Martin: Eastern North Carolina eating, the literary way
There are hundreds of reasons to celebrate Georgann Eubanks’ third and last in her “Literary Trails of the North Carolina” series.
Follow her travels in the just released “Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina,” and you will have the most enjoyable and efficient survey of authors and literary connections in that region.
But one of my favorite parts of her books is the descriptions of the places where literary-connected people eat.
Here are some of those eateries.
In Raleigh, Eubanks remembers the old Ballantine’s Cafeteria as the hangout for the writers. The K&W Cafeteria has taken its place, at least for some. Kim Church set her short story “Cafeteria Lady” there. “She checks my drinking glass. ‘Sweetened?’ she asked, in case I want refills.”
Jill McCorkle recommends Candy Sue's Café at 111 West Third Street in her hometown of Lumberton.
Melvin's, on West Broad Street in Elizabethtown, “is a hot dog and hamburger stand that has been beloved by travelers and townspeople since 1938.”
Calabash, just north of the South Carolina border, is a Mecca for seafood fans. Eubanks recommends Ella’s and Seafood Hut as “the most authentic, according to locals” and Inlet View Bar and Grill in nearby Shallotte “if you are in town between Thursday and Sunday”.
The popular barbecue and seafood restaurant in Newton Grove, Eddie's Café, is a part of Eric Martin’s first novel, “Luck.”
Eubanks suggests stops at “two of Goldsboro’s most famous eateries – Wilber's Barbecue and McCall's BBQ and Seafood Restaurant.”
Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks and his family often eat at Baker’s Kitchen, 227 Middle Street, New Bern. Eubanks recommends their French toast.
In Morehead City, a short walk from the wonderful bookstore named (not after me) DeeGee's Gifts and Books at 508 East Evans Street, you can grab a bite at the famous Sanitary Fish Market and restaurant or at Captain Bill’s Waterfront Restaurant.
In Weldon, near Roanoke Rapids, Eubanks reminds us that travelers coming from north of the Mason Dixon line “have their first chance at down-home North Carolina seafood and barbecue at Ralph's – an establishment operated by the same family for more than six decades.”
Poet Cherryl Floyd-Miller gives a “rhythmic appraisal of the beverage of choice at Ralph's and in her family's household” in her poem “The Way of (Carolina) Tea.”
Here is a short excerpt:
“Tea – juice we could afford.
Bags of caffeine, boiled them twice.
Southern sake mama poured
tea into tupperware gourds.”
In Jackson, Northampton County’s county seat, which is connected to author Mebane Holoman Burgwyn, Eubanks suggests the Embassy Café at 124 W. Jefferson, “where town folk trade stories and fill up on fresh seasonal vegetables and various delectable treatments of chicken and pork.”
In Duck, Eubanks tells us about Paper Canoe, a restaurant that is popular with locals, and “which sometimes serves – what else? – barbecued duck.”
The Sunny Side Oyster Bar at 1102 Washington Street in Williamston was described by two authors, Lucia Peel Powe in her book “Roanoke Rock Muddle,” and Bland Simpson in his travelogue “Into the Sound Country.”
According to Eubanks, “this one-of-a-kind restaurant serves only steamed oysters, shrimp, clams, and crab legs. The sole side dish on the menu is steamed broccoli with cheese sauce (unless saltines and beer qualify as sides). Sunny Side nearly closed in 1991, but devoted patrons came to the rescue. It is open in the months that contain the letter R.”
In Edenton, Eubanks recommends Edenton Coffeehouse, Bakery and Café, a used bookstore and a good place to get breakfast or lunch.
In Washington, N.C., Eubanks quotes poet John Hoppenthaler about his favorite place to eat. “A quick stop at Food Lion for beer & whole wheat buns, then Hog Heaven for pints of barbecue, baked beans, & slaw.” Check it out at 1969 West Fifth Street.
D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch