If you’re going on vacation, why not eat where the locals eat? You can find chain restaurants everywhere you go, but for these 6 “mom and pop” restaurants, you won’t find their delicious recipes or one-of-a-kind atmospheres anywhere other than the Outer Banks.
Though Orville went hungry, other Bankers did a better job of making do with what was around them. Potatoes and onions grew well in the sandy soil, and they kept over winter in dry storage. These root vegetables still the basis of Outer Banks soups and stews.
Red meat and dairy were of little interest to Bankers because they couldn’t be kept without cold storage. That’s why you won’t find cream in North Carolina chowders. However, wild boar was common, so bacon was occasionally on the menu. Why is there so much corn in Outer Banks cuisine? Fishermen would trade shrimp to inland farmers in exchange for corn, which their families used in recipes and corn-based quick breads.
Bankers largely subsisted on clams, oysters, small oily fish such as herring, and larger fish such as drum. Fish was usually prepared boiled, though small fish were preserved through salting.
Outer Banks cuisine has a distinct flavor that is tied to the history of the islands and the people. Modern cooking techniques and the availability of spices likely made improvements on early 20th-century recipes, but the heart and soul of traditional Outer Banks food has endured.
When you’re in the Outer Banks, try local dishes and take advantage of daily specials, and you’ll be eating the way Bankers have eaten for over a century. If you’re temporarily exiled from the islands while planning your next vacation, here are some of our favorite local recipes:
Sam and Omie’s Clam Chowder
Sam & Omie’s
First on our list and longtime local favorite we have Sam and Omie’s. Located across the street from Jennette’s Pier and known for their Sunday brunch. Be sure to try the “omie”lettes or the crab and eggs benedict.
Next up we have Henry’s, family-owned and operated since 1989. Some of my favorites include their home-style hot cakes, biscuits and gravy, or their seafood omelet. Even if you are getting a late start breakfast is available until 1 PM!
Of course we had to include Duck Donuts! You cannot make a trip to the Outer Banks without stopping here! All donuts are made to order so you don’t have to get up early and rush to get them while they are hot and fresh. Whether you keep it simple with a vanilla iced donut or go all out with a maple iced donut and bacon on top you cannot go wrong!
Nags Head Pier House Restaurant
If you are wishing to enjoy your morning cup of coffee while looking over the ocean and hearing the waves crash on the beach, then Nags Head Pier House Restaurant is the place for you. You must try their pancakes or home fries, they are delicious! Also, their seafood omelette is one of the best on the beach. Come early because there is typically a wait for breakfast, especially on Sundays.
Known for their catchy slogan “Eat and Get the Hell Out,” Bob’s Grill has one of the best (and my personal favorite) breakfast on the beach. They have a large variety of stuffed omelettes and voted best hashbrowns on the beach. My personal favorites include their French toast or their HUGE (bigger than the plate) blueberry pancakes. With breakfast served till 2 PM you do not have to rush to get there in the morning!
Take a step back in time at Grills Grill, a 60’s themed diner complete with retro pink and green vinyl. Serving a southern style breakfast until 2 PM daily. Not only do they have the best and fluffiest biscuits on the beach they also have Krispy Kreme donuts! These go quickly so get there early! Also, be sure to try their biscuits and gravy or their famous “Kiss Our Grits” platter.
The Jolly Roger
Known for their pirate memorabilia, Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling, and of course their breakfast is The Jolly Roger. Located on the beach road in Kill Devil Hills, the Jolly Roger is another longtime local favorite. Their breakfast platters are huge and affordable and their pancakes are the size of a dinner plate! Be sure to get their home fries and toast with your meal, both are made in house and are delicious.
Lighthouse Bagels & Deli
Serving up the best breakfast in Corolla is Lighthouse Bagels & Deli. With over 15 different kinds of bagels and made-from-scratch donuts you can find something for everyone. They also offer hot off the grill breakfast sandwiches and amazing cinnabuns and scones. Get there early because they are known to sell out of bagels by late morning.
There you have it! These are our top breakfast places on the Outer Banks and ones we often recommend. With so many great places to choose from I am sure we missed other great breakfast spots. Do you have an all-time breakfast favorite that we didn’t mention?