Sister Restaurants on the Southport Waterfront
Eat and drink on the Southport waterfront at sister businesses The Frying Pan and American Fish Company.
Southport, NC, being the charming little city it is, attracts loads of visitors. It gets hopping for real after Memorial Day, and the hopping doesn’t stop until — maybe — after Labor Day. I’ve been there on weekends in October where the lines were 50 to 75 bodies long to get into the waterfront restaurants. Weekends especially place a premium on parking spaces and seating at its many excellent restaurants.
That’s why I went there on an off-season Thursday (after getting off the very neat Southport/Fort Fisher Ferry) with the idea of eating at a very neat place right on the water called The Frying Pan. There was a bit of a nip in the air (odd after 81º the previous day), so we opted for inside seating. There was no wait.
Spectacular water views? Check.
Comfortable indoor (and outdoor) seating? Check.
A nice nautical/homey/airy ambience? Check.
Good food? Check.
Nice beer list? Check.
Excellent service? Check, especially if Katrina (who has Demi Moore’s eyes) is your server.
The missus ordered a loaded (and large) Kale Super Salad with broccoli, rainbow carrots, kale, Brussels sprouts, radicchio, walnuts and craisins. It was served with a Coconut Mango Dressing, and the missus commented repeatedly and positively about its crunchiness.
I opted for the Cajun Shrimp Wrap, which you can get with shrimp or chicken, and these can be blackened or Cajun fried. I went with the blackened shrimp, and whoever caught those shrimp must have had a banner day because the wrap was chock full of the tasty, blackened little devils.
So packed was the wrap that I had to dissect it and eat just the shrimp of the second half. I could have taken the whole second half home, but we all know what happens with that most of the time, and it was too good to meet that fate.
A nice bar surrounds the cooking area for those who want to watch their food prepared. A window seat provides beautiful views of very large ships and watercraft of all sizes moving through the area where the Cape Fear River meets the ICW. And it also provides a view of a neat little area just below The Frying Pan called The American Fish Company. Part and parcel of the Pan, this waterside dock has nothing to do with fish or food but is a drinking emporium with a great beer list and a nice selection of whiskies and bourbons for those who like the sun, sunsets and the sound of waves lapping on wood.
It’s one of those “private club” deals so popular in NC, so it will cost you a buck to become a member for a year. But that allows you to bring four or five guests with you anytime you go. It used to be open only at 4 pm, but now opens at 2 pm. On this visit there was a plastic wind screen up in one section, which cut the nippy breeze down completely and yielded a most comfortable quaffing area.
Of course, The Frying Pan has a full bar as well, but a great day in Southport might look like a late lunch at The “Big Sister” Pan, then some happy hour beers or bourbons at the “Little Sister” below to watch the spectacular sunsets.
Just be advised. It gets crowded after Memorial Day — and even on some weekends prior to that if the weather is nice. But if you can swing it and time it right, it’s a perfect “Southport Experience.”
Want to go?
The Frying Pan
319 W. Bay Street, Southport
American Fish Company
150 Yacht Basin Drive, Southport,