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Favorite Foods: A Guide for Seafood Lovers in the Outer Banks


Located off the North Carolina Coast, the Outer Banks is a string of barrier islands renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, pristine sandy beaches, picturesque dunes, and diverse coastal ecosystems. But besides being a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, the region is also a paradise for seafood lovers. 

Famous for its world-class fishing, the Outer Banks is brimming with restaurants and beach shacks serving the freshest seafood you can think of. From Hatteras Island to Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and Corolla, several eateries offer a delightful blend of Southern charm and fresh coastal flavors.

Are you wondering where to find the best places in the Outer Banks for a memorable seafood feast? We are here to be your guide. In this blog, we’ll give you a glimpse of the underwater delicacies and the best places to savor them in the Outer Banks.

Join us in this OBX seafood cult!

 

The Best Seafood in the Outer Banks, NC


As we mentioned above, seafood is a focal point when it comes to food culture in the Outer Banks. Wherever you go, you’ll find a wide variety of sea-to-table options serving fresh catches like mahi-mahi, tuna, flounder, sea bass, blue crab, and shrimp, to name a few.

The region’s specialties vary from flavorful clam chowders and seafood sandwiches to local fresh oysters and the classic Outer Banks Boil, a low country seafood boil with shrimp, clams, potatoes, and sausage — all seasoned and cooked to perfection.

The best of it all is that in the Outer Banks, you’re spoilt for choice with plenty of independent and family-run restaurants making the most of the charm of the region with incredible vistas, welcoming service, and a commitment to serving local and high-quality food. 

Indulge in coastal flavors while admiring stunning sea views. What can be better than that?

Here are some of the most popular seafood dishes worshiped by locals and visitors to the OBX:

  • Shrimp and Grits: The local shrimp served over creamy stone-ground grits is always a favorite. This Southern classic is irresistible — the combination of creamy grits and sweet, tender, and succulent shrimp is just perfection. 

  • Hatteras Clam Chowder: A specialty of the Hatteras Island region, this is a broth-based chowder filled with fresh clams and chopped vegetables. For those who prefer a lighter seafood meal, this is a must-try!

  • Frisco Sandwich: Combining classic Southern flavors with a mouthwatering piece of fried fish, usually local catches like flounder, mahi-mahi, or sea bass, this is a unique dish to the Outer Banks.

  • Fresh Local Oysters: The OBX is a paradise for oyster lovers. The region is rich in fresh, plump oysters. Having them raw is a classic, but you’ll also find them served half-shell, steamed, fried, or Rockefeller-style to satisfy every taste.

  • Seafood Boils: Seafood boils are usually large and are the kind of meal for sharing with your loved ones. Picture a large pot filled with super fresh shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausage. Add low-country boil spices, and you have a winner packed with flavor and textures.

  • Crab Cakes: Who doesn’t love them? A popular appetizer served with a variety of homemade dipping sauces — always a good idea and a recurring dish on menus throughout the OBX.



Best Places in the Outer Banks to Try Seafood Dishes


Every culture has a place for worship. Now that you know some of the best seafood delicacies you’ll find in the Outer Banks, here are some of the top restaurants for a true seafood indulgence:


Black Pelican, Kitty Hawk


One of the most popular restaurants in the Outer Banks, Black Pelican is an oceanfront eatery where you can dine with gorgeous ocean views and feel the salty breeze. Fresh fish of your choice Ala OBX — blackened and served with grilled fresh corn salsa — is the top choice. Their crab cakes are also to die for.


Low Tide Bar & Grill, Corolla


Serving mouthwatering island-inspired and lowcountry dishes, Low Tide & Grill is known for their amazing fish tacos and Caribbean lobster roll. Couple these delicacies with a signature cocktail or mocktail and you’ll have the perfect combo.


Henry’s Restaurant, Kill Devil Hills


Since 1989, Henry’s has been a go-to place for seafood delicacies in Kill Devil Hills. From fried oysters, crab balls, and clam chowder to seafood platters, crab cake, and soft-shell crab, you can’t go wrong with whatever you pick.


Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar, Kill Devil Hills


For over 35 years this has been a mandatory stop for oyster enthusiasts. It’s considered one of the top 10 oyster bars in the US by Coast Living Magazine and it’s also famous for its steamed spiced shrimp.


Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe, Nags Head


Grab a table at this waterfront gem and indulge in local and fresh clams, shrimp, oysters, crabs, and finfish. Everything is selected daily and cleaned in the fish-cleaning building right next to the restaurant. Talking about fresh food!


Fish Heads Bar and Grill, Nags Head


Shrimp happy hour anyone? Head to Fish Heads Bar and Grill where you’ll get seasoned steamed shrimp for $0,20 (minimum order required). They also serve delicious grilled fish sandwiches. 


Sam & Omie’s, Nags Head 


This is a local institution that’s been around since 1937. Famous for being a breakfast spot for fishermen, Sam & Omie’s excels in serving some of the Outer Banks’ freshest seafood.  Their Hatteras Clam Chowder is unbeatable!

 

Where to Try The Best Outer Banks Boil?


Here’s an idea: Gather your family and friends and try this local dish that will leave you asking for more. 

The star of the OBX Boil is the jumbo shrimp. Combined with potatoes, corn on the cob, sweet onions, andouille sausage, and a blend of spices, this dish is an absolute must-try when visiting the region.

Wondering where to find the best OBX boil in the region?

 

Outer Banks Boil Company, Corolla, Hatteras, and Kitty Hawk


Their Signature Seafood Boil is highly praised in the Outer Banks and is considered the ‘Best Pot on the Beach.’ Besides the classic ingredients, you can add snow crab legs, clams, mussels, and lobster tails for a true seafood feast.

The Outer Banks Boil Company has even developed its own cooking method combining boiling and steaming to ensure each ingredient is cooked to perfection. They don’t offer a classic dining experience since they are not a restaurant.

They prepare to-go orders and offer catering services, arriving an hour before to set up all their equipment and cook for your family or at parties and gatherings.


Mahi Mahi’s Island Grill, Nags Head


Mahi Mahi’s Island Grill’s version of the seafood boil is the Fisherman’s Seafood Stew prepared with local mahi-mahi, shrimp, fresh mussels, corn, local vegetables, Idaho potatoes, Spanish rice, fresh herbs, and served with grilled garlic French bread.


The Best Fresh Oysters in OBX, NC


Oysters have been harvested and eaten on the North Carolina coast for generations. 

The region has the perfect growing conditions for these fine treats since the OBX sits where Roanoke Island meets the Atlantic Ocean creating a unique environment with a mix of freshwater and saltwater. The cool waters also contribute to the oyster’s plumpness and clean flavor. 

A few oyster farms focused on sustainable harvesting methods are the source of local restaurants, so the chances you’re getting extremely fresh oysters are high in the OBX. 

There’s more! Because of the diverse growing conditions in the region, you can find a variety of oyster flavors. 

Here are some things to know before embarking on an oyster culinary experience in the OBX:

  • What is the best season for eating oysters in the OBX? The best time for enjoying fresh oysters in the region is during the cooler months — from mid-October to early April. 

  • What oyster style should I try? The classic style in the OBX is raw oysters on the half shell. Since we’re talking about freshness, there’s no better way to feel the true taste of the sea than having raw oysters. They are usually served with lemon wedges and mignonette sauce. Still, we suggest you try many different styles!

  • What are other styles I can find in restaurants in the OBX? Expect to find cooked oysters like steamed or Rockefeller style. The latter is baked with a creamy spinach and Parmesan cheese topping. Fried oysters are also a popular option.

No, here are the best restaurants for indulging in fresh oysters in the Outer Banks:

 

Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar, Kill Devil Hills


Raw, steamed, baked, or fried, oysters have been their business for over 35 years. Add a delicious cocktail to your order, soak in their casual atmosphere and there you have a formula for a memorable dining experience in the OBX.

 

Sundogs Raw Bar and Grill, Corolla


Sourcing oysters from local waters, every dish featuring the delicacy comes with the freshness we expect when we are craving seafood flavors.

 

Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar, Manteo


In this sea-to-table restaurant, even your drink comes with oysters. Their Oyster Shooter is a sensational Bloody Mary drink served with the chef’s choice of oyster. Blue Water’s Oysters Rockefeller is the menu highlight.

 

The Froggy Dog Restaurant & Pub, Avon


Serving delicious Cape Hatteras oysters, they have oysters on the half shell or Rockefeller. The latter is topped with bacon, spinach, parmesan, & garlic — a favorite among patrons.

 

 

Uncovering the Outer Banks’ Best Restaurants for a Seafood Feast


Seafood is certainly the highlight of every culinary experience in the Outer Banks, but the scene is certainly more diverse. Beyond coastal flavors, you’ll find several restaurants serving classic American fare, as well as island comfort food and international cuisine.

The next time you visit the OBX, also keep your eyes open for North Carolina-style BBQ — another fantastic way to enjoy the unique flavors of the region.

For more relevant local tips, head to our blog. We cover many topics from the best restaurants to the best spots to watch sunsets, and there’s much more coming.

 

Wondering where to stay in the Outer Banks, NC?


Booking your stay with Village Realty means staying in one of our exceptional, handpicked homes. From the oceanfront to the sound front, we offer outstanding OBX vacation rentals from South Nags Head to Corolla.

Our number one priority? Your ultimate comfort and happiness. Our local staff will always go the extra mile to make sure you and your family have a special vacation in OBX.

Staying with us, all you have to care about is letting the coastal beauty whisk you away – and you can rest assured it will!

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