Here's What We've Picked for 1st Trip to Nag's Head
Input?? We are there for a week and would like to do a mix of dining out and cooking in - three or four dinners out (one definitely being on Sunday when we get in) and probably three lunches out, one may be in Corrolla or Duck or Okracoke if we are there on a day trip.
Am I missing anything or am I way off on anything? It's our first time visiting the area.
Not To Miss:
Tourtugas Lie - dinner or lunch?
Basnights Lone Cedar - dinner
Blue Moon Beach Grill - dinner
Kill Devil Grill - dinner
Go if There's Time:
Mama Kwan’s - lunch
Outer Banks Brewing Station - lunch or dinner?
Awful Arthur's - lunch or dinner?
Howard’s – Okracoke lunch
Henry's for breakfast
Beach Bread – good bread for sandwiches
Austins Market in Nags Head – seafood for cooking in
Sugar Shack - seafood for cooking in
produce stand in Kill Devil Hills at Seagate Shopping Center
We were just at Weeping Radish in Jarvisburg. Great beer from their brewery and brats for lunch from their butcher shop. It's definitely worth a stop for lunch. And if you're renting somewhere with a kitchen, they provide a fresh-from-the-fields basket of produce to go with the great seafood you can get from the other markets. They do once per week drop offs all along the Outer Banks & you can order from their website.
My not to miss list, south to north:
In Manteo -
Full Moon Cafe for lunch. Nice outside seating, but no water view. Nicer casual. Salads, soups, sandwiches, pastas. Not as much emphasis on fried fried fried.
Poor Richards - locals spot for breakfast/lunch. Rear deck on the docks overlooks Festival Park. cheap. very casual.
Stripers. Its in the Shallowbag Bay condo development, behind the McDonalds. Overlooks the marina and sound. Casual. Standard OBX foods - lots of fried stuff - but with a twist. And he always several non-fried options - pasta with red pepper sauce w/shrimp, fabulous oyster bisque with chimichurri (oysters+chimi. yes. delicious.), asian salads with well-cooked tuna and nice sauce/dressing. The chef participates in cooking classes in the off-season. Outdoor seating on first and third levels.
On the Causeway -
Basnights. Yes its loud - ask to be seated in one of the back rooms. No, there is nothing fancy on the menu, no trendy or new flavors. But if you want local seafood this is the best. They do the standards - fried shrimp and fried/raw oysters (never a bit of shell), crabcakes, broiled scallops, seared tuna, tile/grouper/mahi better than anyone else, starting with their local fresh seafood. The clean/shuck it themselves on site. If you want to go for Sunday lunch either get there before noon or wait until after 1.30 - its very popular with the church crowd. Casual, but nicer at lunch on Sundays. Kids shrimp dinner is w/real shrimp, not popcorn.
Daniel's for crabs - take out only.
Sugarshack - takeout raw/steaned seafood. homemade potato chips. soundside picnic tables.
On the beach road-
Tortuga's Lie - casual - straight off the beach is fine. fun atmosphere. caribbean/island spin on things. nice cocoanut shrimp. std side is black beans, not slaw! Good for kids - kids sized food is good, kid-drinks.
Goombays - similar to Tortuga's. one or the other has painted the ceiling to look like you are swimming underwater, looking up towards the surface.
Off the beaten path - Colington Cafe - I think this is dinner only. Go WEST off the bypass past the airport and its on the left, kind of on a bend. No beach/water view, but in a nice tree shaded location if kids need to run around. Decor is a bit dated and cutsey cottage. The food is nothing cutting edge but is dependably good. Most items are sauted or grilled instead of the usual fried, topped with variety of fruit salsas and sauces. Less expensive than on the beach. Grilled stuff is usually topped with a nice but terribly exciting fruit salsa. good garlic mashed potatos. Vegs are not cooked to death. The she crab soup is delicious. Also the crab dip. If you cannot decide get the app sampler as dinner and it will be plenty. I would call it more dressy than most. Shorts are OK but nice shorts, with a button-up shirt or nice polo, not ratty shorts and ts, no bare mid-riffs. Many locals come here at prom/graduation time. I would make a reservation Th-Sunday.
Duck - Blue Point. Sound views. Great food. More trendy/new/hip with their menu. Pricey.
I have only been for lunch. Its small, so if you want to try it for dinner i would recommend a reservation. Nice casual.
I have heard, but not seen firesthand, that the Pearl in the SeaRanch in KDH offers oceanfront seating. Like on a deck on the beach. It is new this year. I would imagine its on the high side, maybe need a dinner reservation.
While Howard's is an institution on Ocracoke, it isn't that way due to food. It's the only place that stayed open 365 days a year (until recently), and it has a HUGE beer list. But the food is so-so. If you ask what fish was caught that day and order that, it is good. But that's true of every place on the island.
If you are looking for really good, imaginative meals using local seafood, try the new Dajio's. Or go to Smac Nally's where you can sit on the docks and toss hush puppy fragments to the ducks. Both are further into the village and have a much less touristy vibe.
Thanks for the input everyone. I am thinking of scratching Basnights Lone Cedar as our "nice" dinner. Perhap's subbing with Blue Point in Duck and I need to look at JK's too. Seems like Kill Devil Grill and Blue Moon are also a little pricier but they look pretty casual. Maybe we won't have a fancier night out at all. So now the not to miss are:
Kill Devil Grill
and hopefully Blue Point.
How similar are Mama Kwans and Tortugas? Looking at MK's for lunch, as well as mojo's recs for our day in Okracoke. Pop's sounds fun too for when we go see the lighthouse in Hatteras.
re: miss piggy
Mama Kwans and Tortugas are not similar. Be aware that it's hard to get into Tortugas because it's small. I've always liked the Brew Station for lunch or dinner. Also try Miller's on the sounds for lunch (haven't been there for dinner). Kelly's is also good. Renditions is also a good new restaurant at MP 4 on the bypass. If you're cooking at your place, make sure to hit Austin's (MP 14 or so) for awesome local seafood.
Kelly's used to be very good. We've not been to the outer banks in at least 3 or 4 years, but are going in the fall. Kelly's was always worth one or two visits then, we plan to try it again.
The Red Drum is a locals type place that has the best blackened grouper sandwich I've ever eaten.
Not a fan of Basnight's, but not due to the food.
If RV's is still open, their fried seafood used to be "can't miss" as well.
IMO, Outer Banks Brewery's beer outstrips the food, which has always just been so so. Maybe better for lunch if you're inclined to just have some bar food and a beer. We really like Grits Grill for breakfast; make sure you get one of their Frisbee sized biscuits to start the day right. Lucky 12 is another good place for good quality pizza, etc; the owner also runs a fancier place in Corolla, and puts more thought into the casual menu than most places. If you find yourself down Hatteras way, make sure you go to Pop's raw bar for some old school Outer Banks ambiance.
re: miss piggy
It has been years and years since I've eaten at Goombay's. That's the only testament I can make, that they've been around for so long, they must be doing something right. Your list sounds good to me.
Also if you're in the mood for pizza, I always go the Daredevil Inn.
Hope you report back and tell us what you think...
re: miss piggy
Just got back from Nag's Head and ate at several of the mentioned restaurants:
Basnight's Lone Cedar - I've tried this restaurant twice, both on Sunday lunch, and can't figure out where the appeal lies. The testamonial on the front of the menu is right up my alley (local fish, local veg, organic meat), but doesn't trump the bad cooking. All of our food was underseasoned and average at best. The best things ordered were fried green tomatoes (pepper jelly was too sweet, but the dish was good) and a crabcake for a child. The rest of our meal consisted of bland and downright poor food. Shrimp & Scallop Bisque with no flavor, Fried whole butterfish (No salt, no sauce), blackened spanish Mackerel (no salt) with pineapple salsa (ok) and terrible, mushy green beans and gluey mashed redskin potatoes (both bland), Seared Tuna Appetizer (No Seasoning) seamingly cut to highlight every piece of white sinew possible. Maybe it's a different story at dinner, but the cooking I've experienced doesn't lead me to believe so.
Tortuga's Lie - This is a fun restaurant. The food will not blow you away, but it's tasty. Good steamers (cooked perfectly, no grit), Nachos, Wings, Fish tacos, salsa, a great Tuna sandwich (grilled rare w/ plenty of spice, topped with balsamic marinated strawberries and goat cheese) that sounded wierd but turned out nice. Beware of their jerk seasoning. I think it's way too herby tasting (thyme or marjoram) and can ruin an otherwise tasty dish ( like a burger). The prices are very fair for the beach.
Goombays - Outside of a pretty good burger, soft shell crab sandwich and creamy clam chowder, the food here was sub-par. gritty, overcooked steamers, straight from the freezer appetizer sampler (overbreaded coconut shrimp, fried scallop, Jalapeno crab ball) served with plain spicy brown mustard as a dipping sauce, prefab fries similar to burger king, usnpectacular wings, salsa and blue cheese straight from foodservice. It was almost half as much as Tortugas and wasn't half as good.
Hope this helps and someone let me know what I'm missing at Lone Cedar. I don't think my wife could be convinced into going back.
Hi! If you didn't try the she crab soup at the Lone Cedar, that's what you missed. The best she crab soup I've ever tasted! Also enjoyed the crab dip! Can you tell we love crab? The lump crab meat in both appetizers was plentiful and tasty!
For our meals we chose the pork tenderloin- which has an amazing sauce- and the crab stuffed shrimp. The shrimp were large and nicely cooked and topped with.... wait for it... lump crab meat with some seasoning that was just perfect!!!!
We were too full for dessert but decided to take a piece of their hershey bar cake to go and loved it when we ate that a few hours later!
Also agree with the thumbs up for Kill Devil Grill. They have a cheese steak eggroll that is quite tasty!!