Courage comes in many forms but there may be nothing as courageous (or foolhardy) as trying to select “The best Outer Banks burger!” Nonetheless, in the interests of journalistic integrity I will publicly declare that these are the five finest burgers on the Outer Banks beaches.
But first, a quick note about what makes a great hamburger. Let me start by saying that a hamburger is not a health food, although some burgers may be healthier than others. For those seeking a healthy burger, many of our restaurants offer a variety of veggie, turkey and shrimp burgers that are a wonderful alternative.
Art’s Place (4624 N. Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk) on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk has been around for over 30 years and the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principal of burgers applies to perfection here. A half pound patty, lightly seasoned, cooked on a flattop with a wide selection of cheese. Accompanied by freshly hand-cut fries (really, customers get to watch them cut the fries) and served to the customer while it’s still hot and juicy. This favorite local’s hangout has recently been spruced up a bit, but has hardly changed in 30 years. It doesn’t get better than this.
Further south down the beach road is another favorite of residents, John’s Drive-In (3716 N. Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk). This drive-in has been around six years longer and is very seasonal–they barely stay open past Labor Day. During the busy summer season, the wait for an order can stretch on a bit, but it’s definitely worth it. When your burger arrives, it’s like taking a step back in time before we worried about cholesterol, grease or fat. These are greasy, wonderful examples of how good an authentic hamburger can be, and someone in your group should order the dolphin boat, another claim to fame. While you’re there, don’t forget to order a milkshake. John’s website claims it’s the best on the planet–and no one has disputed that claim to date.
Since we’re on the Beach Road, let’s continue south to Baldie’s Burgers (2042 N. Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills) which is relocating to the building that formerly housed the Carolina Seafood Buffet. I first stumbled on Baldie’s when they were at the Wee Winks Plaza in Duck. Due to a complete renovation, they moved to the Marketplace in Southern Shores, where they still have a location. I’ve continued to follow them because they completely understand what a burger is supposed to be–meaty, plump, hot and juicy. Expect a little bit of attitude with your burger and fries. It’s not personal, just the style of the establishment!
Not all burgers are created equal, and sometimes a little different treatment really makes a hamburger stand out. That’s certainly the case at the Outer Banks Brewing Station (600 S. Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills) where they marinate their Station Burger in beer. It’s flavorful, rich, juicy and a definite treat. They also do a Bison Burger. Naturally lower in fat than regular beef, it’s a very rich and tasty sandwich. By the way, if you must get a veggie burger, this is the place to do so.
The burgers at Mulligan’s Raw Bar & Grille (4005 S. Croatan Highway, Nags Head) are a cross between a good old fashioned patty and embracing the adventure of a beer marinated burger. Big, juicy and completely filled with flavor, this is a memorable meal. Personally I always go for the Mulligan’s Burger with blue cheese, but there’s a great selection for everyone to choose from.
An Honorable Mention goes to the Swiss ‘Jerk’ Burger at Tortuga’s Lie (3016 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head). This one has a nice kick to it. It may not be for all taste buds, but for those who appreciate an out of the box flavor, this is a very good burger!
Because individual tastes vary, there is no ranking to this list. This is simply my opinion about the most tasty, juiciest beef burgers around! Our readers are, of course, encouraged to express their own valued opinions.