Best OBX Restaurants by Category

By a narrow margin, Art's Place in Kitty Hawk gets our nod for best burger.
By a narrow margin, Art’s Place in Kitty Hawk gets our nod for best burger.

A local newspaper—the Virginian Pilot, which is somewhat local—recently wrote an article listing their five favorite Outer Banks restaurants.

It was a good article and the restaurants listed were all very good. Anything chosen in an article like that is, of course, subjective, but it’s hard to find fault with the selections.

The problem, though, is it was a “five best” listing without categorizing anything.

As an example, you would not go to Coastal Provisions to get a good burger. Conversely Art’s Place would not be anyone’s choice for oysters on the half shell.

So, to help the undecided along, we present our Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates best of list by category.

Best Burger

Art’s Place

4624 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk

(252) 261-3233

This was a tough one. John’s Drive-in just down the road from Art’s Place is al fresco drive-in food at it’s best. And Mulligans in Nags Head does a great job as well, but there is something about those burgers cooked to order on a flat grill that is special.

Best Oysters

Coastal Provisions

Southern Shores Crossing, Southern Shores

(252) 480-0023

If there is anyone on the Outer Banks who has done a better job of working with local oyster farmers and sourcing oysters from all over the East Coast, we have no idea who that could be. Amazing selection with a real eye for detail.

Best Casual Fine Dining

Saltbox Cafe

1469 Colington Rd, Kill Devil Hills

(252) 255-5594

Another difficult decision, but the attention to fresh food, well-prepared that Randolph Sprinkle brings to his dishes elevates food to art. And his wife, Amanda, is a desert chef, so save room…or go ahead and stuff yourself.

Best Outdoor Cafe

Full Moon Cafe

208 Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Manteo, NC 27954

(252) 473-6666

There are not a lot of outdoor cafes on the Outer Banks. Aqua serves food outdoors with a beautiful view of Currituck Sound. Roadside Bar and Grill in Duck has a wonderful little outdoor seating area. But there is something magical about sitting on a sidewalk on a summer day, sipping a drink and eating a meal. Oh—and the food is very good.

Best Wine Bar


3708 N Croatan Hwy., Kitty Hawk

(252) 261-0277

Other places have a number of wines available by the glass, but no one comes even close to the selection Trio always has on hand. And they always have 24 beers on tap. Great cheese plates to go with everything, too.

A Grand Way to End a Grand Event

Good Winds Wine & Seafood at the 2016 Taste of the Beach Grand Finale.
Good Winds Wine & Seafood at the 2016 Taste of the Beach Grand Finale.

The Grand Finale Tasting is about as grand a way to wrap up the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach as there could be.

Held this year at Port O’ Call in Kill Devil Hills it was three hours of amazing food, wonderful Champagne cocktails with some great music thrown in. And we don’t want to forget the fantastic IPA and Scotch Ale Lost Colony Brewery was pouring.

Given the weather today—northwest wind, spitting rain, generally miserable—this was a great day to be inside, and there were a lot of people there. We had some beautiful weather for our Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates BBQ & Wings Showdown on Friday, but the weather went downhill quickly after that.

For the 500 or 600 or 700 or so who did go, this is knowledge already gained; for anyone who has never been to the Grand Tasting and is hoping to go next year, some advice. Eat nothing on the day of the event before going. With 18 vendors and 37 selections even nibbling on everything that’s offered requires an appetite rarely achieved.

A couple of things deserve a second visit; however, by the time everything is sampled, a second visit doesn’t seem to practical—or comfortable.

A couple of notes about the food. Everything we tried we felt had real merit and truly deserved to be there. There were a few standouts though—keeping in mind that taste is very subjective.

The Buttermilk Fried Duck Skewers from Saltbox Cafe were the crowd favorite for our group. Bonnie’s Bagles’ Salmon Mousse with Fresh Dill on a bagel chip was a refreshing change from the usual fare. The Crab Cake Sunrise from Cravings called out for either a good cup of coffee or a Champagne cocktail.

One more observation: the chocolate chip cookie cheesecake from Good Winds Wine & Seafood—which was very good on its own—paired beautifully with the IPA that Lost Colony Brewery was pouring. A surprising pairing, but it did work.