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Sea Level

129 E. 5th St., NC
Category: Food
Award: Oyster Selection - 2017
Seafood - 2018
Oysters - 2018
Year Won: 2017, 2018
Pick: Editor's Pick, Voters' Pick

When Sea Level opened in early 2016, a group of watermen from the Core Sound in the “Down East” region of North Carolina made the six-hour drive to uptown to see for themselves. These were folks from families going back generations on the water, and they’ve had their livelihoods threatened by restaurants and shops that claim to sell “local” seafood that’s actually from distant waters. Sea Level owner Paul Manley was different. He spent several years building relationships and created a partnership with oyster and clam farmers to grow a type of oyster just for his restaurant. The oyster takes about 18 to 24 months to grow, and it’s served in the heart of a city that’s never been known for seafood. The restaurant fills out the oyster menu with varieties from around the United States, but there’s only one Sea Level oyster, and here’s one more local secret about it: You can get it for $1 from 4-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.