Drawing from the fish and seafood bounty of the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound as well as the sweet and savory traditions of the South, you can delightfully eat your way from one end of these barrier islands to the other.
If you want to start big, order the Wanchese Fishermans’ Risotto from the Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk. Loaded with scallops, shrimp, jumbo lump crabmeat and bacon, word is that this creamy dish is one of celebrity Chef Guy Fieri’s favorites.
You have to experience a raw or a steam bar when on OBX. Belly up to the bar at Awful Arthur’s in Kill Devil Hills, watch the shucking frenzy and slurp down your oysters with a swill of chilled white wine. More tastes of the surf may be enjoyed at I Got Your Crabs, a locally-owned seafood market and steam bar in Kitty Hawk that not surprisingly specializes in Carolina crabs. You can also buy crabs and oysters here to prepare at home.
Make sure you hit some of the many excellent fish and seafood markets on the Outer Banks and pick up some tuna or mahi to grill back at your place. Billy’s on Colington Island is one of many small markets that sell super fresh fish and seafood from local waters. Food Lion, the large grocery stores on the Outer Banks, also showcase a good selection of local seafood, fish, produce and more.
Just about every other place on OBX serves fried shrimp and scallops. Enjoy a paper boatload-full on the deck at FatBoyz Ice Cream & Grill in Nags Head. Go early to beat the evening ice cream line. You can enjoy other yummy milky confections at Big Buck’s Homemade Ice Cream, which has a bucketload of locations on the Outer Banks.
If North Carolina barbecue makes your mouth water, you will want to stop at Currituck BBQ on the Currituck Mainland. This family-owned business is a local's favorite, specializing in hickory-smoked, slow-cooked pork barbecue, beef brisket, pork ribs and BBQ chicken. Home-cooked sides include hushpuppies, onion rings, sweet potato casserole, baked beans, coleslaw, green beans, potato salad and macaroni and cheese. Save room for cobbler, bread pudding or banana pudding. Dogs are welcome at the outdoor pavilion.
Down by Cape Hatteras in Buxton, you might want to relish a Tanqueray and tonic on the deck of the Sandbar & Grille as you watch the sun set over Pamlico Sound. Dinner here is worth the trip as well.
You have to start the day with a good breakfast and no one does eggs over easier than the Jolly Roger Restaurant & Bar at Kill Devil Hills. Be sure to say hello to the owner–she’s quite the character.
Donuts count as a breakfast food although fortunately it’s totally OK to eat them all day long, especially when you’re in the Carolinas. You can hit Duck Donuts in Duck, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. Favorite flavors include fried chicken, hush puppies, corn bread and collard greens. Just kidding! But they do showcase some pretty interesting varieties and some seem to have a twang southern enough to go well with a frosty beer, the beverage of choice on OBX.