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Trip Report - Nags Head, Outer Banks

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We just returned from a week in the Outer Banks. I'd like to thank everyone who gave me recs in an earlier post. Here is what we thought:

Tortuga's Lie - went there 2x, first and last night since it was right across the street from our rental. Staff was definitely partying, fortunately that did not really translate to poor service, but I think they could have been a little more efficient. I thought it was much better the second night. I ordered fish tacos both times - the first b/c I was itching to try them, the second b/c I really wanted something light after stuffing myself silly for a week. They advertise that they are "packed" with avocado and cheese but really it is just a light cheese-avocado sauce blend that is sparingly applied. Great if you are wanting a lighter meal, not so much if you really want the avocado and cheese. The salsa, beans and rice served on the side were fresh. Overall, we thought this place was good, although perhaps not quite living up to the hype it received on this board. Rating it a B+.

Mama Kwans - really did not get this one esp considering it also got positive reviews on this baord. We went for lunch. Again, I had fish tacos, grilled...should have ordered them blackened for more flavor. They came with a odd-tasting "lime and sour cream sauce" that was really fake tasting, kind of chemically, plus a heap of flavorless white and yellow fine shredded cheese and out-of-a-bag shredded cabbage. The fish was fresh and plentiful but lacking in flavor. The positives were a nice waitress, cold beer and good jasmine rice on the side. My husband had a crab cake sandwich that again was just OK. Rating it a C.

Austin's Fish Market - purchased shrimp there 3 times. Fish did not look so great the fist time we were in, looked much better and had more variety the second and third times. Shrimp were super-fresh two times, a little squishy on the third. Rating it a B.

Sugar Shack take-out - went here to pick up seafood for grilling as well as a fried basked for lunch. Wow, that fried basket was GOOD! I had clams, and these were not those tough little stringy things you can get at other places. These clams were plump and juicy and flavorfulo beyond belief. The batter was pretty thick but the clams were too so it did not matter. Beer battered onion rings on the side had a true "beer" flavor - excellent. Also loved that they served the basket with three sauces - horseradish aioli, tartar and cocktail. They were a little on the pricey side ($10 or so) but they were huge - we could have split one. The fresh seafood was a slight notch above Austin's. Rating it an A.

Blue Moon Beach Grill - no ambiance to speak of but we had a great meal there. The staff was excellent and was really striving to please. I had shrimp and grits which were delicious but h-e-a-v-y - probably at least a stick of butter in there (probably one reason why they were so good)! My husband had grilled sea bass...can't remember now what it came with but he loved it. We also had an Asian-inspired scallop appetizer that was fabulous. This was our second favorite meal of the trip. Rating it an A.

Daijo - in Ocracoke. Cute place, cool bar area, nice patio and porch. We went for lunch. Had a fried seafood mix plate that came with scallops, shrimp and oysters, plus housemade purple potato chips. Despite the fact that it was all fried, it was not greasy at all, and the batter was super light. I was pleased because this was some of the freshest tasting shellfish I had ever tasted. The chips were awesome. Nice waiter, too. Rating it an A.

And our absolute favorite...Kill Devil Grill. We went twice (not something we are usually into doing b/c we love to try new places) but I had to have this again while we were there. Crab Cakes were to die for, served with a remoulade that was garlicky and amazing. I swapped fries for mashed potatoes and they were amazing. Also came with cole slaw that was perfect...fresh cabbage (hear that, Mama Kwan?), very light mayo, slightly sweet and lightly vinegared. My husband had soft shell crabs one night and sea bass on another...both were specials served with a black bean sauce and rice...and both were executed perfectly. We also had the philly cheese steak egg roll apps both night and they are indeed crave-worthy! I have not eaten much red meat at all to speak of in the past few years and even I was blown away by these. Rating it an A+++!

Thanks again for all your help. We had a great time and can't wait to return to the Outer Banks!

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  1. It's great to hear that Kill Devil Grill is still up to snuff. Even during the busiest time of the season, when, as you discovered, some of the lesser places don't quite do it right.
    Thanks for your report!

    1. Hi!

      After reading this post, we went to the Kill Devil Grille and had a scrumptious meal. Absolutely terrific! I would go to this restaurant all the time if it were in Raleigh.

      *sigh* Tortuga's Lie. First time I went there was for directions (I was hopelessly lost) and the hostess was both extremely rude and an airhead. Later in the week, we went back for lunch (I wanted those fish tacos!), but it was not meant to be. The place was overrun with screaming brats and it was completely chaotic. The staff didn't care. The parents didn't care. It was horrible. We got up and left - it was that bad.

      So then we went down to the Avalon Pier at Nags Head and ate at the restaurant there.

      The decor --- ehhhh, I'd give a D. Low ceilings, and had not been updated, well, ever. However, the fish was terrific and the price was very reasonable. Perfectly prepared and incredibly fresh. The ambiance though.... it was a tad distracting.

      1. Glad to hear you had a good time. I went last year and have to agree on both Tortuga's being okay but not amazing and on Kill Devil Grill being quite a standout. If you do return to the area sometime in the future, I'd highly recommend John's Drive In: really delicious 'dolphin' sandwiches. It's been awhile so I can't remember the MP, but it's a little north of the general Nag's Head area. Shouldn't be too hard to find as it's a pretty well known institution that really lives up to the hype.

        If I ever go back, I'd like to try the Sugar Shack basket and go to Goombays.

        Thanks for the report.