Despite the July 4th weekend crowds in Southport, the lucky PubScout scores a great meal at Fishy Fishy Cafe.
Southport is pretty high on the Brunswick County Tourist Attraction list, even on a non-holiday weekend — and with good reason. Charming, quaint, picturesque, right on the water and boasting some excellent eateries, the little town attracts folks from everywhere.
Especially on July 4th weekend. The normal Southport Independence Day celebration is the stuff of legend, but a virus stole center stage this year. The town fathers (and mothers, I presume) decided to live to fight another day, so the fireworks, parades and other events that draw outsized crowds were, as in many places, shelved — for now.
But even that did not stop the tourists from flooding into this corner of the world on July 4th weekend. On July 5 I saw license plates from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio and elsewhere in the heartland.
Not that I didn’t expect this going in. On a regular Sunday, I expect the eateries to have waiting lines, and they did on July 5 as well. I expected parking to be at a premium, and it was. But the lines were far longer to get into The Frying Pan and Provisions than I had ever seen them.
At my age, there are fewer and fewer things worth waiting in line for, so we chugged on past people standing and sweltering in the road.
Being on a motorcycle affords one the ability to get creative with parking spaces, if need be, but the first sign that the gods were smiling on me was that I found a vacant spot not far from a place called Fishy Cafe.
The missus and I had dined there once before and found it to be just ok. So, because the place offered lots of shade both inside and out, and there did not seem to be a long wait, we decided to give it another chance. Our expectations, however, were not great.
But this time, Fishy nailed it on all fronts. From the two barstool seats in the shade overlooking the marina and the marsh (and its concomitant cooling breezes), to the pleasant welcome from General Manager Bob, who took care to seat us and explain the system set up because of the restrictions, to the tall glasses of excellent sangria — at just $6 a pop — we sensed immediately that this would be a fun time.
Until our food came, that is.
The Romaine Wedge Salad the missus ordered, and the Paradise Cheeseburger I ordered were so good, so perfectly done, so delicious, that the moment went from just fun”” to “memorable” and “special.” The service was flawless, despite the limitations of the dining restrictions, and the staff was as pleasant and accommodating as could be.
I could have had a beer or twain, as the Fishy Fish beer menu has some solid choices, but it just seemed like a sangria moment. I abide by Emerson’s advice:
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
Since I’m on a literary tack, I thank Dickens for Great Expectations. Today, our great expectations were not only met, but exceeded, and for that we can thank Fishy.
I’ve lived “on the water” in one form or another for most of my life, but, oddly, I never wanted a boat. “It’s a hole in the water into which you pour money,” I was told. And cleaning it or scraping barnacles and other sea muck off the bottom is not my idea of a good time
But after today’s experience in the little port where I’ve never had a bad day, and after seeing all the folks enjoying themselves on the water, with some pulling their boats right up to the Fishy Fishy dock to eat or pick up food … I still don’t want one.
But if you have one, and you want company to visit Fishy Fishy Cafe by sea, give me a holler.
Want to go?
Fishy Fishy Café
106 Yacht Basin Drive, Southport
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 9:30 pm