I’ve asked Tara, a year round resident, to give us her list of favorite Outer Banks restaurants. Here is a brief background on Tara:
Originally from Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks is where I and all other VB natives actually liked to come to the beach and vacation. I began coming to the Outer Banks when I was practically just born and old enough for my mother to throw me in a bikini and plop me down on a towel for hours on end. So, I guess you could say my love affair with this place has been instilled in me since birth. I have so many wonderful memories of renting cottages with my family growing up, fishing with my grandfather, boogie boarding with my uncle, going to the amusement park at Dowdys and most of all, just slowing down and doing things like picking crabs and snapping green beans on the porch with a sunburn and my grandmother laughing and talking about nothing really important. This, to me, is the beauty of the OBX. It really does make you slow down and do things that we often forget to do in our busy lives like relax and not take life too seriously.
When my husband and I became engaged ten years ago we decided to make the move and have never looked back. The Outer Banks is so beautiful but what we love the most, is the people, the sense of community and the simplicity and quality of life we are so blessed to have found here.
Outer Banks Restaurant: Rundown Café
Location: Kitty Hawk NC
Number of Times Been There: At least 50
Reservations recommended: no
Rundown Cafe is a casual restaurant located around mile post 1 1/2 on the Beach Road with a Pacific Rim/Surf theme. It's very popular with both locals and visitors and features a dining room on the first floor, a spacious bar upstairs and last but not least, the best part-a small upstairs deck overlooking the Beach Road and the Ocean. It's one of the very few places on the Outer Banks where you can sit outside, look at our gorgeous Ocean and sip on a margarita, which if I didn't mention, just may be one of my all time favorite past-times.
The food here is great, the service is outstanding and the prices are extremely reasonable (most everything around $9-12). I can highly recommend; conch fritters, any seafood special, the seafood salads, burgers, the French fries and my favorite, the fish tacos. Portions are large and the food is fresh, healthy and well-presented. The owner, Michael is friendly and is often in house making sure everyone is happy, as is the accommodating wait staff. The burgers are excellent, as are the ribs - when they are on special. This is the place to come for fantastic food without having to change out of your swim trunks, flip flops and t-shirt while enjoying a beautiful view.
Outer Banks Restaurant: Black Pelican Oceanfront Restaurant
Location: Kitty Hawk
Number of Times Been There: 10-20
Reservations recommended: no
Black Pelican is a cafe-style restaurant on the Beach Road at Mile Post 4. This is a must-go to on the Outer Banks if you are a visitor. Not only is the food fantastic, the selection huge, but this is a very historic building. This building was constructed in 1874 and was used as one of seven local Lifesaving Stations and also a weather bureau. It's the building where the Wright Brothers sent a telegraph of their success after their first flight. The part I find most intriguing though, is that the building is supposedly haunted-I have heard many stories from employees about unexplained late night strange happenings in the kitchen. I don't plan on ever being around that late to find out-but it makes for a good story!
The food here is simple yet consistently excellent. The chef runs about five lunch and dinner specials daily from seafood to pasta. The seafood served is all local and the wood fired pizzas are to die for. They also have a wide variety of appetizers & specialty salads. My favorite dishes here are the Oysters Orville, the Oriental Salad with Blackened Salmon, any steamed seafood or daily special, the shrimp and grits and most of all, the Primivera pizza. The desserts are simply decadent as well and they have them all displayed as you walk in so if you have a sweet tooth, you have no chance in this place.
The atmosphere is, like most places on the Outer Banks, casual. They have a cozy fireplace lit in the dining room in the winter time which, along with the dark wood interior, is so inviting. They also open a second floor deck overlooking the Ocean in the summer with a somewhat disappointing limited menu but it's a nice place to go and have a cold beer.
Outer Banks Restaurant: Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar
Location: Kitty Hawk
Number of Times Been There: 50
Reservations recommended: yes
Looking for an upscale dinner in downtown Kitty Hawk? Well, this is your place. Quality, creative food in a martini bar/bistro atmosphere makes Ocean Boulevard one of the best Outer Banks restaurants down here. A seasonal menu featuring tastes and ingredients freshest that time of year is one of the things I love most about this place.
The dining room is dimly lit with white table clothes, a small upstairs holds several private tables and an outdoor floor level patio is a great place to have a glass of vino in the evening overlooking the Beach Road. OB as locals call it, has a lively social scene with a concrete bar serves a variety of specialty martinis. They serve up live jazz every Friday evening year round with those great martinis as well.
The menu here is a little pricey, with most entrees ranging from $23-$27 but trust me, splurge if you must-it will be well worth it. My favorite dishes are the roasted garlic/goats cheese appetizer, the veal short ribs, rack of lamb with pancetta & white truffle oil, any filet of beef and the scallops with ravioli. Everything is good here-the atmosphere, the food, the wine and the music. If it's Friday night and you want to go out and feel like it's Friday night, this is the place you need to be.
Not quite what you are looking for? Try these Outer Banks restaurant recommendations: