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Where To Eat Near Nag's Head, NC?

  • d

I'll be traveling to Nag's Head on the Outer Banks of NC in a few weeks. Where do folks recommend eating? Seafood is my first choice but I'd be interested in hearing of other good places to eat.

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  1. Tortuga's Lie - on the beach road. fried/broiled seafood with caribbean twists. Try the cocoanut shrimp/chicken. Fun atmosphere/interior paint job, kid friendly.
    Penquin Isle - Soundfront, great sunsets. More upscale than most. Extensive wine list.
    Tale of the Whale - on the Causeway over to Manteo, soundfront. Also more on the upscale side. And quieter than most spots. They have a gazebo out over the sound with live music at night. For me they use too many dried herbs that mask the flavor of the seafood. But they have small plates, which are more normal sized portions than the usual seafood platters.
    Sugarcreek - at Whalebone Junction where the road curves to go into Manteo. Soundfront views - great sunsets. Casual, standard OBX seafood. They also have a take out place called the Sugar Shack across the parking lot - local seafood to go raw or steamed/fried. Also you can eat out their picnic tables.
    And the best of all is --- Basnights Lone Cedar - on the Causeway over to Manteo. Cannot be beaten for standard outer banks seafood. Try the local brown shrimp if available. Also the broiled scallops. Everything is fresh and local. The main dining room is big and can get loud - ask for one of the back rooms. Very crowded after church on Sundays.

    I would avoid Sam and Omies, the Dunes, Owens, Millers, Kellys, all of the buffet places with frozen crab legs. All middle-of-the-road tired spots with less than stellar service and food.

    If you need Mexican there is also La Fogata on the Bypass across from Outback for standard american-mexican food.

    5 Replies
    1. re: katva

      Many thanks. That's a very complete list. I'll only be there 2 nights so I should be able to find a couple good places among your list. The Tale of the Whale sounds especially nice. I love eating outdoors so the gazebo sounds ideal.

      1. re: katva

        Maybe I'm a Mexican snob but pass on La Fogata. My father in law (an OBX local) takes us there sometimes. On our last visit they were OUT OF LIMES! Sorry, that's inexcusable.

        1. re: katva

          Skip Sam and Omie's, living on a past rep, and La Fogata, which was never good. Check out Mama Kwan's, the Outer Banks Brewing Company, Kill Devil Custard and Cap'n Franks.

          1. re: nickdanger

            I've long been a fan of Mama Kwan's. I've read they also run a place called Mexicalli Brews. I'm usually at OBX in the off season and it's always closed, it it any good?

            1. re: LBD

              Fair. Went last year when it opened, but passed this year. More "commercial" than Kwan's, in that there was nothing you could not find (probably) near your home. The outdoor area with the cornhole game is ok to drink at if there is a wait. I haven't found any Southwest/Mexican place in OBX worth going, since Chilli Peppers changed their menu a few years back. I should mention that the best (that is well prepared) meal I had last week was at the Kill Devil Grill (formerly Millies). Colington softshells over gumbo. If I was there another week, I'd go back for the halibut that was sold out by the time I ordered!

        2. I agree - Tortuga's Lie is just fabulous. Sooo good. I also loved Awful Arthur's and Basnight's was so wonderful. A bit fancier but worth the money. So good. We had the most yummy scallops wrapped in prosciutto. So good. We loved our breakfast at Sam & Omie's. Thought it was far from middle of the road. My husband had the Eggs Benedict made with fresh crab. It was outrageous. The ice cream at Logan's was just the best. Also there was this great ice cream place in a strip mall, I forget the name of the place. It was near this place with kayaks in all colors. The thai food at Thai Garden rocked. Plus we got there before they opened and they opened for us and the owner cooked for us. The food was TDF.

          OBX rocks. You will love it. I spent a week there last summer. We'll be back again as we all loved it. It was a bit crowded, a fairly young crowd, but there was so much to do and the food in general was excellent.

          1. I have to go with the "no" crowd on Sam and Omie's - mediocre food and surly service are never a pleasant combination. We did, however, really enjoy Owens when we were there in April - the service was wonderful and while the food wasn't anything cutting edge, it was tasty and well-prepared. I'd go there again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Suzy Q

              I totally disagree...Sam & Omie's is an OBX staple....been there for over 30 years! It's not fancy food albeit, but great burgers, and lots of fried stuf. I've eaten there probably 20 times in my life and never had a bad meal or bad service. "Surly" service is just part of the charm....don't be so uptight to go there. Food is great and the atmosphere is true old school OBX.

            2. Been vacationing in Nags Head for the last 41 years my favorite places are JK’s on the bypass, and The Red Drum Taphouse. Granted they are not in “Nags Head” proper but they have great food.

              I can’t comment on the Sugar Shack or Sugarcreek since I have avoided them for the past couple years. Too loud and crowded for me.

              I think Sam and Omie’s is a crapshoot, you never know what you’ll get. I go out of tradition, it’s a block from my motel, and have enjoyed the food for the most part. It’s turned into something of a dive, where the local fisherman hangout.

              Favorite for “Mexican” is Don Gatos (if it’s still there, I didn’t get there last year and don’t remember seeing it).

              Tale of the Whale would be a good choice. It’s been a perennial favorite since I was a kid. Although, the last time I was there, you could not eat outside. The gazebo and deck were for waiting.

              Absolutely avoid The Dunes!

              OH!, and go to Darrell’s in Manteo for the best hushpuppies in the world. :-P

              5 Replies
              1. re: cuccubear

                No outdoor eating at Tale of the Whale. How sad. Any other places around the Nags Head area that do have outdoor dining?

                1. re: d.v

                  Not that I know of. I believe there are some places that have "happy hour" outside, but for dining I've never seen it there.

                  1. re: cuccubear

                    You can sit outside at the Full Moon Cafe in downtown Manteo. Only been for lunch when they had a nice selection of non-fried seafood entrees, sandwiches, soups, salads.
                    Also at Poor Richards in Manteo, which is on the waterfront - good view of boat traffice and the Elizabeth II, a replica of a 16th C ship with costumed deckahands and a cannon - and is a good spot for kids. Its very casual - burgers and breakfast.

                  2. re: d.v

                    Not that many. There a few tables on the upper deck bar at Run Down Cafe, mile 1 in Kitty Hawk. There were some ads for the Pearl restaurant that said it was the only dining room right on the beach; maybe they had outdoor tables, but as it is part of a hotel, I did not investigate. I think Ocean Boulevard, mp 3 or so, has some outside tables that may serve drinks and bar food. Many more casual places have picnic tables, to eat at, like Captain Franks or Kill Devil Custard. Not "dining" as much as eating.

                  3. re: cuccubear

                    Don Gatos has been closed for years. LaFogata is just your average mexican but it's not bad. New place, Plaza Azteca, is NOT good (read other reviews). Best (Southwest type) Mex now is Bad Bean Baja Grill in KDH, mp 4.5 in Seagate North Shopping Center (where Coastal cactus used to be). Awesome marinated, slow roasted pulled meats make for great tacos, burritos, etc. They also have some fancier stuff if you are wanting to step it up a notch.

                  4. I've always enjoyed Pigman's for barbecue. Its on the main road but I forget if its in Kitty Hawk or KDH.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: biga290

                      Pigman's is good...and they are in Kill Devil Hills, right in the middle of everything, across from McDonalds. They have traditional NC (vinegar based) pork. I absolutely love the Turkey-Que. It's saucy and tender. People always rave about the Tuna-que (but I am not into tuna so much so I haven't tried it).

                    2. Probably too late to be able to eat there now, but our favorite place down there is a little place called Goombay's. They have an excellent fish taco that we have been unable to replicate at any other place we have tried since then. It is a little place on beach road, I think around milepost 7, but it is wonderful and the staff was always great to us. They even gave us a container of their homemade seafood spice to take home with us.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BigJeffNC

                        Goombays is always a good choice. They close for a little bit in Jan-Feb, but are open all other times.