WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Living along the coast, the abundance of nature’s beauty is a major benefit that won’t cost you a dime (unless of course you’re paying to park at the beach). It seems no matter how many sunrises or fading sunsets, it never gets old to me. But you don’t have to be on the sand to experience either one, the Cape Fear River provides an equally beautiful backdrop.
Possibly no place is better for a sunset than Smoke on the Water at Marina Village in the Riverlights Community, with the sky’s hues of pink, orange, and deep purple (sorry, I had to). Not far from the intersection of Independence Boulevard and River Road, each time I come here the scenery is simply jaw-dropping. Complete with a boardwalk and dock that you can walk onto, Smoke on the Water also has plenty of outdoor seating with gas-plumbed fire pits to help you take in the view.
I usually cozy up to the bar as soon as I walk in, grab a craft cocktail, beer or glass of wine, then peruse outside while I decide on what to eat. As far as the food goes, a recent visit certainly didn’t disappoint.
Owned by Chef James Smith (Fork ‘N’ Cork), the menu is eclectic, with options from salads and burgers, to seafood and barbecue. We started off with some of the “Blackened Shrimp n Avocado Nachos.” It’s a light appetizer, the shrimp is cooked just right, and it reminds you that you’re still in a beach town (even if you’re sitting along the river). You can also try other unique options like the “Smoked Trout-Jalapeno Dip,” “Boudin Balls,” and “Clams n Chorizo.”
For dinner, the group chose the “Grilled Local Fish Sandwich” with a side of Texas Poutine (fries, brisket, BBQ sauce, and cheese). The mahi mahi was cooked perfectly and the poutine was a complete meal in itself.
We also tried the “Baja Shrimp Tacos”, which are a beefed-up version of the nachos with a smoked tomatillo sauce (plus the sweet potato fries were on point).
And how can you visit a place called Smoke on the Water, without gorging on a barbecue sampler plate? Smoky brisket, pulled pork and chicken wings really hit the spot and easily could have been shared between two people.
I will say, it’s not a traditional “sit-down dinner” type of place, much of the menu is meant to be shared or ate with your hands. There are some entrée seafood offerings, like a “Fried Seafood Platter”, “Steamer Pot” and even “Alaskan King Crab Legs”, but your typical plates like steak, chicken or pork chops just aren’t there.
In the end, that’s just fine. Everything on the menu is well made and the prices are very reasonable for the portions. So grab a drink, get an appetizer, sandwich, salad, or steamer pot and enjoy your evening with friends and family along the Cape Fear River…and whatever you do, go for the sunset. You won’t regret it.
IF YOU GO:
Smoke on the Water is located at 3704 Watercraft Ferry Ave, Wilmington, NC 28412
Do you recommend a restaurant? Or know of a best kept secret that you want the rest of the Cape Fear to know about? Shoot me an email at email@example.com and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!
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