Some of life’s best moments can happen over food and drink, and when it comes to dining experiences, the Outer Banks of North Carolina offer the most memorable. The “OBX,” as fans of the barrier islands call them, have a culture of independent restaurants with real character and a conviction for locally caught seafood. Just be prepared to try something new and delicious! From seafood specialties to steak, pizza, and beach barbecue, every tasty meal has its place here. Consider this your official OBX dining guide to what’s new and popular.
Cruise toward brews
The micro and craft brewing scene has taken hold of the Outer Banks. To start, Outer Banks Brewing Station makes its own seasonal beers and has the distinction of being the world’s first wind-powered brewpub. Out back of the restaurant, which pays tribute to an 1800s-era life-saving station, is a children’s playground, beanbag toss, and live music. The Outer Banks Brewing Station offers high quality, inspired menu items, while keeping prices within reach. At its heart and soul, the Brewing Station is all about the beer and providing a great experience for travelers.
Outer Banks Distilling opened in early 2015 under the leadership of two former microbrewery veterans. The new venture focuses on small-batch rums, including white, gold, and spiced expressions, with holiday flavors expected to be available come December. In the meantime, visitors can purchase their un-aged Kill Devil Rum, take tours of the distillery, and participate in tastings.
At the Lost Colony Brewery and Café, local favorites include the lump crab cakes, eggplant napoleon, shrimp and crab au gratin. Homemade quiche and daily pasta specials are available on the patio, where pets are welcomed. The atmosphere here is fun, unstuffy, and relaxed, with friendly service. Full Moon’s food is diverse, delicious, and incredibly fresh. Angus steaks and fresh, local seafood, but the menu includes a surprising range of fare for everyone from seafood lovers to meat eaters to vegetarians to kids. The Full Moon Brewery is the only place in downtown Manteo to taste flavorful, hand-crafted brews and watch the ancient art of brewing.
Festivals of flavor
When it comes to culinary travel, the OBX makes a great place to mark your calendar. The first big restaurant event each year is OBX Taste of the Beach, held in March, a pick-your-own itinerary of special menus, tastings, contests, and classes featuring the Outer Banks’ top restaurants. Every fall in October, Outer Banks Seafood Festival offers a fun and lively immersion celebrating the local commercial fishermen and area seafood heritage. The festival offers opportunities to meet watermen and see the tools of their trade, including boats, crab pots, and pound nets. You’ll find cooking demonstrations, educational booths and, best of all, the chance to eat fresh, local seafood from more than a dozen restaurants.
If people aren’t talking about our breweries or fresh seafood, then the next hot topic is breakfast. Duck Donuts pride themselves on having the freshest donuts around. Originating in Duck, North Carolina, the restaurant has franchised to Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Corolla, and numerous locations in Delaware, New Jersey, and Virginia. Their donuts are fried in soy-based shortening and covered in your choice of toppings, which range from peanuts to coconut to powdered sugar and a smorgasbord of glazes. One specialty that has customers drooling is the Maple-Iced Bacon Donut. Additionally, they offer premium coffee, freshly baked muffins, sandwiches, and fruit.
Orange Blossom Bakery and Café, located in Buxton, is also known for delectable breakfast sweets. They open their doors from spring through fall each year. When they do, lines trail out the door for their “Apple Uglies.” This treat is an unsightly, yet mouth-watering fritter that’s either baked or fried, and is roughly the size of your face. They also serve up single- and double-dip donuts that can be enjoyed with organic coffee, piping hot sandwiches on homemade Italian bread and a wide range of other delicious baked goods.
For discriminating palates and pocketbooks, Outer Banks restaurants serve a variety of fare: Southwestern, steakhouse, buffet, grills and pubs, and cross-cultural cuisine. And yes, you’ll find North Carolina Southern-style barbecue and fresh seafood harvested earlier that morning by an Outer Banks fisherman, working the waters as his or her grandfather and father did generations before.
Discover more great culinary fare in Outer Banks.