The folks at James Pharmacy (named for the original pharmacy building in Historic downtown Hillsborough) celebrate the beauty and simplicity of North Carolina seafood.
GF Menu: No. I spoke with James Pharmacy’s Executive Chef Ben Braxton. He explained that much of the menu is naturally Gluten-Free, and many dishes can be adjusted.
What I ate: Seafood chowder, fish tacos, and nicoise salad.
How to order it: Ask your server about Gluten-Free options. Items are made-to-order.
On the day I visited, our server explained that the fish in the fish tacos could be grilled rather than fried to accommodate my needs. Be sure to ask for the corn, rather than the flour, tortillas.
The chef stays away from making a roux, so that their seafood chowder was thickened with natural potato starch.
Avoid the fried fish (which is not GF), however, there are numerous other options you can have. The Catch of the Day can always be grilled. If you’d like your seafood option blackened, the chefs make their own homemade creole blackening seasoning, which Chef Braxton assured me is GF.
The shrimp & stone-ground corn grits are GF, as are the house-fermented pickled kimchis.
Their succotash, black beans, and rice are all GF.
If you’d like to try a Poke Bowl currently available on the lunch menu, Chef Braxton offers to prepare it without ingredients that contain gluten.
What it looks like:
James Pharmacy’s bowl of seafood chowder is a balanced blend of fish, shrimp, crab, potato, onion, with cream, a hint of cayenne, and cilantro leaf garnish. I want this kind of comforting chowder year-round.
This nicoise salad arrives in an enormous bowl with generous slices of warm seared tuna on top. I appreciated the abundance of small, salty Mediterranean olives tucked under the stack of sweet, crisp green beans, too.
A mango salsa with a house-made lime crema dress these lightly seasoned and grilled flounder fillets inside handmade corn tortillas. Sides include a scoop of seasoned rice on black beans and house-made pickled pink cauliflower. Eat the pickles, Y’all! They’re scrumptious!
Green Note: James Pharmacy supports local fishermen and aquaculture by focusing on the availability of fresh ingredients close to home. The following is quoted from the “News” page of their website:
We are lucky enough to be located in a region where fresh seafood is abundant, and we take advantage of that bounty in our cooking and our menus. North Carolina oyster aquaculture is vibrant and thriving, so we buy hundreds of beautiful little bivalves from out on the coast each week. Local fishermen pull amazing things out of our coastal waters— from blue crabs to flounder, from kingfish to scallops, and from clams to tuna and mahi, all of which end up here in Hillsborough, fresh and on our menus. And even though we certainly have our favorites here at JP, we also have a rule: buy what’s fresh, feature what’s in season.
Our friends at Locals Seafood put it better than we can: “Everyone in the state should have access to the bounty caught off our coast. It’s your public resource. Enjoy it.”
An important aspect of sourcing is community. By bringing in local fish, we are supporting NC fishermen. By broadening our relationships with local seafood distributors, we do our part for the local economy and environment. Not only does local, sustainable sourcing have a lower carbon footprint, but it requires less preserving or processing and yields fresher fish!