Since we live here and can’t imagine a better place to be, as far as we’re concerned any season is a good time to visit the Outer Banks. That being said, we must admit that a quick getaway, long weekend or weeklong vacation during the winter months does come with a challenge that other seasons don’t have … where to go for a bite to eat?
Things do slow down during the winter on the Outer Banks. Not as much as it did 10 to 15 years ago, but there are a number of business owners who close up shop in January or February for scheduled vacations or to head out of the country in search of good surf. Nonetheless, with a bit of direction and effort, finding a good meal during the slowest time of the year is definitely possible on the Outer Banks.
Since Corolla has very few year-round residents, it has the slimmest pickings for restaurants open during the winter season. Pizza lovers flock to Corolla Pizza & Deli, located just north of the Currituck Lighthouse. They are in top running for best Outer Banks pizza, but are also known for serving up a great Philly cheese steak sub and for their burgers and fries. The winter hours at the time of this post are Monday-Friday from 11am until 2pm.
For folks staying in Duck or heading north, check out Coastal Cravings in the same building as the BP gas station/convenience store across from Nags Head Hammocks. Featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” the food is always freshly made and well-prepared. The same team operates Coastal Provisions Market, in Southern Shores Crossing, which also serves up a wonderful lunch.
Also in Southern Shores is Bonnie’s Bagels, located in the Food Lion Shopping Center. In addition to great bagels, they have a fine selection of quiches that are not easily forgotten!
Due to its central location, Kitty Hawk has become a center for year round dining. Two locations in very close proximity, that are local’s favorites and are a definite step back in time, include Art’s Place and Winks Market.
Art’s Place has been around for 30 years and is located on the Beach Road across from the ocean. It has weathered everything time and coastal storms have thrown at it, and it still has what may be the best burgers on the beach. Art is no longer there, and the place has been spruced up a bit, but they are still doing burgers the same way and the fries are still hand cut to order.
Next door to Art’s Place, Winks Market has probably been around even longer than its neighbor. It may be hard to picture a convenience store as a place to get a good lunch. However, Ann and Danny Greeson bought the business a couple of years ago, and they have strong restaurant backgrounds. A meal at Winks includes generous portions that are both tasty and reasonably priced. There is a small seating area, but most people order their food to go.
Another great place to eat-in or order food to go is the Outer Banks Taco Bar, located on the Bypass in the Ocean Plaza at Milepost 4.5. They offer homemade corn tortillas pressed to order, a signature Cuban sandwich, generous burritos and amazing Baja fish tacos. The coffee braised pork is exceptional, both tasty and juicy.
It’s ironic that Kill Devil Hills is the most populated town on the Outer Banks with plenty of great restaurants, yet in the winter, even this town has its challenges. Two places that immediately come to mind for winter dining are Slice Pizza and Mama Kwans Tiki Bar & Grill.
Slice Pizza is located on the Bypass at Milepost 8.5 and is next door to the Outer Banks Brewing Station, which is closed until mid February. This is another top contender for the best pizza on the Outer Banks, and it’s a great place to get a quick lunch. Just down the road from Slice, on the Kill Devil Hills/Nags Head Town line is Mama Kwans, which serves some of the best food around. They offer original salads, great fish tacos and the popular “special occasion” pasta. Vegetarians will love the “garbage plate,” filled with everything that keeps you healthy!
Nags Head has a good selection. Mulligan’s Raw Bar & Grille is located on the Beach Road at Milepost 13. This is another local’s favorite, and in addition to awesome ocean views, they serve up a great burger and killer salads.
If you want to sit down and have a really nice lunch with personalized service, Blue Moon Cafe is the place to go. Located on the Beach Road in Surfside Plaza at Milepost 13, Blue Moon has great southern comfort food with a twist. In addition to great salads and vegetarian options, try the “Shrimp-Not a Burger,” topped with fried green tomatoes and the “Mahi Mahi BLT.”
If amazing sandwiches are your thing, check out the Country Deli located in the same plaza. They quite possibly serve up the largest deli sandwich you’ve ever had, certainly the largest in our area, and all made with quality ingredients!