Outer Banks Restaurants – Christina’s Recommendations
By Christina Calvino
There are many, many dining establishments on the Outer Banks. In fact, too many for you to try each one while on vacation. If you are looking for a break from the usual Outback Steakhouses and Dairy Queens you can enjoy in Anytown, USA, here are a few of my top picks.
For a remote area and small-town feel, the Outer Banks still manages to have their fair share of fine dining restaurants and cafes. Taking advantage of the great seafood and local produce in the area, they cook up delicious meals. If you have a special night planned during your vacation, put on your dressy casual attire, and indulge yourself with an exquisite meal.
I recommend, from north to south, Elizabeth’s Café and Winery, Colington Café, JKs Restaurant, or Owen’s Restaurant. Elizabeth’s Café and Winery is located in Scarborough Faire Shopping Village in Duck. It is the most expensive of my picks, you can order a la carte, or prix fixe. Their numerous awards and merits speak for themselves. Colington Café is a local’s secret, tucked one mile down Colington Road’s curvy path. In an old Victorian house, under 300+ year old live oak trees, they are not lacking any charm or beauty. JKs Restaurant, located at MP 9, has great steaks and seafood, but are famous for their ribs. I might be biased because ribs are a favorite of mine, but I have traveled and dined across all of North America and nothing I’ve tasted compares to JK’s Ribs. They are that good. Owen’s Restaurant, at MP 16.5, has been charming locals and visitors since 1946. They offer delicious seafood, including a lobster dinner, and also have a beautiful gift shop to browse.
If you came to the beach to kick back and relax, there are also a lot of casual dining restaurants for your pleasure. My favorites over the years have been Rundown Café, John’s Drive-In, Henrys, and The Good Life Gourmet, again north to south. At MP 1, Rundown Café is brightly colored and “beachy,” with a second story view of the ocean. Their menu features unique items with Caribbean and summer inspired tastes. John’s Drive-In is at MP 4.75, directly across the street from the ocean. It’s not unusual to see bathing suit clad patrons walking from the beach, as parking is somewhat difficult. I have never ordered something I did not love at John’s, from food to milkshakes. Henry’s Restaurant, just north of MP 5, is a very “homey” restaurant. The waitresses all have southern charm and you are served a lot of food for not a lot of money. Their breakfasts are a local favorite, but lunches and dinners are also great! At MP 7, the Good Life Gourmet is a surprising treat in the Belk Shopping Center. Lunch or dinner at the bistro-style restaurant is delicious, and they also offer fresh baked goods and catering.
I don’t know about your family, but mine loves dessert. After a long day on a hot beach, it is great to take a shower, eat, and then head out for a cold treat. For those of you vacationing on the northern beaches, Hawaiian Island Sno-Balls is great for the whole family. Located just across from Scarborough Faire in Duck, they offer everything from coffee shop treats, to milkshakes and ice cream, to handmade sno-balls. If you are staying along the southern beaches, MP 12 is home to The Snow Bird. They also offer food, but I have only visited for their over 24 flavors of soft serve ice cream. Brightly colored benches and tables are set up outside to enjoy your treats, just walking distance from the ocean.
I can only suggest these restaurants from personal preference and visits. As a local I have avoided the more tourist-oriented restaurants, but you might find they are exactly what you are looking for on vacation. There are plenty of restaurant guides and catalogs full of reviews and coupons for you to decide your own dining favorites!