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Outer Banks, North Carolina (OBX)

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I know that many people travel to the beach each year, but most of the time people cook their food at home & hit up a grocery store on the way in to town.

Since my family gets lazy sometimes, we are bound to eat out a few times a week while there. But, I noticed the area seems a bit desolate in terms of food options. Does anyone have recommendations? I've found one place we would actually go back to this year (besides places for snacks like donuts).

I won't elaborate much since I wrote these places up w/ their own reviews already on yelp.

Good:
Food Dudes - atmosphere is friendly, food is spot on. Can get crowded.
Duck Donuts - get 'em fresh
Try My Nuts - just a nice snack place to get different varieties of nuts, popcorns, fudge, candy

Ok:
Shun Xing - it's cheap and pretty good, though quality has gone down recently

Bad:
Mama Kwan's
Tale of the Whale - we used to go here every year as tradition. Not only has it gotten more expensive, but the quality of food has gone waaaay down. Multiple send backs at the table for inedibility

Thanks for any help!

-Nicole

(p.s. it's a family trip so places with tons of drinking or margarita bars won't work, sadly)

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Does anyone have recommendations?

Way, way back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, there was a bakery called Gingerbread House in Frisco. Twenty years later, I have no idea what it's like, but it used to have terrific doughnuts, and in the evenings served really tasty pizzas. I would love to know if this place is still any good (the pictures of the baked sweets still look good, but the pizza crust looks pretty ordinary). Needless to say, my palate back then was a lot less, shall we say, "discerning" (I used to think it was quite novel going to Brew-Thru.)

Can someone else give Nicole some recommendations?

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Thanks for the links Ericandblueboy! I must have missed them as I was searching quickly on my phone last night.

A lot of great places on there -- many of them are on islands or far north (Corolla).

I'll recommend the following to my family:

Black Pelican (Kity Hawk) $$

Ocean Blvd Bistro (Kitty Hawk) $$

Bad Bean Baja Grill (Kill Devil)

Kill Devil Grill

Tortuga's Lie

Sooey's BBQ

Sam & Omie's

Dune Burger

Run Down Cafe

Duck

Gingerbread House Bakery

Blue Point $$

Red Sky Cafe

Paper Canoe $$

Corolla (The whole Tim Buck II Shopping Center looks great)

North Banks

Fin & Claw

Sweet Spot

Corolla Village BBQ

The Shack (Coffee)

Manteo

1587 $$

Duck is probably the furthest we'll go though since we're staying in Kill Devil Hills and Manteo and Corolla are pretty far.

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Just saw someone on CH saying Captain George is a must. The list of seafood is indeed tempting - crabs, clams, crawdads, cutlass, cuttlefish, calamari,cod caviar, cockle, conch. Okay, I'm exaggerating. See the link for the menu. A couple of rednecks that I golfed with last year also raved about the place. I just might go check it out at the end of the month, although I much prefer someone else taking one for the team.

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Had a stellar meal at The Blue Point in Duck, NC last week. I booked on OpenTable and asked for a window booth so we could watch the sunset, and the request was honored. Be still my heart... the colors were preternatural!
Food was spot on, coming out of a quiet and orderly kitchen, which can be partially viewed.
I had the Ginger and Hoisin Short Ribs with Napa Kimchi. 4 meaty ribs, falling off the bone, tasted delicious with the acidic foil of the kimchi.
Their signature lump crab cakes sat in little pools of a watercress sauce, which was verdant and bright and lifted the sweet crab meat.
DH liked the crab soup (very generous portion), which had a good amount of meat, but wasn't really a she crab soup, and he's eaten a lot of she crab soup in Charleston!
DH's double rib pork chop was cooked perfectly to medium-- still pink in the middle. The mac and cheese it came with was zippy with whole grain mustard. A good rendition of the comfort food side dish, which most places just don't get right.
We had the dessert special of pound cake (moistened with a simple syrup, I believe) topped with strawberries and cream (bourbon was involved, I think). Coffee with dessert was served in generous size mugs, thank you!
******
The Lifesaving Station in Sanderling was mostly forgettable. My crab chowder had thin strands of backfin crab, but tasted OK.
My shrimp dish had a generous amount of shrimp, but unfortunately, they were overcooked to death.
No dessert as I was freezing my ass off underneath a ceiling full of fans that caused an uncomfortable breeze. I don't see how any food can stay hot for very long!

*********

The Seaside Farm Market in Timbuck II in Corolla is lovely as usual. Lots of home baked good, boiled peanuts (don't get it, but have at 'em!), produce and seafood. A good collection of canned goods and wine too.

My earlier pic of shrimp cocktail featured their jumbo bugs.

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After spending the day kayaking in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, we stopped in at Max's Stone Fired Pizza for a bit of sustenance. It is located somewhere around mile Marker 5 and in Kitty Hawk and should be avoided at all fucking costs.

A hot pocket at the Kwik Mart, eaten raw, would be more satisfying. "Max" must be the brother of Joe Corbi. This place blows.

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This is a plug, not a review:  Haven't been there.  An old graduate of the bartending school owns two restaurants on the Outer Banks, one in Avon, a new one in Hatteras, both named the Open Water Grill.  I can say that the views are excellent and the seafood is fresh.  If you are traveling down to the Southern or more Central portion of the Outer Banks it might be worth a visit.  I won't get there this summer, possibly next summer.

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2 hours ago, Rhone1998 said:

Any recent Outer Banks experiences that folks would recommend?

Netflix

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Climbing the lighthouse in Buxton is always fun, but get there as early as you can.  It gets hot and crowded later and the staircase is narrow!

Taking the ferry to Ocracoke and exploring is a nice diversion if it's not a beach day.  But again, arrive as early as you can.

In the fall, winter and spring, visiting the Pea Island is great for wildlife (birds) but you'll need binoculars.

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Kill Devil Grill and Blue Point in Duck were great last October!  Blue Moon in Nags Head has a nice grilled octopus appetizer. (Might have been a special).

The way things look right now we might be going in October if we can eat in, not pick up. We stay at the Best Western in KDH, and not much to do around there. One year our week was rainy every day so we saw a Tarzan marathon on TCM!

Camera with zoom in Pea Island if you don't have binoculars. Great for birds!!

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On 6/26/2020 at 2:53 PM, Bart said:

Climbing the lighthouse in Buxton is always fun, but get there as early as you can.  It gets hot and crowded later and the staircase is narrow!

Is this the lighthouse they moved about thirty years ago? I remember visiting a light house in the Outer Banks (not for the first time), and it seemed oddly unfamiliar - and then I found out there was some incredibly elaborate displacement that occurred in the previous decade (all dates written here are via faulty memory).

Does anyone remember this great bakery somewhere around Avon, or Frisco, or in one of those towns, with these really good donuts, and in the evenings they served really good pizza? I was much younger then, and my palate hadn't developed, but I remember being in heaven whenever I went here - it was on the east side of the highway. Might it have been called The Gingerbread House? That name just popped into my head as I was writing this.

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On 6/29/2020 at 11:31 PM, DonRocks said:

Is this the lighthouse they moved about thirty years ago? I remember visiting a light house in the Outer Banks (not for the first time), and it seemed oddly unfamiliar - and then I found out there was some incredibly elaborate displacement that occurred in the previous decade (all dates written here are via faulty memory).

Does anyone remember this great bakery somewhere around Avon, or Frisco, or in one of those towns, with these really good donuts, and in the evenings they served really good pizza? I was much younger then, and my palate hadn't developed, but I remember being in heaven whenever I went here - it was on the east side of the highway. Might it have been called The Gingerbread House? That name just popped into my head as I was writing this.

Looks like that place is still there. 

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OK, after two weeks in the Outer Banks, it's clear this is not somewhere you go to for the food.  That said, we found a handful of places that stood out from the rest and that we would go back to:

Best of the bunch was a Mexican food truck in Ocracoke called Eudardo's. This simple taco stand produced our best meal of the trip -- freshly made hot tortilla chips with guacamole, carnitas tacos on masa tortillas, fried fish (local mackerel) tacos on flour tortillas -- everything was excellent.  I wouldn't quite say it is worth a trip to go to this place simply because you have to take a ferry to get to Ocracoke and the wait can be long, but if you're there I'd highly recommend this place for lunch (they also serve breakfast if you happen to be staying on the island).

80 miles north of Eduardo's, in Nags Head, a completely different experience - Woo Casa.  The menu is all over the place (tacos, poke, banh mi...) but everything we tried was tasty.  I was particularly impressed by the banh mi (which had all the flavors you'd expect from an Eden Center sandwich) and the truly excellent fries.  As of June 2020 they are technically only doing take out, but if you don't mind the strip mall parking lot ambiance, you can eat at one of the three picnic tables out front.  The owner is super friendly.

Toward the end of our stay we were craving spicy food, and my wife found Single Fin Thai-Sushi. Ordinarily I would run as fast as I can away from a Thai restaurant that advertises sushi but in OBX you don't have that much choice, so we gave it a shot, and at the end of the day it wasn't bad at all.  I'd say it was about what you'd expect from a B+ Thai restaurant in the DC area, nothing mind blowingly good but a place you'd be happy to go back to when the mood strikes.  The waterfall beef and garlic pork were both quite good, and drunken noodles, ordered spicy, were chewy and satisfying and delivered the needed kick. 

Honorable mention goes to Buxton Munch, in Buxton, for decent crab cakes, seafood tacos (the day we went they gave us a choice of three locally-caught fish), and fried oysters.

Ice cream shops abound on OBX but most serve up Hershey's or some other similar crap.  Booty Treats is no exception but at least they get really creative with their combinations and add-ons, so you can create something pretty unique there.  And it's just a block walk to the beach.

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On 7/4/2020 at 7:42 PM, Rhone1998 said:

OK, after two weeks in the Outer Banks, it's clear this is not somewhere you go to for the food.  That said, we found a handful of places that stood out from the rest and that we would go back to:

Best of the bunch was a Mexican food truck in Ocracoke called Eudardo's. This simple taco stand produced our best meal of the trip -- freshly made hot tortilla chips with guacamole, carnitas tacos on masa tortillas, fried fish (local mackerel) tacos on flour tortillas -- everything was excellent.  I wouldn't quite say it is worth a trip to go to this place simply because you have to take a ferry to get to Ocracoke and the wait can be long, but if you're there I'd highly recommend this place for lunch (they also serve breakfast if you happen to be staying on the island).

80 miles north of Eduardo's, in Nags Head, a completely different experience - Woo Casa.  The menu is all over the place (tacos, poke, banh mi...) but everything we tried was tasty.  I was particularly impressed by the banh mi (which had all the flavors you'd expect from an Eden Center sandwich) and the truly excellent fries.  As of June 2020 they are technically only doing take out, but if you don't mind the strip mall parking lot ambiance, you can eat at one of the three picnic tables out front.  The owner is super friendly.

Toward the end of our stay we were craving spicy food, and my wife found Single Fin Thai-Sushi. Ordinarily I would run as fast as I can away from a Thai restaurant that advertises sushi but in OBX you don't have that much choice, so we gave it a shot, and at the end of the day it wasn't bad at all.  I'd say it was about what you'd expect from a B+ Thai restaurant in the DC area, nothing mind blowingly good but a place you'd be happy to go back to when the mood strikes.  The waterfall beef and garlic pork were both quite good, and drunken noodles, ordered spicy, were chewy and satisfying and delivered the needed kick. 

Honorable mention goes to Buxton Munch, in Buxton, for decent crab cakes, seafood tacos (the day we went they gave us a choice of three locally-caught fish), and fried oysters.

Ice cream shops abound on OBX but most serve up Hershey's or some other similar crap.  Booty Treats is no exception but at least they get really creative with their combinations and add-ons, so you can create something pretty unique there.  And it's just a block walk to the beach.

Did you feel generally safe out and about there? Masks, etc?

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3 hours ago, stevem said:

Did you feel generally safe out and about there? Masks, etc?

While we were there the Governor had *just* ordered a mandatory mask order for retail establishments.  Prior to that, a lot of places had signs up asking or demanding customers wear masks, but apparently it wasn't the law until that order was issued.  So keep that context in mind.  If compliance in DC is maybe 95%+ (I'm talking about wearing masks inside shops/restaurants), maybe it was 85% there.  Certainly most people were, but we would definitely see people occasionally walk into a place without masks.  Sometimes they were challenged by the establishment, often they weren't.

Just walking down the street? No one would be wearing masks.  On the beach, definitely not.

That said, did we feel safe? Yes, because we never dined inside, spent very little time in stores at all (and when we had to go to a store, only one of us would go in, obviously wearing a mask, and retail workers were almost 100% masked), and most importantly we just never found ourselves in crowded situations (it's very easy to find space on the beach to yourself there, at least in the southern part of OBX where we were).

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Where are people staying in OBX that they feel safe? 

Honestly, price is no object - I'd love to get away, even at the most expensive place on the Outer Banks, but I haven't a clue where that might be. I'm not looking to dine well, or to deep-sea fish; I'm looking for a nice, luxurious, safe hotel with a nice swimming pool area.

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5 hours ago, Rhone1998 said:

While we were there the Governor had *just* ordered a mandatory mask order for retail establishments.  Prior to that, a lot of places had signs up asking or demanding customers wear masks, but apparently it wasn't the law until that order was issued.  So keep that context in mind.  If compliance in DC is maybe 95%+ (I'm talking about wearing masks inside shops/restaurants), maybe it was 85% there.  Certainly most people were, but we would definitely see people occasionally walk into a place without masks.  Sometimes they were challenged by the establishment, often they weren't.

Just walking down the street? No one would be wearing masks.  On the beach, definitely not.

That said, did we feel safe? Yes, because we never dined inside, spent very little time in stores at all (and when we had to go to a store, only one of us would go in, obviously wearing a mask, and retail workers were almost 100% masked), and most importantly we just never found ourselves in crowded situations (it's very easy to find space on the beach to yourself there, at least in the southern part of OBX where we were).

Thanks! We are going north where it’s more crowded but I’m pretty confident in our ability to stay out of group settings (and order plenty of carry out). The only place we love is a coffee shop in Duck and they seem to be appropriately stringent.

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6 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Where are people staying in OBX that they feel safe? 

Honestly, price is no object - I'd love to get away, even at the most expensive place on the Outer Banks, but I haven't a clue where that might be. I'm not looking to dine well, or to deep-sea fish; I'm looking for a nice, luxurious, safe hotel with a nice swimming pool area.

I am no OBX expert...this was our first time there. But are there nice hotels on the Outer Banks? From Kitty Hawk down to the southern point, where we were, we saw none. Only rentals and cheap motels. It’s pretty rustic. 

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2 hours ago, Rhone1998 said:

I am no OBX expert...this was our first time there. But are there nice hotels on the Outer Banks? From Kitty Hawk down to the southern point, where we were, we saw none. Only rentals and cheap motels. It’s pretty rustic. 

Yes, I haven't been in ... well over twenty years, I think - it was always very rustic and craggy (lots of pickup trucks with fishing poles on them).  No good food, no nice beaches - why does everyone go here? 😉

That said, I always *loved* throwing the little bags of (popcorn? bread crumbs? bird seed?) to the seagulls trailing the Ocracoke Island Ferry. And I've never seen one miss - the Baltimore Orioles would do well to hire one.

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The Sanderling Resort back in the day (15 years ago for me) was a decent resort. However, it wouldn't compare to other locations for vacations. 

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We've gone to Boar's Head Resort in Charlottesville and Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown.  In retrospect, I would feel safer renting a place out and bring my own pillows.  

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9 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Yes, I haven't been in ... well over twenty years, I think - it was always very rustic and craggy (lots of pickup trucks with fishing poles on them).  No good food, no nice beaches - why does everyone go here? 😉

That said, I always *loved* throwing the little bags of (popcorn? bread crumbs? bird seed?) to the seagulls trailing the Ocracoke Island Ferry. And I've never seen one miss - the Baltimore Orioles would do well to hire one.

Huge difference between southern outer banks and northern outer banks. Very different experiences. Not making judgments - just the truth.

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