Solving Topsail Island’s Hungry Vacationer Problem

by Donna Byrd


There’s one equation that will never change:  Ocean + Salty air = Hungry.

 Yes, folks. I’ve never been very good at math but this is one calculation I can answer.  There is something about the beach water and air, that when combined, makes us hungry!  

I remember when I was a young kid vacationing with my family at the beach. Everyday, our parents were faced with the dilemma of keeping enough food around to feed five hungry children coming in off the beach after hours of morning and afternoon swimming sessions in the surf. They had to go to the grocery store everyday to keep us fed and happy.  Being at the beach made us ravenous.  After I grew up and had my own family of six children to feed, I remember trying to keep up with my children’s expanded appetites when we were vacationing at the beach.  It was almost a full time job just to make sure there was enough food in the refrigerator!


I was wondering this week about some of the restaurants in our area and what the thousands of vacationers we have here every summer on Topsail Island liked to eat  I didn’t get to check with every restaurant,  but I spoke with the managers of enough of them to find out what some of the best loved dishes were. I realized that some of these dishes were my favorites too!  


Baked Pizza  

2013 NC-172, Sneads Ferry, NC 28460, 901-741-0701


I spoke with Dillon, one of the managers in one of the most popular pizza restaurants in the area and he spilled the beans on the most ordered dishes!

# 1  Good ‘ole Cheese Pizza.

# 2  Buffalo Chicken Pizza.  

# 3  Chicken Parm Pasta.

Favorite dessert:  Dillon’s mom makes a fantastic cheese cake just for Baked Pizza.  I can never pass it up!  Looks like the vacationers can’t either!


Rick’s Restaurant and Sports Bar

510 Petes Way, Sneads Ferry, NC 28460, 910-327-2300


There’s no doubt that Rick’s Restaurant and Sports Bar is one of Topsail Island’s and Sneads Ferry’s favorite casual dining hot spots.  From live music, Trivia night and never ending sports television, patrons know that Rick’s is always about fun and good food!  


I spoke with Lisa, the kitchen manager and she told me the favorite dishes they served up during the summer.


#1  Steaks.  Simple fare but extraordinary in taste! I know I’m never


# 2  Catch of the day. Always a winner for a restaurant near the ocean!

# 3  Burgers.  There’s quite a long list of crazy good burgers! You’ll be glad

      you ordered one!


EM R Wings

1016 Old Folkstone Rd, Sneads Ferry, NC 28460, 910-327-2848

When I spoke with the manager of this favorite local establishment, Chris Foy, he was more than happy to divulge the top choices of dishes at his restaurant.  

# 1  You guessed it!  Medium hot buffalo wings with a side of celery sticks

      and dressing.    

# 2  Hot Chips.

# 3  The  Reuben Sandwich, possibly tied with the Crab Dip.

I’ve had them all and they are great!  Vacationers sure know how to pick ‘em!


Hwy. 55 Burgers, Steaks & Fries

979 NC-210, Sneads Ferry, NC 28460, 910-327-1555

I spoke with manager Kody King at this great retro diner that plays ‘50’s music and sports a lunch counter.  

# 1  Cheeseburger Special (complete with a drink and crispy fries)

# 2  The Monthly Special (usually a special sandwich served with fries.)

# 3 “Flavor of the Day” frozen custard.

Favorite Drink: The fresh squeezed orange and lemon aids.  I can remember getting orange aids at the beach when I was a kid. I can see that the tradition is continuing for countless vacationers here too!


River View Cafe

119 Hall Point Rd, Sneads Ferry, NC 28460, 910-327-2011

Andrew, the manager of this Sneads Ferry, waterfront, iconic restaurant  had no trouble remembering what vacationers like to eat at his establishment.  

# 1  Mahi and Grilled Shrimp.

# 2  Whole Fried Flounder.

# 3  Fried Oysters, also a virtual tie with the Assorted Seafood Platters.  Of course, the legendary hush puppies come by the basket loads to each table…Served with butter. Heaven!

Favorite dessert:  Homemade Key Lime Pie was the most asked for dessert, which of course, pairs favorably with seafood. But my favorite is the Coconut Cream Meringue! (Don’t tell the tourists how good it is! More lusciousness for me!)

I’ve had all of the above mentioned dishes and I must admit, they were all delicious and tasted like seafood at the beach is supposed to taste!  Wonderful!


Cancun Mexican Restaurant

Address: 1092 NC-210, Sneads Ferry, NC 28460, 910-541-0745

It’s a good thing that Americans must have their Mexican “fix” at least once a week.  The manager of this popular eating place told me that they were very busy keeping the islanders fed during the summer.  

# 1  Burrito Loco, a huge burrito filled with chicken and Mexican sausage.

# 2  Fajitas, both  chicken and steak varieties.

# 3  Camarones Locos,  shrimp wrapped in bacon.  Who doesn’t like anything that’s wrapped in bacon?

Favorite drink: Margaritas. 150-200 of those delicious concoctions were sold daily during the summer months.


Inlet 790 Bar and Grill

790 New River Inlet Rd, North Topsail Beach, NC 28460, 910-328-0790

My niece, Emily, worked during the summer at this fine eating establishment on the Atlantic waterfront and spoke with the chef about the dishes that were most popular.  Having cooked up all these fabulous dishes, I’m sure he could recall them vividly.

# 1  New York Strip with a mushroom-herb butter, sauteed broccoli and

      fresh roasted fingerling potatoes.

# 2  Mussels in garlic cream with chorizo and roasted sweet corn. (This

      dish is an appetizer but often doubles as a entree too!)

# 3  Jambalaya over a bed of rice.

Favorite dessert:  House made Cajun bourbon caramel and flash fried strawberries over vanilla bean ice cream. Yummy!


Beauchaines 211

211 S. Topsail Drive, Surf City, NC  28445


The last restaurant on my list is in Surf City. It’s a bit upscale but obviously a favorite of our vacationers.  The chef happily remembered the past summer’s favorite fares and shared them with me.  

# 1 The Flounder Roulade with Jumbo Lump Crab served with potato

     mash, grilled asparagus and champagne cream.

# 2  Carolina Blackened Mahi Mahi over cilantro rice, grilled asparagus,

      mango salsa and avocado creme.

# 3  Sea Sparrow Strip over mushroom risotto, grilled asparagus, white

      cheddar green onion pimento cheese.

Favorite Dessert:  The triple chocolate truffle cake and vanilla bean ice cream.



All of these dishes made me want to bring back summer!

So, there you have it!  Everything from burgers, burritos, wings, steaks and seafood, our local restaurants have been solving the hunger equation for Topsail Island vacationers and residents for years.  Kudos to them all for taking up the daunting challenge and doing such a great job!

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