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Cape Fear Foodie: Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 11:29 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Cape Fear Foodie: Halfway to St. Paddy’s

Near 90 degree temperatures, not a cloud in the sky, a day at the beach, endless summer. Wait. We’re less than a week away from the start of autumn? Surely not, the salt water, sand and Pina coladas at the tiki bar felt way too good to trade it all out for PSLs and fall decorations. You say we’re also nearly halfway to St. Patrick’s Day?

That can only call for one thing, a trip to my favorite Irish pub in town. There are some Irish favorites up and down the coast, but for this guy there is one spot that is top o’ the mind…The Harp.

A longtime favorite in Wilmington for perfect Guinness pours and a beacon of light during past hurricanes, The Harp specializes in comfort food. While you won’t find it on any “Must Visit” lists for Wilmington, it’s a no frills place but a best kept secret for many.

A cold Guinness, poured perfectly into a proper pint glass...a must have for any respectable...
A cold Guinness, poured perfectly into a proper pint glass...a must have for any respectable Irish pub.(WECT)

A quick glance at the menu and you will see your typical Irish pub fare, Bangers and Mash, House Reuben Sandwich, or Shepherd’s Pie, but The Harp offers so much more. It’s a place for a great greasy spoon breakfast, filling lunch or tasty dinner.

I’ve been here more times than you can count, and while it may not be a go-to for everyone, it has food to suit nearly every taste.

For appetizers, The Harp is sure to please. They have possibly the best chicken wings in town, a strange nod for an Irish pub. Big, fried and juicy, plus they have the hottest wings around if you dare order them.

Are these the best chicken wings in Wilmington? Plenty of people will say so, including yours...
Are these the best chicken wings in Wilmington? Plenty of people will say so, including yours truly.(WECT)

Then there are the delectable onion rings, served with horseradish sauce. Fried crispy, perfectly breaded, and melt in your mouth good.

The “Irish Potato Skins” are a hit too, fried potato skins, covered in mashed potatoes, bacon pieces and cheese…how can that be bad? (It can’t)

I can't vouch for the authenticity of this dish, but fried potato skins, mashed potatoes, bacon...
I can't vouch for the authenticity of this dish, but fried potato skins, mashed potatoes, bacon and cheese is all you need for great comfort food.(WECT)

Then there are your entrees, I’ve mentioned a few staples before, for instance let your Shepherd’s Pie breathe for a few minutes after it hits the table (I lost my taste buds for a week after diving in immediately) but there’s the “Famous Harp Burger” too.

Half the size of Ireland itself, this giant burger has a unique flavor courtesy from Guinness...
Half the size of Ireland itself, this giant burger has a unique flavor courtesy from Guinness marinade and is one of the town's best burgers.(WECT)

A hefty patty, marinated in Guinness and spices, with bacon, your choice of cheese and fresh toppings, plus hand cut fries.

Of course what Irish pub could go without Fish and Chips? Their Beer Battered Cod and those lovely fries are delicious (you have to use the malted vinegar as a rite of passage when eating this dish). A meal that will make you feel like you’re in downtown Dublin as opposed to South Front.

And if those options aren’t enough, this place is known for its Sunday breakfast buffet too (which just returned). A veritable smorgasbord of treats, from eggs, to bacon, various sausages, fried fish, home fries, biscuits and gravy, plus waffles, fruit and yogurt…all for under $10.

Or you can choose the Full Irish Breakfast, with eggs, sausages, rashers, fried tomatoes and Irish soda bread. It’s enough to cure any hangover and get your day started the homemade way.

Everything you need on one plate, eggs, bangers, white and black pudding, rashers, tomatoes and...
Everything you need on one plate, eggs, bangers, white and black pudding, rashers, tomatoes and soda bread...get a side of sausage gravy to top it off (because why not?).(WECT)

So even though summertime has come and gone, my oh my, think of this last week before fall has just the halfway point to St. Patrick’s Day (and enjoy the parade downtown too) and head to The Harp for some quality food and good times. You’ll be in luck if you do.

PRO TIPS:

1. If you get a meal that includes fries, order the homemade Curry sauce to go with. It’s not spicy, but a unique dipping sauce that demands far more attention than ketchup.

2. Come for breakfast. Sure the entrees are great and the appetizers are amazing, but this place is usually packed on random weekdays as people pile in for the generous portions at absurdly low prices.

IF YOU GO:

The Harp is located at 1423 S 3rd St, Wilmington, NC 28401

Do you recommend a restaurant? Or know of a best kept secret that you want the rest of the Cape Fear to know about? Shoot me an email at corey.preece@gray.tv and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!

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