Top 7 Restaurants to Visit in Outer Banks

Welcome to a place where the sun paints the sky a delicate pink, where the waves kiss your feet, and where the salty ocean breeze whispers stories of yesteryears—the Outer Banks (OBX) in North Carolina. This long string of sand-swept peninsulas and barrier islands offers visitors not just a glimpse, but a panoramic view of Mother Nature’s breathtaking beauty. From the scenic beaches that change their shape with each passing tide to the lush wildlife refuges serving as sanctuaries for thousands of species.

Yet, when speaking of the Outer Banks, one cannot ignore another element that churns the wheels of sensory delight—the culinary scene. The OBX can easily claim its rightful place in the annals of American culinary folklore, and for anyone visiting this corner of the world, the journey is every bit as exciting and diverse as the OBX coastline.

Enriched by the ocean’s bounty and flavored by Southern traditions, the offerings range from the robust simplicity of Carolina-style barbecue to the finesse of meticulously plated seafood. The Outer Banks is a celebration of food where traditional recipes passed down through generations marry innovation, painting a vibrant culinary landscape.

So, all food connoisseurs and beach lovers, get ready to grab your appetite and venture on this epicurean journey across the Outer Banks. Let’s explore the top restaurants that are not only stirring the pots and the pans but also stirring the culinary scene. Uncover the stories they tell through their cuisine, right here in OBX!

Blue Moon Beach Grill

What does Blue Moon Beach Grill have to offer? Nothing short of excellence. Known far and wide for its innovative twist on traditional Southern fare, this OBX gem perfectly marries culinary creativity with the riches of the local seas. Their menu – a symphony of flavorful dishes – sings the praises of the sea. From the freshest catch of the day to shrimp pulled right out of the Atlantic, the dining experience here is an immersion into the rich and diverse marine life surrounding the Outer Banks.

Among the shining stars on the menu that have garnered awards and won hearts over the years are their standout seafood dishes. The Shrimp & Grits and the Caribbean Pulled Pork Sandwich are not just meals, they’re gastronomic adventures. Brewed in the pot of their award-winning kitchen, these dishes honor the essence of the keys—the unique taste profile of shrimps sautéed to perfection, combined with the creamy texture of the grits, and pulled pork served with a unique and zestful Caribbean twist.

But food is not the only thing the Blue Moon Beach Grill is loved for; the vibrant spirit of Southern hospitality makes each visit a delightful experience. The friendly staff, the inviting atmosphere, and the outdoor area where you can bring you pup, make the Blue Moon Beach Grill more than just a restaurant.

Owen’s Restaurant

Owen's Restaurant

Nestled in the heart of Nags Head, Owens’ Restaurant stands tall as a testament to the power of family and tradition. Since its doors first opened in 1946, Owens’ has been the only OBX restaurant to pass through four generations of family ownership, cultivating not just sumptuous meals but also cherished memories. As you embark on a remarkable dining experience at Owens’, you can feel the decades of heartfelt service, dedication to preserving Southern culinary culture, and the unwavering commitment to quality ingredients.

Owens’ Restaurant is committed to serving the freshest, local seafood and incorporating the rich flavors of Coastal South cuisine. Their extensive menu flaunts an inspiring selection of seafood dishes, mouth-watering steaks, tender ribs, and delightful homemade desserts. Fresh off the boat, their seafood and shellfish offerings never fail to impress, and the succulent, tender-aged Angus beef dishes stand out as heartwarming classics.

Whether it’s a family gathering or an intimate evening for two, Owens’ Restaurant guarantees memories that will last a lifetime. Experience the best of fine dining, Southern heritage, and authentic hospitality with Owens’—the crown jewel of Nags Head and the Outer Banks culinary scene. Discover the magic by visiting their website or stepping into their legendary restaurant on your next visit to OBX.

Kill Devil Grill 

Experience the coastal vibes and epic flavors at Kill Devil Grill, right in the heart of Kill Devil Hills. Known for its unique blend of comfort-food classics and fresh seafood dishes, this thriving diner has established itself as a must-visit culinary spot in the Outer Banks.

Kill Devil Grill takes pride in its inclusive and diverse menu. As well as serving up some of the most killer burgers in town, they offer a variety of fresh and locally sourced seafood options, a homage to the vast bounty that the surrounding Atlantic waters provide. Each dish receives a Southern twist, melding traditional flavors with creative culinary techniques, resulting in a wild array of American classics and unique sea treasures.

Their commitment to “top-notch quality and spreading good vibes” is evident in the dining experience they provide. The restaurant sports a laid-back, beach-style atmosphere perfectly embodying the attitude of the Outer Banks. Here, you’ll find yourself surrounded by friendly faces, a family-like atmosphere, and, of course, fantastic food.

Basnight’s Lone Cedar

Poised beautifully on the shores of Roanoke Sound, Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe cannot be overlooked during any culinary excursion in the Outer Banks (OBX). With a history that breathes through the place, this restaurant dishes out authentic coastal cuisine that captivates every diner.

Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe is more than a restaurant – it’s an embodiment of a rich and enduring heritage, born from a family intent on preserving and presenting the authentic flavors of OBX. This passion has been passed down through generations of Basnights, who continue to channel their love for their land, their produce, and their tagline – “Quality Fresh Local”.

The menu, brimming with coastal bounty and delightful dishes, is a testament to their unwavering commitment to local sources. Every plate that exits their kitchen proudly showcases only the freshest of seafood, plucked from local North Carolina waters and served with homegrown vegetables, picked straight from North Carolina farms. The seafood finds its way from the ocean to the dock and right onto your plates, ensuring true freshness.

With seafood as the protagonist on the menu, they excel in presenting an array of dishes that cater to all taste buds. Whether it’s fresh fish, clams, crab, or oysters, Basnight’s is the quintessential place to savor it all. The dining experience, however, is not confined to the table, but extends to the picturesque waterfront views offered by the restaurant. While dining, guests can also enjoy gorgeous sunsets and panoramic water views, that enhance the overall dining experience to a whole new level.

Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe beautifully strikes a balance of preserving culinary heritage while adding a pinch of innovation. It’s not just about food; it’s also about the experience, the ambiance, the Southern hospitality, and the richness of the Outer Banks history that you soak up with every visit. Indulge in this locally-sourced dining experience rounded off with idyllic views of the picturesque Roanoke Sound.

For the freshest local seafood and homegrown vegetables, Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe is an absolute must on your OBX culinary tour. With generations of history served on each plate, this restaurant remains a beacon of tradition, quality, and freshness in OBX. 

The Saltbox Café

In the heart of beautiful Colington Island, nestled amidst the gentle sway of North Carolina’s natural landscape, you’ll find the Saltbox Cafe. Established in 2014, this family-owned and chef-driven cafe has etched a significant mark on the OBX culinary landscape. Renowned for its mouthwatering dishes and tranquil views of Colington Creek, the Saltbox Cafe is a getaway to the heart and soul of Southern Coastal Cuisine.

Owned and operated by seasoned chefs Randolph and Amanda Sprinkle, the Saltbox Cafe has earned its stripes for imaginative dishes and trusted classics that cater to every palate. The owners’ culinary expertise and passion are evident in every dish, setting this small yet enchanting cafe apart from the crowd.

The menu at the Saltbox Cafe is a culinary journey through the riches of the ocean, the earth, and the Southern tradition. With an unwavering commitment to using fresh, local ingredients, the restaurant serves a plethora of delectable treats. From local seafood specialties to the freshest of meats and produce, every meal is a nod to the bounty of the region.

The Saltbox Cafe also pays homage to Southern heritage with a dash of Southern flavor in their dishes. Whether it’s through the generous use of spices or the incorporation of traditional cooking techniques, that distinct Southern essence lingers on your palate with every bite. But the culinary masterpiece does not stop at main dishes. They also impress with a delightful Sunday brunch that gives late risers a perfect reason to get out of bed.

But the magic of Saltbox Cafe doesn’t end with the menu. The serene setting amplifies the dining experience. Whether you’re savoring your food inside the charming cottage-style cafe or dining al fresco on the porch (open Easter weekend through October, weather permitting), you’re treated to peaceful views of Colington Creek. This scenic backdrop lends a tranquil ambiance that perfectly complements your dining experience.

Thai Room Restaurant

Thai Room Restaurant stands as a revered emblem of authentic Thai cuisine on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. With over three decades of culinary expertise, Thai Room has consistently charmed locals and visitors with its inviting ambiance, memorable service, and above all, its distinctive Thai flavors.

From the kitchen comes an array of captivating dishes, with each recipe honoring the time-tested traditions of Thai cooking. Patrons relish favorites such as shrimp pad Thai along with seasonal specialties featuring whole fish and crabs. For the discerning palate, the restaurant provides vegetarian and gluten-free selections, not letting dietary preferences hinder a culinary exploration of Thai cuisine.

A delightful children’s menu caters to younger guests, ensuring a family-friendly dining experience. Keen to keep the culinary journey refreshed, Thai Room features daily specials — a golden opportunity for guests to discover new flavors or enjoy discounted favorites.

Thai Room’s effort to create an authentic Thai dining experience has not gone unnoticed. Voted the Best Outer Banks Thai Restaurant in local polls consistently, this haven is both a local favorite and a destination for food connoisseurs.

Josphine’s Sicilian Kitchen 

You’ll discover the distinctive flavors of Italy at Josephine’s Sicilian Kitchen. Towering as the only authentic Italian restaurant in the region, it’s here that you are treated to a memorable dining experience rooted in Sicilian tradition.

Standing as the proud restaurant owner and chef, Josephine Caggese hails originally from Sicily and carries decades of culinary experience under her belt. Josephine extends her love for her native cuisine through her vibrant dishes that pack a punch of authentic Italian taste. Her passion for cooking is evident in each plate, and the joy of sharing this gustatory delight with friends and family inspires her culinary creations.

Josephine’s Sicilian Kitchen boasts a dynamic menu that keeps the dining experience fresh and exciting. Updated weekly, it features a blend of favored Italian classics alongside innovative Italian creations, promising every meal is a unique culinary journey. From robust pasta dishes to flavorful antipasti and decadent desserts, the rotating menu keeps diners coming back for a new taste of Italy each week.

Beyond welcoming you to dine in their restaurant, Josephine’s Sicilian Kitchen extends the authentic Italian experience to your special occasions. Offering a catering menu that features the same beloved Italian meals, they provide the opportunity to bring a slice of Italy to your event.

Come Taste Your Way Through the OBX and Stay with Beach Retreats

From the tastes of the sea at Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe, the Southern delights at the Saltbox Cafe, authentic Thai cuisine at Thai Room Restaurant, to the mouthwatering Sicilian dishes at Josephine’s Sicilian Kitchen—there’s no doubt that the Outer Banks is a melting pot of unique dining experiences. 

In choosing to stay with Beach Retreats, you’ll be at an advantage, as you’ll be treated to comfortable accommodations and outstanding hospitality while remaining closely connected to these culinary gems. Our distinctive properties located in Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills, allow you to create an unforgettable Outer Banks vacation that caters to your tastes and preferences.

Our inns and motels promise first-class amenities such as a daily housekeeping service, free Wi-Fi, onsite pools, air conditioning, and free parking. To make your stay even more enjoyable, you can benefit from complimentary bikes provided by our First Colony Inn location allowing you to explore your surroundings while relishing the local culinary scene.

If you’re traveling with your dog, rest assured that some of our properties have pet-friendly rooms, including Tar Heel Motel – Nags Head  and the See Sea Motel -Kill Devil Hills

Embrace the opportunity to create memories filled with flavor and relaxation when you stay with Beach Retreats during your Outer Banks dining escapades.

Bon appétit, and welcome to the Outer Banks!