I’m happy to announce that the Clamdigger wins the coveted first runner-up position in the 2020 World Shrimpburger Competition.
The Clamdigger is in The Inn at Pine Knoll Shores, a beachfront hotel convenient to Beacon’s Reach, the area where we always stay. You may remember the Inn as the former Ramada Inn or the Clamdigger Inn. It’s a popular spot, a hive of activity along a sparsely-populated beach. That’s where we would stay if wanted to tack a couple of days on our rental, and where we’d recommend friends to stay if we didn’t have room for them.
And the Clamdigger has a very good shrimpburger. It’s the go-to place to get a shrimpburger if the Captain’s Kitchen truck is in Emerald Isle at the other end of the island, or if you want to dine in.
This is the first year I’ve tried their shrimpburger. We’ve eaten breakfast there fairly often — they have a good breakfast — but for years I looked to the Big Oak for shrimpburgers. Oh, to have back those wasted years.
The Clamdigger’s shrimpburger comes deconstructed, with slaw, one side, and hushpuppies for under $10. By deconstructed I mean that you put the ingredients together yourself. You therefore can avoid some of the common problems with the shrimpburger — flaccid sauce, too much or too little slaw, etc.
As you can see, I chose macaroni and cheese as my side, but I hasten to add that I never intended to eat it. I got it for Ella and Lily, who are big macaroni and cheese fans. I am, too, but when you’ve followed a three-day barbecue tour with a shrimpburger competition — both with lots of hushpuppies — you don’t go looking for trouble. Ella and Lily loved the Clamdigger macaroni and cheese.
Let’s turn to the shrimpburger. To begin, the Clamddigger’s version satisfies the criterion that there are too many shrimp to fit on the bun. You’ll note that these shrimp are somewhat larger than the standard popcorn shrimp. They are very well fried, not at all greasy, and have a good shrimp flavor. (The photo is a bit unfair, in that it darkens the color of the fried food. My fault.)
The slaw is good, lightly dressed, and you can add as much or as little as you want. You can choose either tartar sauce or cocktail sauce. Both sauces are house-made and the containers are dated. True, they can’t match the Captain’s Spicy Ranch Sauce, but they are good, flavorful sauces, a world away from the undistinguished and indistinguishable sauces at the Shark Shack. And the huspuppies are very good, crunchy and not at all greasy.
The Clamdigger was a good experience all around. The service was fast, friendly, and efficient. The food arrived hot and fresh. The shrimpburger is a bit pricier than El’s, of course, but it is a much more substantial sandwich, with a lot more shrimp. And they throw in some macaroni and cheese for your grandchildren. That’s important.
You need to give the Clamdigger a try, and not just for breakfast.
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