by Donna Byrd
For all of you guys out there who are on vacation and want to go to a restaurant that makes you feel like “you’re at the beach,” I’ve got just the place for you! Buddy’s Crab House and Oyster Bar.
Located right on the beautiful Atlantic Ocean in the heart of Surf City, Buddy’s has been rumored to have the best beach views and vibe on Topsail Island. With that in mind, I decided to investigate Buddy’s last Wednesday. I wanted to see if it lived up to its reputation.
My husband, Bill, and I pulled up into the parking lot at Buddy’s at midday, hungry and in need of a cold drink. It was hot and sunny and our car’s thermometer told us it was 91 degrees outside. Luckily, I saw a huge sign out in the front advertising that Buddy’s now had air conditioning. That was good news.
We pulled open the door and walked into the dining room. I understood immediately what the good vibe rumor was about. The walls were a rustic wood paneling that made you think you were in a boat house.
A ninja turtle statue, at least that’s what I thought it was, with a colorful parrot on his shoulder, greeted me. In his hands the turtle was holding a tray with a huge cocktail glass with a bottle of rum by it’s side. The stage was definitely set for a lunch to remember.
The first thing I noticed was that dollar bills were hung all over the walls, amid a few framed pictures of boats, colorful fishing buoys and wall mounted fish. I think I saw a few license tags and even a yellow bicycle on the top of a half wall. It was eclectic. It was festive. It was fun!
At the back of the restaurant, there were big windows that were all open to a huge covered dining porch that overlooked the ocean and the Surf City Pier. I wondered about that air conditioning, with all the open windows and thought, “Who cares? If they want to leave the windows open it’s fine with me!” It was still cool in the restaurant.
We asked to be seated outside on the porch. I wondered if it would be hot but as soon as we walked outside, the cool sea breeze hit me and the shade from the covering ensured us that our dining experience was going to be the perfect temperature!
We ordered from the menu. There was a great selection of fresh seafood, soups, salads and sandwiches. I asked our server what was one of their best sellers and she recommended the grilled mahi-mahi sandwich with fries, coleslaw and pickle.
Bill opted for the cheeseburger, another house favorite. I ordered a Corona Light and Bill got the Red Oak draft. You couldn’t sit on porch by the beach without a cold drink in your hand.
After our server, Ellen, left to put our order in, we turned our chairs towards the main attraction: the beach. Ellen told us that the porch and the upper deck porches at Buddy’s were the best place on the island to people watch. She was right! Surfers, swimmers, beachcombers, sun worshippers and occasional wind surfers could entertain me all day!
The million dollar view and the good music coming from the restaurant speakers swept us up in beach heaven. We propped our feet up on some extra chairs and Bill said, “This is how I like to experience the beach, Donna. I like to listen to my favorite beach tunes and watch everybody have fun in the sun without having to put my own feet in the sand! I could do this everyday!”
Ellen soon returned with our sandwiches. They were perfectly presented. The mahi-mahi was lightly blackened, grilled just as I had asked. Bill’s cheeseburger was cooked just as he liked and there were plenty of hot, crispy fries on our plates. The beautiful beach views and the tasty food made for a lunch experience we’ll not soon forget!
We asked Ellen about Buddy’s. She told us that Buddy Wiles opened the Surf City restaurant in 1998. He had also owned a “Buddy’s” in Wrightsville Beach, by Johnny Mercer’s Pier but closed that one down this year in February. After Buddy passed away, his son Matt Wiles took over the Surf City location. Over the years, it has become a popular place for locals to come get eat good food, relax and listen to music. At night, you can find surfers, fishermen and maybe a local writer or two gathered there to swap stories and experience Buddy’s unique beach vibe.
Bill and I sat for awhile after our yummy lunch. We hated to give up our comfy chairs and go back out into the hot, humid day and our car which would feel like an oven. But, all beach experiences aren’t meant to last forever! We said our goodbyes to our new friend, Ellen and vowed to come back soon.
I didn’t want my afternoon at the beach to end. As we walked to our car we noticed a little eatery, Hot Diggity Dogz, across the street. I had driven by it many times before but had stopped in. Of course, their claim to fame was hot dogs, but they also advertised soft serve ice cream and shaved flavored ice.
We couldn’t resist the idea of ice cream for dessert, so we made our way across the street. We walked up to the window and ordered vanilla ice cream cones. Beach music poured from the speakers and once again, we were reminded that we lived in a special vacation wonderland.
We had a perfect day. I suggest that you experience Buddy’s while you’re on vacation. The memory of the views and the vibe will stay with you until you come back to Topsail for another visit. Then, head on over to Hot Diggity Dogz for an ice cream or snow cone. I’m telling you folks. That’s how to make good memories!
Buddy’s is located at:
101 Roland Ave. Surf City, NC 28445
Hot Diggity Dogz
103 S. Shore Drive, Surf City, NC 28445