There’s a saying, “What’s old is new.” And that’s certainly true with Outer Banks restaurants. What’s old news for locals, is often surprisingly new to those arriving at their Outer Banks vacation rental. While I can’t note everything that’s new or different, I want to reference a few notable changes for visitors. Restaurants seem to change names, shift ownership and move around more than other types of businesses, and this past year was no exception.
There were many small changes to note. Baldie’s Burgers moved from the Wee Winks Plaza in Duck to its new location in The Marketplace in Southern Shores. Still serving burgers the way they’re supposed to be, fries and milkshakes. The Wee Winks Plaza was raised and expanded, a noticeable change as you travel north. Another new burger place in Kill Devil Hills (almost to the Nags Head town line) is Beach Bum Burgers. They opened in the building that used to house Arby’s. The burger and fries are tasty and worth a try.
For many of us, the big news was the opening of Josephine’s Sicilian Kitchen in the Dunes Shops in Kitty Hawk. Owned by the same couple that run Cosmo’s Pizza in Southern Shores, this restaurant opening gave Chef Josephine Caggese a chance to spread her wings with the foods of her heritage. The seating is family style, so there’s a good possibility you’ll be sitting with strangers, who often become friends you just met. There’s always a bit of a wait to be seated, but it’s worth it.
Another good find in the Dunes Shops is Outer Bean Juice and Java, opened by Necla (pronounced Nayshla) Rader. It used to be Southern Bean, but the new look is refreshing and significantly larger. The space in this coffee shop also includes what was Seaside Gourmet, and the same wonderful lunch and dinner offerings are still available. Necla removed the wall between the two businesses and things are much more open and inviting now.
Another notable change is what used to be Mexicali Grill on the Beach Road in Kill Devil Hills is now Bonzer Shack. After a couple of visits, we can confidently state the food is very good and the atmosphere relaxing and casual. The rockfish tacos are excellent, the lobster mac and cheese will have to be added to the pantheon of outstanding Outer Banks mac and cheese list and the crab cakes are stellar.
There are other new restaurants and changes that I haven’t had the chance to visit. Starting in Kitty Hawk, Argyle’s Restaurant, which has been a hallmark of casual fine dining for years, has a new name: Sea Salt Grill. Still run by Debra and PJ Sinkage, the menu has been tweaked but the piano bar is still there.
Another new restaurant getting great reviews is Cafe Franco’s in the Dare Center (Food Lion Shopping Center) in Kill Devil Hills. I’m hearing they offer classic Italian cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.
There are others that aren’t included on this list, but please don’t be afraid to explore them, trying new things is part of the fun of being on vacation on the Outer Banks!