clock menu more-arrow no yes
Pan-seared scallops with sauteed spinach and brown butter sauce at Nags Head standby, Owens.
Owens [Official photo]

The 16 Essential Restaurants in the Outer Banks

Find raw seafood, smoky barbecue, bacon-topped doughnuts, and more along North Carolina’s band of beach towns

View as Map
Pan-seared scallops with sauteed spinach and brown butter sauce at Nags Head standby, Owens.
| Owens [Official photo]

For many in the D.C. area, vacationing in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is second nature.

The welcoming beach community draws in everyone from recent college graduates to extended families who’ve made a tradition of relaxing together by windswept milepost markers. Some choose to load up on seasonal offerings at roadside markets stocked with feisty blue crabs, plump tomatoes, and ears of crisp corn. Others let dune buggy-driving pizza delivery guys worry about taking care of dinner at homes found on secluded stretches of off road-only properties. But stepping out for a bite (or drink ) can also be fun.

Here are 16 bars, restaurants, and sweets shops in the Outer Banks’ northern beaches to keep everyone happy while away from home.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Lighthouse Bagels

Copy Link
807 Ocean Trail
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-9998
Visit Website

It’s no New York, but the Outer Banks has at least one decent destination for bagels. Lighthouse offers the obvious, plus bagel sandwiches stuffed with deli meat or salads. This place is a good option for an early breakfast or a post-bike ride lunch.

Bagels from Lighthouse
Lighthouse Bagels/Facebook

2. Big Buck's (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
Timbuck 11 Shopping Center, 785 Sunset Blvd #794
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-3188
Visit Website

That saying about feeling like a kid in a candy store could easily have been coined by a regular at Big Buck’s. The local sweets shop serves over four dozen flavors of ice cream, ranging from traditional (chocolate, vanilla, rum raisin) to trendy (cookie dough, peanut butter cup, hazelnut capuccino). Still hungry? Try a nut-covered banana split, mango smoothie, coconut-chocolate chip cake, chocolate-dipped strawberries, or any of the other sugary treats offered within.

Assorted desserts at Big Buck’s.
Big Buck’s/Facebook

3. North Banks Restaurant & Raw Bar

Copy Link
794 Sunset Boulevard G
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-3344
Visit Website

Located inside an expansive shopping center in Corolla, North Banks is kind of a hidden gem. Here, surf and turf, crab mac and cheese, fried oysters, and snow crab legs are on the menu; the setting is casual and nautically themed.

Surf and Turf from North Banks
North Banks/Facebook

4. Paper Canoe

Copy Link
1564 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 715-2220
Visit Website

This waterfront restaurant feels like a neighborhood haunt, with locals packing into the place just as much as tourists to eat pizzas, shrimp and grits, seared steaks and daily specials. Reservations are recommended since it gets crowded quickly, though the bar can usually accommodate some walk-ins.

A saucy shrimp dish at Paper Canoe.
Paper Canoe [Official photo]

5. The Blue Point

Copy Link
1240 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 261-8090
Visit Website

Inside, find one of Duck’s fancier dining destinations, serving eclectic dishes such as shrimp ramen bowls, grilled pork chops, and braised short ribs. But the outside Backbar is where the party’s at: find live music, a place to watch the sunset, and plenty of cocktails.

The BackBar at The Blue Point
The Blue Point/Facebook

6. Dockside N' Duck Seafood Market

Copy Link
1216 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 261-8687
Visit Website

Most visitors to Outer Banks rent a house for their stay, so odds are they’re cooking some meals at home. A festive approach is to pick up a carryout seafood boil featuring crabs, corn, shrimp: the works. Seafood market Dockside N’ Duck offers these, along with plenty of other fish and shellfish items. Cravings, also in Duck, sells them as well.

Dockside N’ Duck in Duck
Dockside N’ Duck/Facebook

7. Roadside Bar & Grill

Copy Link
1193 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 261-5729
Visit Website

A chill place to grab an outdoor drink in downtown Duck, the Roadside also has spicy peel-and-eat shrimp, steamed clams, and some less-expected items like pimento cheese toasts. The front porch is usually hopping; find a fun bar area behind the restaurant with outdoor games and live music during warmer months.

The front porch area of Roadside
The Roadside/Facebook

8. Duck Donuts (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
1190 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 480-3304
Visit Website

Due to its massive expansion, Duck Donuts is now practically a household name on the East Coast these days. But it got its start in the Outer Banks, and morning crowds at the original have only grown, so show up early. Fried homemade doughnuts are topped with everything from sprinkles to flavored drizzles, with combinations like lemon-coconut and maple-bacon drawing in fans. There are some seasonal varieties, too.

Doughnuts from Duck Donuts
Duck Donuts/Facebook

9. Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Cafe

Copy Link
1 Ocean Blvd
Southern Shores, NC 27949
(252) 480-0023
Visit Website

This decade-old seafood market and wine bar prides itself on serving the freshest oysters available on the East Coast; its daily offerings include local oysters, as well as specimens secured from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine. The briny beauties are served raw or steamed — or buried in the bottom of a boozy oyster shooter.

A variety of oyster shooters at Coastal Provisions.
Coastal Provisions [Official photo]

10. High Cotton

Copy Link
5230 N Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
(252) 255-2275
Visit Website

This homegrown barbecue restaurant serves pulled pork that’s cooked over smoldering hickory logs, meaty ribs rubbed with tangy-sweet spice rub, juicy chicken (roasted or fried), and spice-crusted brisket. There’s also bean-studded Brunswick stew, assorted combo plates, family-style meals, and gooey chess pie for dessert — all of which is available for dine-in or carryout.

Smoked ribs and sides at High Cotton.
Sky Y./Yelp

11. Black Pelican

Copy Link
3848 N Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
(252) 261-3171
Visit Website

This historic beachfront restaurant — in its previous life, the building housed a lifeguard station — can get as dressy or relaxed as visiting diners would like. Customers seated in the nautically themed dining room are welcome to dig into ahi tuna, bacon-wrapped scallops, and blue cheese-crusted NY strip, while those watching the sun go down from the enclosed patio are likely to favor steamed clams, crab-topped pizzas, and frosty pints of Bud Light.

A surf-and-turf pairing of NY strip and seared rockfish at Black Pelican.
Black Pelican/Facebook

12. Stack'em High (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
3801 N Croatan Hwy
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
(252) 261-8221
Visit Website

This local chain of daytime eateries has been squashing arguments about what’s for breakfast while at the beach for over 30 years. While it built its reputation as a pancake house, the restaurant now serves breakfast favorites ranging from Belgian waffles and Greek omelets layered with gyro meat to seasoned clams cooked with shredded potatoes and onions (clamhash, anyone?).

Assorted breakfast offerings at Stack‘em High.
Stack‘em High/Facebook

13. Outer Banks Brewing Station

Copy Link
600 S Croatan Hwy
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
(252) 449-2739
Visit Website

This award-winning local brewery typically features a dozen rotating drafts, mixing in its hoppy IPAs and distinctive oyster shell-spiked stouts with regional ciders and funky imports. Dining options range from hot pretzels to peel-and-eat shrimp. There’s also a jazz brunch on Sundays, and live music throughout the week.

A range of draft beers at Outer Banks Brewing Station.
Outer Banks Brewing Station/Facebook

14. Kill Devil Grill

Copy Link
2008 S Virginia Dare Trail
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
(252) 449-8181
Visit Website

This diner-esque destination serves fine fish sandwiches, beer can shrimp, a crispy fried chicken dinner, plus everything from Key lime pie to cheesesteak egg rolls (better than they sound). Service is friendly and familiar.

Spicy peel-and-eat shrimp and cold beer at the come-as-you-are Kill Devil Grill.
Kill Devil Grill/Facebook

15. Tortugas’ Lie

Copy Link
3016 S Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, NC 27959
(252) 441-7299
Visit Website

This long-standing bar puts its stamp on beach dining by highlighting Caribbean fare such as conch fritters, coconut-crusted fried chicken, chile-glazed shrimp kebabs featuring pineapple and mixed peppers, and jerk-spiced pork chops. Locals are also served sushi one night a week during the off-season.

Fish tacos at Tortugas’ Lie.
Tortugas’ Lie/Facebook

16. Owens

Copy Link
9126, 7114 S Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, NC 27959
(252) 441-7309
Visit Website

This family-run restaurant has provided local diners with a mix of regional seafood dishes and modern American cooking for over 70 years. House specialties include sauteed jumbo lump crab cakes; shrimp sauteed with peppers and onions and layered over mascarpone grits; and zesty, crawfish-packed gumbo.

A shellfish-stocked bouillabaisse at Owens.
Owens [Official photo]

1. Lighthouse Bagels

807 Ocean Trail, Corolla, NC 27927
Bagels from Lighthouse
Lighthouse Bagels/Facebook

It’s no New York, but the Outer Banks has at least one decent destination for bagels. Lighthouse offers the obvious, plus bagel sandwiches stuffed with deli meat or salads. This place is a good option for an early breakfast or a post-bike ride lunch.

807 Ocean Trail
Corolla, NC 27927

2. Big Buck's (Multiple locations)

Timbuck 11 Shopping Center, 785 Sunset Blvd #794, Corolla, NC 27927
Assorted desserts at Big Buck’s.
Big Buck’s/Facebook

That saying about feeling like a kid in a candy store could easily have been coined by a regular at Big Buck’s. The local sweets shop serves over four dozen flavors of ice cream, ranging from traditional (chocolate, vanilla, rum raisin) to trendy (cookie dough, peanut butter cup, hazelnut capuccino). Still hungry? Try a nut-covered banana split, mango smoothie, coconut-chocolate chip cake, chocolate-dipped strawberries, or any of the other sugary treats offered within.

Timbuck 11 Shopping Center, 785 Sunset Blvd #794
Corolla, NC 27927

3. North Banks Restaurant & Raw Bar

794 Sunset Boulevard G, Corolla, NC 27927
Surf and Turf from North Banks
North Banks/Facebook

Located inside an expansive shopping center in Corolla, North Banks is kind of a hidden gem. Here, surf and turf, crab mac and cheese, fried oysters, and snow crab legs are on the menu; the setting is casual and nautically themed.

794 Sunset Boulevard G
Corolla, NC 27927

4. Paper Canoe

1564 Duck Rd, Duck, NC 27949
A saucy shrimp dish at Paper Canoe.
Paper Canoe [Official photo]

This waterfront restaurant feels like a neighborhood haunt, with locals packing into the place just as much as tourists to eat pizzas, shrimp and grits, seared steaks and daily specials. Reservations are recommended since it gets crowded quickly, though the bar can usually accommodate some walk-ins.

1564 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949

5. The Blue Point

1240 Duck Rd, Duck, NC 27949
The BackBar at The Blue Point
The Blue Point/Facebook

Inside, find one of Duck’s fancier dining destinations, serving eclectic dishes such as shrimp ramen bowls, grilled pork chops, and braised short ribs. But the outside Backbar is where the party’s at: find live music, a place to watch the sunset, and plenty of cocktails.

1240 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949

6. Dockside N' Duck Seafood Market

1216 Duck Rd, Duck, NC 27949
Dockside N’ Duck in Duck
Dockside N’ Duck/Facebook

Most visitors to Outer Banks rent a house for their stay, so odds are they’re cooking some meals at home. A festive approach is to pick up a carryout seafood boil featuring crabs, corn, shrimp: the works. Seafood market Dockside N’ Duck offers these, along with plenty of other fish and shellfish items. Cravings, also in Duck, sells them as well.

1216 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949

7. Roadside Bar & Grill

1193 Duck Rd, Duck, NC 27949
The front porch area of Roadside
The Roadside/Facebook

A chill place to grab an outdoor drink in downtown Duck, the Roadside also has spicy peel-and-eat shrimp, steamed clams, and some less-expected items like pimento cheese toasts. The front porch is usually hopping; find a fun bar area behind the restaurant with outdoor games and live music during warmer months.

1193 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949

8. Duck Donuts (Multiple locations)

1190 Duck Rd, Duck, NC 27949
Doughnuts from Duck Donuts
Duck Donuts/Facebook

Due to its massive expansion, Duck Donuts is now practically a household name on the East Coast these days. But it got its start in the Outer Banks, and morning crowds at the original have only grown, so show up early. Fried homemade doughnuts are topped with everything from sprinkles to flavored drizzles, with combinations like lemon-coconut and maple-bacon drawing in fans. There are some seasonal varieties, too.

1190 Duck Rd
Duck, NC 27949

9. Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Cafe

1 Ocean Blvd, Southern Shores, NC 27949
A variety of oyster shooters at Coastal Provisions.
Coastal Provisions [Official photo]

This decade-old seafood market and wine bar prides itself on serving the freshest oysters available on the East Coast; its daily offerings include local oysters, as well as specimens secured from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine. The briny beauties are served raw or steamed — or buried in the bottom of a boozy oyster shooter.

1 Ocean Blvd
Southern Shores, NC 27949

10. High Cotton

5230 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
Smoked ribs and sides at High Cotton.
Sky Y./Yelp

This homegrown barbecue restaurant serves pulled pork that’s cooked over smoldering hickory logs, meaty ribs rubbed with tangy-sweet spice rub, juicy chicken (roasted or fried), and spice-crusted brisket. There’s also bean-studded Brunswick stew, assorted combo plates, family-style meals, and gooey chess pie for dessert — all of which is available for dine-in or carryout.

5230 N Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

11. Black Pelican

3848 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
A surf-and-turf pairing of NY strip and seared rockfish at Black Pelican.
Black Pelican/Facebook

This historic beachfront restaurant — in its previous life, the building housed a lifeguard station — can get as dressy or relaxed as visiting diners would like. Customers seated in the nautically themed dining room are welcome to dig into ahi tuna, bacon-wrapped scallops, and blue cheese-crusted NY strip, while those watching the sun go down from the enclosed patio are likely to favor steamed clams, crab-topped pizzas, and frosty pints of Bud Light.

3848 N Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

12. Stack'em High (Multiple locations)

3801 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
Assorted breakfast offerings at Stack‘em High.
Stack‘em High/Facebook

This local chain of daytime eateries has been squashing arguments about what’s for breakfast while at the beach for over 30 years. While it built its reputation as a pancake house, the restaurant now serves breakfast favorites ranging from Belgian waffles and Greek omelets layered with gyro meat to seasoned clams cooked with shredded potatoes and onions (clamhash, anyone?).

3801 N Croatan Hwy
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

13. Outer Banks Brewing Station

600 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
A range of draft beers at Outer Banks Brewing Station.
Outer Banks Brewing Station/Facebook

This award-winning local brewery typically features a dozen rotating drafts, mixing in its hoppy IPAs and distinctive oyster shell-spiked stouts with regional ciders and funky imports. Dining options range from hot pretzels to peel-and-eat shrimp. There’s also a jazz brunch on Sundays, and live music throughout the week.

600 S Croatan Hwy
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

14. Kill Devil Grill

2008 S Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
Spicy peel-and-eat shrimp and cold beer at the come-as-you-are Kill Devil Grill.
Kill Devil Grill/Facebook

This diner-esque destination serves fine fish sandwiches, beer can shrimp, a crispy fried chicken dinner, plus everything from Key lime pie to cheesesteak egg rolls (better than they sound). Service is friendly and familiar.

2008 S Virginia Dare Trail
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

15. Tortugas’ Lie

3016 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC 27959
Fish tacos at Tortugas’ Lie.
Tortugas’ Lie/Facebook

This long-standing bar puts its stamp on beach dining by highlighting Caribbean fare such as conch fritters, coconut-crusted fried chicken, chile-glazed shrimp kebabs featuring pineapple and mixed peppers, and jerk-spiced pork chops. Locals are also served sushi one night a week during the off-season.

3016 S Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, NC 27959

Related Maps

16. Owens

9126, 7114 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC 27959
A shellfish-stocked bouillabaisse at Owens.
Owens [Official photo]

This family-run restaurant has provided local diners with a mix of regional seafood dishes and modern American cooking for over 70 years. House specialties include sauteed jumbo lump crab cakes; shrimp sauteed with peppers and onions and layered over mascarpone grits; and zesty, crawfish-packed gumbo.

9126, 7114 S Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, NC 27959

Related Maps