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Apr 20, 2011 12:59 PM

Hatteras clam chowder favorites in OBX?

During my two days in the Outer Banks (Wednesday and Thursday from Ocracoke to Kitty Hawk), I'd love to try a couple good examples of Hatteras style clam chowder. This can be to-go or eat-in. One of the regulars on my home board, San Francisco Bay Area, grew up in Virginia and had mentioned it years ago.

From reading old posts, so far I've found recs for chowder at:

Diamond Shoals
Pop's Raw Bar
Sam & Omie's
Rundown Cafe

And where not to go:
The Pelican in Ocracoke

Still good? Other spots?

Sam & Omie's Restaurant
7228 S Virginia Dare Trl, Nags Head, NC 27959

Rundown Cafe
5218 Virginia Dare Trl N, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Pop's Raw Bar
48967 Nc 12 Hwy, Buxton, NC 27920

Diamond Shoals Restaurant
46843 Nc 12 Hwy, Buxton, NC 27920

Pelican Restaurant
PO Box 447, Ocracoke, NC 27960

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  1. I'd look for oyster stew as well. Oysters are still, barely, in season.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sue in Mt P

      Oh, good idea! Where's your favorite for oyster stew? And how does it differ from the style served in the Northeast (New England, New York)?

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I can't tell you the difference since I've never had it up north. In my rare trips to NYC I load up on pastrami and bagels.

        At Rundown I always get Rundown. I've only had breakfast at Sam and Omie's. I've never been to the other 2.

        1. re: Sue in Mt P

          Thanks for putting the idea in my head. Here's my post on the oyster stew in Beaufort, NC.

          And I did check out the Rundown Cafe, what a cool little place! The clam chowder there is New England style, so I got a cup of the Rundown soup. The traditional Jamaican soup made with fish, coconut milk, tomatoes, onions and yams is $3.50/cup and so rich that would be about all I'd want at one sitting. And then I'd want it again and again. Thanks for the rec.

          More chowder reports soon...

          Rundown Cafe
          5218 Virginia Dare Trl N, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

    2. I'm pretty sure the Pelican has changed hands and name. My SO played there last summer and said the food was very tasty. No idea if the new owners are doing chowder though. I'll try to find more details.

      1 Reply
      1. re: meatn3

        Thanks, I did a search and found your post saying it's now Daijio. When I first read the name, I thought it was Japanese. Now I've read the website and it's anything but. :)

        305 Irvin Garrish Hwy, Ocracoke, NC

      2. Tortugas Lie is one of my favorite restaurants in the Outer Banks - is a very casual, fun place with good food. They have the Hatteras clam chowder, as well as a grilled tuna burger and a fried oyster burger. I usually get their Baja fish tacos - yummy.

        1. First stop on the Hatteras-style clam chowder derby was Diamond Shoals in Buxton.

          I stopped there on Wednesday after a visit to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse nearby.

          Diamond Shoals is a multi-year winner of best chowder on Hatteras Island.

          Oddly though, the prize-winning chowder is not Hatteras-style, but rather has milk in it and fresh herbs. The small bits of chopped clams and clam broth base seemed canned to me. I did like the texture, not too thick, for a New England chowder. But the Italian herbs were way overdone and this reeked of too much rosemary.

          A couple of hush puppies were served up with the cup of chowder. Unfortunately, they seemed like they'd been held under a heat lamp for too long as the crust was tough and hard.

          The restaurant did redeem itself with the appetizer size, fresh grouper fingers, $7.99.

          My first time tasting fried snowy grouper and I loved the soft pillowy texture of the white flesh. Very light battered coating, and fried to a tee. This came with a quite spicy chipotle dipping sauce. I asked for tartar sauce too. Served in a squeeze bottle, the tartar was very dense and thick with juicy pickle bits and fresh dill from the herb garden.

          Diamond Shoals Restaurant
          46843 Nc 12 Hwy, Buxton, NC 27920

          1. Finally posting the rest two years after the fact . . .

            After Diamond Shoals I was determined to taste Hatteras style chowder on Hatteras Island, so I went to Pop's Raw Bar immediately afterwards. Indeed Hatteras chowder made without dairy, instead this was dominated by the taste of very smoky bacon. In this photo, the pieces of smoked fat floating on the surface are easy to see.
            And this second photo shows the melted bacon fat separated along the edge of the bowl.

            More like bacon chowder than clam chowder.