Michael’s Seafood Restaurant, Carolina Beach, NC

Am I on a Caribbean island?

Beaches are made for seafood, don’t you agree? I mean, the ocean is right there where seafood of all sorts have set up camp. That said, when you go to the beach and go out to eat, you eat seafood. Eating fresh and local is a win-win: it’s good for the local economy, supports local businesses and let’s face it, it’s better for you too. The less time it takes to get to your plate, the more nutritious and fresher the food is to eat.

Under the sea.

Michael’s Seafood Restaurant was opened by Michael and Shelly McGowan in 1998. As soon as you walk through the door you’re greeted by one of their staff. The décor transports you to a Caribbean island, complete with grass huts, tropical fish in large tanks, and an under the water “ocean” view consisting of striking murals.

Mermaids…

A manta ray swims in the reef.

My server, Jasmine, was fantastic! For whatever reason I kept thinking her name was Scarlett and had to fight myself to keep from calling her by that name. What can I say, she looked like a Scarlett to me. It was quiet when I arrived, and she took her time going over the menu and answering my questions.

Blue Fin Crab Dip

I ordered an appetizer first while I perused the menu. The Blue Fin Crab Dip is served with garlic bread and is full of crab chunks. Very filling. Have no fear: that didn’t stop me from ordering a meal!

Crab, cheese, garlic bread…could it be any better?

Who doesn’t love mac & cheese? Practically no one. It is the comfort food almost everywhere in the US. So why not punch it up a notch and go for seafood mac & cheese? I did exactly that – and it did not disappoint. The Seafood Mac & Cheese Bake, on the recommendation of Jasmine/Scarlett, is full of shrimp and blue fin crabmeat tossed in with penne pasta, smoky bacon and a four cheese sauce then finished with a parmesan breadcrumb crust and baked to perfection.

Seafood Mac & Cheese Bake

Not long after arriving it was off the hook. People entered in droves and each was greeted quickly and with a smile. This was my first visit to Michael’s, but I can see why Carolina Beach-goers line up to get in this place and why they’re ranked in the top 5 on TripAdvisor. The seafood is tender and served perfectly in everything you order.

Shrimp, crab, bacon, cheese, pasta topped with breadcrumbs. Tasty!

Although I was stuffed, Jasmine/Scarlett talked me into a dessert. Like I needed the calories after downing the crab dip and crab mac & cheese. The desserts are made at the Big Apple Café & Bakery (owned by the McGowan’s) just a few stores down from the restaurant. I hemmed and hawed for a few minutes, and finally settled on a carrot cake. Carrot cake is the cake equivalent of V-8. It’s jammed full of carrots so therefore it qualifies as a serving of veggies, even though it’s slathered in a velvety cream cheese frosting, right? And if you really need to justify, there are nuts (antioxidants!), raisins (fruit!), coconut (more fruit!), plus the usual milk and eggs (dairy!) as well. It’s practically a health food.

Carrot cake.

The Story of the “65 Roses”

65 Roses Surfboard

Inside the door is an exquisite framed surf board with the number 65 and roses painted like a fancy tattoo in the center of the board.

The year was 1965. Mary Weiss, a young mother of three boys, all diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF), was on the phone drumming up financial support for the CF Foundation as a volunteer. Her four year old son Ricky listened to the many conversations his mother held that day discussing his disease, cystic fibrosis. Like many young children, Ricky mispronounced his cystic fibrosis as “65 Roses.” “65 Roses” has become an easier way for kids to identify and associate themselves with their disease.

Michael, Shelly and their children.

Sadly, today Michael’s is also a tribute to the late owner, Michael, who passed away in 2012 after battling with cystic fibrosis. This family and community lost not only a restaurant owner and chef, but a husband, father, son, and active community supporter. His wife runs the restaurant now in his memory.

If you’re planning on going to Carolina Beach a stop at Michael’s should be on your list. They’ve got great seafood, great desserts, and a beach vibe for you to take in while you’re eating.

Michael’s Seafood Restaurant is located at 1206 N. Lake Park Boulevard, Carolina Beach, NC and the Big Apple Cafe & Bakery is located in the same shopping center only a couple doors away. Enjoy!