About 20 years ago, someone had the bright idea that the best way to harvest Outer Banks oysters was to float a dredge or two out in the sound, scoop as much mud off the bottom as possible and sift everything out but the oysters. That worked spectacularly well for that year, but then we experienced a loss of oysters for several years until state agencies and a number of local volunteers moved forward to rebuild the stripped Outer Banks oyster reefs.
Finally, oysters are back in Outer Banks waters, and the obvious result is a sudden resurgence of local oyster bars. We started getting noticeable harvest levels two to three years ago and now they are once again on local menus and featured in area raw bars.
There are a few old standby oyster bars, including Kelly’s Tavern in Nags Head, which has been serving up oysters since the day it opened. Awful Arthurs in Kill Devil Hills, has served oysters raw, steamed or just about any way you want them since 1984, and Mulligans in Nags Head has always had a raw bar. What suddenly seems to be happening, is a resurgence or maybe emergence, of new Outer Banks oyster bars.
It’s not surprising that the innovative guys at Coastal Provisions decided to renovate an entire side of their Southern Shores Crossing location and create a full-on oyster bar. Dan and Scott have some of the most creative food ideas around, and they have never been afraid to take a chance. What sets this venture apart is that it’s the only “true” oyster tasting bar around. Featuring six oysters from different locations . . . and they have great beer to go with oysters.
On the Bypass, about a mile or so south of Coastal Provisions, Ronnie Merrell and Lee Hux took over what had been Hooters and then Pete’s Pourhouse, and opened BK Shuckers in May of 2013. The new owners have created a much more family friendly environment than in the past. The restaurant features a raw bar, but long term plans call for a tasting bar concept, similar to what Coastal Provisions offers.
Still in Kitty Hawk, but just a way down the road is I Got Your Crabs. This restaurant opened about a year ago, and it’s unique because Hunter Stuart is a commercial fisherman in Currituck. He has been crabbing and fishing for as long as he can remember, and it does make a difference. The guy knows fresh!
I may have missed two or three places, but for oyster lovers, this will certainly get you started on a great evening of oyster bar hopping.