When it comes to fried seafood I can be a bit of a push-over. There’s nothing better than some great fish or shrimp in a crispy coating! I had seen the online reviews for Saltbox Seafood for a while and finally made an effort to visit for lunch. Given its N. Mangum location, Saltbox Seafood is a bit off the beaten path but there was a line when I showed up at 11:45 and here’s why!
From the outside, Saltbox Seafood is really a shack but I mean it in a good way! Small order windows with some picnic tables outside, 80’s rock is pumping out of some speakers and there’s a slew of hungry patrons waiting outside. Given it was my first visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The day’s menu is scrawled on a chalkboard and it’s really simple. Six or so fishes in sandwich form or platter form with sides. There’s flounder, spot, mullet, tuna and more but right as I’m in line, flounder gets crossed off, boo! I decide to go with a mullet sandwich along with some much talked about honey hush-puppies.
While my lemonade keeps me company, it’s a bit of a wait for lunch. Twenty or so minutes if I had to guess. My name gets called out and I grab my food at the pick-up window. The platter of hush-puppies is great, eight or so pieces for $4. Thick corn grain and perfectly fried. One large fish fillet in sandwich form decked out with purple slaw and some pickled veggies. The fish is nicely fried in a lemon pepper coating and the bun is solid. Unfortunately the moisture off the veggies soaks the bun pretty quickly turning it a bit mushy and messy. But the flavor is all there and it’s a tasty sandwich!
I finish off my lunch toss it in the garbage cans out front and head on back to Raleigh. And while I enjoyed my lunch at Saltbox Seafood, I still had some concerns. With the lunch running $18+ ($4 hush-puppies, $12 sandwich, $2 lemonade) it was a pricey afternoon meal. But the Saltbox Seafood Joint is nicely done, little hints like seashells in the gravel walkway are nice touches. And the food is good but I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around their prices given I’ve eaten at traditional NC seafood shacks for nearly half the price. Still if you appreciate the slightly upscale take on seafood here, you’ll enjoy your meal. No doubt! So rock on, Saltbox Seafood Joint, you did pretty good on my first visit…
608 N Mangum Street
Durham, NC 27701