Want to know the best places to eat? Ask the natives. That's true wherever you go. And it's especially true in the NC Outer Banks, with their rich tradition of coastal Southern cuisine.
In Nags Head, for example, residents favor restaurants that specialize in locally sourced goodness - from farm-fresh veggies to catch-of-the-day seafood. Here are a few Nags Head eateries that have earned rave reviews from natives and visitors alike.
Sam & Omie's, 7228 South Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head
Founded in 1937 by a pair of local fishermen, this legendary restaurant was originally a pre-fishing breakfast stop. Today it serves up hearty breakfasts, lunches, and dinners daily except Wednesdays in a weathered shingled building with a downhome beachy vibe.
Prices are relatively moderate, and the menu is amazingly varied.
Breakfast includes all the classics - fresh eggs fried to perfection, savory sausage, sugar-cured ham, fluffy biscuits, big stacks of pancakes, grits, and gravy, you name it.
Lunch and dinner share the same menu, featuring plenty of succulent seafood, from fresh shrimp, scallops, oysters, and flounder to Sam & Omie's signature crabcakes. Prefer "turf," not "surf"? You're in luck: The restaurant is famous for its juicy steaks, prime rib, and loaded burgers, along with its popular "Sam"miches.
The atmosphere is laid-back and casual, so feel free to come as you are. Plus, be sure to bring the kids along; Sam & Omie's is famously family-friendly.
Blue Moon Beach Grill, Milepost 13, Surfside Plaza, Nags Head
Known for its quirky vibe, this cozy little eatery has long been a local favorite. Its specialty? Classic Southern comfort food with a creative twist.
Open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Blue Moon serves up scrumptious lunches and dinners at reasonable prices.
Start with a mouthwatering appetizer - such as select sea scallops, seared outside, juicy inside. Or luscious Oysters Rockefeller, loaded with creamy Pernod sauce and aged Parmesan cheese.
Then go on to a satisfying entree such as tasty bouillabaisse, chockfull of fresh seafood, or zesty shrimp & grits served over smoky Gouda.
Not up for seafood? No problem. Choose from memorable meaty options like chargrilled rib-eye, pan-fried pork loin, and chicken cordon bleu.
Tale of the Whale, 7575 South Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head
Care to dine right on the waterfront? Come to Tale of the Whale, a popular local restaurant overlooking Roanoke Sound.
Founded more than 40 years ago, this fabled family-owned restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. onward. In the evenings, it hosts live music in a scenic gazebo at the end of its private pier.
The gourmet kitchen specializes in ultra-fresh fare, including OBX seafood, choice steaks, tender chicken, and more. Lighter options are available for the diet-conscious, and a special kid's menu is offered for pint-size foodies.
Choose from multiple ways to enjoy freshly caught flounder, tuna, salmon, and mahi-mahi - marinated, grilled, blackened, stuffed, and/or topped with savory sauces. Opt for surf-n-turf - fork-tender filet mignon plus plump coconut shrimp. Take your pick of oysters, scallops, shrimp, and other seafood delicacies, fried, broiled, or steamed. Or go for all-American favorites like steak, chicken, and ribs.
Plus, be sure to book ahead to reserve a comfortable booth with a sweeping view of the waterfront. There's nothing quite like a sunset over Roanoke Sound!
Miller's Waterfront Restaurant, 6916 South Croatan Highway, Nags Head
Can't get enough of those waterfront views? Check out Miller's Waterfront Restaurant, open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. If you're out sailing, boating, or kayaking, you can even pull right up at the restaurant's dock!
Owned and operated by the Miller family since 1982, this beloved local eatery serves up stunning sound-side sunsets along with its fresh local fare. Its varied menu includes everything from peel-your-own shrimp and Wanchese scallops to rib-eye gorgonzola and tender New York strip steak. Many menu items are gluten-free, so if you need or prefer to steer clear of grains, this is the place for you.
Basnight's Lone Cedar Outer Banks Seafood Café, 7623 South Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head
Seeking ultimate sea-to-table freshness? Stop by Lone Cedar Outer Banks Seafood Café, open Tuesday through Thursday plus Sunday from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 9:30 p.m.
Owned by a local family with deep roots in Outer Banks history, this popular waterfront restaurant serves fresh fish, clams, shrimp, crab, and oysters harvested from nearby NC waters. All its vegetables come from local farms, while herbs and greens come from the café's own chemical-free gardens. Even beef and poultry are all-natural. And the catch of the day is filleted right on the premises.
But the wholesome freshness and natural goodness are only part of the story. As members of one of Nags Head's original families, owners Vicki and Caroline also put a huge emphasis on cherished Outer Banks recipes handed down through generations - like jumbo lump crabcakes featuring OBX blue crabmeat and she-crab soup with sherry-flavored cream.
Prefer to catch your own fish? The café will cook it to order and serve it with two tasty sides.
And That's Just Scratching the Surface
Countless delights await you in the NC Outer Banks, from delectable dining to thrilling watersports and more. Gather the family and head to these beautiful barrier islands.