The cuisine scene of the Outer Banks is wide and diverse, offering restaurants that just seat a few to one that see a few hundred. They serve up food from high stacks of pancakes, fried country ham and grits swimming in butter for breakfast, to plates featuring the latest culinary trends, often made with local ingredients, for dinner. There are coffeehouses that roast and brew their own beans, and restaurants that brew their own beverage of another sort – beer.
Along the Banks, there are seafood-centric restaurants that include oyster bars to fine dining eateries. Some are relatively new on the scene, while others have been feeding families of visitors for generations. Some seafood is done Old School style, crispy fried, while others are crafted with such techniques eleas sous-vide. Other restaurants cater to the surfing community, with Baja-inspired dishes of fresh catch and high quality beef and pork tucked in tortillas with seasonal vegetables and homemade salsa adorning the dishes. Here, look for tropical drinks and buckets of cold beer to temper the spicy heat.
Still others feature Southern cuisine, like barbecue, fried chicken, roasts, and homestyle vegetables. Some you pull up a chair at a wooden bar, and others you sit down at a crisp white linen topped table.Look for restaurants with stunning views of the water; there are numerous offerings that allow diners to gaze out from the dining room, or in some cases, a patio.
Feel like relaxing with family and friends at your cottage? Order up an assortment of dishes from a variety of restaurants, like steamed seafood, barbecue, and the like, and have an effortless patio party with local beer and wine. Not only do you get a great taste of the Outer Banks, but you are left with more time to enjoy your visit to the beach. Many eateries are members of the Outer Banks Restaurant Association (OBRA.)
The OBRA showcases a number of its restaurant partners during special dining events throughout the year.
In early spring the OBRA features scores of restaurants and their cuisine through special events during the Taste of The Beach, a unique – and delicious – perspective of the area during shoulder season. The weekend-long event offers visitors several days of wine tastings, cooking classes, a chowder cook-off, special menu presentations at area restaurants, brewery tours, tapas crawls, and more.
Everything cumulates with the Taste of the Beach Grand Tasting where some two-dozen restaurants and other vendors gather for samples of their food and exhibitions of their hospitality in vying for prizes and recognition. Other unique opportunities to get a flavor of the Outer Banks are through two restaurant weeks, a period where eateries offer specially priced prix-fixe menus as an incentive to come out and try new restaurants and rediscover old favorites. Look for the Spring Restaurant Week and the Fall Restaurant Week. Later in the autumn is the March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction, another event that showcases the talent of local culinary professionals while raising money for the group.
A SAVORY SOUVENIR
A visit to the Outer Banks provides an opportunity to explore the many culinary offerings from the wide-and-diverse restaurant scene. Each bite is a savory souvenir of the trip.