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You’ll be Smitten with Oysters in Elizabeth City, NC

Posted on 10/09/2018 by Visit Elizabeth City

Seasoned travelers know one of the best ways to truly experience a destination is to acquaint yourself with the native food and eat like a local. As you don’t fully experience a destination until you’ve savored the regional cuisine and rubbed elbows with the locals. Experiences at the out-of-the-way eateries and hidden gems you might just drive by give your trip the most flavor.

A trip to North Carolina’s coast isn’t complete until you’ve seen oysters shucked and sampled this seafood delicacy. Oysters have played a significant role in shaping our culture. On the outskirts of Elizabeth City in an unassuming blue plastic sided building with a simple sign is one of Elizabeth City’s out-of-the-way eateries called the C&H Oyster Bar, where bivalves are the star of the show every night. This secret gem isn’t that hidden as many nights, starting around 5:00 p.m., you’ll see the parking lot begin to fill up (as it often does at the best spots) with not only locals’ vehicles but with Virginia oyster lovers, too. This iconic restaurant established in 1967 by Tom Cox Jr. at 1524 N. Road Street, where it remains today, has been included on more than one oyster aficionados’ bucket list.

Once you enter this eatery, you’ll find the casual vibe and unfussy ambience is perfection personified with its décor of wood paneled walls adorned with anchors and a large crab hanging over one of the booths. You have your choice of eating in the restaurant’s seating area or bellying up to the oyster bar on love-worn stools. While both options allow you to sample the local flavor, the bar is where all of the shucking action takes place.

Diners sitting at the U-shaped bar can hobnob with fellow oyster fans while watching the shuckers’ show. At the bar, you’ll see smiling diners of all ages. On this night, a visiting Virginia family had an informal reunion in this cozy spot. Expert shuckers will split and serve fresh oysters around the bar as fast as customers can eat ‘em up. If you are ordering oysters on a half shell, the shuckers place these bivalves in a neat circle on a paper plate for you to slurp down. You can also enjoy steamed and fried oysters as well. Not an oyster eater? C&H Oyster Bar’s menu has items such as crab cakes, crab chowder, soft shell crab sandwich, scallops and barbecue (of course).

Whether you’re new to eating oysters or a pro, here is a review of eating basics.

C&H Oyster Bar & Restaurant is only open during prime oyster season from October through April.


C&H Oyster Bar -- Elizabeth City, NC How do you like your oysters? My choice: half a saline with hot sauce, lemon, and dab of cocktail sauce loaded with horse radish.

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Show us how you like your oysters by tagging your photos with #DiscoverECity. Don’t let the fun stop with dinner by staying the weekend while exploring our region with these trip ideas.

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