We were on a well-deserved vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was an overcast morning and we decided to take a road trip to Frisco and Buxton NC to see the Cape Hatteras Light House and to get an Apple Ugly at the Orange Blossom. (I will tell you about some other time) Well, the Orange Blossom was closed as we got there too late. So, we took a leisurely trip from Buxton to Hatteras.
After a nice drive were all getting hungry and we spotted the Tavern on 12 located at 53060 North Carolina Hwy 12, Frisco, NC 27936. This was not a hole in the wall like many eateries along this stretch of highway. The outside was in great shape and looked inviting. There was ample parking and we all went in, and a young lady seated us next to a window Perfect. The place was clean, situated great, and had a full bar that was packed with locals as well as tourists. I especially liked the décor that was both modern and old fashion as it took on the flavor of fishing. It was not loud as in some open concept restaurants.
Our server Miss Brandi a beautiful young lady with a bubbly personality came over and with that southern twang took our drink orders. The draft beer selection was rather good, but I ordered an ice-cold PPR (what else in a highway-side Tavern on Hatteras Island in NC.) my wife ordered a vodka and tonic and my BBF ordered a local amber. Miss Brandi came out with our waters, and we were ready to order. My wife really wanted the fresh Tuna salad, and I wanted the tuna tacos, but as luck would have it, there was no fresh tuna yet today. Apparently, the boats had not come in so far today. RATS! I was devastated. What was I going to do? Back to the menu, I go. They had oysters Rockefeller, roasted oysters, burgers, pulled pork, shrimp Po-boy, mac-n-cheese, wings, hushpuppies, chicken tenders, and of course the tacos.
I spotted the Hatteras Clam Chowder, and I immediately knew I wanted to try this. I can say I am a clam chowder aficionado having clam chowder from Maine to Georgia I like to stop just about everywhere to try the local variations. I ordered the Hatteras Clam Chowder and reluctantly the shrimp Tacos, my wife ordered the crab cake sandwich and the chowder as well, and our friend ordered the Crab Margarita pizza.
With another iced cold PPR in hand, our Hatteras-style clam chowder came out for my wife and me. If you did not know, Hatteras style chowder is a bit different than New England and Manhattan style. The basic ingredients for this recipe consist of clams, bacon, onion, carrots, and potatoes. The reason is simple, back then everyone had onions and potatoes and carrots in dry storage and most had pork salt meat available. No milk was readily available here 225 years ago. With onions, potatoes, and salt pork, which we now call bacon, on hand the only missing ingredient was clams, and harvesting them was as simple as going to the beach at low tide and looking for them or heading out to Pamlico Sound in their boats to tread or rack the clams in. With time, a few additional ingredients have been added. But for anyone planning to make Hatteras style Chowder, the general rule of thumb is to keep it simple; this was a dish that was meant to be hearty, nutritious, and filling. It was never meant to be fashionably elegant cuisine.
With a spoon in hand, I dug into the hearty soup. OMG, what a treat. This was better than my wife and I could ever make ourselves, chocked with diced clams, carrots, potatoes, and a succulent tannish broth that made you smile with every spoon full. I just wish they offered a BIG bowl of soup. I could have easily made this the main course.
Our entrees came out a bit too fast, I was not done with my soup, but just looking at these dishes, however, we were not disappointed. The crab cake was huge with very little filling, lightly fried, and full of fresh crab meat. My tacos came out with two flour tortillas chock full of sauteed spicy shrimp and slaw. My first bite landed me with a mouthful of tasty shrimp with a light taste of cumin. The salsa was scrumptious. The side dish of beans and rice were tasty and were the perfect side and potion for the tacos. It could have used a bit more seasoning but was wonderful.
The crab margarita pizza came out on a pizza board, it was impressive, to say the least. Heavily layered with lump crab, diced tomatoes, and basil pesto. I cannot say anything, but it looked wonderful! Warning--This personal pan pizza can not be eaten in one attempt; you will take some home. Asking the girls that night when they were eating the pizza take out, how did they like the pizza, the only thing they said was there was too much cab, but how can that be bad?
This experience was wonderful, starting with the lovely Miss Brandi and her southern charm, the great food, and the iced cold PBR, I don't think I would change anything.