Good Eats in the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks

This past weekend my Chief Culinary Consultant and I escaped to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a relaxing long weekend. Nothing makes you forget the ins and outs of everyday work life quite like sinking your toes into the sand, closing your eyes and listening to the waves crash onto the shore. We stayed in the middle part of the island in Kill Devil Hills, between Kitty Hawk and Nags Head, and enjoyed eating at a variety of places that were close by. Now, I wouldn’t be a good food blogger if I didn’t share details with you all on the restaurants and food that we enjoyed while in the Outer Banks! Keep reading for reviews of the restaurants and the eats and drinks that were consumed over the weekend.

Outer Banks Brewing Station

Located in Kill Devil Hills, NC

Outer Banks Brew Station

Photo credit: National Geographic

The Outer Banks Brewing Station is a brew pub, but it’s not your regular ol’ brewery. It is the very first wind powered brew pub, complete with a windmill on the premises. The restaurant was jam-packed on Friday evening around 6pm but we didn’t have to wait very long for a table – 10 to 15 minutes. Our first order of business was to choose a beer and we both went for the Olsch, which was described as a refreshing, pale, delicate beer. We both thought it was fantastic. If I hadn’t gotten so full from the food, I would have tried a second variety!

We enjoyed an herbed oil with dipping bread with our beer while we waited for our food to arrive. I ordered the North Cackalakee Fried Shrimp, which was beer battered and fried and served with mango salsa, along with coleslaw and French fries. The battered shrimp was insane, and the mango salsa may have actually competed with the shrimp for the star of the show. My Chief Culinary Consultant got the Shrimp ‘n Grits which was seared shrimp over grits with red eye gravy and sweet potato chips. He loved his food just as much as I loved mine. We were full, but we were also on vacation, where you don’t say no to dessert (at least not in my world!). I ordered Carrot Cake, which was probably the best carrot cake I have ever had (not to mention the size of my head), and my Chief Culinary Consultant got the Chocolate Lava Cake, which came complete with port cherry and raspberry sauce. We came close to having to roll ourselves to the car, but boy we sure enjoyed the food!

The Kill Devil Grill

Located in Kill Devil Hills, NC

The Kill Devil Grill

The Kill Devil Grill was rated #1 in the town on TripAdvisor, and once we read that it is one of only six diners in the national registry of historic buildings, it was a no-brainer for lunch on Saturday. It had a great, old-time diner atmosphere, complete with miniature juke boxes on each table. The lunch menu had a lot of great options, and I was leaning toward the Big Kahuna Burger, but once I saw one at the table next to us, it sealed the deal. It was an amazingly juicy burger, topped with cheddar, bacon, grilled onions and the regular burger fixin’s – lettuce (shredded, score!), tomato, mayo and ketchup. And it totally won me over with a buttered and grilled bun (my favorite!). My Chief Culinary Consultant got a Red Neck Cuban, which was a Cuban made with pulled pork, sliced ham, Swiss, pickles and Dijon, pressed panini-style. We were both thrilled with our meals, and enjoyed the seasoned French fries that came with both sandwiches. Word on the street is that they also have great wings and that their key lime pie is to-die-for.

Barefoot Bernie’s Tropical Grill & Bar

Located in Kitty Haw, NC

Barefoot Bernie's - Our Steelers destination!

Now, anyone who knows that I hail from Pittsburgh will immediately know what drew us to Barefoot Bernie’s after looking at the picture I took above. We knew that the Steelers had a preseason game on Saturday night and decided to see if there were any Steelers bars in the area and figured we could grab dinner at one of them. After a quick search (since there are no less than a billion websites that list all of the Steelers bars in each of the states, and abroad), we found that there were four Steelers bars in the Outer Banks. We Googled the four bars and this one said they were the Outer Banks Steelers Fan Club Headquarters, so we called and they said they would be airing the game, so our plan was set. (By the way, how did people find these things on vacation before smartphones? My iPhone and his EVO were working non-stop while we researched places to eat each day!) We walked in an hour before the game and were greeted with a sea of black and gold. Gotta love Steeler Nation, as this was only a preseason game!

We got some beers and an appetizer when we got there and planned on ordering our meal during halftime, which is our typical eating schedule when we head to a bar for a football game during the season. We chose the spinach artichoke dip (one of our favorite appetizers no matter where we are) and weren’t disappointed – hot, cheesy and served with a variety of red, blue and yellow tortilla chips. We probably could have eaten double the amount that was there! Now, my dinner here was really my only food complaint of the whole weekend. I chose the Chicken & Shrimp Pad Thai, but was not at all prepared for how insanely spicy the dish was. I only had three bites and it was just way too hot for me to even remotely enjoy. My Chief Culinary Consultant said he would try it since he loves really spicy food; we ultimately swapped plates and I ate his Coconut Shrimp (served with a mango scotch dipping sauce and mashed potatoes and vegetables). The coconut shrimp was fabulous, and even though he said it was by far the spiciest thing he had ever eaten, he enjoyed the chicken & shrimp pad thai.

Stack em High

Locations in Kitty Hawk, NC and Kill Devil Hills, NC

Stack 'em High Pancake House

Stack em High was one of the places that seemed like a hot breakfast spot and a must-do before we left, so we hit it up on our way out of town on Sunday. At first we were a little wary about the long line, but I have to say – the place has a really efficient system in place. You wait in line cafeteria-style and can pick up fruit salad, juice or other drinks, and then order your meal at the register at the end. You get a table number and a server brings out the meal when it’s ready, which took less than 5 minutes and the place was packed! I ordered a short stack of pancakes (3) with sausage and hash browns. My Chief Culinary Consultant got the same dish but in place of plain hash browns, he got cheese and bacon smothered hash browns. Everything was awesome, and probably some of the best diner-style pancakes I’ve ever had, but I could only get through about half of the food (huge portions!). We hit the road with our tummies full and already missing the beach before it was out of sight.

Wright Memorial and Elizabeth II replica ship

In between the sand, sun, eating and cheering the Steelers, we also managed to hit up the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk and the Roanoke Island Festival Park (where we viewed a replica of the 16th century British merchant ship, the Elizabeth II) on Roanoke Island in Manteo. Both were great stops, didn’t take up too much time, and I’d recommend if you have a couple of hours to kill.

We also grabbed some salt water taffy from Forbes that was busted open about 2 minutes after we got into the car with it. Completely addictive and all that wonderful salt water taffy from the beach should be; I think strawberry and blue raspberry were my favorite flavors. I am going to ration it so that I can continue to enjoy the beach while the weather gets cooler here in Pittsburgh.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

More travel posts:

Good Eats in NYC
Good Eats in South Florida


32 Responses to “Good Eats in the Outer Banks”

  1. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking on August 25, 2010 at 1:44 am

    LOVE the Outer Banks! I lived in Beaufort (the NC one, not the SC one) for a few months and enjoyed it so much.

    Thanks for sharing your faves! I hope to try them!


  2. Debbie on August 25, 2010 at 2:19 am

    You read my mind! I am going to a wedding in the Outer Banks in 2 weeks and had no idea what to do or where to go. I love researching places before I go and you just did that for me, thank you so much!


  3. Julie on August 25, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I have been to 3 out of the four places that you spoke of, and they are my favorites too!! Along with Jockeys Rib in Nags Head and Kill Devils in Kill Devil Hills. OBX brewing station is my all time favorite though by far and the Heffeweizen is the best! It has subtle banana notes and it is light and fabulous! So jealous of your trip! It is definitely one of the most beautiful places on earth! 🙂


  4. wvfinn on August 25, 2010 at 7:46 am

    The best food hands down is at Tortuga’s Lie. A very local hangout. Also great food at Mama Kwan’s and Goombay’s. We had a very good pie from “Slice” also recommended by locals. Loved this topic as we just returned from OBX. I lived there for a winter in 2005. Fun place.


  5. Surcie on August 25, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Next time, y’all have to come a little further south to Wilmington. The two beaches here are Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. We have a ton of great independent restaurants, cafes, bakeries, etc.


    • Michelle on August 25th, 2010 at 7:57 am

      Surcie, We’re actually looking to get to Wilmington to tour the USS Carolina at some point, but it was too far for our weekend trip this time though. If you have any specific recommendations, please feel free to send them my way!


  6. Shelley on August 25, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I live about an hour and a half away from the Outer Banks and my family has a cottage in Kitty Hawk so we frequent quite often. I’m so glad you got to visit, its like having a celebrity in town!! Of all the places you mentioned to eat, I’ve only been to stack em high and the Brewing Station to listen to music. If you return, you must try Owens, for some finer dining and the Black Pelican, they are awesome. Glad you enjoyed your stay!!!


  7. Foodlvr on August 25, 2010 at 9:00 am

    We went to OBX two summers ago. We loved Awful Arthurs for lunch, not dinner. We also loved Basington’s ?? I forget the spelling. We loved Sam &Omie’s door breakfast and there was a great Thai/Chinese on the local road. We also loved the ice cream place – not part of the shopping centerline. Forget the name now. I would have to check my scrapbook for names. We ate like crazy on OBX. We didn’t go to any of these places you mentioned. Glad you had a great time.

    When it comes to my favorite town to visit though, that would be Siesta Key, FL. We go every other summer to visit with family and to eat at Phillippi’s. So good. Eat the best in that area.


  8. Rodzilla on August 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Looks like an amazing time! I love how you always manage to find some Pittsburgh sports on your vacations.

    My favorite vacation spot is Cape Cod, MA around the 4th of July.


  9. jaclyn@todayslady on August 25, 2010 at 10:13 am

    What a great getaway! Love that you ended up fitting some Steelers into it!!

    My favorite vacation spot is London. I have family there so I get the best of both worlds. A place to stay and comfort from family, so I don’t get homesick too much. AND a great city with so much to see!


  10. Emily on August 25, 2010 at 10:30 am

    LOVE the Outer Banks Brewing Station! We went twice during our OBX vacation two years ago. And we now proudly display their growler in our kitchen. Oh, I hope to go back some day.


  11. Maria on August 25, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Glad you had a fun trip with good eats!


  12. Allison on August 25, 2010 at 10:39 am

    That sounds like a fantastic trip with some delicious food!

    And my favorite vacation spot is Pittsburgh. 😉


  13. Amanda @ Bakingwithoutabox on August 25, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! I always tuck reviews like these into memory for when we travel that way. I know we’ll be in Eastern TN in January. Never know when we might make it over to Outer Banks, but I’ll be heading to that diner first thing.


  14. Seaside Vacations on August 25, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Great restaurants and great reviews.

    We’re so glad you chose the Outer Banks for your vacation.

    We’d love to help you plan your next OBX trip. Please let us know if we can help.

    Have fun!

    Seaside Vacations

    4820 N. Croatan Hwy
    Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
    (866) 884-0267


  15. Linda K on August 25, 2010 at 11:29 am

    We spend a week in OBX ever spring and the Black Pelican is the only place we MUST visit. We usually go more than once so we can enjoy their great pizza as well as their great dinner specials. Can’t wait to go back.


  16. Angie on August 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Owens in Nags Head… hands down the best! I also love Duck Deli BBQ…sooooo good! Oh and Duck Doughnuts …delish!


  17. Terry on August 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I’m soooo jealous! We love the Outer Banks and usually go at Christmas to get away. We’ve wanted to try the kill devil grill but it’s always closed during that time, now I know what we’ve been missing! Can’t wait to get back down there!


  18. Kim - Liv Life on August 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve spent most of my life here on the West Coast, but I’ve always wanted to visit some of the wonderful places I’ve seen photos of on the East. Love your pics and reviews. So glad you had a good time!


  19. yvonne on August 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    The Outer Banks is my family’s very favorite vacation spot. I never felt the restaurants were fantastic so we often bought fresh seafood and grilled at home. We did frequent Duck Deli for their pulled pork sandwich.


  20. torviewtoronto on August 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    lovely picture our favourite vacation spot is prince edward island Canada


  21. The Housewife on August 25, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve never been to that side of the country and I hope to soon! How fun does barefoot bernies sound?!


  22. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking on August 25, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Wow, looks like you had a great time on your vacation! Thanks for the update and great pictures, Michelle!


  23. Belinda @zomppa on August 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Outer Banks is such a great relaxing spot. Thanks for the heads up on the food places – that shrimp ‘n’ grits especially.


  24. June g. on August 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you sooo much for featuring the outer banks! You must have driven right by my house in currituck:) I never know where to go down there and you picked places I’ve been curious about.


  25. jean on August 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    OBX???!!!! SO jealous. 🙂 Looks like you found some fantastic food finds!


  26. BeckyS on August 25, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I second the vote for Owen’s, great dining! Love the Outer Banks but I love Wilmington even more! My Mom and Step Dad live there! When in Wilmington try to stop at Elijah’s, great food, trust me! Also, Elijah’s is not far from the Battleship North Carolina!
    When in Wilmington if you enjoy historic places, visit Fort Fisher, a Civil War site. I love history…
    As a fellow Pittsburgher I can tell you that when in Wilmington visit “Break Time Sports Bar” Totally Steelers! Located on College Road in Wilmington.


  27. michelle on August 25, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    If you venture a little off the beaten path in the Outer Banks – you’ll find some fantastic Thai. Take the ferry over to Ocracoke – there’s only 1 Thai place there – enjoy the 14 miles of lovely beaches and the quaint harbor, tour around a bit to see the cute little shops, then dig in. While we were there, the daily special was a fish curry (I’m sure that’s a frequent special) and it was delish. Be sure to bring an ice-filled cooler to pick up the catch of the day – the local fishermen stock a little shop by the harbor with gorgeous tuna, crab, clams, and whatever else comes in fresh that morning. Worth at least a day trip.


  28. The Mom Chef on August 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Well, if you ever head inland in North Carolina, towards the mountains, stop by and we’ll show you another beautiful part of the state. Even though I live here, since I grew up in Chicago I’m first and foremost a Chicago Bears fan. That being said, My hubby is a PA guy and so the Steelers are also on my cheering list. And, Troy Polamalu makes my heart go pitter pat. Ok, it’s more like THUMP THUMP THUMP, but I AM married after all.


  29. Traci on August 29, 2010 at 8:13 am

    So glad that you enjoyed your time here. The best place by far in KDH is one that you missed, Flying Fish Cafe. Spectacular food & they’ve been featured on the food network. I hope you tried the wings at Kill Devil Grill, IMO they are the best! For a complete list of restaurants, coupons & a free iPhone app try next time 🙂


  30. Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes on September 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Sounds like you had a great time! I think I was in the Keys the same weekend as you were here, and I have to say my favorite part of getting away is all the food and drink! We stay in Islamorada at a place called Cheeca Lodge – it is amazing, highly recommend if you’re ever in the area. The food there is outstanding, and there are tons of great mom and pop places within about one mile of the place on either side. Heaven!


  31. Deborah Dowd on September 6, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    What a great trip- we usually stay in the north beaches, but I have always wanted to go to Eat and Get the Hell Out!!


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