Ports of Call Bistro

International Flavor with Southern Charm
If there was ever a business that followed the “think globally, act locally” mantra, it would be Ports of Call Bistro in downtown Southport. The international menu reflects dishes from around the world; the actual ingredients are often sourced locally. In celebrating “the world on your plate,” the staff at Ports of Call Bistro seeks each day to deliver a unique, eclectic experience in fine dining.

When Bistro founders Jake Pfohl and Ray Acayan visited Southport for the first time in 2005, they were struck by the beauty, culture and community spirit our town offers. As New York City residents, they had always enjoyed the diversity and variety of their neighborhood bistros and the cultures they represented. That experience inspired them to consider opening their own restaurant, and by 2011 they came to Southport and did just that.
Both the owners bring many world travel experiences to their cuisine concepts. Acayan was born in the Phillipines and moved to New York as an adult to work in various financial institutions. Pfohl traveled the world extensively for 35 years and worked for several non-profits, mostly in the public health arena, with a focus on water supplies and sanitation. He also worked for City Harvest, a non-profit in New York that saves over 200 million pounds of food from restaurants, grocery stores and farmers’ markets and delivers that food to over 1200 soup kitchens.
The owners’ love for cuisine from around the world translates to wonderful selections on the menu at the Bistro. The two chefs – Joseph Stolz and Gregory Feltz – trained at Le Cordon Bleu, the largest culinary program in the world with schools on five continents. They create the seasonal menus that are built around local ingredients. Some of the most popular entrees include the short ribs, chicken paella, chicken francesa and pan-seared mahi. The tapas menu is a favorite as well, with mouth-watering items like Korean wings, fried oysters and Turkish beef kabobs with tzatsiki sauce.
Pfohl describes some of their newer offerings. “We’ve been experimenting with chef’s tasting dinners. We’ve done three of them now and will probably offer another soon. It’s usually a four-course meal, more exciting than your typical fine dining experience. The chefs combine different ingredients for a unique result. They recently made an avocado dessert – a creamy flavored ice cream with chocolate.”
To round out their chef’s dinners, the Bistro recently searched for a local vineyard with which to partner. They found a small estate winery in the Yadkin Valley – Jones von Drehle Vineyard and Winery – that produces excellent classical dry French wines exclusively from its own grapes. Always searching for local sources for their cuisine, the Bistro works with Carolina Farmin’ and other local fish and produce providers.
All of the Bistro’s specials and upcoming events are updated on Facebook each day. And most Wednesday evenings feature live music. Recent bookings have included the duo of Jay Kilman and Carrie Schauble, who also play Sunday brunches on occasion.
The Bistro was the location for a scene in the Safe Haven movie filmed here in Southport, with actors Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel enjoying an intimate dinner there. Director Lasse Hallstrom ate there many times as well; the Bistro chefs were happy to prepare his favorite vegan meals.
Maps from all over the world adorn the walls and tables. And one wall houses glassware, pottery and other items for sale – all collected from the owners’ travels.
In summing up how they view their niche, Pfohl relates that their world experiences define the concept, but their people create the result. “It’s all about exploring other cultures through food. But we also try to create an ambiance that’s enjoyable. It’s important that our servers be themselves, let their personalities come through to create a friendly atmosphere. When paired with excellent food, that’s what makes the experience enjoyable.”
Ports of Call
116 N. Howe Street

Tuesday – Saturday
Lunch: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
Tuesday – Saturday
Dinner: 5:00 pm – Closing
Sunday Brunch:
10:00 am – 2:00 pm



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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine