One thing I know for certain from our Outer Banks vacation, there’s no shortage of beautiful beaches, sunrises, fun activities, and fantastic Outer Banks restaurants serving up locally caught fresh seafood, Southern fare, and pretty much anything you desire.
Whilst our 4 day trip was mostly focused on things to do in the OBX, we did get a good taste of the Outer Banks food scene on offer and can’t wait to return and hit up the rest of the recommended OBX restaurants mentioned below in this post.
Although we didn’t even scratch the surface as far as eating at all the best restaurants in the Outer Banks, from our personal experience and the great tips from the locals and others who reached out to us online, we’ve got you covered with a comprehensive list down below!
From waterfront restaurants, to beach shacks, tiki huts, cafes, breweries and bistros, there’s endless places to eat in Outer Banks during your NC beach vacation for all members of your traveling party, and plenty of kid-friendly OBX restaurants too!
With over 100-miles of barrier islands, fresh seafood is certainly the star of the show here, the best in North Carolina, but there’s plenty on offer for all taste buds and food groups.
Just writing this post has me longing to return and eat our way across the islands, and luckily for us and Outer Banks trip is only a three-hour drive from our home in Raleigh and the perfect vacation getaway for any season, and length of time!
- Fish Heads Bar and Grill (Nags Head)
- Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant (Nags Head)
- Mulligan’s Grille in Historic Cottage Row
- NC Coast & Grill (Duck)
- Art's Place Bar & Grille
- The Spot Box (Nags Head & Kitty Hawk)
- Outer Banks Brewing Station (Kill Devil Hills)
- Tortuga's Lie
- Fresh Fit Cafe (Nags Head)
- Lost Colony Brewery and Cafe (Manteo)
- Donutz on a Stick (Duck)
- Treehouse Coffee Co. (Duck)
- Dajio Restaurant (Ocracoke Island)
Fish Heads Bar and Grill (Nags Head)
I’m going to start with a classic Outer Banks experience. And that’s what we want on vacation right, experiences and moments we talk about long after they’ve happened.
For us, Fish Heads Bar and Grill is quintessential OBX. Think laid-back and chilled local vibe, killer ocean views from on the pier, fresh seafood, family-friendly, live music, and 15 cent shrimp during happy hour 4-6pm every day – yes, I said 15 CENT SHRIMP.
We don’t have piers at our beaches where we grew up in Australia, and the Outer Banks Fishing Pier is now our favorite pier in the country – Santa Monica Pier, THIS is how you do a pier! Dump your tacky rides into the ocean and pop up some colorful umbrellas, a few tables, and a tiki hut with a solid beer selection (40 beers in total).
No, it’s not the best shrimp we’ve ever eaten (we are fussy being Aussies who grew up on the coast), but they have a variety of entrees and take it from us, this is one of those super cool local spots you just have to experience for yourself!
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant (Nags Head)
Another cool thing we love about the Outer Banks is you can watch the sunset over the water, even though you’re on the East Coast. And if you’re looking for one of those famous OBX sunsets, head to Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant overlooking Roanoke Sound.
Miller’s is one of the most highly recommended places to eat in the Outer Banks with a lot of positive reviews, but we felt our food fell a little flat.
We dined downstairs in the restaurant, but next time we’d like to try upstairs at the Sunset Bar & Grill.
For us, the sunset stole the show and even if you don’t think your meal here is all that memorable, definitely come here for sunset drinks outside on the grass area and watch the magic happen over the sound, which appears to be an Outer Banks tradition.
Mulligan’s Grille in Historic Cottage Row
We love tiki bars, and if you do too this place is cool. If we lived in the OBX this is the kinda place I could call my local.
Mulligan’s offers several dining and drinking areas, wechose to eat in the casual and chilled Tiki Bar upstairs.
You get distant views of the beach, fresh coastal breezes, and a fun vibe and had to drag ourselves out of there.
They have fresh local seafood, good burgers, and a nice selection of beers. There’s a downstairs bar, and indoor and outdoor seating with views of Jockey’s Ridge.
You’re set back a few blocks from the ocean, but high enough to have views of the beach.
Come chill out here with a bite to eat and a few drinks and wear your relaxed OBX persona.
NC Coast & Grill (Duck)
One of the best things to do in Duck is the Duck boardwalk, and situated along that boardwalk is the NC Coast & Grill.
I recommend starting or ending your boardwalk stroll here with lunch, or even just a drink.
You’ll get superb Currituck Sound views and delicious food described as coastal and Southern with nuances from around the world. Our Mexican poutine and fish street tacos were perfect evidence of that.
NC Coast Grill had the most modern and innovative food we had in the Outer Banks. And I’m guessing this would be a great sunset spot too.
Art’s Place Bar & Grille
There are no shortage of great Outer Banks restaurants for lunch and dinner, but we found the breakfast options not so appealing, except for this local’s favorite, Art’s Place Bar & Grille in Kitty Hawk!
Highly recommended by several people in our Instagram community, especially for their pancakes which our kids loved, but their country ham breakfast, omelette’s and French toast will satisfy you also!
This long-running burger joint has ocean views from it’s rooftop and features live music and classic American eats – said to have the best burger on the island, we’ll be back for one of those next trip!
The Spot Box (Nags Head & Kitty Hawk)
If you like starting your day with a great smoothie bowl, put the SpotBox on your list of places to eat in the OBX.
You know a place is popular and good when there’s literally a line out the door, but the delicious Acai bowls at the end will make it all worth your while. You’re at the beach, be sure to grab yourself a smoothie bowl. It’s the OBX way.
On the menu is a wide variety of bowls, with two locations in Kitty Hawk and Nags Head.
- Address: Nags Head & Kitty Hawk
- Website: TheSpotBox.com
Outer Banks Brewing Station (Kill Devil Hills)
If you’re like us and are always up for a good local brewery, especially a family-friendly one that serves food, then consider the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills for a meal, and a drink or two!
The interesting thing about this brewery is that it’s the first wind-powered brewery in America, and we like to support and celebrate local businesses that support Mother Nature.
We found the food to be well above average brewery food, and enjoyed our bacon mussels, the local puppy drum with sweet corn risotto, and Bratwurst Sausage Plate.
There’s a large beer garden area with plenty of room for the kids to run around, and live music!
As for drinks, we suggest the LemonGrass Wheat Ale or Hugh Hefeweizen, plus there’s wine and specialty cocktails. They also make their own root beer, ginger beer & Orange Vanilla Creamsicle Soda!
In “non-pandemic times” they have a jam-packed events calendar. Check their website for upcoming events.
- Address: 600 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills
- Website: OBBrewing.com
Another locals favorite OBX restaurant located in Nags Head, and they serve probably the best steamed shrimp I’ve had in North Carolina!
At Tortuga’s Lie you’ll find a cool beach vibe and it is suggested you sit at the bar, order Cayman Crippler drinks, and pair with their spiced steamed shrimp. Great fish tacos and fries too!
Fresh Fit Cafe (Nags Head)
If you enjoy a healthy start to your day, and water views, find your way to Freshfit Cafe overlooking the sound on the Nags Head-Manteo Causeway.
It’s kinda tucked away as all hidden secrets should be.
As health conscious eaters, we particularly like to start off our day with a healthy breakfast and we’re glad we found this place during our research.
This Outer Banks cafe is a health-oriented cafe and juice bar. They serve breakfast and lunch daily with an awesome waterfront setting, and we enjoyed our hearty omelettes – one of the best we’ve had actually – and our kids their choc-chip pancakes.
On the menu is organic coffee, espresso, a full juice bar, detox drinks and smoothies, and they accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.
Come for the healthy food, stay for the awesome water views!
Lost Colony Brewery and Cafe (Manteo)
In case you don’t know, way back in 1587, 117 English men, women and children came ashore on Roanoke Island to establish the first English settlement. But, In 1590, when English ships returned, they found the island deserted, hence the name the Lost Colony.
The namesake brewery in Manteo was our first stop after driving in from Raleigh. We grabbed lunch here, the burgers are good and an overall good selection of British style beers and pub type food, it’s a fun little brewery and café.
Quaint and historic building, cozy inside with outside patio dining as well. Dog friendly too if you have furry friends.
Read more: 15 things to do in Manteo, OBX
Donutz on a Stick (Duck)
I know when you’re in Duck you’ll probably want to hit up the original Duck Donuts, and sure do that, but you can find them in other places around North Carolina, we can walk to one near our house in The Triangle.
So listen up guys, the locals know there is another amazing option in town for all things donuts!
One of our very good local followers on Instagram suggested we go to Donutz on a Stick. He said it’s family-owned, not super busy, and better than Duck Donuts! And it turned out to be a great suggestion, trust us, our kids will tell you!
They serve up made to order donuts and donut sundaes (two donuts topped with ice cream and whipped cream) which our kids demolished.
Plus they even have gluten-free and vegan offerings, coffee, espresso, gifts and souvenirs, sandwiches.
Treehouse Coffee Co. (Duck)
Another cafe to add to your list if you’re looking for breakfast and good coffee.
Proudly serving North Carolina’s famous Counter Culture coffee out of Durham, and a full breakfast including made from scratch Southern biscuits, plus Empanadas, Smoked Salmon Sammy, Huevos Ranchero Burrito, and Crab Cake Brekkie Sandwich.
Treehouse Coffee Co is a hip and popular local cafe located in the Scarborough Faire Shopping Village in Duck. It’s nestled amongst the beautiful tree lined boardwalks.
This place is popular so expect a bit of a wait, or consider ordering ahead online and get a pickup time to avoid waiting.
Dajio Restaurant (Ocracoke Island)
Our favorite restaurant on Ocracoke Island was the elegant Dajio Restaurant. Their impressive southern fusion menu has made-from-scratch menu items showcasing fresh local seafood and quality ingredients.
Popular Dishes include burgers, po’boys, tacos, seafood platters, salads, and fish of the day. We recommend the Low Country Purloo which is a delicious take on jambalaya, and the grilled flank steak with tamari ginger cream sauce was fantastic.
There is an outside bar, covered deck, and lower patio which often has live music during the summer. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
Daijio is considered a little fancy on Ocracoke, but you can still turn up in your casual wear and not be looked at – it’s the Ocracoke Way. And the prices are reasonable for fancy as well, with dishes to suit all budgets. Read our guide to Ocracoke Island.
More Places to Eat in The OBX
As mentioned, we only had four days for our Outer Banks trip and could only eat at so many Outer Banks restaurants and cafes.
Keep scrolling below for highly suggested OBX restaurants from locals in the know, and followers on our Instagram account who reached out to us with tips.
We have these penciled in for our next OBX trip:
- Black Pelican Restaurant (Kitty Hawk) good views, amazing pizzas, fresh seafood.
- Lighthouse Bagels (Corolla) best bagels in the OBX apparently. Homemade bagels & donuts, plus deli sandwiches & salads.
- Watermen’s Bar & Grill (Waves) great spot to watch a phenomenal sunset. Local seafood and good burgers! Live music, drinks specials.
- Black Pelican (Kitty Hawk) oceanfront restaurants. Seafood, Prime Rib. Get the dirty bird drinks “extra dirty”. Located in a circa-1874 former lifesaving station. One of the most highly recommended Outer Banks restaurants.
- Coastal Cravings (Duck) Low-key eatery and takeout for seafood, steaks, sandwiches & breakfasts, with live music.
- Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar (Manteo) love raw oysters? Check out their daily oyster happy hour from 4pm-6pm. Plus many other seafood and meat dishes come with water views and exceptional service.
- Darrell’s Restaurant (Manteo). Not high priced, fresh local seafood. Popular diner since 1960 for homestyle seafood like fried oysters plus hearty breakfasts too.
- John’s Drive In (Kitty Hawk) Classic drive-in shack (open May-October) specializing in thick milkshakes & fried fish sandwiches. Great dolphin and shrimp.
- Hurricane Mo’s Beachside Bar And Grill (Kitty Hawk) tropical-themed watering hole with an outdoor patio serving spirits, pub grub & seafood entrees. Best happy hour for food in the area.
- Kill Devil Grill (Kill Devil Hills) classic American diner on the National Register of Historic Places. Excellent seafood, burgers, desserts. Music and fun atmosphere.
- Avenue Waterfront Grille (Manteo)
- Rundown Cafe (Kitty Hawk) island-themed spot serving Caribbean & Pacific Rim dishes. Ocean view deck and live music.
- Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar (Kill Devil Hills) best raw oyster bar and beach bar vibe. Casual seafood spot & lounge, ocean views, friendly atmosphere.
- Food Dudes Kitchen (Kill Devil Hills) a hidden gem. Surf-shack vibe, serving Caribbean and Mexican-inspired seafood, burgers, wings. Great nachos!
- Mama Kwan’s Tiki Bar & Grill (Kill Devil Hills) amazing food recommended by locals. Renowned for their mahi mahi tacos and tropical drinks. Serving the Outer Banks for 16 years with a twist on food from around the world. Good portions for the price.
- The Blue Point (Duck) high-end seafood and Southern fare that overlooks the Currituck Sound. Fabulous locally sourced food. Southern Hospitality. Nice spot for sunset with outside seating. Occasional live music.
- Stack’em High Pancakes and So Forth (Kill Devil Hills) for over 30 years this breakfast joint has been fixing up amazing pancakes and biscuits, plus Belgian waffles, Greek omelets in a colorful setting.
- Henry’s Restaurant (Kill Devil Hills) all-around great seafood restaurant and popular breakfast spot. Also steaks and sandwiches in a comfy, kid-friendly diner.
- Bros Sandwich Shack (Hatteras Island) best burgers and sandwiches on the island. , Chef-owned and family-run. Casual counter service, local craft beers.
- Waveriders Coffee & Deli (Nags Head) popular nautically themed hangout with outdoor seating, espresso drinks, panini, beer, wine. Great coffee/deli/bar, a must-stop.
- Dinky’s Waterfront Restaurant (Hatteras) One of the best Outer Banks seafood restaurants with a full bar in nautical digs on a marina. When in Hatteras!
- Goombays Grille & Raw Bar (Kill Devil Hills) vibrant, family-friendly seafood place with Caribbean-accented dishes, tropical drinks & island decor. Excellent food and prices. Awesome atmosphere.
- Roadside Bar & Grill (Duck) seafood-centric dining in a quaint renovated house with an upstairs bar & grill. Wonderful food, great atmosphere and decor, outdoor music.
- Red Drum Tap House (Nags Head) seafood, steaks, ribs. 18 beers on tap and a relaxed setting and cool local vibe. Great peel and eat steamed shrimp, and shrimp and grits.
- I Got Your Crabs (Kitty Hawk) locals OBX at its best specializing in seafood and seasonal menu of steamed dishes. Great local Blue Crabs and soft shell crab.
- Salt Box Cafe (Kill Devil Hills) steaks, local seafood and craft beer offered in a charming cottage with creek views. Top brunch menu. Great choices for vegans and gluten free.
- The Paper Canoe (Duck) wood-fired pizzas, seafood, steaks & cocktails in a comfy waterfront bistro setting. Amazing food and views, pleasant atmosphere, excellent service, reasonable prices.
- Avenue Waterfront Grille (Manteo) looking for waterfront restaurants in Outer Banks? They have a great location overlooking the harbor with outdoor seating. One of the best OBX restaurants for seafood with a casual, family-friendly vibe. Reasonably priced.
Clearly, from that bullet list above of places we haven’t dined at so far, I think we are still yet to eat at many of the best restaurants in Outer Banks.
What OBX restaurants can you suggest? Are your favorites on this list? Please share with us your recommendations in the comments section below!