There is no denying that the past year has been a difficult one, especially for restaurants. On the Outer Banks, we had a record number of visitors, but with limited seating, food service still struggled a bit.
This year, though, it looks as though things are starting to return to normal. And normal on the Outer Banks is there are always a few new eateries opening up.
We can’t cover everything, but here are three that we’ve had a chance to check out. And an old favorite that has upped its game.
Kitty Hawk Deli
4716 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk
Strictly speaking, Kitty Hawk Deli is not a new restaurant since it’s been open for more than a year now. However, they opened just before the COVID restrictions kicked in, so we’ll put them in the new restaurant category.
This is a family run business—there is no doubt about that. The mother is in the kitchen making sandwiches and the son is out front taking orders.
What is important to know, however, is the sandwiches are wonderful, the soup is homemade and the service friendly.
The Cuban sandwich is amazing. Served on a crusty ciabatta type bread with wonderfully succulent slices of pork, it is a classic. And then there is the Reuben sandwich that is almost as good.
Tubb’s Hot Dogs will set up shop sometimes in the parking lot. There’s bound to be something for everyone with so much to choose from.
It’s all to go—there is no place to sit, although they have put some tables off to the side of the parking lot. Service can be a little bit slow…be patient, it’s a small kitchen and there is only one person in it. Your patience will be rewarded.
The Pony and the Boat
3712 N Croatan Hwy Unit A, Kitty Hawk
Tommy Karole, who owns the Paper Canoe on the north end of Duck, has a well-earned reputation for the quality of his dishes. His style seems to be to find the freshest ingredient available and then let the flavors speak for themselves.
Make no mistake, there is no doubt at all that a master chef is at work in the kitchen. But the character of the ingredients are never masked under excessive seasoning.
The atmosphere is…upscale casual. It’s a place where a couple could spend a good hour or hour and a half over dinner and drinks. They do have some very nice signature cocktails and a wine list that should satisfy just about everyone.
We’re still working our way through the menu, but the chicken pot pie redefines what a chicken pot pie can be.
Noosa Beach Grille
2003 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills
Just north of the Nags Head town line, there’s been a couple of different iterations of restaurants at Noosa’s location. There’s a lot about this most recent version that suggests it’s going to be around for a while.
The new owners really took the time to create the look and feel of the building. Inside it’s light and airy and that’s complimented by a good sized seating area outside. A horseshoe shaped bar puts a nice finishing touch to it.
As a brand new restaurant, we haven’t had a chance to try very much of the menu. One thing we can say—Noosa is focused on fresh seafood.
The calamari appetizer is a heaping plate of fried calamari. The seared scallops; plump and juicy, seem to have a perfect sear to them. And the fish for the fish and chips changes with the daily catch.
The menu is more than seafood, but that’s what caught our eye, although we may be back at lunch for a burger.
Trio Restaurant and Market
3708 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk
Over the past 10 years or so, Trio Restaurant and Market in Kitty Hawk has become one of the best places to go to relax with glass or wine or a nice schooner of beer. And with 35 wines available by the glass and 24 beers on tap, there is something for everyone.
From the time Trio opened its doors, they have been serving fantastic sandwiches, homemade soup and salads. But over the past few years, the kitchen been improved and expanded and a great dinner menu has been added to go with everything else they offer.
Be sure to ask about daily specials that do not appear on the menu. As good as the menu items are, sometimes the real star of the evenings is what’s not on the menu.