Cape Fear Foodie: Bagels and Jester’s
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Now that the unofficial start of summer has come and gone, I decided to take a little staycation and enjoy restaurants, the beach, and the warm, Southeastern North Carolina sunshine. Unfortunately this Memorial Day weekend didn’t provide much sunshine, but I was still able to get a wicked sunburn at the beach via a Jackson Pollock-like spray sunscreen job. I also got to enjoy the return of Dave Matthews Band to Wilmington, and check a number of restaurants off my list.
The two I’m featuring today are both breakfast/brunch/lunch oriented, and great for either a day downtown or a trip to the beach. Let’s start with a beloved bagel spot in Carolina Beach. It’s still bizarre to me that our section of the Old North State has more bagel joints than biscuits, but given the gradual influx of new neighbors from the northeast, bagel popularity is through the roof. One of the best around is Island Bagels.
First off, the staff is incredibly friendly, and call many of their locals by name as they came in the door. That to me is always a good sign, it shows the employees really care about their patrons and they’re not just another customer. Secondly, the bagels are really top class. Freshly baked every day (along with a number of cream cheese mixtures), there are nearly two dozen bagels to choose from. Island Bagels also has a variety of omelets, and breakfast and lunch sandwiches on the menu, but we grabbed two bagels.
I always go with a lox bagel, in this case the “Slammin’ Salmon.” Loaded with smoked salmon, pickled red onions, capers, and cream cheese on an everything bagel, each bite was delicious. The bagel itself was worth the price of admission, the thing is covered in a variety of tasty toppings, possibly the best I have ever had.
My friend selected the “King Neptune,” a meat lovers dream, with bacon, sausage, provolone, cream cheese, hot sauce, onions, and jalapenos. It’s a lineup you usually don’t see on a bagel, but he devoured it in no time.
Island Bagels is a special spot, with plenty of friends meeting for a quick bite and a long chat and it’s all centered around the lovely staff and their wonderful bagels. This is a must stop for me from now on when getting an early jump on a day on Pleasure Island.
Next up is a restaurant closer to downtown Wilmington, and nestled in the heart of the Castle Street Arts District. Jester’s Café is inside an old home and flanked by cute antique and vintage shops. There is limited outdoor seating on the front porch, but a must on a nice, crisp morning.
Jester’s Café has everything from bagels, to benedicts, and a number of French-related options like quiche, and croque monsieur. There are also lunch/Sunday brunch options ranging from a Cuban sandwich, to salads, and soups. I personally love croque monsieur, and opted for its elevated sister, the croque madame. If you haven’t tried this before, it’s essentially a glorified hot ham and cheese sandwich, with bechamel sauce, dijon mustard, and Swiss cheese melted on top (plus a poached egg). It’s so simple but packs a lot of flavor and served with a side of home fries and a hot cup of coffee, I was perfectly content.
It’s a quaint little café with a unique menu and not far from some great shopping or a peaceful walk. Dining inside is like sitting inside a comfortable old house, while outside is perfect for people watching on a busy strip of Castle Street. Given my delicious breakfast, I will be back soon, this time with an eye on their homemade strata.
IF YOU GO:
Island Bagels is located at 1328 N Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Jester’s Cafe is located at 607 Castle 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!
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