Best Restaurants

Out of all the restaurants in a city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer carefully vetted selections to let you explore Outer Banks dining on your own. If time is really tight, though, and you don't have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Outer Banks Best Restaurants list. Here, we distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can't miss.


A haven for local fishermen through much of the 20th century, Sam & Omie's has gradually evolved into the popular family restaurant it is today. The folks here haven't forgotten about their rich history, though, as pictures and memorabilia illustrating the feats of seasoned fishermen deck the rustic, wood walls. Hearty omelets and fluffy pancakes are available on the breakfast menu, and burgers, fresh fish, steaks and steamers round out the lunch and dinner menus. Sam & Omie's is located just a few hundred yards from the beach, so don't worry about coming in barefoot for a drink or a bite to eat.

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Expect to find old-fashioned, hardy Outer Banks cuisine at this fine family restaurant. Established in 1946 by the Owens and Shannon families, this Outer Banks institution has bought from and fed local fisherman for over fifty years, perfecting popular seafood dishes like shrimp and grits, crab cakes, and pecan crusted scallops. Owens' Restaurant also showcases authentic artifacts that reflect the area's rich maritime history and the longstanding tradition of the restaurant itself.

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Situated in a quaint, Victorian cottage under 300+ year-old live oaks in the sound-side village of Colington Harbor, The Colington Café is the gem of the Outer Banks dining scene. Southern Living rated it as The Best Restaurant for the Best Price on the Outer Banks. Its homey interior reflects the area's humble beginnings without sacrificing elegance.Diners select from an eclectic menu that ranges from filets with French-inspired sauces to Southern-style backfin crab cakes to grilled local shrimp topped with a tropical fruit salsa. Guests will also delight in the presence of historic North Carolina artwork. Despite its upscale atmosphere, this restaurant maintains surprisingly modest prices on an outstanding menu.

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It's not summer until you have some good old-fashioned North Carolina barbecue. On the Outer Banks, Pigman's is the place to get it. A few simple ingredients and slow-roasted pork combine for some of the best barbecue in North Carolina. Pigman's catering packages are also a great idea for large families or groups vacationing in the area.

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Named in honor of the legendary seabird that assisted the Kitty Hawk Lifesaving Crew in rescuing several stranded boatmen, The Black Pelican Restaurant is located within the same 1874 building as the original lifesaving headquarters. Its rich history and beautiful Carolina architecture are home to one of the best family restaurants in the Outer Banks. The extensive menu of wood-fired pizzas, seafood, and steamers will please parents and children alike, and the vibrant atmosphere, beachfront location and fun bar games will make for a memorable vacation experience.

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Overlooking Pirate's Cove Marina, Hurricane Moe's boasts a unique view of Pirate's Cove and the Marina. While waiting for dinner, take time to observe local fishermen docking extravagant fishing boats and unloading the day's catch. Afterward, enjoy dining in a festive, casual atmosphere as you overlook the busy harbor below. The menu boasts a plethora of seafood dishes prepared with the very fish caught and delivered by the fishing crews that use the adjacent harbor.

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JK's Restaurant
Photo courtesy of JK's

Not just a summer hotspot, this upscale eatery has been a year-round favorite in the Outer Banks since its opening in 1984. Surrounded by family seafood restaurants, JK's broke the sameness of the Outer Banks dining scene by featuring the best in American cuisine. That's not to say seafood is absent from the menu, but mesquite grilled steaks, ribs, and lamb are the signature dishes. A low-lit, simple interior allows the fine food and premier American wine selections to be the focal point of this dining experience.

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Opened in 1975 as one of the first restaurants in the Outer Banks, this hot dog joint has stuck to what works: serving up every style of frank, crinkle-cut French fries, and that great crushed ice in the drinks that's so hard to find. It's easy to see why past presidents and celebrities like Johnny Cash and John McEnroe have dined here and posted their endorsement pictures on the wall. Dine in and let Mom and Dad showcase their gaming skills on the ancient arcade game in the back or call ahead for a take-out lunch on the beach.

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Situated in a small beachside house at the northern end of the Beach Road, this cozy eatery is a popular breakfast/coffee stop, burger joint, and evening cocktail bar all rolled into one. Art's counter and booth seating remains busy throughout the summer months because of his modest prices and generous portions. With a front porch and deck, guests can also enjoy a cool beverage or dine outside.

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Gazing at the sunset-tinged Currituck Sound while enjoying the finest in coastal North Carolina cuisine, prepared often with organically grown, local ingredients, is the perfect way to enjoy an evening in the Outer Banks. Warm the palate with the steamed Prince Edward Island mussels and follow with the lump crabmeat and smoked salmon sauté. An large, eclectic mix of American and international wines accompanies the Blue Point's exquisite menu. Enjoy a drink on the waterfront screened porch before your meal because this restaurant is worth the wait. The bar offers a less pricey menu of lunch and dinner favorites.

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