Great Food: An Outer Banks Tradition
So many great Outer Banks restaurants, so little time. In researching long-standing Outer Banks restaurants it was surprising how many there are still serving locals and visitors alike. This feature is about five ranging from casual eateries to fine dining options that are sure to please.
7114 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Milepost 16.5, Nags Head, NC
Family owned and operated, Owens Restaurant opened in 1946 when Bob and Clara Owens relocated here from Manteo, NC. Their roots in serving food goes back to a hot dog stand they originally ran in Manteo since 1933. Owens is no hot dog stand, instead they serve southern coastal cuisine including fresh seafood, aged Angus beef, pasta specialties and outrageous desserts. As good as the food is, be sure to check out the bar. Most night there’s a piano playing, the seating is ideal for intimate conversations and the bartenders know how to mix a quality drink.
Darrell’s Seafood Restaurant
523 S. US Highway 64/264, Manteo, NC
No one ever accused Manteo of being the East Coast version of southern California. Nonetheless, a restaurant with a drive-thru window made its way onto Roanoke Island when Darrell and Dora Daniels opened the Polar Bear Drive-in in 1960. The name and menu items have changed but the location is the same. The drive-thru window exists but is no longer in operation. The second oldest on the Outer Banks and family owned and operated, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have earned a solid reputation by serving some of the best seafood platters around. The fried oysters and shrimp are particularly good in season.
Sam and Omie’s Restaurant
7228 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC
An argument could be made that Sam and Omie’s predates the 1971 date listed as the year of its birth. In the 1940s, Sambo Tillett had a restaurant called “Sambo’s” that was not at its current location. The restaurant was eventually renamed to Sam and Omie’s to include his son, and it was eventually sold. In 1971 it was purchased by the Waits sisters, who enlarged and improved the space which explains the “founded” date. The restaurant had a long-standing heritage of feeding breakfast to local fisherman as they headed out to sea and that tradition continues today. Located across from Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, this still may be one of the best Outer Bank’s locations for a hearty breakfast.
Capt’n Franks Hot Dogs
3800 N. Croatan Hwy, Milepost 4.5, Kitty Hawk, NC
In 1975 the Bypass consisted of a two lane road, sea grass and sand. Capt’n Frank’s founder, Harvey Hess was probably more interested in surfing than anything else, but he and his brothers figured people needed a place to eat that was quick and didn’t cost too much. There was some land available in Kitty Hawk and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. There are other items on the menu, including traditional hand pulled BBQ, but mostly it’s all about the dog. Made by the Weeping Radish in Jarvisburg, NC, these are truly superior hot dogs and the topping selections are adventurous. The ordering system has not changed in 40 years, a cashier takes the order and slides it down to the cook on a string located above the counter. Harvey has looked at other systems but nothing is as efficient or cost effective.