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Best Restaurants In Swansboro NC | 9 Must-Try Places

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Swansboro is one of North Carolina’s oldest coastal communities and has the feel of an old New England town. Its slogan is “Friendly City by the Sea.” Besides the great restaurants In Swansboro NC, there’s alot of history to find here.

The first white settlers came in the 1830s. In 1783, was incorporated and named in honor of Samuel Swann, former speaker of the North Carolina House of Commons. We took a historic walk around Swansboro with Ann Scholar, a lifelong resident, and her husband, Bob.

She showed us many of the town’s historic homes, including the Ringware Home, built in 1778. It like, many of the homes, have ballast stone foundations.

Cargo ships arrived empty except for the stone ballast they needed to keep the ships stable. They then dumped these stones and loaded them up with cargo.

Because of its proximity to the ocean, shipbuilding was its primary industry until after the Civil War. Today, commercial fishing is big. You can take a marsh cruise to visit where so much of the local seafood comes from with Captain Darryl and his first mate, Buxton, a 7-year-old silver lab.

If you do the Marsh Cruise shelling trip, you will see lots of oyster shells when you search for shells on Bear Island, a part of Hammocks Beach State Park, and see mullets jumping in the water as you cruise. Oyster farming is big here and the largest annual festival is the Mullet Festival, held in mid-October.

Swansboro dock

The downtown area is filled with unique little shops and restaurants. As you would expect, seafood is the main choice here. As you wander around the waterfront district, you will find lots of ducks. When I visited there were dozens of adorable babies with mama ducks riding herd on them. Now, of to the best restaurants In Swansboro NC.

The Top 9 Restaurants in Swansboro NC

Yana’s Ye Olde Drug Store Restaurant 

119 Front St Swansboro, NC 28584 +19103265501

It’s a trip back to the ‘50s with Elvis, Marilyn, and James Dean. It’s housed in the former Bell’s Drugstore downtown and opened in 1983. Before you enter, Elvis greets you at the front door, where he sits with his guitar.

Ladies, he’ll even say “hello” when you join him in the ladies restroom. Yup! There’s a life-sized cutout of him that watches as you do your business.

Besides all the photos of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, there are two jukeboxes. Even if the food was not good, it would be worth a visit, but the food is something special.

My favorite is the homemade fruit fritters, made using an old family secret recipe with four types of fruit: apples, bananas, strawberries, and peach, depending on the season.

I had the strawberry ones, drenched in powdered sugar and a huge dollop of whipped cream, and they were soooo good. 

The breakfast I had after the fritters lived up to that preview. I enjoyed a traditional egg, grits, and biscuit breakfast. One of my friends had the French toast, and it almost made me jealous it looked so good. 

They remain open until 2 pm and serve a diner-style lunch; burgers, sandwiches, salads, and soups. They also serve old-fashioned sodas, floats, and sundaes. 

Front Street Grocery

117 Front Street Swansboro, NC 28584 +19103584163

This tiny store next to Yana’s is a good place to pick up snacks, drinks, Amish goods, local produce, ice cream, and more. It’s tiny but a cute find amongst the restaurants In Swansboro NC. You can pick up a picnic lunch here and head to Hammocks Beach State Park for a picnic.

Riverside Steak & Seafood

506 W Corbett Ave, Swansboro, NC 28584, United States // +19103268847

Nestled in a charming renovated 2-story house, Riverside Steak & Seafood in Swansboro, North Carolina, is a true haven for food lovers seeking exceptional local seafood and hand-cut steaks. 

If you’re tired of the run-of-the-mill tourist traps, this family-friendly establishment will captivate your taste buds with its skillful cooking and reasonable prices. 

Upon perusing the menu, the scalloped nachos caught our attention. Little did we know that this appetizer would surpass all expectations. 

The combination of perfectly cooked scallops, accompanied by an array of flavorful toppings, created a harmony of taste that lingered long after each bite. It was undeniably the best appetizer we had ever savored, setting the stage for a truly remarkable dining experience.

At Riverside Steak & Seafood, attentive and friendly service is second nature. The staff went above and beyond to ensure our dining experience was nothing short of exceptional. 

Their warmth and genuine passion for providing a memorable meal added an extra layer of enjoyment to our visit.

One standout dish was the jambalaya special, a tantalizing medley of andouille sausage, shrimp, oysters, crabmeat, okra, tomatoes, celery, onions, and a touch of rice.

 The generous portion left my friend so impressed that she had to request a leftover box. As for me, I opted for the shrimp and grits, a dish I’ve enjoyed in various restaurants along the East Coast. 

Riverside’s rendition surprised me with its unique twist—a block of flavorful grits accompanied by plump shrimp, savory strips of pork, onions, and an abundance of mushrooms. 

The light sauce perfectly complemented the dish, resulting in a satisfying and memorable meal.

Even the salads at Riverside Steak & Seafood are a delightful surprise. Though modest in size, they boast a diverse array of fresh ingredients that elevate them beyond the ordinary. 

And let’s not forget the outrageously delicious muffins proudly made with lard, adding an extra layer of richness and flavor to the dining experience.

Riverside Steak & Seafood is a hidden gem in Swansboro, North Carolina, where culinary excellence meets warm hospitality. 

From the unforgettable scalloped nachos to the impeccably prepared jambalaya and shrimp and grits, every dish showcases the expertise and creativity of the skilled kitchen team. The attentive service and delightful ambiance further enhance the dining experience.

If you find yourself yearning for a break from the touristy spots, make your way to Riverside Steak & Seafood.

Indulge in a remarkable culinary journey where local seafood and hand-cut steaks reign supreme. 

Boro Restaurant and Bar

109 Front Street Swansboro, NC 28584 +19103250502

It’s easy to see why Boro specializes in seafood. They are right next to the dock on the White Oak River. They’re open for brunch through dinner. Here’s why it’s one of the best restaurants In Swansboro NC.

You can dine on the outside deck weather permitting or inside. In case there is a non-seafood diner in your group, they serve several other options.

The stage on the desk is where every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night, local musicians from a range of genres perform.

One of the really nice things is they offer shared plates like Oysters Rockefeller, juicy oysters topped with bacon, spinach parmesan and compound butter, Waterfront Hot Crab Dip served with house chips, and many other choices. 

For the entrees, their Boro Shrimp & Grits is unique. It is blackened grilled shrimp, watermelon salsa, goat cheese, honey, pickled jalapeno, and polenta but instead of being served all mixed together, it is separated into sections. 

il Cigno Italiano

206 W Corbett Ave Swansboro, NC 28584 +19103257845

il Cigno Italiano translating to “The Italian Swan.” is classic Italian with a beach flair and one of the best restaurants In Swansboro NC. It is housed in a simple white frame building perched on the banks of the White Oak River. Inside its dark wood interior, fireplaces, and Italian paintings are soothing to the soul. Its food blends the best of Italy with the seafood of Swansboro.

We sampled several appetizers there. The il Cigno Mozzarella, plated to serve four people, is served warm and pairs baby heirloom tomatoes, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, crostini, and extra virgin olive oil with a large chunk of mozzarella. 

Meatballs are always a great choice in an Italian restaurant. They were delicious and made with a blend of beef and pork, with grated Grana Padano cheese. 

Our other very Italian choice was Gnocchi Pomodoro. It’s house-made gnocchi, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, basil, garlic, with extra-virgin olive oil.

I know Italian food is filling but save room for the cannoli. It is fantastic.

Salt Water Grill

99 W Church St, Swansboro, NC 28584, United States // +19103267300

This waterside haven has a deck on the second floor, and let me tell you, it’s the perfect spot to just sit back and soak in the views. You’ve got the water, the boats, and that gentle sea breeze – it’s like a little slice of paradise. 

They serve seafood that’s caught right there in the local waters and upscale American fare in a setting that combines relaxed elegance with a touch of coastal charm. The staff’s warm welcome and attentive service immediately make you feel at ease, ensuring that your dining experience is as delightful as the food itself.

One of the highlights here is the Angels on Horseback, a dish that brilliantly showcases the freshness and quality of the seafood. 

The She Crab Soup, another standout, is a harmonious blend of flavors that’s both comforting and luxurious. Rich, creamy, and brimming with the essence of the sea, it’s a dish that leaves you with an even bigger appetite for more!

I also had their shrimp and grits, and it was a whole different level of delicious! Inside, the ambiance is just as inviting, with a décor that complements the overall dining experience.

 The whole experience is just relaxed and enjoyable – great food, great views, and great vibes!

Swansboro Food and Beverage Company

106 Front St Swansboro, NC 28584 +19107081305

Swansboro Food and Beverage Company has fantastic food and it’s one of the best restaurants In Swansboro NC.. Its parking lot is located on the site of what was once the Tarrymore Hotel built in 1910. It was a two story, 24 room hotel with a pier with a cabana and bathhouse over the water.

It was a prime destination for hunters and fishermen, and a hotspot for locals with its dances and parties. It was converted into apartments in the 1950s and then demolished to expand restaurant parking.

During the time it was a hotel, an enterprising charter boat captain named Charlie Buckmaster bought what is now Swansboro Food and Beverage Company, then the Swan Café, which served guests of the Tarrymore, and renamed it Capt. Charlie’s Restaurant. 

Our server told us sometimes Captain Charlie moves the saltshakers around but never anything bad as he loved this place.

After eating some of the food, I can see why even a ghost would love this place. We started with the Coconut Shrimp appetizer consisting of six coconut shrimp served with key lime dipping sauce and the Company Crab Cakes that were filled with blue crabmeat and served with Cajun remoulade sauce. 

For an entrée, their Shrimp Tacos are hard to beat. They are blackened shrimp served in two flour tortillas with cheddar cheese, lettuce, guacamole, and cilantro lime cream sauce and sides of salsa, slaw and crispy tortilla wedges.

Shrimp tacos

Back Bar 

It’s part of the Swansboro Food and Beverage Company with a different vibe and lots of fun events like a Star Wars Movie Marathon on May 4th and Drinko de Mayo on May 6th. You can enter from the restaurant or through the bar’s front door. 

It has a sports bar feel and offers some signature cocktails like Company Relaxer made with Captain Morgan, goslings, Malibu pineapple, Malibu coconut, pineapple juice, and grenadine float. They also serve some light food like Chicken Wings, Sweet Heat Fried Pickles, sandwiches, soups, and salads.

By The Bridge

108-3 W Corbett Ave, Swansboro, NC 28584, United States // +19107081020

Have you ever been to a place where the menu alone gets you excited? That’s exactly what happened to me at “By The Bridge” in Swansboro, NC. 

This spot is shaking things up in a sea of seafood joints with its mouth-watering Latino Caribbean comfort food.

So, I popped in for brunch recently, and the vibe was just right – laid back with beachy tunes setting the mood. 

I went for the Cuban bowl, and it was nothing short of excellent. The flavors were bold, the seasoning spot-on – it was like a little party in my mouth.

Then, their avocado toast? You can get it classic style or go Greek, and either way, it’s a winner. Their menu offers a ton of variety, and everything you pick will taste incredible!

Whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian, or somewhere in between, there’s something here for you.

The portions are generous, and their prices are spot on. And the best part? Every dish is packed with flavor that’ll have your taste buds dancing. I was already planning my next visit before I even left!

Dini’s Martinis and Desserts

118 Front St Swansboro, NC 28584 +19103258140

Dini’s has some really unique martinis. It’s atmosphere is reminiscent of a speakeasy with pictures of Al Capone on the wall.

The brick fireplace dates to an earlier era with Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant on either side.

The tin plate ceiling and red brick wall all add to the cozy atmosphere. The dark wood antique bar has its place in history. It was originally built for the Lexington Hotel in Chicago, where Al Capone often stayed. When the hotel was demolished in 1995.

The bar was salvaged and brought to Dini’s and reassembled. The workers found bullet holes in it when it was reassembled. Wish it could talk and tell its story.

They serve food and some spectacular desserts like Cream Brulée Cheesecake and Pecan Bourbon Pie but we just stopped in for drinks. I had the Pineapple Key Lime Pie Martini, with vanilla vodka, Frangelico, lime juice, pineapple juice, and whipped cream. It was as tasty as it was pretty.

pecan bourbon pie at Dini’s Martinis and Desserts

Bake, Bottle & Brew

147 Front St Swansboro, NC 28584 +19103257550

Another spot for drinks or dessert is Bake, Bottle, and Brew. Have it your way here with ice cream, coffee, or alcohol, and lots of unusual gifts and cards.

The specialty here is their coffee. There are more flavors than you can imagine, ranging from White Chocolate to Blueberry and Bananas Foster. They offer tea, milkshake, or hot chocolate for non-coffee drinkers. You can get a tasty ice cream with a sugar cone or waffle cone, or a cup.

hot chocolate at Bake, Bottle & Brew

Candy Edventure

101 W Church St #3 Swansboro, NC 28584 +19107081269

This is the most colorful candy store ever. Plus, it has a little three-horse carousel kids can ride, a Lego-built Ferris wheel about room height that actually runs, and an old-fashioned soda fountain.

The soda fountain is so cute. It has some fake ice cream cones that appear to be dropped on the counter and melting there. 

The fudge is homemade and delicious. There is just about any kind of candy you could want. Some of the candy is the old-fashioned kind you haven’t seen in years.

There’s an ice cream freezer where you can order your cone. One section has a selection of some unusual soft drinks. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you need to wander around in here just for the colorful displays.

homemade fudge at one of the best restaurants in Swansboro NC

Conclusion: The Best Restaurants in Swansboro NC

Swansboro has some of the most unique dining places you will find anywhere. It holds its own with much larger cities and you don’t have to fight traffic and pay for parking here. Its dining establishments live up to its name of the Friendliest City with their service. If you haven’t found this small corner of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast yet, it’s time to make the discovery. 

Visiting other destinations in North Carolina? Check out our other delicious guides:

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Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

What about Salt Water Grill? What about By The Bridge? Both are excellent. When you include the high points of buying snack and Amish items you've lost credibility! This is a terrible list!

Kathleen Walls

Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

@Jim, I'm sure there are other great restaurants there but since the Swansboro Tourism people recommended these I trust their judgment and I loved all of these places.


Monday 19th of June 2023

You missed Riverview!

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