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20 Outer Banks Restaurants that You Can’t Miss!

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There are so many Outer Banks restaurants vying for your attention upon arrival, but which ones should you visit? We thought long and hard about this and even reached out to some folks who’ve frequented this part of the coast.

And with their help, we’ve come up with 20 places that you absolutely can’t miss! Keep reading for our mix of local haunts, visitors’ favorites, and more.

These places to eat are just a part of your trip. Check out our jam-packed guide to a weekend in the Outer Banks!

This guide is part of our series on the Outer Banks and more places to visit in Eastern North Carolina. It was originally created on September 16, 2018. It has been maintained and updated, as of January 19, 2020.

Outer Banks Restaurants

Special thanks to those who contributed their words and images to this article. Please go check out their awesome work, which is linked below each person’s contribution. Anything else was provided by Carl and Christina from NC Tripping.

Avon

Pangea Tavern

Website | 41001 NC-12

Restaurants in Outer Banks NC Avon Pangea Tavern Photo by Lisa Chavis
Photo by Lisa Chavis.

A delightful addition to Koru Village in Avon is Pangea Tavern. This gastropub features an outdoor beer garden, delicious innovative food choices, and an extensive selection of local craft beers on tap make this a must-visit while you’re relaxing in the Outer Banks.

Also, this place is just steps from the beach and with the largest selection of craft beers on tap on Hatteras Island. Pangea Tavern is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Honestly, my favorite dish is the Wonton Tuna Poke!

That may be because I’m a huge poke lover. Regardless, this combination of crispy wontons topped with tuna poke, crabmeat, pico de gallo, scallions, jalapeños, and wasabi sour cream is an absolute delight for the taste buds!

Lisa Chavis, What Boundaries Travel

Buxton

Buxton Munch

Website | 47359 Highway 12 Osprey Shopping Center

Buxton Munch has been serving up delicious seafood and “goovy” food for over twenty years. So it’s no surprise that this is one of the most recommended Outer Banks restaurants by our readers.

With house rules like “Be nice, Be Happy, Be Patient, Be Mellow,” you know this isn’t a place to expect to quickly pop in and out.

Using high-quality ingredients, Buxton Munch is considered a local secret- but we’re letting the cat out of the bag! Grab some of their delicious blackened rockfish tacos or incredible crab cakes! This gem on Hatteras Island is a must-eat!

Corolla

Lighthouse Bagels

Website | 807 Ocean Trail

Heading to the lighthouse in Corolla? You are going to need some fuel for the climb. Look no further than the very appropriately named, Lighthouse Bagels! Tucked away in a strip mall, this hidden gem is worth a stop.

You see, I grew up in New York and through no fault of my own, I am very picky about my bagels. If you’re like me, you know it when you see it and if you don’t know, rest assured that Lighthouse has it.

The glossy sheen on the outside that lets you know you are going to have to work a little bit to get into it, but when you do, the inside is pillow-soft and that yeast flavor comes bursting out, presenting itself as the perfect canvas for whatever you want to put on it.

The folks at lighthouse bagels will do just that, starting your morning off right with cream cheese and lox or piling it high New York-style with deli ham and Swiss for lunch. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Ryan Ellis, Raleigh Traveler

North Banks

Website | 794 Sunset Blvd G

Serving the northern end of the barrier islands for over twenty years, North Banks dishes up delicious seafood all while preparing everything in house with local produce and ingredients.

From hand-grating their cheeses to preparing all of the sauces and dressings, you know that a meal at North Banks is the freshest possible!

From the homemade hushpuppies to the hand shucked regional oysters- fresh seafood and a comfortable environment is what you’ll find at North Banks!

Duck

Coastal Cravings

Website | 1209 Duck Rd

Featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Coastal Cravings is the perfect spot to chill on the patio or drive-thru for a seafood pot to take back to your vacation rental.

In fact, Coastal Cravings is the only drive-thru in Duck! Tucked next to a gas station, this unassuming little spot packs giant flavor.

This Outer Banks restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with fresh salads, sandwiches, and seafood on the menu. Breakfast is incredibly affordable for the value and any other time, please don’t skip the seafood trio!

The Roadside Bar & Grill

Website | 1193 Duck Rd

The Roadside Bar & Grill along the main road (Highway 12) in Duck is the type of place OBX visitors drive-by (even for years) and wonder what it is like. It is understated, not flashy like other Outer Banks restaurants, blends well into the scenery, and looks like a local hangout. 

The Roadside serves wicked fresh seafood dishes and potent drinks. Patrons can sit outside on the patio and listen to live music, inside at the quirky bar, in a huge booth with glass tabletops covering a myriad of seashells (my fave).

Even though I have tried many dishes at Roadside, I seem to always order the scallops, to accompany the area’s best Dark & Stormy.

Charles McCool, McCool Travel

Kill Devil Hills

Food Dude’s Kitchen

Website | 1216 S Virginia Dare Trail

Outer Banks Restaurants Food Dudes Kitchen Kill Devil Hills Image

“Quality Food with Laid Back Vibes” isn’t all you’ll get from Food Dude’s Kitchen! At this small shop in Kill Devil Hills, you’ll also find a Caribbean-inspired menu fused with the delicious local seafood. All their dishes are packed with flavor.

Jerk chicken, blackened fish, and the most mouthwatering nachos you’ll ever taste just a few of their signature menu items. And trust us, you’ll keep coming back.

While you wait for a return trip, you can drool over their menu items and specials on FDK’s Instagram!

Goombays

Website | 1608 N Virginia Dare Trail

One of the most fun and family-friendly restaurants on The Outer Banks Ocean Road is Goombays in Kill Devil Hills. You can head to this casual spot straight from the beach for lunch or dinner.

Look up at the ceiling and you’ll see turtles and jellyfish swimming and a surfboard passing overhead. A large colorful mural of fish and coral adds to the feeling that you’re dining “under da sea.”

We love the Grilled Fish Plate and the Caribbean Kingston, featuring the local fresh catch. 

– Julie McCool, Fun in Fairfax VA

Wright Cottage Court in Kill Devil Hills was our home base during a recent trip to OBX. After a lovely time there, we include it among our favorite places to stay in North Carolina

Kill Devil Grill

Website | 2008 South Virginia Dare Trail

Outer Banks Restaurants Kill Devil Grill Kill Devil Hills Image

When we originally posted this guide, we got a little bit of flack for leaving out Kill Devil Grill. It’s a key institution in the OBX food scene and we knew we had to rectify it on our next trip.

This place’s interior takes on the classic American diner, mixed with random vintage décor.

If you’re want to sum up the vibe inside, think punk rock meets the Happy Days. However, the food is what should really draw you there. Featuring fresh seafood, juicy burgers, and award-winning desserts, there was nothing that wasn’t absolutely delicious!

And if you’re looking to visit on a specific day, be sure to check KDG’s Facebook page for their Chalkboard specials!

Kitty Hawk

I Got Your Crabs

Website | 3809 N Croatan Hwy

I Got Your Crabs is fresh, delicious, and definitely busy! It’s also locally owned, family-operated, and one of the best places to get fresh Outer Banks blue crabs in season.

If you’re wanting to dine in or grab a bushel for your beach house, these fishermen are working hard to provide locally caught seafood!

From live, steamed, and fried, there’s no shortage of fresh seafood. Grab a sandwich, seafood plate, or our favorite—heavily seasoned Medium Jimmy. That dozen blue crabs is some of the tastiest seafood you’ll find on the barrier islands!

OBX Trio

Website | 3708 N Croatan Hwy

Restaurants in Kitty Hawk NC OBX Trio

With hundreds of beer labels and thousands of wine bottles in-house, it’s almost easy to forget that OBX TRiO in Kitty Hawk serves up really delicious food to soak it all up. To top off the trifecta, you’ll find a great assortment of cheeses from all over the world.

They perfectly pair with a baguette, soppressata, and the rest that makes up Trio’s European Breakfast, which you’ll find on their brunch menu.

The fun continues through dinner, where you can choose from appetizers, large plates, and charcuterie to go along with more of that wonderful cheese.

We also mentioned TRiO and other year-round restaurants in our off-season guide to The Outer Banks!

Rundown Cafe

Website | 5218 Virginia Dare Trail

Ocean views, live music, and Polynesian food with a laid back vibe?! Sign us up for a meal at Rundown Cafe. The ocean view deck is the perfect place to sit and soak up the waves while local bands play every night during the summer.

A beautiful mural and tiki decor make the perfect backdrop for soaking up the most of your Outer Banks vacation. Make sure to order their namesake traditional Jamaican soup and the Hawaiian Poke Bowl!

Another added bonus to Rundown Cafe is that they are incredible family and kid-friendly!

Stack’em High Pancakes and So Forth

Website | 3801 N Croatan Hwy

Filling tables and bellies since 1985, Stack’em High Pancakes and So Forth is the perfect breakfast spot for your stay in the Outer Banks. It’s served up cafeteria-style, and you grab a tray as you did in elementary school.

Choose grab-and-go items like fruit, muffins, or yogurt and then place your hot food order at the end.

Known for their signature light and fluffy pancakes, Stack’em High Pancakes and So Forth also has scrumptious waffles and traditional eggs and meat sides. You can also take home their Original Pancake/Waffle Mix!

Manteo

Lost Colony Brewery

Website | 208 Queen Elizabeth Ave

Dubbed as the “home town restaurant where first dates, prom dates, wedding proposals” and more have taken place for more than 20 years, Lost Colony Brewery is both a craft brewing and café serving delicious food.

Located along the water on a busy corner of Manteo, guests can expect fresh seafood, a wide selection of sandwiches, and elevated appetizers.

Don’t forget to wash it down with a brew! Pouring British and Irish style beers, we recommend getting a flight to taste them all!

Read our North Carolina Brewery guide for more delicious hop producers across the state!

Nags Head

Tale of the Whale

Website | 7575 S Virginia Dare Trail

Looking for an upscale option for dinner? Tale of the Whale is the spot to dine overlooking the Roanoke Sound. Located at Whalebone Junction, live music fills this dinner-only steak and seafood restaurant that has been family owned and operated since 1980.

Come hungry as the portions at Tale of the Whale are, well, whale-like! The she-crab soup and grilled fish trio is definitely a top order! But if you’re in the mood for surf and turf, that is also highly recommended!

Tortugas’ Lie

Website | 3016 S Virginia Dare Trail

Nags Head NC restaurants Tortugas Lie Photo by Donna Meyer
Photo by Donna Meyer.

Hey, you’re at the beach! You need a great beach dive, a seafood shack where the food’s hearty, the beer’s cold, and the fish is really fresh. Layer on a Caribbean accent and you’ve got Tortugas’ Lie, a favorite right on the beach at Nags Head.

The food will make you think you’re hearing a steel drum tinkle to a Reggae beat. That’s because of the blackened fish, jerk pork, coconut-crusted chicken that will arrive at your table. The Cayman Conch fritters (pictured, above), clam chowder, and lots of steamers—shrimp, clams, snow crab legs—are divine.

Enjoy the uber-casual vibe, with a funky décor of license plates from around the country tacked onto the aqua-hued ceiling beams. Like any proper dive, it’s got a full and noisy bar.

And ask any local up and down the Banks where to get the best pie and you get the same answer: Tortuga’s Lie.

Tortuga’s Lie is not far from Outer Banks attractions Jennette’s Pier, Wright Brothers National Memorial, and Jockey’s Ridge State Park!

– Donna Meyer, Nomad Women

Waverider’s Coffee, Deli, & Pub

Website | 3022 S Croatan Hwy

We had to include two on Nags Head, mainly because of the awesome things happening at Waveriders Coffee, Deli, & Pub. Right off Croatan Highway and close to Bonnett Street Beach Access, this is one of the best Outer Banks restaurants. You just have to get in early because Waverider’s gets busy.

Don’t worry, though, because you can join and enjoy their amazing food and drinks. You can also grab a board game and hang out with friends before and after eating.

We just recommend you order either the Waverider (duh!) or the Black Bean Burger, which is one of the best light options you’ll find in the Outer Banks.

Waveriders is a short drive away from Nags Head Woods, which ranks among the great hiking trails in North Carolina!

Ocracoke

Ocracoke Bar and Grill

Facebook | 621 Irvin Garrish Hwy

Best Seafood Outer Banks Ocracoke Bar and Grille Photo by Mikkel Paige

One of the most striking things about Ocracoke is how relaxed it is. This no-fuss island has a lot of great restaurants to visit before or after you spend a day at the beach. Of all the memories we made during our stay, one of the most striking—and delicious—was enjoying seafood at Ocracoke Bar and Grille.

The carefree, casual ambiance is prime for enjoying food from the coast. And the sun streaming into the bar area during “golden hour” brings together the harmony of every beloved thing about this area of the Outer Banks. I love that they have happy hour specials!

We immediately ordered their clam box, which arrived in style at the top of a beer box container with red and white checked paper.

All you need is napkins, some energy to break the meat of the clams out of their shell, and a cold beer to compliment it!

Mikkel Paige, Sometimes Home

Southern Shores

Barrier Island Bagels

Website | 5549 N Croatan Hwy

Outer Banks Restaurants Barrier Island Bagels Southern Shores Image

Barrier Island Bagels in Southern Shores is without a doubt a labor of love. Run by an incredible couple, you can walk in and smell the waft of bacon and yeast from the morning’s work.

I mark the quality of a bagel shop on whether or not they a) offer egg bagels and b) if they don’t look perfect. Having previously worked with Lighthouse Bagels in Currituck, Allison and Josh are now proofing their own bagels for the people of Dare County.

Bonus: because they have kids, visitors to BIB will find an awesome kid section, for tired parents like us to sit and drink coffee while the little one plays! For these reasons and more, we also included BIB among our favorite breakfast restaurants in North Carolina!

Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Bar Café

Website | 1 Ocean Blvd

Outer Banks Seafood Restaurants Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar and Wine Bar Cafe Photo by Dana Freeman
Photo by Dana Freeman.

Conveniently located in Southern Shores, Coastal Provisions brings the freshest seafood from the ocean right on to your plate making it an incredible Outer Banks restaurant. This upscale gourmet market and wine bar serves lunch and dinner in their dining room, wine bar, and oyster bar.

They also have a full-service butcher, seafood counter, specialty cheese, and chef-prepared foods. Coastal Provisions is the perfect place to stop for a glass of wine and oysters on the half shell. It’s also a great eat-in option, with great food to take home.

With at least ten different oysters to choose from daily and their award-winning crab cake sandwich, this is a place you must add to your list of can’t-miss Outer Banks seafood restaurants.

Dana Freeman, Dana Freeman Travels

Hungry for More?

So are you hungry for more Outer Banks food? Ever been to any of these Outer Banks restaurants? If not, which one would you like to visit first? If you’re still thinking of things to do beyond these awesome restaurants, check our Weekend travel guide.

It includes eats, but also many things you’ll want to do and see during your Outer Banks vacation. Either way, we hope you enjoy your trip to the Outer Banks.

We also look forward to hearing about how your vacation went. As always, feel free to contact us and let us know!

30 thoughts on “20 Outer Banks Restaurants that You Can’t Miss!

    • Carl Hedinger says:

      Wow, awesome! I think we need to go back just to hang in Kitty Hawk, huh? Thanks so much, Steve!

  1. Carl Hedinger says:

    I’m guessing this place is going to be featured in our “OBX Food that we Missed,” huh? Thanks, Sue! 🙂

    • Carl Hedinger says:

      Loved your contribution, Charles. Thanks for offering it up. Looking forward to exploring more places to eat in OBX in coming years, but this is a nice start, huh? Thanks!

    • Carl Hedinger says:

      Loved that place! It was one of our first places to eat a couple of years ago. Kicking myself for leaving it out!

    • Carl Hedinger says:

      Hi Tanya, thanks for stopping by. Those sound like awesome suggestions that may be making an appearance in the future:)

  2. Carl Hedinger says:

    Wow, thanks for mentioning Buxton Munch, Kim! Guess we’ll have to swing back down there in have a bite!

  3. Francie Hayman says:

    Great list, I agree across the board. Next visit you have to check out Russo’s Bar and Bistro in Kitty Hawk. Chef joey Russo is amazing, has a real passion for food and it shows. Best brunch on the beach, soft shell benedict is to die for, but his dinner menu is where he shines! Don’t miss out, you’ll thank me later!

    • Carl Hedinger says:

      Wow. I’m going to have to investigate this place a bit further. Thanks, Dallas!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Love Kill Devil Grill & Lighthouse Bagels, but surprised you didn’t include Agave Roja in Corolla, Paper Canoe in Duck, and Blue Point in Duck. No trip to the OBX is complete without visits to each of those for our family. One of the things we love about our favorites, after spending several weeks each year in Duck, is that the owners remember us, and welcome us back each trip. Feels like coming home every time. Thanks for giving us a couple of new options we haven’t tried!

    • Carl Hedinger says:

      Wow, so many choices to add there, Elizabeth. Thank you so much. Will definitely keep these in mind as we continue to grow this list.

  5. CJ Ross says:

    If you love tuna sashimi, Chili Peppers in KDH has the best ever! Its on the menu year round as a appetizer, but I make a meal of it.

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