T&W Oyster Bar…..A History of Great Oysters and Special Memories
We all have memories of our favorite restaurants. But if you’re like me the ones that truly stand out are the ones that have not only really good food but have that welcoming atmosphere. The T&W Oyster Bar located between Emerald Isle and Maysville is one that will always be remembered. It’s a memory based on great times with family and friends combined with fantastic seafood served up the way seafood should be. What I’m talking about is it’s served without the fancy sauces and other things that detract from the star of the meal, the seafood. T&W Oyster Bar started in 1971 on Hwy 58 which was a well-traveled road in eastern North Carolina. It’s known to have carried many beachgoers to Emerald Isle Beach and other nearby coastal locations. So the placement of the restaurant was perfect for those looking for a taste of the beach. They featured a small menu of steamed oysters and clam chowder. In the years to come, T&W grew from a seating capacity of just 38 persons to today’s level of nearly 250 patrons. It has a growing menu that includes Coastal Carolina favorites like fried shrimp and Flounder which has become a T&W favorite. However, the star my husband, Tim still is the steamed oysters served with the homemade cocktail sauce. For me, it has to be the fried shrimp and flounder platter. It’s fresh and breaded to perfection with their signature tarter sauce that they’ve been making since 1971.
What makes the experience so memorable is the atmosphere. It’s changed little in the past fifty years. Having visited many times, the look, feel and most of all the food has never changed and that’s what makes it special and most of all what keeps us coming back. These days we don’t hesitate to make the hour and half trip from Wilmington for a night at T&W. You walk in the door to the wonderful smell of steaming hot oysters and fried fresh seafood straight from the local waters. You hear laughter from those enjoying family and friends mixed with the clacking oyster shells hitting the buckets.
Once you sit down, you’re greeted with a friendly smile and presented with the menu and then the fun begins. I start with the clam chowder. It’s a selection that never ceases to impress me. This yummy dish is filled with Blue Crab meat, whipping cream, and much more. The first taste brings memories going back over 42 years to when Tim and I were dating and he would insist on taking the short drive from nearby New Bern, NC to T&W. After debating between steamed oysters or the fried shrimp and Flounder, I go with the fried option while my husband Tim goes with the oysters. In minutes, a basket of hot hushpuppies is in front of us just waiting to be buttered and eaten.
The over 25 cold draft beers looked really tempting, but we went back to our old southern roots and made their delicious cold sweet iced tea the beverage of choice. The shrimp and Flounder were just as I remembered with the right amount of breading that allows the taste of the seafood to come through. Tim’s oysters were steamed to perfection and large as well as juicy. While we listened to the chatter and laughter of others enjoying good times, we continued to reminisce as to why we loved it too. It’s a great place to get a crowd together and head out on a cold weekend night and get a big table. Or you can just head over after a day at the beach. Either way, you’re sure to start your own T&W Oyster Bar tradition. It’s more than great food and great times, it’s 42 years of great Coastal Carolina memories for us and there are many more still ahead.