Hatteras Island’s own Buxton Munch Company recently received a national honor when it was listed in TripAdvisor’s annual round-up of the best restaurants in the United States.
The award was announced on September 27, and the Buxton eatery is one of only two restaurants in the state of North Carolina to make the annual “Travelers’ Choice® Awards: 2022 Best of the Best Restaurants” list.
The Traveler’s Choice awards honor the favorite destinations, hotels, restaurants, things to do, and more, based on the reviews and opinions collected from travelers and diners from around the world over a 12-month period.
The “Best of the Best” award takes into account the quality and quantity of traveler reviews and ratings, and businesses that make the annual list are among the top 1% of global listings on TripAdvisor.
Though awards are given in multiple arenas, (like attractions or accommodations), restaurants are divvied up into six “Top 10” categories in the United States: Fine Dining, Everyday Eats, Quick Bites, Date Night, Picture-Perfect, and Hidden Gems.
Buxton Munch made the Hidden Gems list as the number #9 spot, and the full list for this category is below:
Top 10 Hidden Gems in the U.S.
- Joe’s At The Jepson – Savannah, Georgia
- Mersea Restaurant & Bar – San Francisco, California
- Seaside Cafe at the Mansion – Key West, Florida
- Chubby’s Deli – Sevierville, Tennessee
- Roadhouse Diner – Great Falls, Montana
- Finelli’s Italian Villa – Altoona, Pennsylvania
- Pickin Porch Grill – Branson, Missouri
- Rocco’s NY Style Pizza by Mama D’s House – Branson, Missouri
- Buxton Munch Company – Buxton, North Carolina
- Bakery Restaurant and Lounge – Niagara Falls, New York
Marcie Mulder, who founded the restaurant in 1999 with her husband Oscar, said that she was completely surprised by the announcement, and only discovered the news when the honor was featured in an article by the Raleigh-based newspaper, The News & Observer.
“I thought it had to be a mistake,” she said. “But then I clicked on the article and said, ‘Oh wait, that’s our picture!’”
“Three days later, TripAdvisor contacted us and said we earned a Gold Certificate of Excellence, which meant that we were rated as one of the top 1% restaurants worldwide, and top 10 in the nation,” she added. “I was like, “Are you sure you have the right restaurant?’ And they said, ‘The reviews don’t lie.’”
Buxton Munch, which has nearly 1,100 online TripAdvisor reviews, stood out for its food, service, and particularly its unique atmosphere.
“People always tend to say in their reviews that it was a whole experience. They love the food, they love the décor, they love the music, and they love our friendly staff,” said Marcie.
The décor is inherently both quirky and retro, with an assortment of colorful and groovy relics that have been perfectly re-purposed from Marcie’s childhood.
“People go nuts over my memorabilia and all of the things that remind them of a different and simpler time,” said Marcie. “Most of it is just my stuff. When my mom walked [into the restaurant] for the first time, she said ‘Oh my goodness, this looks just like your old bedroom!’”
Marcie absolutely credits the restaurant’s consistency for the high ratings, with Oscar – a Netherlands native and a European-trained and award-winning chef – taking the reins when it comes to the daily execution of the extensive menu.
“Oscar runs the back of the house, and I run the front,” said Marcie. “People will say ‘I ordered the same wrap I had years ago, and it tastes exactly the same,’ and that’s because Oscar is always cooking. We’ve never trusted our restaurant to anyone else, because no one will be as picky as we are, and we are picky butts.”
With few alterations over the past 23 years – with the exception of a 2012 renovation – Marcie and Oscar have no plans to make any changes to their lunchtime destination, which is likely a good plan considering the recent TripAdvisor honor.
“This is definitely a surprise, but we’ll just keep rolling along and doing what we have always been doing,” said Marcie. “We’re the little engine that could, I guess.”