was the only part of the meal I was not crazy about. All of the ingredients were fresh and the Fajitarito was about 70% of the size of a standard Chipotle Burrito – so we left full, but not hating ourselves.

I forgot to take a photo of my own food or standard local IPA, so here is a photo of my sister-in-law Rhonda’s burrito. She was less impressed by our lunch, but I stand by my approval. Give FABB a chance if you find yourself in the area.

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Next on the docket is the regionally famous Wake N Bake Donuts. Simply put, I was blown away. I stood in line for 20 minutes, but it was worth it. I bought a ‘Wake N Bacon’ – the house specialty – for myself along with a surprisingly good cup of coffee to enjoy on site. The ‘Wake N Bacon’ comes with a creamy, buttery icing and is topped with freshly cooked bacon. I can say without hyperbole that it was the best donut I have ever had. I took and an assorted dozen to back the beach house and the Rettig Family munched on and split donuts for the next two days. Also, if you see my wife, please shame her for insisting on a plain glaze, even if it was delicious. Wake N Bake Donuts comes highly recommended. Yes, that is a pun.

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Good Hops Brewing in a VERY laid back neighborhood brewery that is dog and people friendly. In fact, a greyhound was sitting on a bar stool watching YouTube dog videos while it’s human played a trivia game. My hand to God, this is a true story.

Good Hops Brewing is not a full service bar. There are 7 taps committed to on sight brewing and one tap reserved for a guest beer. That is it. Those are your choices. No spirits, no mixers, no wine, and no domestics. My only complaint is that during each of our visits, there were 3 sold out taps. However, given the chill mood of the laid back clientele, I don’t think the regulars mind much.

The two most impressive aspects about Good Hops Brewing is that my beer snob brother-in-law Craig was impressed by TWO taps. The favorite was the ‘Georgia On My Mind’, a jalapeno and peach cream ale and RBC – a Raspberry Chocolate Brown Ale. I was more conservative and stuck with the IPAs.

Another impressive aspect was the brewery had a canning machine. Basically, you can pick out one of the beers on tap and have it put into the body of a 32 ounce can. When the body is filled, the lid is attached to the body and the can is inserted into the machine. In 20 seconds, you have a product that is superior to a growler. As opposed to glass, cans do not let in sunlight and keep the product fresher for longer. I purchased four cans of the ‘Hoppertone’ to take back to Ohio and celebrate my buddy Kyle’s 40th birthday. I also bought one each for Austin and Gabe. (For those worrying about spoiling the surprise, don’t be worried – they don’t read this).

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Good Hops Brewing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I definitely dug the chilled out vibe. There is no food, except for miniature bags of chips. During our first visit, there was a surprise anniversary party for a couple in their 70 with a ton of homemade food. Good Hops Brewing opens late and closes early, and that is not a bad thing. (Pictured below is a photo of Craig’s flight.)

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On our next to last day six of us ate a late lunch at local seafood restaurant The Shuckin’ Shack. The Shack is can fit around 40 people inside and 8 outside – I would be surprised if maximum occupancy is over 50. Narrow and short, a patron at the bar could lean back and touch the customers at the table. The set up reminded me of a smaller version of the Old Worthington Old Bag of Nails Pub.

Everyone had some sort of seafood. Megan and I split a shrimp cocktail, small order of wings and Lobster Roll dinner. The shrimp were medium sized, fresh, and needed deveined. The best part of the cocktail was the sauce. It was refreshing and tangy and had the right amount of heat.

The medium wings had a nice spicy sauce, but too much breading and grease for my liking. If you are a fan of Rooster’s, you would definitely appreciate The Shuckin’ Shack’s wings.

The best part of our dinner was the lobster roll dinner. The lobster roll was not too creamy and had a large amount of crab. The bun tasted like it was baked that morning and the fries were simple, crispy and to the point. The dinner was accompanied by a creamy southern slaw with paprika.

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The Shuckin’ Shack had great service (two lifers rocking a full house), threw no punches and was moderately priced. There were not a lot of craft beer options, as this was more of a classic style restaurant. I wouldn’t recommend The Shuckin’ Shack for your first seafood option in the Carolinas (it is a small regional chain), but you aren’t going to waste your money either. Just make sure you ask for extra cocktail sauce.

My favorite destination on the trip was The Fat Pelican and if it were up to me, there would be no doors for hippies to use.

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TFP had a cooler containing between 300 – 400 alcoholic beverages from which to choose. I chose a FULLSTREAM Brewing Humidity Pale Ale, because it seems obvious to me that North Carolina knows how to do Humidity right. It had minimal hops and could almost be confused with a Pilsner. However, it was steaming outside and this beer was very cold, so I approved.

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To say the inside of TFP was eclectic would be an understatement. There were beer can wind chimes, photos of regulars on the walls, mismatched couches and chairs, and a large outdoor patio. There was even a freezer full of microwaveable television dinners, burritos, and Hot Pockets in case you were hungry. It was like the old Andyman’s Treehouse without a stage. If I lived close to TFP, I would be a regular.

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The last place worth mentioning is the Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar. Megan and I went twice in the afternoons – it was the turnaround point of our 5 mile bike ride and we had to stay hydrated.

Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar is located at the end of a pier and sat around 25 people. The bartenders were friendly, the beers were cold, and their Pandora station was on point. Of all the places we went to, this felt like the most like a hidden gem. There were service industry people at the bar, so I think this was a local joint.

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Anyway, it was a really great vacation. Family breakfasts and dinner, and choose your own afternoon adventure. Kure Beach is very family friendly and I would definitely recommend for a family vacation. If you are looking for National Lampoon Spring Break style partying, I do not think it would be a good match. I would give you a recommendation for that style of vacation, but I just turned 40. Proof:

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As always, thanks for reading! See you next time when I don’t screw up the noodles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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