Hatteras Island Restaurants and Nightlife
One of the best aspects of any vacation away from the real world is not having to cook, and Hatteras Island offers a fine selection of restaurants in all seven villages to cater to visitors. From fine dining establishments for a cultured palette, to your basic local hangout for steamed shrimp and a cold one, there are a variety of eateries for every taste.
Enjoy Hatteras-style Cuisine and Entertainment in Locally-Owned Restaurants by the Sea.
Before you unfold your napkin and get ready to chow down, there are a few local tips and regional guidelines you should know for island dining. Because many premier homes are built for large families, local restaurants can accommodate large groups fairly easily. While most restaurants do not recommend or allow reservations, they do encourage larger parties of 10 people or more to call ahead with a quick head’s up of the party’s arrival and estimated time.
Bordering 70 miles of national seashore has its perks, and one of them is the abundance of fresh seafood. Ask your server what’s fresh on the menu, and as a rule of thumb, ask about the daily specials. In most local restaurants, the fish special is fresh off the docks and varies daily, determined solely by what has been caught that afternoon. Local specialties include North Carolina shrimp and scallops, Spanish mackerel, mahi mahi, and grilled or stuffed flounder. For just a taste of North Carolina’s fresh seafood, start off your meal with an appetizer of steamed mussels or clams, which are abundant in the Pamlico Sound waters.
The island has its own unique spin on nationally known specialties, like crabcakes and clam chowder. Hatteras style chowder is unlike Manhattan and New England in that it’s a clear based broth with lots of clams, potatoes, green or white onions, and a collection of spices. Hatteras style crabcakes are generally grilled with lots of crab and little filler. Sampling these local dishes is a must, but be sure your palette is ready for something different, and not the typical interpretation of these dishes that you may be used to.
Remember when planning to go out to dinner, that life is simply a little quieter on Hatteras Island and many establishments close at 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. A selection of restaurants have limited bar menus after hours, but for a full menu, it’s best to plan to dine a little early, or at least call ahead to see what time the restaurant of your choice closes. Tip: Use our free mobile app to locate restaurants close to your vacation home.
Where to Find Fresh Seafood
Where do you find the freshest, most delectable seafood on the island? Chances are, the best seafood is just around the corner from your rental home.
Seafood markets are available in every village, and they usually have the widest and best selection of local seafood. Pick up a few filets for the grill, or for extra value, buy fish and seafood that might need a little preparation before eating. For example, shrimp with the heads on that hasn’t been shelled or deveined yet is generally much cheaper than shrimp that is basically ready to eat.
Running short on time? Then check out the local grocery stores, particularly smaller grocers like the Conners in Buxton or Burrus Red & White in Hatteras for fresh seafood over the deli counter. (Local grocers are also a great place to pick up fresh seafood or shrimp salads for easy sandwiches.)
Whether you catch it yourself or let someone else do all the work, Hatteras Island is truly the seafood lover’s paradise, and with so many ways to sit back and enjoy a taste of the sea, don’t be surprised if you still crave the seashore after your vacation. For a treat to take with you, fill up a couple of coolers with fresh seafood to take home and pop in your freezer for an island treat you can enjoy long after your beach days have passed.
Mixing It Up
In years past, locals and visitors were not able to order a mixed drink at our island restaurants. Hatteras Island was a partially “dry” island where only beer and wine could be sold in properly licensed restaurants, grocery and convenience stores. Liquor was only sold at one ABC store on the island. As of 2011, that is no longer the case. Liquor drinks are now available at most restaurants on Hatteras Island.
Whether you enjoy a nice dinner with friends and family at your vacation home, or prefer to get together at an area restaurant for cocktails, cuisine and good conversation, remember to drink responsibly.
Spice Up the Night
Why not spend a warm summer evening in good company, admiring a breathtaking sunset and listening to live music? Enjoy a fruity beverage while sitting on the deck listening to one of our talented local musicians play familiar tunes. We also have a few island venues that have begun to schedule regular entertainment, sometimes welcoming touring artists. Tip: Check out our blog for weekly or monthly entertainment listings, featuring local and traveling musicians.