Taking advantage of all the activities and attractions on Topsail Island requires energy, and for that you need food.
Seafood fans find lots to love at Mainsail Restaurant, on N.C. Highway 50 in Surf City. Popular Calabash-style fried seafood platters mean a choice of flounder, shrimp, sea scallops or oysters individually or as combinations. Maryland crab cakes and grilled fish served with a choice of delicious sauces are popular.
A raw bar features oysters steamed or raw on the half-shell. Read more
Check the cocktail list for chocolate martinis and fresh fruit daiquiris. Mainsail accommodates large parties, and reservations for large groups are accepted. A separate room downstairs may be reserved for private parties. The upstairs Commodore Room works for wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners or anniversary parties. Mainsail is open for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. daily during the summer season. Call for off-season hours.
Daddy Mac’s Beach Grille
From fresh seafood accompanied by tasty sauces, to crab cakes done three ways, to the best baby back ribs on Topsail Island, Daddy Mac’s Beach Grille aims to please every taste. Ribs are slow-roasted, as they should be, so tender the meat falls from the bone. Select sweet Vidalia onion or Cajun beer barbecue sauce. The ribs, fried seafood platters and shrimp and grits are among entrees. Read more
Sandwiches are available in the evening. They make great lighter fare after a long day on the beach, just steps away. Daddy Mac’s sits oceanfront. A wide deck set with dining tables affords a beautiful view. Few things are more pleasurable than enjoying a good meal while watching and hearing waves break in the background. Steaks are cut in-house. Glorious, freshly ground half-pound burgers might get stuffed with feta cheese. Wasabi aioli spikes ahi tuna sliders with avocado and fresh cucumber. Cajun oysters and Lowcountry crab dip are yummy appetizers. Kids get their own menu.
Daddy Mac’s has a full-service bar and refreshing house cocktails like the raspberry margarita. There’s a good selection of beer and wine, too. Daddy Mac’s is open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner. Lunch begins at 11 a.m., except on Sundays when Daddy Mac’s opens at 10 a.m. and offers brunch service, including eggs benedict, prime rib, blintzes and quiche. Dinner always starts at 5 p.m.
Gallagher’s Bar and Grill
When it’s time to watch the game, big or otherwise, head to Gallagher’s Bar and Grill on North New River Drive in Surf City. The sports bar and grill has plenty of televisions and a wide-open dining room where it’s OK to cheer for your favorite teams.
The family-owned establishment offers a fun-filled experience and great prices on food and drinks. Lots of munchies fit Super Bowl football action or March Madness college basketball gatherings.Read more
Think wings, loaded cheese fries and Irish egg rolls filled with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Salads are balanced by mondo sandwiches and burgers, including the Royale with Cheese, a half-pound, ground chuck burger topped with cheese, bacon and a fried egg.
Fried shrimp, grilled or blackened salmon, hand-cut steaks and chicken dishes are among entrees. A kids menu satisfies tikes.
A local baker makes desserts, one of them the Southern classic Hummingbird Cake, a banana pineapple pecan layer cake with cream cheese frosting. There’s also a 14-layer chocolate cake and a 12-layer chocolate peanut butter cake.
Gallagher’s sports a full bar serving beer, wine and cocktails. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. or later Friday and Saturday.
Gallagher’s accommodates large groups, but parties of 12 or more are encouraged to reserve tables, especially during busy summer months.
Inlet 790 Grill & Bar
As you’re driving down the beach’s main New River Inlet Road, watch for Villa Capriani resort. Inlet 790 Grill & Bar centers the complex. The restaurant’s Italian garden setting includes the happy sound of water trickling down an enchanting fountain. Tile floors and Roman motifs share décor space with seascape paintings by local artists.
Chef David Longo extends his reach well beyond Italy. However, don’t miss his grilled shrimp primavera when it’s on special. Longo tosses tender shrimp with mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes in silky pesto cream sauce. Read more
Taco Tuesday and from-scratch pizzas, traditional and creative, are two customer favorites. Cooks tuck fried fish filets and fresh slaw into soft, warm tortillas. The casual bar is a great place for a craft beer, good old domestic suds, sangria or the signature Ocean Blueberry Lemonade cocktail with citrus vodka, fresh lemon juice, blueberry puree and lemon-lime soda.
The impressive wine list ranges from easy reds and whites to tony Vueve Cliquot champagne. Inlet 790 works for gatherings large and small. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday but hours are extended during vacation seasons and new specials are added. Call ahead for details.
Topsail Shrimp House
Take the elevator to the top floor of the seven-story St. Regis resort on New River Inlet Road for a fine view and some of the area’s best casual seafood. Giant windows line at Topsail Shrimp House, affording every table aerial oceanfront views that extend for miles. Binoculars are available to view sea birds and dolphins.
You’ll feel like you’re sitting on the world’s tallest deck as you munch lightly battered fried shrimp, Buffalo shrimp and Firecracker Shrimp, the latter in creamy sauce with spicy Asian seasonings. Read more
Crab cakes, grilled mahi, fried flounder and steamed oysters are offered, too. Find steaks, burgers and a seared tuna sandwich with mango salsa. Customize grilled seafood or seared scallops with one of four sauces, including pineapple jalapeno.
Don’t miss the kitchen’s wide-cut, puffed fries, golden outside, fluffy within. Quench your thirst with cider, assorted beers, affordable wines and fun cocktails like Topsail Beach Punch with vodka, peach schnapps, raspberry schnapps and cranberry. Live and DJ music provide opportunities to dance some nights.
The magnificent space is perfect for parties and wedding receptions. Dinner is served 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Sunday brunch is scheduled 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Look for crab cake eggs Benedict and, of course, a shrimp omelet.
Beach Shop Grill
Beach Shop and Grill in Topsail Beach Beach Shop and Grill, in business since 1952. It has a split personality. Don shorts and flip flops for casual breakfast and lunch times. Around sunset, diners wear upscale casual attire, say sundresses and khakis.
The restaurant staff breaks out linens and candles for dinner tables. Morning eye-openers include classic eggs Benedict, buttermilk pancakes and create-your-own omelets. Read more
Steaks, fresh local seafood and pasta are dinner highlights at the restaurant that many beach-goers consider Topsail’s best. Specialties include shrimp and grits, jumbo lump crab cakes with lemon aioli and Shellfish Mac ’n’ Cheese with shrimp, scallops, lobster, fresh herbs and romano and parmesan cheeses. Leave room for key lime pie with mile-high meringue. Owner and master pastry chef Cheryl Price is the pie queen.
Wine lovers get the island’s best selection of labels. Numerous craft beers and fine cocktails are served, too. Despite the delicious array of food and drink, prices are comparable to other area restaurants.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served mid-March-November. Call ahead for hours no matter when you visit.