The 10 Best Outer Banks Restaurants That Locals Love

Sauteed Shrimp with Teriyaki Stir-Fried Broccoli served over White Rice at Diamond Shoals Restaurant

Asking locals where they like to eat is a great way to find fabulous restaurants. Instead of visiting the national chain restaurants, why not try a local favorite where you might taste the most delicious food? When I check into a hotel, I ask the person where is their favorite place to eat in town and most likely, it ends up being one of my favorite eateries on the trip. Here are the ten best Outer Banks restaurants locals love eating at. Thanks to everyone who gave us these wonderful suggestions for outer banks nc restaurants.

Sauteed Shrimp with Teriyaki Stir-Fried Broccoli served over White Rice at Diamond Shoals Restaurant

TRIO Restaurant & Market

Trio Restaurant & Market

Our first stop in the Outer Banks was at TRIO Restaurant & Market in Kitty Hawk. We walked into a large open restaurant with a market at the entrance, stairs leading up to a mezzanine seating area, and a small eating area and bar to the rear. The market was filled with gourmet cheeses, wines from worldwide, tons of craft beer varieties, and delicious gifts like pasta noodles, sauces, chips, etc. We were so hungry that we went past the filled shelves and into the restaurant area, knowing we would browse and shop before we left.

TRIO Market

The restaurant is decorated with various beer tap handles on window ledges and above the bar. The copper-topped bar looks amazing, with rows of crystal-clear glasses and one of the Outer Bank’s largest craft brews selections. There is also an extensive wine list that includes over 35 wines by the glass and even more choices for the bottle list. Consider getting a wine flight to sample a few wines while dining.

TRIO bar

The upstairs mezzanine has a tasting bar with lounge seating where you can enjoy weekly wine tastings. During the wine tasting, you can taste seven wines while learning about wine styles and the regions where they hail from. Reservations are required for the weekly wine tastings. They also offer live music nights and a Champagne weekend brunch.

Service was great, and we loved the variety of food choices. You can order cheese, charcuterie boards, soups, salads, crab cakes, prosciutto chicken, strip steak, shrimp, and grits. The menu is definitely tied to OuterBanks, with seafood being prominent among the choices. We ended up ordering small plates to try a bunch of items. I devoured the Smoky Garlic Shrimp and the TRIO Mac-n-cheese, which had six varieties of cheeses and a potato chip crumble. The others ordered a French Dip, and we shared a slice of apple pie a la mode. YUM!

TRIO is at 3708 N Croatan Hwy Ste in Kitty Hawk, NC. It is open daily from 11 am to 9 pm, except on Sundays; it closes at 5 pm.

Kill Devil Grill

Kill Devil Grill - Outer Banks Restaurants

Another restaurant in the Outer Banks that locals love is Kill Devil Grill. We were lucky to get a table as this Outer Banks restaurant and diner were packed. It has two different seating areas, the main dining area with a direct sightline to the grill and the old diner with bar stools. We sat in one of the last booths directly before the grill. Our server was extremely friendly and helpful, recommending our meal and chatting. Prices are very reasonable, and the options are plentiful. You can order tasty appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, grilled chicken, BBQ ribs, pasta, and fresh seafood.

Inside the Kill Devil Grill Rail Car Diner Area

We started trying the well-liked Beer Can Shrimp and completely understand why it’s one of the top sellers. I chose my dish from the special of the day menu, which had everything from Momma’s Spaghetti, Pork Green Chili Burrito to Jumbo Softshell Crab Sandwich. The Fried Flounder Sandwich that I chose was huge. I was not expecting that. My friends chose salads, Southern Fried Chicken Salad and Grilled Salmon Salad. Everything we tried was wonderfully delicious, so much so that we were trying each other’s food.

After eating all that, our server asked us if we had room for dessert; of course, we said no, but she asked if we were sure cause their desserts were exceptional. We all looked at each other and then chose our favorites. The generous portion sizes allow you to share with your family and friends. I picked the Strawberry Shortcake; my friends chose the Apple Crisp and Key Lime Pie. Even with full stomachs, we all quickly polished off these desserts.

Kill Devil Grill is at 2008 S Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills, NC. Open Tuesdays through Saturday, 11:30 am to 9 pm; closed Sunday and Monday.

Sal’s New York Pizza

Sal's New York Pizza - Outer Banks Restaurants

Our hang gliding instructor is the one who recommended Sal’s New York Pizza for us to try for dinner. We headed over there, and this little restaurant was packed with locals hanging out at the bar, having a great time after a hard day at work. Sal’s offers a variety of appetizers, paninis, subs, soups, salads, topped tots, pasta, and pizza. I was in the mood for Penne Parmesan, which was amazingly delicious. You can’t beat baked pasta with tons of cheese! My friends ordered a pizza and eggplant parmesan pasta, which were both equally delicious.

When we get our food, we notice the single-use dishes and utensils. Sall’s NY Pizza and many other restaurants in the Outer Banks have moved to more sustainable utensils, plates, etc., including no straws to preserve the Outer Banks’ pristine environment.

Sal’s NY Pizza is at 710 South Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills, NC. Open hours are Sunday, 4 pm to 9 pm; Monday, 5 pm to 9 pm; closed Tuesday and Wednesday; open Thursday, 5 pm to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday, 4 pm to 9: 30 pm.

Duck Donuts

Duck Donuts at Nags Head in Outer Banks

The place to go for a breakfast treat while on an Outer Banks vacation is Duck Donuts. Here you will find customizable, made-to-order doughnuts as unique as the Outer Banks. There are so many choices that change every few months with their seasonal menu, but one thing stays the same, and that is the fan favorites. The fan favorites include Chocolate Icing w/ Rainbow Sprinkles, Cinnamon Sugar, Glazed, Vanilla Icing w/ Oreo Crumbles & Hot Fudge Drizzle, Maple Icing w/ Chopped Bacon, Cinnamon Sugar w/ Vanilla Drizzle, Lemon Icing w/ Shredded Coconut, Vanilla Icing w/ Raspberry Drizzle. You can watch them make your selections right in front of you.

With the summer seasonal menu when I was visiting, I chose a Lemon Icing w/ Strawberry Drizzle donut, a Strawberry Shortcake donut with strawberry icing with graham cracker crumbs & vanilla drizzle, a Cookies & Cream donut with vanilla icing with Oreo cookie pieces & hot fudge drizzle, and a Maple Icing w/ Chopped Bacon donut. I polished off some very quickly as they were so good. The others I saved for the next morning and were still delicious. I probably ate more than I should have since they are rich, but they are so good that it is hard not to want to try many flavors.

Duck Donuts is in multiple locations nationwide but was originally founded in Duck, North Carolina. I stopped at 5000 S Croatan Highway Unit M 25 in Nags Head, which is open from 7 am to 2 pm daily. The donut shop is in a strip mall with a giant yellow Adirondack Chair out front where you can try to sit on it for a photo. And let me tell you, lots of laughter will be heard with the attempts to get on the chair.

Heather and Teresa trying to sit on the giant yellow Adirondack chair in Nags Head, North Carolina

Avenue Waterfront Grille

Avenue Grille & Goods in Manteo, NC

While you are exploring the Outer Banks, make sure to visit Roanoke Island and the city of Manteo. This sleepy little marina town is full of wonderful things to see and places to eat. We checked out several Manteo restaurants before settling on Avenue Waterfront Grille. Avenue Grille is the perfect place to enjoy a fresh, locally-sourced meal while enjoying views of Roanoke Sound. They are proud that their food is made in-house and geared toward all-natural and healthy dishes.

We got there early for the lunch rush and were able to order fairly quickly. However, there was a bit of a wait for the food. If you are in a hurry, this is not the dining establishment for you, as it takes approximately 40 minutes for your food to arrive. But the wait is worth it; the food comes out hot and oh-so-delicious. The eclectic menu has everything from soups, salads, burgers, brisket sandwiches, fresh seafood, and flatbread pizzas to tacos with gluten-free and vegan options throughout the menu. The house specialty items are Maple Pecan Fried Chicken, the “Big Road” Fish of the Day, and the Cali Roll Bowl.

We ordered the Hemp Seed Edamame Hummus to share and then devoured our lunch of a Grille Burger with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Maple Pecan Fried Chicken, Avenue Poached Pear Salad with Crispy Chicken, and Fish Tacos. We even tried the Lavender Lemonade. The Avenue Grille is a wonderful place to dine even with the wait because their attention to the little details matters and makes it worthwhile.

Avenue Waterfront Grille is at 207 Queen Elizabeth Ave Ste 5, in Manteo. Their open hours are 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, and 11 am to 9 pm on Friday. The restaurant is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tortugas Lie

Tortugas Lie Restaurant in Outer Banks

We showed up at the night’s end and could still order food in this Outer Banks restaurant. This was fabulous cause we were starving after a full day of exploring the Outer Banks. The waitstaff sat us toward the back, which had a great view of their huge yard, where you can play beach volleyball and hang out. On most summer nights, you can watch competitive-level beach doubles volleyball or come and watch the beach-volleyball tournaments during the year.

Their vast menu includes Hatteras Style Chowder, Beans and Rice, Creole Crawdads, Honey Habanero BBQ Chicken, Fish Tacos, Alaskan Snow Crab Legs, and Island Steak. We started with a Hummus plate and ordered our main dishes. My friends got a Quinoa Salad that was served over mixed greens with walnuts, dates, grape tomatoes, & crumbled goat cheese with lemon olive oil drizzle and Tortola Chicken that had grilled chicken breasts topped with roasted garlic & cracked pepper cream sauce.

I ordered Skewered Shrimp Barbados, Thai chili glazed shrimp with fresh pineapple, sweet pepper & red onion, and beans & rice. The dish was huge, almost as big as my face, lol. Although I must say I ate every last bite, it was scrumptious.

Heather eating Skewered Shrimp Barbados at Tortugas Lie

Tortugas Lie is at 3014 S Virginia Dare Trail in Nags Head. Tortugas Lie is open daily from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm except for being closed on Sunday.

Orange Blossom Bakery & Café

Orange Blossom Bakery & Café at Hatteras Island

One of the most popular Outer Banks restaurants is the Orange Blossom Bakery & Café. It is very popular as the line never seems to slow down and winds out the door into the parking lot. We were recommended to go here because all the locals come here to pick up their Apple Ugly. The “Apple, what?” I had no idea what this was until I walked into the little bakery showroom and saw piles of what looked like apple fritters. These crispy glazed pastries are filled with apple goodness.

Besides the Apple Uglies, there are donuts muffins, breakfast sandwiches, and specialty sandwiches, like the Buxton, which has three sausage patties, six strips of bacon, three eggs, tomato & mayo on their homemade bread. Their specialty sandwiches have cool names like the Bagel Burner and the Shadow. If you want an Apple Ugly, come early before they sell out.

Orange Blossom is at 47206 Highway 12 in Buxton and is open daily from 6:30 am to 11:00 am.

Diamond Shoals Restaurant

Diamond Shoals Restaurant on Hatteras Island

Diamond Shoals Restaurant on Hatteras Island is a wonderful place to stop in and replenish while on your Outer Banks vacation. They are known for the fresh catch of the day, which you can get blackened, grilled, fried, or broiled. They had fresh tuna, salmon, mahi, red snapper, flounder, trigger, rockfish, and black sea bass when we stopped in. Diamond Shoals is also the only restaurant on Hatteras Island for fresh sushi.

Diamond Shoals’ menu has plenty to choose from if you are in the mood for seafood. You can indulge in clam chowder, tomato basil crab bisque, calamari, popcorn shrimp, and oysters. For those looking for something different, there are quesadillas, wraps, chicken tenders, bacon cheeseburgers, Reuben sandwiches, N.C. Pulled Pork BBQ sandwiches and even a kid’s menu. And don’t forget to get a basket of hush puppies to share with your group.

I ordered a grilled salmon with mango/tomatillo salsa. My friends ordered mahi tacos, grilled salmon with sweet potato waffle fries, salad, and a burger and fries. And each meal came with a hush puppy. The staff is very attentive, and if you call ahead for seatings for a large group, you shouldn’t have a wait.

Diamond Shoals Restaurant is at 46843 N Carolina 12 in Buxton on Hatteras Island. Diamond Shoals is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.

Goombays Grille & Raw Bar

Inside Goombays Grille & Raw Bar

One of the Outer Banks restaurants that we enjoyed finding is Goombays Grille & Raw Bar. This is one of the restaurants open late, so you know you can always get food after a full day of sightseeing in the Outer Banks. Goombays is colorful inside and out, with a huge saltwater fish tank when you walk in, an underwater mural on the back wall, and wild signs all over the table tops. The food is just as colorful as the building the dishes are made in.

You are in for a surprise with the menu options as well as some spice, such as Jalapeno Crab Balls, Blackened Yellowfin Tuna Bites, Caberete Shrimp, Grilled BBQ St. Louis Ribs, Seafood Kingston, and even alligator. We were in the mood for shrimp this night as we ordered Coconut Shrimp with Mango Chutney to start, then we had Rasta Pasta with Shrimp and Sauteed Shrimp with Teriyaki Stir-Fried Broccoli served over White Rice. I would love to go back to this restaurant and try more tasty items from the menu.

Goombays Grille is at 1608 N Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills. Goombays Grille’s open hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11:30 am to midnight. Saturday and Sunday, they are open from 11 am to midnight. Goombays Grille is closed on Tuesdays.

Sam & Omie’s

Sam & Omie's Restaurant in Nags Head

Probably the most popular Outer Banks restaurant is Sam & Omie’s, especially for breakfast. We were lucky to find a parking spot with the line out of the building of people waiting for seats, which we also had to do. After a short wait, we were seated. The Menu has only two sides, with breakfast options and lunch & dinner on the other. They have everything you would want for breakfast, including Sam & Omie’s favorites like the Mc “Omie,” Sausage gravy over a biscuit, crab benedict, and Trixie’s Pick, which is one egg, bacon, hash browns or grits, toast or biscuit, and coffee.

We had a little drama during our breakfast within our group of travelers; I had to give our server props for handling us so nicely when we were causing a slight disturbance to the rest of the diners. Our food came out quickly, and we settled into the wonderful meals. A couple of us had the “Omie” Lettes, and the other had pancakes. And one of our travelers ordered the chocolate peanut butter pie for breakfast because why not.

Sam & Omie’s is at 7228 S Virginia Dare Trail in Nags Head. They are open from 8 am to 8:30 pm Monday to Saturday but are closed on Wednesday. On Sunday, it closes early, at 2:30 pm.


When one spends time in the Outer Banks, the days will be filled with exploring the historical sites, enjoying the surf, climbing lighthouses, hang gliding, and seeing wild horses. When you finish all those fun Outer Banks activities, there are plenty of places to grab some grub, eat delicious seafood, and enjoy amazing meals with your family and friends. I hope you enjoyed this post about the best Outer Banks restaurants that locals love. And on your next trip to the Outer Banks, keep this post handy for reference to know which restaurants you have to eat at. If you have already visited here, let me know your favorite restaurant in the comments below.

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Further Reading

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