I’m terrified of crabs. Hey, you would be too if a cat-sized crustacean startled you in a Wrightsville Beach parking deck when you were 17!
That being said, I prefer my crabs in cake form. I heard good things about the fresh catch at Low Tide Pub, and decided it was time to give this family-owned establishment the seafood test: the one where I see food … and eat it.
With surfboards decorating the walls and a sunlit outdoor patio, the restaurant’s vibe screamed “stick a lime in your beer” upon my arrival. So, I sprang onto a nearby bar stool and requested a Red Stripe. Imagine my surprise when the waitress stepped away, I found myself face-to-face with a gargantuan, smiling, plastic crab, alluding to the specials board. I debated panicking, but then spotted, for a mere $5, I could be the proud owner a Bud Light and a shot of Fireball! I stayed.
Tucked away on Fountain Drive, I learned the laid-back vibe of Low Tide Pub goes beyond food. They host Trivia Tuesday, Saturday night karaoke and offer nightly specials. From college students in need of some fun to downtowners looking for a change of scenery, the restaurant’s menu and atmosphere boast something for everybody.
As for me, I had a half-empty Jamaican lager and frickles on the brain. When the basket of blonde, dill-scented rounds arrived under my nose, the server shared a suggestion: “I like my fried pickles a little crunchier, and you can always ask the kitchen to go about a minute past their usual frying time.”
Mmmm—would have been helpful to know before I ordered, but her heart was in the right place. That being said, even without the extra fry-time, the briny (freshly sliced) bites had a crispy, airy exterior and breading that didn’t go astray. The dip was reminiscent of ranch swirled with hot sauce. All good things.
The blaring smell of sharp garlic suddenly drifted down the bar. All heads turned. Two patrons down, a woman leaned forward, smiled and declared, “Spicy garlic wings!” I took another peek at the menu, which boasted the “Biggest and Best in Wilmington.” I shot the bartender the “I’ll have what she’s having” stare. Ten minutes later, a perfumed, bone-in basket arrived. Taking into account size matters, I dangled a drumstick in front of my face. I’m sorry to report I’ve come upon several more superior-sized wings in Wilmington. However, this was no dinky chicky. And LTP’s zippy sauce filled with fiery, oniony fare was addictive, to say the least. A refreshing contrast elevated the bites with zesty sauce ranch and bleu cheese dressings, both housemade (hallelujah!).
The fried shrimp basket (to be added to LTP’s new menu) tipped my radar thanks to my friendly server. Based on her advice, I opted for my seafood to be sloshed in sweet Thai chili sauce—a condiment she claimed noteworthy. The thin, crunchy coating complemented the tender and juicy shrimp. As for the supposedly sensational sauce, it tasted damn-straight outta the bottle. Regardless, it had all of the components one craves in an Asian-inspired dip: sticky, tangy, sugary, and spicy.
The housemade chips deserved a round of applause. Crispy, salty, and piled high, the round discs did not disappoint.
When it comes to indulging at the bar, I often have a case “of the ‘dillas”—or something like that. After overhearing from a post-shift bartender say the Philly quesadilla was on point, I knew what to order next. Grilled and stuffed with tender, thinly sliced roast beef, the fillings were standard as far as “Philly”-style goes: onions, peppers, mild white cheese. The only difference was the obvious: it was rolled in a flour tortilla. The portion was generous and the flavors satisfied. My only bone to pick was with the pico. This salsa brimmed with inconsistently sized onions. I’m all for “rustic,” but large rectangular pieces of pungent, raw red onion aren’t my bag, baby.
If there are two things I love, it’s a good pun and a crab that’s already been dismembered and removed from its scary shell. Needless to say, the “Crab Tackular” sliders were up next. On a parchment paper-lined plate came three mini buns stuffed with crab cakes, mixed greens, sliced tomatoes, and a dab of sauce. According to the menu, the spread was an “Amazing Citrus Tartar Sauce.” While I’m sure it was, I need more. It was smeared so lightly, my taste buds found it hard to detect. I’m a big fan of a pre-bite citrus squeeze, and to my delight, the three lemon wedges crowning each sandwich added a perfect punch of acid. The patties were fresh, creamy and packed with crab. For just under $10, I’d call it a meal-deal steal.
The sweet-potato fries didn’t warrant a standing O, but, really: Raise your hand if you’ve ever met a fried potato you didn’t like! With the surprise side of cinnamon-honey butter, who cares if the starches weren’t sliced from scratch? (By the way, if you raised your hand, get out.)
“Try our award-winning cheesecake!” the menu beckoned.
“OK!” I said.
“Sorry, we’re out,” the bartender replied.
That’s OK, though, Low Tide Pub is on the right track.
To conclude—and with a topic I don’t often comment about normally—I was pleased to discover the bathrooms were impressively tidy. Now, I can’t speak for a rowdy weekend night, but then again, anyone several Bud Light-Fireball combos deep should only have one concern: remembering to request additional frying time for those frickles.