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 nine 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! Also, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay on the coast, check for the best prices and availability at these Outer Banks hotels!
Outer Banks Restaurants
Lisa Chavis, What Boundaries Travel
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!
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Words by Ryan Ellis, Raleigh Traveler
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.
The Roadside Bar & Grill
Photo and Words by Charles McCool, McCool Travel
Kill Devil Hills
Photo and Words by Julie McCool, Fun in Fairfax VA
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.
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!
Words by Carl Hedinger, NC Tripping. Photo by Christina Riley, NC Tripping
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.
Photo and Words by Donna Meyer, Nomad Women
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!
Waverider’s Coffee, Deli, & Pub
Word by Carl Hedinger, NC Tripping. Photo by Christina Riley, NC Tripping
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 place is awesome. 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 fall hiking trails in North Carolina!
Ocracoke Bar and Grill
Photo and Words by Mikkel Paige, Sometimes Home
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 in 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!
Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Bar Café
Photo and Words by Dana Freeman, Dana Freeman Travels
Conveniently located in Southern Shores, Coastal Provisions brings the freshest seafood from the ocean right on to your plate. 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.
Hungry for More?
So are you hungry for more Outer Banks food? Ever been to any of these places? 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 let us know in the comments section below!
This guide is part of our series on North Carolina Food, Things to do in The Outer Banks, and Places to Visit on the North Carolina Coast. It was originally created on September 16, 2018. It has been maintained and updated (as of December 30, 2018) to reflect current viewpoints and travel trends. Special thanks to those who contributed their words and images to this article. Following each person’s name, you’ll find a link to their site, which links to their specifically Outer Banks food article, a guide to the Outer Banks, or their general landing page. Please go check out their awesome work…after reading this, of course!