Outer Bean Juice & Java

Outer Bean Juice & Java SaladThe Dunes Shops in Kitty Hawk was the first strip mall on the Outer Banks. This location has been home to several local businesses, and it’s doubtful that any of the current tenants are originals.  Although updated, the simple design still retains a relaxed quality that brings shoppers back to a time when life was less hectic. 

A belief that life should be savored more slowly is at least one part of the reason why Necla (pronounced Nay-shlah) Rader’s coffee shop, Outer Bean Juice & Java, is such a good fit. 

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Outer Banks Distilling – Kill Devil Rum

Kill Devil Rum FoundersThe history of the Outer Banks includes a number of unsavory characters, namely, derelict pirates. This brings to mind the old saying, “Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of rum,” and the exciting new topic of an upcoming business, Kill Devil Rum and Outer Banks Distilling, that has everyone talking.

Located in the town of Manteo, partners Scott Smith, Matt Newsome, Adam Ball and Kelly Bray just opened the first Outer Banks distillery. Or, more accurately, the first legal distillery on the Outer Banks! The partners have an extensive background in beer brewing, having worked at the Outer Banks Brewing Station before venturing into the world of distilled spirits.

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Red Sky Café

Wes Stepp Red Sky CafeHaving a gourmet restaurant as our next door neighbor is quite nice. The restaurant, combined with their very successful catering business, is the vision that Chef Wes Stepp had when he first opened his doors 12 years ago.  “I wanted to give people really creative food, in a casual atmosphere that focused on fresh North Carolina products,” said Wes.

There is a real flair to Wes’ preparation, but he never seems to lose sight of what the food means to his guests. Fresh, coastal and an innovative approach to preparing southern cuisine is what brought folks to his restaurant and the consistency keeps them coming back. 

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Macaroni & Cheese on the Outer Banks

trio outer banksIt’s winter on the Outer Banks, and although our weather is relatively mild, we still experience winds off the ocean from the north, daytime high temperatures struggling to reach 50 and nighttime lows approaching freezing. There’s something about this chillier weather that calls out for food that is warm, filling and familiar. That’s certainly the definition of comfort food—a dish that brings back enjoyable memories of childhood and home cooking.

If there is one universal comfort food, it has to be macaroni and cheese. From its Northern European origin to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this is one food that most everyone agrees is perfect for both kids and those who are young at heart.

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Coastal Provisions

Outer Banks Oyster BarIn 2006 when owners Dan Lewis and Scott Foster opened Coastal Provisions located in Southern Shores Crossing the concept was fairly straightforward. “Originally it was going to be a specialty food market that would bring great food to the beach,” Dan says. “Not only gourmet ingredients, but also take out and catering provisioning people with great tastes.”

But the vision changed along the way as it became clear that although the market concept was good, more was needed. Dan and Scott, both classically trained chefs, found there was an increasing demand to combine their delectable food creations paired with a glass of fine wine or microbrew, with a relaxed sit down dining experience.

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Outer Banks Restaurants 2015 Off-Season

Blue Point Duck SunsetFor those visiting the Outer Banks in the winter months, it becomes quickly apparent that the pace of life during the off-season months is much slower than during the summer. That’s good for residents since it would be tough to keep up our summer pace year round. It would actually defeat the purpose of why we live here!

Along with the slowdown of visitors, our businesses slow down as well—especially restaurants. Some completely close their doors in the months of January and February and many cut back on hours, so finding a place to eat can become a challenge.

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Thai Room – Celebrates 30 Years

Outer Banks Thai Room FoodIf there is a mainstay of the Outer Banks dining scene it may well be Thai Room, located at milepost 8.5 on the beach road in Kill Devil Hills. Talk to most anyone who’s an Outer Banks resident or repeat visitor to our area, and they’ll rave about the Pad Thai noodles or the chicken with basil, which is a rather bland name for a spectacular dish.

The remarkable thing is that it’s been 30 years since Jimmy Ngeonjuklin and his brother Ta opened their doors, and much has happened in that timeframe. For example, the Outer Banks population has nearly doubled and much changed at Thai Room too. Jimmy married Thom, who still works in the restaurant today, and they raised a family. His brother Ta is no longer with us and is greatly missed. It was Ta who was the original chef, a job now held by Jimmy who is still there turning out classic Thai food.

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Hatteras Island-Style Clam Chowder

Hatteras Island Clam ChowderHere on the Outer Banks we make a unique version of clam chowder. Hatteras Chowder is a simple broth based chowder that is perfect for a cold winter evening when coastal winds are whipping past our windows and the ocean pounds our shoreline.

Its origins are lost in the sands of time, but it has been a part of the Outer Banks diet for over 200 years. There are tales of family recipes being handed down from generation to generation dating back to the early 19th century.

The basic ingredients for this recipe consist of clams, bacon, onion and potatoes. The reason is simple. Everyone had onions and potatoes in dry storage and most had pork salt meat available. And, given our location, anybody could get out and get the clams!

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Sanctuary Vineyards

Outer Banks VineyardsHere we are in October, and out at Sanctuary Vineyards they’re just finishing the harvest.  Vineyard Manager, John Wright, says it’s been a good year for growing wine grapes, citing two Bordeaux varietals that he thought did particularly well.  “The Petite Verdot and Cab Franc looked really good this year,” he commented.

The vineyard is about 11 miles north of the Wright Memorial Bridge at the Cotton Gin.  The land is owned by the Wright family, who own the store and have also been farming the land for well over 150 years.  The first wine grapes were planted 12 years ago, and the vineyard has grown from a two-acre block to almost 11 acres.

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First Family of Food – Pok’s Art

Poks_art_Kitty_HawkIf we could name a first family of the Outer Banks restaurant scene, it would be the family that owns the Thai Room in Kill Devil Hills. This comes to the forefront because Chef Pok, who has been with the Outer Banks Brewing Station for a number of years, has just opened his own take-out place.

Pok’s Art Asia Fusion Kitchen in the Dune Shops in Kitty Hawk is everything that one would expect of a chef with Pok’s reputation. He learned his way around the kitchen at an early age. Sent to the United States from Thailand at age seven, he started working almost immediately in his aunt and uncle’s restaurant.

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