Where to Eat in the Outer Banks Now
The Outer Banks of North Carolina might not be known as a culinary destination yet but it should be. The OBX, as it is known by the locals, is more than just beaches with roadside seafood shacks. It is a place where food lovers can indulge in some of the freshest seafood found anywhere on the East Coast. Dig into this list of local restaurants in the Outer Banks to enjoy soul food and Southern hospitality.
Who isn’t obsessed with finding the perfect donut these days? Duck Donuts delivers fresh from the fryer, custom-made sweet treats. Stop into either of the original shops in Kitty Hawk or Duck to order a few. I promise they pair well with your morning cup of coffee.
- Step 1: Choose your quantity. Don’t be shy, just get a dozen.
- Step 2: Pick a coating. They have anything from traditional glaze to maple, peanut butter or lemon
- Step 3: Choose a topping: Choices include sprinkles, coconut, or bacon or more. Go for it.
- Step 4: Choose a drizzle. Top off your donut with hot fudge, salted caramel, blackberry or raspberry.
- Step 5: Devour your donut immediately
Nags Head Pier & Restaurant
The Pier House Restuarant arguably has one of the best views for oceanfront dining in the Outer Banks. Choose from omelets, eggs, hotcakes, french toast, and even fried sea trout. Southern-style homemade biscuits and gravy make any meal complete. Even the heartiest of eaters will be satisfied with the large portions of their diner-style breakfast items. After your meal, take a stroll down the fishing pier or rent a rod to try and reel in a few fish. I can’t imagine finding a better place to begin your day.
Tortugas Lie attracts locals, tourists, families, and famous folks like Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Their location across the street from the beach makes it an ideal spot for a casual lunch and a game of volleyball in their backyard. Although their burgers and fries put Tortugas Lie on the map, most folks order the fish tacos or ahi tuna. Paired together they make a winning combination. Tortugas also produces their own award-winning jerk seasoning and sauces that give so many of their dishes a Caribbean flair.
Outer Banks Brewing Station
The Outer Banks Brewing Station is America’s first wind-powered brewery. Not only do they produce their beer in an innovative and environmentally conscientious way, it tastes great too. Try a flight to sample some of their handcrafted beers. One of the most unusual flavors is Lemongrass. There is a large selection of sandwiches and burgers on their pub-style menu. Worth noting, almost three-quarters of the menu is gluten-free. Tempt your taste buds with steamed shrimp, crab or healthy salad options.
Capt’n Franks opened in 1975 when there wasn’t much else located on along this coastal road in the Outer Banks. Over the years this fast-food eatery has become a destination unto itself. In July it is not unusual to find a line over an hour-long that stretches out the door and spills over into the parking lot. During the summer months, an average of 1500-2000 hot dogs fly out the door.
The Snap Dog has drawn celebrities from far and wide. Photos of Johnny Cash and many American Presidents adorn the walls. Capt’n Franks hot dogs are so good because they are made from grass-fed beef and pork in a natural casing. Owner Harvey Hess Jr. says they are as just about as pure as a hot dog can get. He suggests first-timers order one of their signatures dogs like the Texas, Chicago or the Kraut.
Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar
A staple on the Outer Banks for the last 15 years, the Ocean Boulevard Bistro serves small plates and casual fare. With attentive service that is not overbearing and extremely accommodating, it is a great spot for date night. Their menu changes seasonally with dishes made from fresh local seafood, beef, lamb, or duck. Standout items include rice flour seared oysters and the pepper seared tuna sashimi appetizers. Although many of the dishes have an Asian flair, other items on the menu include classics like rotisserie chicken, rack of lamb and beef tenderloin. If you crave chocolate try the mint brownie with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
The Blue Point restaurant overlooks the Currituck Sound in the town of Duck. Go for the sunset and a cocktail before dinner. Fresh local seafood anchors this trendy restaurant’s upscale menu. All of their dishes are packed with southern flavor that uses unique ingredients and locally sourced products whenever possible. Their extensive wine list and staff that provide outstanding service make for Outer Banks dining at its finest.
Located at the luxury 4-Star Sanderling Resort, Kimball’s Kitchen is the perfect spot to enjoy a sunset cocktail or special night out. The dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows that have beautiful views of the Currituck Sound. Their New American-style menu offers items with complex flavors and ingredients that are somewhat unexpected. You cannot go wrong with any of the seafood dishes. They are so fresh it gives a whole new meaning to ocean-to-table. Be sure to order a few side dishes to share like the crispy brussels sprouts to share. Wind down your evening with s’mores by the firepit.
Trio Wine Beer and Cheese
Their name says it all, TRIO Wine Beer and Cheese has exactly that. Not only is TRIO a great place to dine, but it is the perfect place to stock up on wine, beer and gourmet items for your rental home. In the retail shop, you’ll find over 2,000 bottles of wine and 500 different beer choices from around the world. Cheesemonger Jennifer Minnich stocks her counter with dozens of artisanal cheeses that will satisfy even the most discerning palettes. TRIO’s very knowledgeable staff is always available to help with your selections. Additionally, there is a cozy bar with at least twenty-four local beers on tap and several self-serve wine stations.
Upstairs is a relaxed space with living room style seating and a pool table. Here they serve uniquely flavored menu items many of which are served as small plates. Take advantage of their regular tasting menus which give you the opportunity to enjoy five tapas-style courses that are each perfectly paired with a wine or beer.
Disclosure: Complimentary accommodations, meals, and activities were provided by The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. No other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.
Some McCool favorite places in OBX include Goombays, Roadside, Bad Bean, Sooey’s, Rundown, Red Sky, and Blue Point (you nailed that one!).
We have a Duck Donuts a couple of miles from the McCool Estate so …….. Come visit!
You missed my 100% ABSOLUTE FAVORITE RESTAURANT in the Outer Banks!!!!! MILLER’S SEAFOOD & STEAKHOUSE! Oh my GOODNESS! If you haven’t had the pure pleasure of eating @ Miller’s, then you have TRULY missed out on the BEST FOOD the Outer Banks has to offer😘🤘💜💋
Thanks for the recommendation! Next time I am in the OBX I will check out Miller’s!
Just a quick reminder… Hatteras and Ocracoke are a part of the OBX too.
Make sure to check out Bros Sandwich Shack in Avon, seriously amazing flavor and very high quality food.
Also, Pops Raw Bar, Orange Blossom Bakery (get the apple ugly), Oceana’s, and Dinkys are all a great start to your Island Adventure.
Ocracoke has a few more but I’m not super familiar.
Also, in Kitty Hawk is The Bad Bean Baja Grill… my mouth waters just thinking about going back to the Banks for a bite there.
Thanks for the great suggestions! I hope to be back in the OBX next year.
Second for Miller’s! Amazing food, live music, and spectacular sunset views over the sound. We make sure to eat at Miller’s at least twice each time we visit OBX!
All of the places you’ve named are very good, but allow a native to tell you about a couple of my favorites!
Semi to Casual dining, In Season (mid range) pricing, seafood – The Coinjock Marina Restaurant AMAZING prime rib, fresh local caught seafood, crab cakes, she crab soup, and my favorite -shrimp and grits! Save room for Tonia’s HOMEMADE desserts! (They’re almost to beautiful to eat!)
Very casual dining. Eatin or take out Frog Island Seafood. Located in Barco, 40 minutes from Kitty Hawk Stop here on your way down AND again on your way home! You can’t checkin until 4, so why rush to get jammed up in Saturday traffic. Stop and stretch your legs. Feed the gremlins in the back seat. And Fill your cooler with fresh seafood To cook at the cottage,
Currituck BBQ – also in Coinjock! 35 minutes from KittyHawk. On sight, real pit cooked BBQ. Everything from pork to chicken, and beef. Awesome sauces allow you to chose if you want a local NC vinegar based sauce, a tomato based sauce, or a south Carolina mustard based sauce on your pulled pork. Several different sauces to sample and try. Try the “burnt end brisket” It’s awesome!!
Southern Shores Pizza is another favorite of mine. Located in a”hole in the wall”, but worth seeking out! Great local folks. Fresh ingredients, the best crust on the beach, fast, fresh, super friendly, fair price, and they deliver!
Henry’s Is one of my favorites for breakfast. Real southern biscuits, real brewed tea not that instant crap, great lunches and dinners, but their breakfast is my fav!
John’s Drive Inn in Kitty Hawk, on the “beach road”. Go get a dolphin boat with fried okra and fries! Soft serve ice cream treats. A bit pricy for a drive inn, but well worth it. The seafood is fresh and worth every penny.
Wow! Thank you so much Melissa for all of the great suggestions. I will be sure to check them out next time I am in the Outer Banks.