As a chain of barrier islands, the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina are surrounded by water. Most of the time, this is a blessing for the popular vacation spot. It’s what draws the thousands of visitors each year to the OBX, from beachgoers and recreational boaters to windsurfers and anglers.
All of that water also means an abundance of fresh and delicious seafood, another major draw for many visitors. With so many restaurants to choose from, deciding where to eat in the Outer Banks can be overwhelming. But not to worry, just use this list as a guide on your next OBX visit. Not a fan of seafood? We’ve got you covered, as well!
This 4-Diamond restaurant in the town of Duck is part of the equally superb Sanderling Resort. Described as “upscale coastally casual”, Kimball’s Kitchen is a complete dining experience. Guests are treated to an unobstructed view of Currituck Sound while enjoying fresh, locally-caught seafood; certified Angus beef; an array of local oysters; and a Wine Spectator Award-winning wine list.
Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Cafe
Despite the full name of this establishment, Coastal Provisions in Southern Shores serves up plenty more than oysters and wine. It is a traditional sit-down restaurant that just happens to be located within a gourmet market. Oysters, wine, gourmet… it all can seem a bit stuffy. But that’s what Coastal Provisions is not. It is a lively place where guests can watch the day’s catch being carried in, and where the owner may join you at your table to explain all the different types of oysters available.
While seafood is the star of the show, there are other options, such as the Carolina BBQ pulled pork sandwich and the kale caprese salad. But if seafood is what you seek and you aren’t afraid of a little kick, go with the utterly delicious greentail shrimp tacos.
Wine, beer, cheese: The culinary holy trinity happens to be Trio’s specialty. Similar to Coastal Provisions, Trio is part gourmet market and part casual eatery. But there is nothing casual about the cheese selection, the wine list, the rotating beer taps, and the deliciousness of it all. With small bites and full meals on offer, ranging from standards to inventive takes on comfort foods, Trio really does have something for everyone.
And do not be intimidated should you not have a vast knowledge of beer, wine, and cheese. The staff at Trio takes care to explain their selections and help guests choose food and drinks that are right for them.
Sam & Omie’s
This place has been around for decades – 7, to be exact – so they’ve got to be doing something right. It’s also where OBX fishermen would fill up in the morning before heading out for the day’s catch. The nautical and beach atmosphere still thrives at Sam & Omie’s and the food is still solid and hearty. While it did have its beginning as a breakfast joint, these days Sam & Omie’s serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.
Expect the usual favorites but some with an OBX twist, like crab benedict for breakfast. Families cannot go wrong with a meal at Sam & Omie’s!
O’Neal’s Sea Harvest
O’Neal’s website states, “Skip the middle men. Come to O’Neal’s Sea Harvest and get your seafood where it is caught, cleaned, and cooked.” That is exactly what happens at O’Neal’s. The casual eatery is right on the docks of Wanchese Harbor and directly behind it is the fish house. Inside are rows of tanks containing fresh-caught fish about to be harvested and cleaned. Much of O’Neal’s inventory is available for wholesale but a good portion of it ends up inside the restaurant. Diners peruse the coolers and learn about the day’s specials, step up to the counter to order, and their selection is prepared on the spot.
It really doesn’t get any fresher than that! Among O’Neal’s specialties are yellow fin tuna, red drum, blue crabs, shrimp, and scallops.
Diamond Shoals Restaurant
A local described this place as “the most underrated restaurant on the OBX”, and there are many who would agree. Diamond Shoals Restaurant is known for its chowder but it’s the friendly atmosphere and daily fresh offerings that keep folks coming back. It could also be the sushi. That’s right, Diamond Shoals has its very own sushi bar, complete with neon “sushi” sign, which may surprise some visitors. Along with the fresh catches of the daily, there is also a daily sushi roll special. Kind of quirky, but everything at Diamond Shoals is exceptionally fresh and delicious!
Although there are locations in many states across the country, a visit to the OBX is not complete without a stop at Duck Donuts, where it all started. Not only are the warm and gooey donuts magically delightful, they’re also unique. Guests select their donut toppings from standards like chocolate icing, to more adventurous combinations like maple bacon or S’mores. Be sure to get at least a half-dozen for your crew because it’s impossible to eat just one Duck Donut!
Article written by Francesca Mazurkiewicz of The Working Moms Travels.
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