The northernmost isle in North Carolina’s Outer Banks (OBX) is home to the highest sand dunes on the East Coast, Orville and Wilbur Wright’s First Flight, and family activities. Bodie Island, a barrier island, is a year-round attraction for people of all ages. It’s also a foodie’s dream, offering everything from exquisite dining to an offbeat breakfast place in a repurposed gas station.
Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head are among the Northern Beaches villages that dot the short 17-mile line of land bounded on both sides by the Atlantic Ocean and Albemarle Sound. The Beach Road (Virginia Dale Trail) and Highway 158 are the two major routes that travel north and south on the island, and destinations are commonly identified by the Milepost number (e.g., MP 6).
Many people associate summer vacation with natural beauty, lighthouses, and renowned beach house rentals. Eco-tours, rich marine life, fishing, golf, and shopping provide plenty of entertainment. It wouldn’t be a vacation until you tried some of the local cuisine. Therefore I’m delighted to share some of the greatest Outer Banks NC restaurants with you.
Visiting other places in North Carolina? Check out our other tasty guides:
- 13 Must-Try Restaurants in Mooresville, NC
- 11 Must-Try Restaurants in Manteo, North Carolina
- 13 Best Restaurants in Lexington, North Carolina
- 8 Must-Try Boone NC Restaurants
- 10 Best North Carolina Dishes
- 10 Must-Try Greensboro Restaurants
- 10 Must-Try Restaurants In Cary NC
- 10 Best Restaurants In Raleigh NC
- 9 Best Asheville NC Restaurants
- The Best Chapel Hill Restaurants NC & 11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill
- 9 Must-Try Restaurants in Blowing Rock, NC & 9 Best Things To Do In Blowing Rock NC
- 7 Must-Try West Jefferson NC Restaurants
- 8 Best Outer Banks NC Restaurants
- Black Pelican
- Saltbox Cafe
- Miller’s Steak & Seafood
- Front Porch Café
- Weeping Radish
- Colington Cafe
- Kill Devil’s
- Jolly Roger
- 1 The Top 8 Restaurants on the Outer Banks of North Carolina
- 2 Which of these Outer Banks NC Restaurants piques your interest the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!
The Top 8 Restaurants on the Outer Banks of North Carolina
The Black Pelican
+1 252-261-31713848 Dare Trail in Virginia
The building, which was built in 1874 as a United States Lifesaving Station, mixes in flawlessly with the relaxed beach mood with its faded cedar shake paneling. The structure also functioned as a meteorological station. It has a minor role in history since the Wright Brothers planned their flights based on weather data from the station and even predicted the success of their maiden flight from here.
Nowadays, the Black Pelican is where the locals go for a pint or something from the steamer. The bar is usually buzzing. Within, you’ll discover a treasure mine of historical photos and artifacts that will pique your interest. Such unusual artifacts wind their way through the warm and friendly adjoined eating rooms, conjuring up a genuine OBX ambience.
No vacation to the Northern Beaches would be complete for us until we dined in this rustic setting. An appetizer or two is usually served before the main course. We really like the Hummus with house-made pita bread. This time, though, we went for crunchy beer-breaded onion rings and Crab Rangoon with a sweet and spicy chili sauce.
The OBX features the freshest locally caught shrimp, and seafood is king here. So, of course, we ordered some scrumptious steamed shrimp. The wood-fired pizzas also serve as a vehicle for fresh fish from the area. The White Seafood pizza with luscious bchamel sauce, shrimp, scallops, house cheeses, scallions, oregano, and Old Bay flavor was delicious. The crust is really chewy. We also had the Aloha Pizza, which was topped with pineapple and chicken.
252-255-55941469 Colington Road
The Saltbox Café is a cheerful cottage-style establishment nestled away on Colington Island’s bayside. The earthy crunch of gravel and broken shells entices you into this local treasure. The dining room is warm but not too so (reservations are highly recommended). Dinner on the screened porch is encouraged by the neighboring land. You’ll also want to spend time in the garden, sipping a beverage at one of the colorful picnic tables.
The plethora of vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian dishes is one of the most amazing features. Randolph and Amanda Sprinkle, the owners and cooks, are classically educated and well-traveled. In 2020, their cheery small spot was named Best Chef, Best Service, Best Vegetarian, Best Brunch, Best Salad, and Most Puppy Friendly.
The Saltbox Cafe’s menu changes seasonally. We began the dinner with Fried Green Tomatoes, a southern classic with a twist. The juicy tomatoes were served with a fresh strawberry jam from the area. This resulted in a salty-sweet delight.
Our dinners were creamy, spicy, and flavorful. The Charred Corn Risotto was a standout, with the aroma of fresh corn wafting towards you. This creamy treat has a tinge of chipotle aioli. Cajun Shrimp and Grits were flavorful and genuine. Finally, the Chefs Pork Ribs were expertly cooked with house-made Barbeque.
Our evening concluded with a taste of the house-made sweets. Vegan choices were also available on the dessert menu. We selected to feast on Chocolate Pecan Pie and Peanut Butter Mousse.
Miller’s Steakhouse & Seafood
+1 252- 441-76741520 Dare Trail in South Virginia
Millers Steak & Seafood is a family-friendly restaurant on Kill Devil Hills’ Beach Road. Breakfast and supper are served in the restaurant. While the focus is on steak and seafood, the environment is warm and inviting. It’s also a terrific option for huge gatherings. There are no borders in the dining area, only well-arranged tables of happy eaters.
Throughout our vacation, we ate here twice! We began our lunch with one of the creative drinks. Do you own a Purple Flipflop? It’s a whirling concoction of coconut rum, vodka, blue curacao, cranberry, and soda. The service also includes a free heaping serving of luscious, fluffy hush puppies.
Scallops Millers Style was our favorite dish. Scallops are sautéed in lemon, butter, and white wine before being topped with chunk of pork and melted fontina cheese. The meal is both intriguing and tasty.
As though the shrimp had just leaped onto my dish, the grilled Outer Banks Shrimp delicious. The asparagus that came with it was fresh and crisp. Stuffed Flounder and Blackened Bourbon Tuna were also on the menu. Local flounder was filled with a whole crab cake and drenched in creole sauce. The tuna was cooked to perfection and seasoned with a homemade flavor.
Caf Front Porch
+1 252-449-6616Highway 158 Milepost 6
If you need to satiate your coffee cravings, go to the Front Porch Caf. The original Kill Devil Hills location is hidden away in a commercial mall with lots of seats and free, fast internet (a bonus in the OBX). There are further sites in Nags Head and Manteo, all of which have a welcome porch.
The environment is both welcoming and eccentric, yet coffee is taken seriously here. The beans are acquired from 20 different single-origin coffees, then micro-roasted and mixed in-house. I can already smell the scents.
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With your Apple Latte, order a delicious Spinach Feta Croissant. Or, try a Pomegranate Green Tea with a Blueberry Muffin. A Chocolate Chip Cookie works great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Spend a while and see the adjacent OBX Art Studio, which has a paint-your-own-pottery, fused glass, canvas painting studio, and a full-service retail bead shop.
The Weeping Radish
Caratoke Highway, +1 252- 491-52056810
The Weeping Radish is like a brewery, butchery, and farm all rolled into one. Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives has acknowledged the German-style bar. Situated around 20 minutes from the Northern Beaches, is worth the trek for handmade brats and sauerkraut.
The Weeping Radish is North Carolina’s oldest microbrewery. It manufactures beer in accordance with the 1516 Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Code. It implies the beer can only be made using hops, malt, yeast, and water. There may be no usage of additives, chemicals, or preservatives. I suggest the OBX Beer, a crisp Kolsch-style beer.
You must taste the Traditional Reuben sandwich with pastrami and locally sourced marbled rye bread, whether you dine indoors or in the huge outdoor yard. Another traditional option is the crispy pork loin Schnitzel with spaetzle and stewed cabbage. Lastly, don’t forget to get the Potato Pancakes and a Fresh Baked Soft Pretzel with flavorful beer cheese sauce.
If you can’t get enough in one sitting, the retail counter offers choice sausages, bacon, pastrami, beef cuts, and beer.
The Colington Café
252-480-1123, 1029 Colington Road
When we approached the magnificent Victorian structure flanked by massive live oaks, we knew it would be a spectacular supper. You may even eat under the trees since some tables are nestled into the landscaping in front of the restaurant. There’s also a particular table inside a charming white gazebo. The Colington Café is a hidden treasure that has been run by the same family for 32 years.
Our table was positioned in the dining room, up the steep, lovely wooden steps, with a fantastic view of the surrounding forest. The space was light and beautiful, with French artwork and decorations. The service was attentive and courteous, and the smiles were many.
We began our lunch with a hearty She Crab Soup and Scallops Rumaki. The soup was loaded with crabmeat and served with a side of sherry. Locally sourced scallops were wrapped in bacon and served with a flavorful teriyaki ginger sauce.
Halibut and crabmeat in a tart lemon caper butter was the Fish Dujour on the menu. While the fish was the headliner, I really appreciated the savory goat cheese, whipped red potatoes, and crisp broccolini. Another standout was the excellently cooked Mixed Grill surf and turf. The Seafood Spaghetti entrée had fresh shrimp and succulent scallops in a fresh parmesan sauce.
Slay the devils
+1 252-441-59001002 The Croatan Highway
Kill Devils Frozen Custard & Beach Fries caters to the inner child in all of us. After all, what’s a beach vacation without some hand-cut fries, hot dogs, and ice custard? By definition, frozen custard must include 10% milkfat and 1.4% egg yolk. Since the product is not combined with air, it is rich, creamy, and thick. Kill Devils makes its custard fresh every hour because it is so amazing.
This take-out restaurant’s menu features locally sourced ingredients and handcrafted deliciousness. For the NC Bar-B-Que Sandwich, they make their own BBQ sauce and coleslaw. They also add homemade chili, cheese, and freshly chopped onions to their Coney Island Hot Dog.
We went there for lunch and sat at a picnic table under a red umbrella. We ordered salty, fresh-cut Idaho Russett potatoes and juicy Corn Dogs to split. Nevertheless, let’s be honest, we were there for the frozen custard. We tucked into a Sea Turtle Sunday, which came covered with delicious butterscotch, hot fudge, whipped topping, and salted almonds.
Roger the Jolly
252-441-65301836 North Virginia Dare Trail
The grocery shop is decorated with a mix of Christmas decorations, pirate memorabilia, aquatic murals, and vintage movie posters. Take time to visit the charming and quirky gift store just next to the hostess station. From the minute you walk inside this residents’ favorite cafe, you are surrounded with eclectic, strange, and humorous decor. This gas station has been converted.
The Jolly Roger is filled with the elegance and good attitude of owner Carol Ann Angelos. Breakfast, lunch, and supper are all served at the restaurant. Our family habit, though, is to stop for a full breakfast before returning home.
The Bloody Marys are plenty, and the baked bread for thick, buttery pieces of toast makes for an outstanding vacation breakfast. For a breakfast of champions, order 2 eggs over easy with savory corned beef hash, crispy home fries mixed with grilled onions, and toast. You can’t go wrong with any of the Benedicts or Homemade Biscuits and Gravy. Lastly, don’t forget to reserve space for the Breakfast Special Handmade Bread Oubbidng with Bourbon Sauce!