The Fork n Cork in the Port City
Having transitioned from food truck to full-service restaurant, Fork n Cork is a delicious pub-style offering in Wilmington, and new location in Carolina Beach.
Big, it ain’t. And at first blush it looks like the kind of place where you’d have go outside to change your mind.
But a place doesn’t have to be airy and grandiose to be worth visiting, especially when the beer menu has almost 50 beers and the food that comes out of the kitchen is this good.
I was guided to Fork n Cork in Wilmington by my buddy Keith, who runs Tap Time in Ocean Isle Beach. Keith knows his beer and apparently knows his food, even if he’s allergic to chicken. But that minor obstacle didn’t prevent him from singing the praises of this cozy pub that has been featured on the TV show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Fork n Cork has freakin’ duck wings and duck patty burgers to satisfy Keith. But it also puts out superb burgers and a chicken and waffle dish that could feed a regiment.
On the day I visited, my barstool neighbor, Andrew, who is a regular here, put away this entire dish by himself — and had me looking for the hole in his heel when he left. I know there are slender folks like him who can regularly put away portions of this size without gaining an ounce, but you’d have had to carry me out and put me on my motorcycle if I had eaten even half of it.
As it was, I couldn’t even finish my Big Lew’s burger, and that was mainly because once I sampled the first of a mound of specially made french-fries, I didn’t stop until they were halfway gone.
Amy, the friendly bar gal, pulled me a Founders Dirty Bastard and delivered it with a smiling, “Here’s a Dirty Bastard for a dirty bastard.” How she knew me that well, I haven’t yet figured out, but we had a great chat, even though she was busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. (That’s Southern talk for “slammed.”)
Fork n Cork got its start, she shared, as a food truck called the Patty Wagon, and when the opportunity arose for owner James Smith to find permanent digs for his food, he jumped on the spot, located at 122 Market Street in Wilmington. The About section on their Facebook page declares, “We’ve turned The Patty Wagon Food Truck into a bar/restaurant. All of your favorites, some new menu items and a full bar. It’s Fork’n Delicious!!!”
Fork n Cork does not take reservations, but if you call ahead 20 minutes or so before you get there, you’ll get a text when a table is ready. Or you could sit at any seat at the bar — if you can find one. I was lucky enough to do just that (and just in time to see Andrew get his food for the month).
And according to that Facebook page, Fork n Cork is opening another location in Carolina Beach. The new location will be airy, modern and larger, so that “Fork n Delicious” motto seems to have reaped some well-deserved rewards. I’m not saying I won’t visit there, because I have family in Carolina Beach, but as an admitted Old School Dirty Bastard, I prefer the cozier, more intimate, pub-like confines of the Market Street location.
Ten draft beer taps are always flowing, but the beer list, chosen by James Smith himself, is very diverse and offers many excellent choices that should satisfy most palates.
The PubScout will definitely be back to Fork n Cork. That will leave at least one Dirty Bastard in the house in the event the other rotates off the tap list. And, just so you know, I did finish my (just) one Dirty Bastard.
Because nobody in their right mind leaves a Dirty Bastard at the bar.
The PubScout — immersed in the craft beer scene since 1996