Good Eats in 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
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 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
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 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.
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?