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Looking for inexpensive seafood restaurant- Outer Banks, NC

We will be in Nags Head, on the Outer Banks of NC for a week starting on Labor Day weekend. We are looking for an inexpensive seafood restaurant - the kind of place where they put brown paper on the tables. Steamed crabs, shrimp - that kind of thing. When we were there last year, we tried a seafood buffet in Kill Devil Hills, and not only was it expensive for what it was, but the food was mediocre at best. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We would be willing to drive 20 minutes or so out of the area. There will be anywhere from 6-16 people going - and it would most likely be for dinner during the week. Thanks so much!

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  1. Most of the restaurants here serve seafood of some sort. So, what you're really looking for is an affordable family style restaurant. I wouldn't recommend any seafood buffet, the seafood is frozen and they're usually very expensive. I can highly recommend Sam and Omie's on the beach road in Nags Head. Simple food, deliciously prepared.252-441-7366. It's small, but if you call ahead, they may be able to accomodate a larger group. It's a local hangout for years and the food is terrific. A bit more high end would be Owen's. 252-441-7309. They've been around for 60 years and they're fabulous, albeit a bit more expensive. Also, Darrell's in Manteo (about 20 minutes from Nags Head) does a good job on seafood.252-473-5366--I had the best rockfish I've ever had there. First choice, Sam and Omie's. I would avoid Basnight's Lone Cedar, overpriced and kinda like eating in a cafeteria.

    2 Replies
    1. re: SweetPhyl

      I found Sam and Omie's in a previous search, but it isn't the kind of restaurant we were hoping for. Perhaps a better way to describe what we want is a crab shack - the kind of place where they do mostly steamed crabs, steamers, steamed shrimp, etc. Many seafood stores do the steamed crabs/shrimp, but we wanted a place where we could eat in, as opposed to making a mess with crabs at home. Thanks for your help!

      1. re: NadineS

        not sure you're going to find this on the OB, nadine. you're best bet may be to do it yourself -- that's how we eat this style of food when we are on the outer banks.

      1. You are looking for a raw bar or seafood bar. You might try Awful Arthur's in Kitty Hawk. There's also Dirty Dick's Crab House (yeah, I know...terrible name) I've never eaten there, but they do the steamed crabs thing. When we get crabs, we usually get them from the fish store, spread out the newspaper on the picnic table and have at it. Most restaruants don't steam crabs...due to the smell and the mess. But I think Dirty Dicks might do just that.

        1. Try the Red Drum.

          Awful's is certainly that, awful. And, Dirty Dick's isn't too far behind.

          1. Seafood and inexpensive is an oxymoron. There are no great "crab shacks" on the beach. My fav on the Banks is Tortugas Lie, mi post 11.5 on the beach road. They have a web page and the menu on it. I know it doesn't look like what you're looking for, but they do have some GREAT seafood specials that aren't on the menu. Small but affordable and you will feel like you got your moneys worth. Definitely a locals hangout.

            1. I am sitting in Kill Devil Hills s you read this. Inexpensive and seafood do not, as the previous person said so elegantly, go together! ESPECIALLY with fuel prices the way they are. We have been to Awful Arthur's (stay out of the lounge but the downstairs bar and restaurant are terrific), Tale of the Whale, Goombays, and will be going to the Red Drum on this, our last night.

              We live a mile from the ocean on Long Island and we know seafood. it is good and plentiful down here but, as we say in sales, you get what you pay for. Thats why we avoid the Jersey Shore at all costs (besides the swearing and the gold chains).

              Spring for the bucks! Whip out the plastic and enjoy, otherwise, what's the point?

              Hint: Goombays on the Beach Road. order 2 Goombay Smashes and savor the food, it's fantastic!


              5 Replies
              1. re: keitho51

                We have a saying down here,Good Seafood is not Cheap and Cheap Seafood is not Good.

                1. re: jellybear

                  I never said I was looking for "cheap" seafood, I said I was looking for "inexpensive" seafood places. I know good seafood is not cheap - I simply have no interest in going with a group of people to an expensive restaurant - where you take someone for a birthday, anniversary, etc. I was looking for a CASUAL restaurant - elbows on the table, no frills, no liquor license..... INEXPENSIVE.


                  1. re: NadineS

                    I think I know the type place you are talking about. I once lived in Fl. and most every beach had at least one. They were often little open air places, sometimes disguised as a beach bar, but with killer food. Shrimp, crab or fish sandwiches, smoked fish platters, chowder, steamed shrimp and raw oysters. Nothing fancy, but the seafood was fresh and prepared perfectly! And a token, but tasty, burger for those not as enamored with ocean fare.

                    I keep checking this thread hoping to learn of a similar type place in the OBX! I'm in the process of deciding on lodging for an off season trip there. The research has made me think that the majority of visitors rent cottages and are family groups. If that is correct, perhaps having kitchen facilities cuts down on the more casual dining needs....so there are fewer places catering to that diner.

                    1. re: meatn3

                      Sorry, this is just not a kind of restaurant that is common on the NC coast. Don't assume that the folks on this board are being obtuse - they're just trying to give you some other options. I'm a North Carolina native and I think of this type of eatery as something to be enjoyed when I'm travelling in FL, MD etc. - because we don't have it here. Don't know why, may have to do with the type/available quantity of local seafood, maybe with land prices, maybe just a cultural thing.

                      1. re: dubedo

                        I didn't think anyone was obtuse! I was trying to clarify what my impression was of the OP's request...

                        I suspect that the family nature of the beach coupled with the visitors taking most meals at their rental have something to do with it. The beaches where I have experienced the beach bar type place seem to have a wider range of visitor who are largely staying in hotels. Hotel stays = more meals taken out!

                        I hadn't seen this sort of place at a NC beach, but I have not explored them all! So far Howards Pub (IIRC the name) on Ocracoke is the closest to this type spot that I've found.

              2. We vacationon the OBX every year- but eat most of our meals at our rental. I have looked at recommendatins from an OBX board, and Tortugas Lie in Nags Head has gotten good reviews from vacationers and locals alike. ALso found a few thumbs up for Barefoot BErnies in Kitty Hawk. Most of the restaurants can handle large crowds, as lots of people vacationing there are large family groups ( we are 20+), but we tend to eat in, buying seafood one night to cook, and cooking up anything we may catch during the week.