One of the things that brings us back to OBX is the food, and particularly the fish. We love living in the Blue Ridge, but we miss fresh fish. And the Outer Banks is a great place for that.
Disclaimers: First, neither of us is a super-taster, gourmet, or food critic. Second, we have only eaten at a few of the many restaurants on OBX, and those mostly in the northern end. So other people will have different lists. But the places we recommend here are among our favorites so far, where we have eaten multiple times, and we are confident that you will have a good meal there. I will add to the list as we find new places, particularly further south. The restaurants below are arranged north to south and all but the first are along Virginia Dare Trail. Unless otherwise noted all are open year round.
Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar and Wine Bar Café
This was our discovery for this trip. Coastal Provisions is at 1 0ceean Blvd., Southern Shores, just north of the Rt. 158 bridge. From the south go straight at the road junction where Rt. 158 turns off to the mainland and turn left into the first driveway. We stopped there to get a picnic lunch on our way to the Whalehead Club. We decided to go back that night for dinner and had a pleasant time.
Coastal Provisions is a combination seaside fresh fish deli, wine shop, and informal restaurant. While most dining places on OBX tend to be atmospheric, Coastal Provisions has a clean, minimalist look, with tables among the wine racks. As the name implies, the main attraction is the oysters, and it serves several varieties from Rhode Island to Florida. It sells them half price on Wednesdays. It also has a nice selection of fresh fish, which they butcher to order at the deli counter. And it has a very wide selection of wine, both for consuming with dinner and taking back to your accommodations or picnic. It is definitely on our list for future visits, both for eating out and getting fresh fish to cook in our timeshare.
The Black Pelican
The Black Pelican, at milepost 4 is the most interesting and historic place to eat at on OBX. The core of the building was the original Kitty Hawk life saving station. The entry is the telegraph office from which the Wright Brothers sent their famous message announcing the first successful heavier than air flight. The walls are covered with an amazing collection of historic photographs, starting with one of the Wright Brothers and including ship wrecks, lifesaving crews, and hurricane damage. Even its name is historic, a reference to a local belief that a black pelican will sometimes appear to warn the fishermen of a coming storm.
This is also the most formal dining lace we eat at usually on OBX. The menu features fresh fish as well as steaks and other normal restaurant fare. But the thing to get there is the Nagano Tuna, slabs of raw sashimi tuna arranged around a core of Asian slaw. With all the terrific fresh tuna on OBX, this still manages to be special. We usually save it for our last night. And the cater events.
Located at milepost 7 on the Virginia Dare Trail, across from the Golden Strand timeshare, Goombays Grill and Raw Bar is small, pleasant neighborhood bar with a touch of humor. It caters to a mix of visitors and local residents. Many places on OBX aspire to “atmosphere”. Goombays succeeds with an unpretentious but real feeling, a place where Ishmael and Queequeg might drop in for a glass. The food is very good. My favorite is the tuna Reuben. Have it with a glass of Spaceman Spiff.
The Kill Devil Grill
The Kill Devil Grill (www.thekilldevilgrill.com), located at milepost 9.75 in Kill Devil Hills, across the street from the John Yancey Inn, is one of the best places to eat on the Outer Banks. From the road it looks like a roadside diner, and it maintains that atmosphere inside. The bar takes up the diner portion with the dining booths and the kitchen in an addition in back. It specializes in fresh caught fish. The menu changes daily but is always creative and delicious. We like to sit at the bar where we can have interesting conversations. Get there early, the specials sell out almost every night, but they always have something to serve you, and it is always excellent. The atmosphere is informal and friendly. It is closed Sundays and Mondays in winter.
Tortuga’s Lie Shellfish Bar & Grill at mile post 11, focused on Caribbean cooking and was on Guy Fieri’s “Drive-Ins & Dives”. It is a small, packed crowded place with lots of atmosphere and great fish. It does take-out when it isn’t too busy. It has an excellent fish taco, but we prefer the fish burrito, which is usually fresh tuna. Definitely sit at the bar if you can. The porch in front has picnic table seating, which can get uncomfortable when you are waiting for your dinner. It is friendly and informal, as are most places on the Outer Banks.
Fat Boyz Ice Cream & Grill at milepost 16.2 looks like what it is, an old fashioned, wooden beach ice cream stand, with outdoor seating. Open from May through September, it is almost directly across Virginia Dare Trail from Jennette’s Pier. Two things make this a go to place for lunch: the crab cakes and the tuna sandwich. The former is all crab, and the latter is a block of fresh grilled tuna in a roll. All seating is al fresco, at wood tables on the porch, which is roofed over so you can eat there on a rainy day. It also has excellent ice cream.
All of these restaurants do serve other things besides fish. But we can get steak at home, so we eat fish at OBX. Enjoy.