At The Koko, Koko Cabana
For owners Alexis Oxendine and Austin Alfonso, Koko Cabana is the latest in their string of restaurant successes. Also on Oak Island, they own Kai Joe’s taco stand and Ruby’s Coffeehouse and Eatery. Extending the family affair to Southport, Alexis and her mother Melanie Woodell own Café Koa on Howe Street.
Opened Memorial Day weekend in 2019, Koko Cabana is enjoying tremendous success. After Hurricane Matthew destroyed the Oak Island Pier in the fall of 2016, the space the restaurant holds today was vacant for a long time. Extensive renovations inside and additional seating outside gave the restaurant a new look. Today the restaurant seats 70 inside and 32 outside in the enclosed heated upper deck area; plans are to seat about 20 more people in the lower deck area this spring and summer.
Jessica Podrebartz, district manager for all the restaurants and the general manager at Koko Cabana, describes the owners’ approach and menu. “Alexis and Austin lived in Hawaii for several years; they get a lot of their inspiration from that,” she says. “Not only are the ingredients fresh and unique, the chefs make the presentation really nice – Instagram-worthy!”
Sous chef Crystal Carter talks about the popularity of their Sunday brunch menu, running from 10 am to roughly 4 pm. “The Yaupon Breakfast – bacon, sausage, two eggs, toast, sweet corn grits, red flannel hash – is very popular,” she says. “They also enjoy the omelettes, the French toast with cherries and of course the crazy Bloody Mary recipes.” She describes the creative twist that the chefs add to that popular drink – crab legs, steamed clams, fried frog legs or chicken on skewers. That gives you some protein to go with your fruit on Sundays!
Podrebartz points to the favorites on the lunch menu. “Nachos are always big – it’s a big plate and we make our pico de gallo fresh every day,” she says. “Fish tacos are very popular too. And we offer a lot of vegan items; that’s important to the owners. One example is the Singapore Slaw, with noodles, baby veggies, micro greens, crushed peanuts with an Asian plum vinaigrette. We also do a lot with beets. The Beet Box Salad has roasted beets, apples, walnuts, goat cheese, red onion, greens and an apple cider vinaigrette. And the ‘Let the Beet Drop Burger’ gives you a veggie option with goat cheese and fig jam from the grill.
“The dinner menu includes a different special every night,” she says. “We’re told our scallops – with bacon, fig jam, Spanish rice and collards – are the best people have ever had. The chicken and seafood paella is also very special – with chorizo, shrimp, chicken, mussels, Spanish rice and veggies. And Wednesday is vegan night, where we offer a different special each week.”
The restaurant is open every day except Monday. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, it’s open 11 am to 8 pm, on Friday and Saturday, it is open until 9 pm and Sunday’s hours are 10 am to 8 pm.
Podrebartz says the restaurant will probably move to open seven days a week starting in the spring. In the summer, they hope to open a tiki bar out front, with live music and finger food to offer guests while they’re waiting for a table inside.
Chef Trevor Dye works alongside the owners in the kitchen to create their unique offerings. “All the food is so fresh and creative,” says Podrebartz. “And Alexis and Austin work hard to keep coming up with amazing options for our guests to enjoy. They are also wonderful people to work for; their community support is very strong.”
No doubt, Koko Cabana brings a special mix of flavors for your dining delight. Stop in, enjoy the views and make your brunch, lunch or dinner experience a unique one.
705 Ocean Drive
Oak Island, NC 28465
Open Tues – Thur 11 am – 8 pm
Fri – Sat 11 am – 9 pm
Sun 10 am – 8 pm
During the COVID 19-mandated closure of indoor seating, Koko Cabana is open for take-out, and will even deliver to you on the beach! Hours are subject to change