We've been going to OBX for summer vacation for 6 years and have some favorites:
- Tortuga's Lie (Nag's Head): Our favorite OBX restaurant and the only restaurant we make sure to visit at least once per OBX stay. This is a casual restaurant where the food is consistently wonderful, the vibe is cool, and there is a volleyball court out back for casual games while you wait to be seated (there can be very long waits, especially for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays). We always end our meal with a purchase from the restaurant's small gift shop: bottles of the house Honey Habanero BBQ Sauce and the Habanero Peppa Sauce.
- Sam and Omie's (South Nags Head): Also casual. Reliably good for standard fare (burgers, salads, fish, etc.). Almost always a long wait for dinner during peak season.
- Morning View Coffee House & Roastery (Nags Head): A really neat coffee house with a cozy seating area. Great coffee and muffins. Not far from Jockey Ridge State Park, where we like to hike the dunes.
- Mama Kwan's (Kill Devil Hills): We went here for the first time this year (2017) on the recommendation of a kayak tour guide the previous year. She had recommended the fish tacos (blackened), and they were indeed wonderful. We also found the fish nachos to be exceptionally good. We will be returning next year! (Note: the same person also recommended Food Dudes, which we plan to try in the future.)
- Mama Easley's (Corolla): This was another first for us this year. The corn chowder, fish and chips, fried shrimp and fried green tomatoes were outstanding, as were the seasoned fries. We found it a little pricey for lunch, but well worth it.
- Big Buck's Ice Cream and Coffee Bar (Corolla): The home-made ice cream is delicious.
- O'Neal's Sea Harvest (Wanchese): A great seafood market and restaurant. We discovered this place last year after going on a kayak tour in Manteo and the restaurant wasn't serving yet, so we bought some really fresh and wonderful fish at the market and cooked it at our rental house. This year we timed our kayak tour (this time on the Alligator River) late enough so that we could have lunch at O'Neal's, and it was everything we expected (fresh and delicious). This seems to be a very popular spot for the locals, and it can get very busy at lunch time. (They are not open for dinner, nor are they open on Sundays.)
- Buxton Munch (Buxton): Truly a "Groovy Little Place with a Whole Lotta Taste!" as advertised on their website. We found this place for lunch after touring the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse a few years ago, and hope to make it back again some time. Fish tacos were excellent.
- That Good BBQ (Boston, VA): OK, this isn't an OBX restaurant, but we discovered it on our return trip from OBX, and it was so good I had to include it on my OBX list! The ribs and baked beans were especially delicious.
We've eaten at other OBX restaurants that didn't quite make it to "favorite" status:
- Sooey's BBQ & Rib Shack (Nags Head): Food was great, but we never felt compelled to return.
- Miller's Waterfront (Nags Head): The view was better than the food.
We've also received recommendations for: Red Drum Tap House, Goombays, Fish Heads, Food Dudes (referenced above) and Pig Men BBQ (chain), which we may try in the future. We're interested in hearing opinions about these and other options in OBX.