This post presents a list of 24 restaurants on the Outer Banks that the locals would recommend. This standout group of restaurants reflects some of the best culinary offerings coastal North Carolina offers.
This list will cover restaurants spanning from Corolla to Ocracoke Island - and everywhere in between.
So if you stop along NC Highway 12 and ask a local, "Can you recommend a restaurant?" chances are one of these restaurants will be included on their shortlist of Outer Banks eateries.
The Kill Devil Grill
The food. The service. The laid-back atmosphere. Kill Devil Grill has it all. Daily specials that are always delicious and are never available for long. The dining room isn't big, so arrive either early or late for lunch or dinner. Open most nights of the week during the peak season with limited hours during the off-season. Top your meal off with key lime pie or apple crisp for dessert. If softshell crabs are ever on the specials menu, don't hesitate and try whatever the chefs have created.
2008 S Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills
(252) 449-8181 | $$ | Menu
Blue Moon Beach Grill
Another standout in Nags Head, seafood, is the star of the menu at Blue Moon Beach Grill. Locally-sourced ingredients are used throughout the menu. Many local brews are on the menu to pair with your entree. Cozy dining room with friendly staff and experienced chefs. Local art that's available for purchase lines the walls. Open year-round for lunch and dinner. Very, very busy during the summer. No reservations are available, so plan accordingly!
4104 S Virginia Dare Trail #16 in Nags Head
(252) 261-2583 | $$ | Menu
Arguably the best sandwiches on the Outer Banks are created in the kitchen at Country Deli. This family-owned and family-operated shop make everything with care. Turkey reuben, brisket, meatballs, cheesesteak, grilled cheese with bacon, the list goes on. Order ahead by phone or online—minimal seating inside. Best enjoyed at the nearby public beach access.
1900 S Croatan Highway in Kill Devil Hills
(252) 441-5684 | $$ | Menu
This Outer Banks eatery opened in 1977 and has been a local favorite ever since. So order ahead, park your car, and pick up your order at the walk-up window. John's is located on the beach road in Kitty Hawk. The dolphin boat is probably the most popular item on the menu - order it. Soft serve ice cream after your fill up on fried fish. Just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean. John’s is closed during the off-season.
3716 N Virginia Dare Trail in Kitty Hawk
(252) 261-6227 | $ | Menu
Art's is a no-frills eatery located just off beach road in Kitty Hawk. With simple food prepared well. Portions are very generous, and prices are even better. Huge, huge burgers are the most popular choice on the menu. Many people rave about the Kitty Hawk Crush, which will get you in the vacation mindset. Rooftop hangout with unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean. Corn hole boards in the front are where the locals in Kitty Hawk like to hang out, and you should stop by Art's too.
4624 N Virginia Dare Trail in Kitty Hawk
(252) 261-3233 | $ | Menu
Hot dogs bigger than your dad's foot loaded with chili and cheese. Spanky's hot dogs are probably the best on the Outer Banks. There is a Sonic not far from the restaurant, but it doesn't compare. Also, the prices are very reasonable. Spanky's is a clear choice if you need something quick that's delicious and available at an affordable price. Are you feeling extra hungry? Ask for the Viking Burger; it's 2 pounds of ground beef goodness!
4105 N Croatan Highway in Kitty Hawk
(252) 261-1917 | $ | Menu
I Got Your Crabs Shellfish Market & Oyster Bar
Come here to enjoy a cold beer paired wonderfully with a basket of clams and fresh fish served in a disposable tray. Of course, their steamed crabs are delectable; after all, it's in the restaurant's name. Locals love coming here to enjoy the area's plentiful fresh seafood prepared and available at a great price. Unfortunately, there is limited indoor seating, and there are only so many takeout orders available each day. But, don't let the unassuming exterior of the restaurant deter you! I Got Your Crabs is 100% a spot that the locals celebrate and frequent.
3809 N Croatan Highway in Kitty Hawk
(252) 449-2483 | $ | Menu
The Paper Canoe
Fantastic date night spot with dim lighting and food you'll want your partner to let you try. Excellent sound front views and sunsets that are so good the restaurant's owners should charge you extra for them. Highlights from the seasonal menu include steak, fish, scallops, shrimp, and more. Reservations are highly recommended and almost a requirement. However, if you don't call ahead, and it is just a party of two, you may be able to secure a spot at the bar without waiting long—an excellent choice for an anniversary dinner.
1564 Duck Road in Duck
(252) 715-2220 | $$$ | Menu
Well stated on the restaurant's website, Tortugas' Lie is "a delicious slice of the Caribbean." Burgers, seafood, and sushi are prepared with a Caribbean flair. License plates from all over the country cover the indoor rafters. Surfing videos play on repeat on the TVs - unless a notable sporting event is on. Guy Fieri deemed this the "hotspot of the Outer Banks" when he visited not-so-many years ago. Beach volleyball in the backyard. A laid-back atmosphere that's a perfect ending to a day spent mainly under an umbrella. Tortugas' is located just off the road adjacent to the beach in Nags Head.
3016 S Virginia Dare Trail in Nags Head
(252) 441-7299 | $$ | Menu
Fish Heads Bar & Grill
Fish Heads' is one of the few opportunities to dine on the oceanfront on the Outer Banks. They are headquartered on the deck of the Outer Banks Fishing Pier in South Nags Head. Shrimp is well-prepared, reasonably priced, and plentiful. In addition, locals enjoy coming here for live music on select nights of the week. With no indoor seating and a view as good as here, why would there be? Would an oceanfront pier hangout be complete without a well-stocked bar? Probably not; it's a good thing Fish Heads has every libation you could require. So grab a good friend, order a cold beer and a basket of steamed shrimp, and set yourself up for a memorable and relaxing night on the oceanfront.
8901 S Old Oregon Inlet Road in Nags Head
(252) 441-5740 | $$ | Menu
Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe
Basnight's has a vast indoor dining room with almost every seat in the building overlooking the Roanoke Sound. Choose from an array of fresh seafood offerings and southern favorites like mac & cheese, collard greens, and fried chicken on the menu. The bar has an unobstructed view of the osprey nest outside, which is unique. Many soon-to-be brides choose Basnight's as the catering restaurant of choice for their big day. The she-crab soup is jam up! So are the shrimp and grits.
7623 S Virginia Dare Trail in Nags Head
(252) 441-5405 | $$$ | Menu
The Saltbox Cafe
Any self-proclaimed foodie would rejoice at the menu available at The Saltbox Cafe in Kill Devil Hills. Tucked away from the beach in Colington Island amongst the pine and live oak trees. Food is always top-notch, and the staff is on their A-game. Plan and secure a reservation as soon as possible as there is limited seating. Steaks and locally-sourced seafood paired with a craft beer or wine - does it get any better?
1469 Colington Road in Kill Devil Hills
(252) 255-5594 | $$$ | Menu
TRIO Restaurant & Market
TRIO is about the best place on the Outer Banks to order a charcuterie board. And, perhaps, the only place on the barrier islands with a charcuterie board. So come for the wine and cheese, stay for the excellent company and service in an overly comfortable setting.
3708 N Croatan Highway in Kitty Hawk
(252) 261-0277 | $$ | Menu
Mama Kwan's Tiki Bar & Grill
Yes, a tiki bar! Mama Kwan's is a Hawaiian-themed restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Fish tacos are a popular choice on the menu, and the coconut shrimp. Friendly staff that's primarily year-round locals. Lots of exciting mixed drinks on the menu from the restaurant's bartender. Have your drink served in a parrot or tiki man. Locals like to visit Mama Kwan's during the offseason when it's a little less busy. Open late on some occasions.
1701 S Croatan Highway in Kill Devil Hills
(252) 441-7889 | $$ | Menu
Barefoot Bernie's Tropical Grill & Bar
Popular local spot to watch the big game or enjoy lunch with co-workers. Super laid-back atmosphere with a menu that includes fish tacos, margarita pizza, clams, loaded nachos, and wings. Burger night is once a week, and yes, they are good! Perhaps the best burger on the Outer Banks? At the very least, in the conversation of the top five.
3730 N Croatan Highway in Kitty Hawk
(252) 261-1008 | $$ | Menu
Rundown offers one of the best views of any restaurant on the Outer Banks. Hawaiian-themed restaurant, some of the lunch and dinner menu stars are the poke bowl and the coconut shrimp. Unique dishes that you won't find elsewhere on the Outer Banks. Despite the high-quality food, service, and stellar location, the menu prices at Rundown Cafe are very reasonable. Great selection of tropical adult beverages. There's a koi pond right in front of the entrance - bring a quarter to buy some food and feed the hungry fish.
5218 Virginia Dare Trail in Kitty Hawk
(252) 255-0026 | $$ | Menu
Hurricane Mo's Beachside Bar & Grill
Kitty Hawk has more than a handful of stellar restaurants; Hurricane Mo's is one of them. Locally-sourced seafood, pasta, sandwiches, steaks, and an array of mixed drink opportunities. Locals frequent Mo's for lunch and treat their relatives to dinner. Happy Hour every day from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM features 10-cent shrimp, 25-cent wings, and $1 tacos.
120 East W Kitty Hawk Road in Kitty Hawk
(252) 255-0215 | $$ | Menu
Waveriders Coffee & Deli
Waveriders is perhaps best described as a coffee shop with sandwiches that are a step - or a few steps - above what you would expect. In addition, an array of craft beers on tap in the event coffee isn't suiting your taste buds—more of a fast-casual dining experience than one involving a waiter/waitress assisting with your order.
3022 S Croatan Highway in Nags Head
(252) 715-1880 | $ | Menu
Gingerbread House Bakery
What if your favorite hometown pizzeria served quality baked goods that you'd only find in an authentic bakery? Gingerbread House Bakery has many pastries to choose from and some of the best pizza Hatteras Island offers! Also, have you ever had seafood on your pizza? Of course, there's a first time for everything; pepperoni and cheese are also options: takeout only, no indoor seating.
52715 NC-12 in Frisco
(252) 995-5204 | $$ | Menu
Poor Richard's Sandwich Shop
They are located right along the downtown Manteo waterfront. Poor Richard's opened their doors many decades ago, and locals have been frequenting ever since. Open from breakfast in the morning to late-night karaoke during select nights of the week. Prices are super reasonable compared to other local establishments. Eat-in the indoor dining room or outside along the waterfront and admire the million-dollar boats docked at the marina.
305 Queen Elizabeth Avenue in Manteo
(252) 473-3333 | $ | Menu
Hatteras Sol Waterside Grill
Soundfront location that doesn't disappoint when it comes to nightly sunsets. Coined as a "casually sophisticated dining experience" by their owners, which is pretty accurate. Steak, fish, shrimp, and crab entrees sprinkled throughout the dinner menu.
58646 NC-12 in Hatteras
(252) 986-1414 | $$ | Menu
Food Dudes Kitchen
Blackened Mahi tacos are their specialty. No frills establishment with reasonable prices. Portions are enormous; you won't leave your dinner table hungry. Small dining room, many locals choose to place an order for takeout and hang out on the beach while enjoying their Food Dudes order.
1216 S Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills
(252) 441-7994 | $$ | Menu
Great pizza with many, many different topping options. Thin crust and deep dish options. Garlic knots alone are worth giving Slice Pizzeria a try. Professional and polite staff, clean and well-lit dining area that provides ample seating on most nights. Buy your lunch/dinner by the slice or the whole pie. Many, many reasons why Outer Banks locals frequent this pizzeria.
710 South Croatan Highway in Kill Devil Hills
(252) 449-8888 | $$ | Menu
High in flavor and low in price. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—no-frills dining room with an old diner vibe. Booths line the walls and checkerboard flooring. This place hasn't changed in decades, and that's okay. It is located just off the bypass in Nags Head. Arrive at Grits Grill early if you are planning breakfast during the summer.
5000 S. Croatan Highway in Nags Head
(252) 449-2888 | $$ | Menu