July 22, 2010

'The Dive Food & Spirits' Review at Encore Online

Dive in, the Water’s Fine: Carolina Beach burger joint makes perfect pit-stop after ocean dip
Encore Online

Jun 16, 2010
by: Shea Carver

...So began our hunt for a good burger joint on Pleasure Island. Being semi-connoisseurs of the all-American ground-beef sandwich, we knew what we wanted: fresh, hand-pattied burgers, not frozen blocks of questionable meat, piled high with ripe veggies. Not living on the island meant it would take some work to stumble upon the perfect spot. After all, the best burgers come from the most unlikely places. Readers should try Winnie’s Tavern off River Road to taste what I mean. Needless to say, our instincts led us to the right place, The Dive Food and Spirits. What we found: The Dive burger could rival Winnie’s any day of the week...

Though the “best fish tacos on the island” sounded rather tempting, topped with mahi-mahi and avocado salsa, I couldn’t be persuaded from the Spartan Burger. The Angus patty came smothered in sauteéd mushrooms and onions, topped with Swiss cheese. Matthew also stuck with the original plan, ordering the Inside-Out burger, a style we like making at home, where cheese gets pattied into the middle of the meat rather than atop it...

Mushrooms and onions swam in viscid Swiss that oozed out the side of my order, while Matthew’s Inside-Out spurted cheddar and pepper Jack, onion and bacon straight from the middle. The juiciness of the burgers came from their charbroiled preparation, cooked perfectly medium-well, without any hint of dried-out charring. (Whether or not The Dive grinds their own meat, I do not know; but diners who prefer less cooked meat should ask, as when the meat gets ground onsite, restaurants are allowed to cook them rare and even medium rare in NC.) The crisp bite of lettuce, red onion, tomato and pickle perfectly finished off another layer of flavor, fresh from the garden.

A nice surprise to our wonderfully crafted hunks of meat came in the form of hand-cut fries. “They are outstanding,” Matthew said, mouthful after mouthful. And he was right. They didn’t come with anything other than salt—no lemon pepper, paprika-chili dust, garlic powder or whatever new fads restaurants flock to nowadays. They were simply prepared, yet packed with all-natural, starchy potato goodness.

I know some people think a burger is a burger is a burger. To them, I would point my finger in disapproval. The Dive should be added to the short list of local places that do the American classic right. I am sure if Mr. Buffett stumbled upon its doorstep, he, too, would agree—maybe even right another song about it (God help us!).

This is just a snippet of this detailed review. Please visit the
Encore website for the full write-up.

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