The truth is that you can find almost anything that’s really good to eat right in Duplin County. A date night location, or a place for celebrating special occasions? Duplin County has these venues! If you haven’t yet sampled much of this rich variety, I suggest you start exploring and enjoying!
UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Weekend” cameramen have recently joined me in producing reviews of Rose Hill Restaurant, and both The Mad Boar and Sensation Farmhouse Restaurant in Wallace. (These segments will begin airing in late October.)
An increasing number of visitors passing through Duplin County each year can find an agreeable meal no further than a mile or two off the Interstate. And for Duplin’s lifelong residents, they also have plenty of places for a quick, delicious bite as they travel their ordinary paths, carry out their business dealings and grab a convenient meal on workdays.
For example, hungry persons anywhere near Shawn’s Restaurant in Wallace will want to start a great day with one of “Ms. Dorothy’s” legendary breakfasts. Shawn’s serves practically every breakfast meat on the planet, with or without eggs, and not simply varieties of sausage, bacon, and ham, either. I mean smoked sausage, corned beef, steak, salmon, liver pudding and even pork brains. Shawn’s breakfast patrons will all remember both the wonderful hash browns and onions and the oversize pancakes, as I sure did!
Right after Shawn’s breakfast rush dwindles, the awesome country lunch buffet is set out Tuesdays through Fridays until the place closes at 2:00 pm. (Saturday is breakfast only until 11 am.) I’m heading back soon to bury my face in the steak and gravy, barbecued chicken greens and more I’ve heard so much about.
Mik’s, also in Wallace, is an outstanding restaurant packaged as a sports bar. Too many people think mostly of large TV screens, wings and pub munchies. But Mik’s has a menu with depth and imagination, and the prices are really reasonable. The place features hickory smokers, producing pulled pork barbecue, rib, brisket, turkey, chicken breast and smoked salmon entrée plates.
I fondly remember my turkey nacho plate, with diced tomatoes, roasted red peppers, onions, “beer cheese,” bacon bits and perfectly pan-steamed broccoli. The turkey is listed “when available.” It’s hickory-smoked, sliced fairly thin and then chopped up more finely in the nachos. ‘Never had anything like it in my travels, honestly… fantastic.
Platters, sandwiches, and appetizers featuring fish and shellfish are terrific. How often do you find hickory-smoked salmon in a nice, hefty portion as a plate, with sides? Not frequently in my experience. I’m glad I was there on the right day, and Mik’s world-class broccoli and mac ‘n cheese made the day even better.
Mik’s offers an expansive bone-in and boneless wing choices with a dozen sauces; a specialty salad that’s a “cucumber wrap,” and a really strong line-up of hefty burgers. The Champ Burger is crowned with mac and cheese and “boom boom” sauce, which also goes great with any food in the place. A barbecue sandwich, smoked salmon tacos and a Cuban sandwich – featuring smoked pork and melted pepper jack cheese – are all hearty and toothsome, as well.
The Filling Station in Kenansville is that most unusual of restaurants…the one that dares close on weekends.
Open Monday – Friday from 6 am to 2 pm, the place is loved for biscuits, “best burgers anywhere around,” chicken salad, authentic eastern fish stew (Fridays only), plate lunches and all sorts of home-style desserts. Customers enjoy The Filling Station during their off-work days only if they stop by during regular business hours to pick up an order of chicken salad for Saturday or Sunday consumption.
For 37 years, the extended family has operated some version of what’s now called Brock’s Service on mostly rural NC 11-903 on the outskirts of Kenansville. Since 1977, it’s been a gas station, convenience store and auto service center.
It was a natural move for David Brock, with a quirky, inexplicable desire to run a restaurant – to also be opening “The Filling Station Cafe” – located right next door to the original location that was built by his father, Buck. The younger Brock helps run the grocery, including pumping gas, even as he’s currently doubling the size of his restaurant.
He decided long ago that we wanted to see his kids grow up and that five very long days was enough of a work week. He has had a life, and his kids have had their Dad. Good for him. I’m spending a lot more time in Duplin County these days for various reasons, and I’m loving getting reacquainted with the culinary scene. What a pleasure!