Restaurants aren’t often regarded of as a slice of local history and lore, but there are always exceptions. Art’s Place in Kitty Hawk is the exception.
Art Glidden opened his Beach Road eatery back in 1978, surrounded by some of the oldest oceanfront homes and businesses in Kitty Hawk. It has changed a bit over the years…new owner Tammy Nichols has painted and built a deck on top of the building last year (the Sway Bar), but there’s something about Art’s Place that is the same as it was when it opened. It’s a local haunt loved by everyone who passes through.
And that is the charm of it.
Art was a curmudgeon, or at least he presented himself that way. Crusty, with a quick retort for just about everyone, he seemingly had an edge. But the truth is, he was a very kind person who loved the Outer Banks. He certainly seemed to enjoy the out of town visitors who would drop by, but the people that he seemed to care about most were the full-time residents: the construction workers, the policeman, the utility worker—the people who are the glue that holds the community together.
Which is why their catchphrase is so appropriate: “Locals Welcome Tourists Tolerated.”
The inside hasn’t changed much at all since Art opened his Place. After Tammy took over, there was equipment and decor changes, but burgers are still cooked on a flat grill and the fries are still hand cut.
There’s a counter with stools that looks right into a small kitchen and few tables.
As a hole-in-the-wall restaurant goes, Art’s Place is as good as it gets. They offer elevated bar food and a killer breakfast.
If there is a signature dish, it has to be the burgers. A half-pound patty—they cook it medium unless there’s a request—it’s the best on the beach and has been written about in Our State Magazine. And the fries. Cooked to order every time.
Although the burgers and lunch is what a lot of people think of when imagining Art’s Place, their breakfasts are excellent. Actually, more and more people are showing up on Sunday mornings as an unofficial brunch place.
They do have some specialties, of course. The omelets are as good as anything out there, and the Monte Cristo sandwich is a belly busting combination of flavors and ingredients. French toast is the bread, and the ingredients are ham, turkey and Swiss cheese with homemade blueberry compote.
They do have full bar service so, yes, a mimosa, bloody Mary, or screwdriver is a very real possibility with Sunday brunch.
When the weather is nice, there has always been a gathering on the front porch to drink a beer and get a bite to eat. With the addition of the top deck, it’s gone up a notch or two. The view is wonderful, and another bar has been added.
One change that has occurred over the years is that Art’s Place is becoming a part of local night life. In the summertime, the backyard buzzes with talented local bands.
Joe Mapp and the Coordinates have been playing jazz night on Mondays for some time. Joe is an outstanding guitarist, and it’s worth checking him out.
On Wednesdays it’s Open Mic, and that is also something that goes all winter. There are some outstanding musicians on the Outer Banks and if they’re not playing, there’s a good chance they’ll be at Art’s.