I have been n the OBX for 10+ years, own a business and have visited most restaurants in the area. Overall, we have a few great restaurants, several good restaurants and too many average restaurants. What we do not have is a great seafood restaurant. I would be wealthy if I collected a dime for every customer asking for a great seafood restaurant. Ask them what hey want - they want crab legs - hell, get hose in Iowa! This is the OBX, not Alaska. And off they go to Jimmy's Seafood Buffet or Carolina Seafood and they gorge on overcooked, bland food. Oh well. Here's a list of reliable restaurants and a few to scratch off your list.
1. Kellys - Food is an after thought. They focus on the bar for profit and the food is often bland.
2. Jolly Roger - Please, anything with tomato sauce is not Italian food, Unfortunately, the OBX does not have a good Italian food restaurant, no matter what anyone tells you, Italian food does NOT exist on the OBX.
3 Slammin' Sammys - good ol greasy wings, chips and tv. Thankfully they have been sold and will be an IHOP next year.
4. Sunset Grill - Great views, mediocre food, long waits. Why would a restaurant in the OBX offer seafood from Sysco and not fresh seafood? Profit!
5. Windmill Point - used to like this restaurant. Good food and a grat lounge upstairs. They have neglected the place over the years and quality has pluunged.
6. Port O' Call. Little Whorehouse on the OBX - at least the decor suggests it is. The quality of the food has never been great but people do like the gift shop!
7. Black Pelican. Average food but in the evening, forget taking the kids - they will hit you up for a meal of very average quality, a loud setting and a bill to make yori eyes bulge. Not bad for sitting at the bar and drinking beer and eating peanuts!!
8. Jimmy's Seafood. Cold, overcooked and soggy seafood. Yum. And people wait for hours to have their crab legs. Get a life!
9. Not far behind is Dirty Dicks. They make more off their T's than food. I Got My Crabs form Dirty Dicks! Great family fun.
10. Aqua S. New in Duck and vastly overpriced. Fancy ingredients do not equal superior taste. They have tried to copy the Left Bank, but but just don't have the talent in the kitchen to pull it off. Small dining area, noisy )poor acoustics) and visually boring.
11. All restaurants offering breakfasts, except The dunes. Stack Em High is just awful.
Great and worth a try:
1. Blue Point - Consistently offering great food in an adult setting. many have tried to copy them, and have failed. Just visit Ocean Blvd. and see what I mean - but they do have great martinis.
2. Elizabeth's Cafe - pricey and worth it. A must ofr those that love wine/food pairings.
3. Rundown Cafe - Consistent for 15 years, a local favorite. Great, fresh food and affordable, usually dinners are less than $15. Can't beat that!
4. Basnight's Lone Cedar - Fresh quality food, great family-oriented restaurant.
5. Left Bank - Pricey, exquisite, adult.
6. Meridian 42. Best (maybe only) tapas on the beach. Fresh, different.
7. Argyle's. Feels like you are not at the beach - and that's a good thing sometimes. Attentive service, quality food, great atmosphere.
8. Owens is a longstanding favorite for families, locals and tourists.
9. Flying Fish. Intimate, great preparation and presentation and great prices.
10. Collington Cafe. great food, intimate, out of the way. Service can be iffy at times though.
Hope this helps. All honest opinions - from me and customers.