How the Emerald Isle bar crawl came to be

My lifelong friend, Megan, and I were lucky enough to embark on a BFF trip to the beach at Emerald Isle, North Carolina, this past weekend. It could seem like a random location for some gals who like to partake in some partying from time to time, I know, but one of my dearest friends recently moved here and offered us her beach house to come to town and dog sit.

A free beach house and four adorable dogs to snuggle? Consider me on the way.

Emerald Isle is a sleepy, picturesque Southern beach town soaked in history and North Carolina charm, from the sprawling, porch-wrapped homes on stilts to the intracoastal inlets that weave shallow swirls of sparkling waters and greenery beneath the docks. We set an intention to get a glistening tan, perhaps incorporate some exercise into our daily routine and slip into the calming, slow essence that is the little island.

Upon arrival, Megan and I meandered down to the local markets, procuring fresh-caught seafood and local produce (and booze, duh) for our days on Sea Oats Lane, ready to buckle down in a beach recliner and get to relaxing. And, despite our best efforts to all but not leave the house, a rainy day got the best of us, and we found ourselves perusing Yelp for info and directions to the local watering holes. What we found was a bit entertaining, and we got to wondering: How accurate are some of these outlandish reviews? With tourists of all kinds flocking to the glistening shores of this little town, perhaps our own evaluations are in order? Alas, that is how the Emerald Isle bar crawl came to be.

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The first Yelp review we found was of a newer seafood shack just a few blocks away from the house, located directly on the beach, perched at the entrance to the Bogue Inlet Pier — quite the happening location on a sunny day. Shelby S. says, via Yelp, “Warning: if you’re looking for a nice, quiet place to have dinner, do not come here. This is probably the loudest restaurant I have ever been to. With that being said, the food is not bad. It’s not fantastic but it’s not bad either.” Luckily, Megan and I were not looking for a “nice, quiet place,” and Shelby seems like a bitch, so we sauntered in ready to yell-talk at one another over a few Miami Vice cocktails. What we found was quite different, though, as the place was practically deserted (rainy beach days don’t call for binge drinking for everyone?) and, originally, we were the only guests at the bar. The owner, Cory, immediately offered us tequila shots, which we certainly accepted, and we quite enjoyed seeing the photos of his brand-new, tricked-out golf cart. Surf’s Up was a welcoming, warm and clean reprieve from the storm outside and we even went back the next day.

Next up was the Emerald Club, or the “E-Club,” as locals refer to her. Anonymous P writes, “The kind of bar Jimmy Buffet or Kenny Chesney would write a song about,” and Lucy H says, “Yesss, Emerald Club — you’ve got my vote for best dive in Emerald Isle.” I’m not ashamed to say that Megan and I became regulars here, from the dollar PBR’s to the free taco night (which I decided were called “walking tacos” as I shoveled one in my mouth during the 10-minute walk home) to the music bingo night, the E-Club is a beautiful collision of tiki vibes and a dive bar — Louisville, imagine if The Limbo and the Outlook Inn had a sun-damaged baby. It was glorious. Anonymous and Lucy, we can totally belly up to the E-Club together anytime.

Last and, well, least, is the club where things got hazy, and Megan and I decided it was time to go home (but not without losing one of my shoes). Perhaps the most intriguing Yelp review was from Matt A., who writes, “They had $1 drafts of a local beer, great pool tables, the sports game was on and they had a fucking puppy … so ya this place is the big swinging dick at the cracker factory.” Mmkay, Matt. Neither of us were sure what that meant, so we had to check out the Salt Bar for ourselves. Much to our dismay, there was no puppy and apparently this “swinging dick” is a bunch of yoked out Marines attempting to grind on you from behind, while cheap lasers and an iPod DJ clearly attempt to destroy your senses. While the Salt Bar was not our cup of tea (or, vodka, rather), it taught us a very important lesson. Always take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt, and if you’re truly curious, just go to this establishment and find out for yourself.

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