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Roanoke Island Restaurants

You’ll eat well on Roanoke Island. For such a small island, it has a good share of restaurants.

Manteo’s restaurants are found in the historic waterfront area and along the main highway; Wanchese also sports several great places to eat. Except for a few fast food chains on the main highway (McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway), Roanoke Island’s restaurants are independent establishments with character you won’t find anywhere else.

Local fare revolves around what’s the freshest: seafood. If you haven’t eaten crispy fried oysters, silky she-crab soup or the spindly legs of a soft-shell crab, you haven’t fully tasted Roanoke Island. As a major hub for trawlers and fishing vessels, Wanchese is a serious commercial seafood center. Boats from all over bring their catches straight to the Wanchese fish houses, where the seafood is prepared for market.

But seafood isn’t all there is. This is eastern North Carolina, after all, so expect to find genuine, down-home country cooking and Carolina-style barbecue as well as fresh local produce at most Roanoke Island restaurants. Meat eaters will not be disappointed, and more and more restaurants are accommodating vegetarians.

Most Manteo restaurants do not require dinner reservations except, possibly, the upscale 1587. You may have to wait a few moments for a table at some restaurants, but the wait will definitely be shorter than at the beach restaurants. In fact, many Outer Banks locals know that the secret to an enjoyable dinner during the busy summer months is to forgo the beach and dine at a Roanoke Island restaurant where things are a little less crazy.

Manteo establishments can serve mixed drinks as well as beer and wine.

The hours given below are in-season hours. Most local restaurants cut back their hours in the off-season, so be sure to call ahead.

1587 Restaurant

405 Queen Elizabeth Street, The Tranquil House Inn
Manteo
(252) 473-1587

1587 is by far the most elegant restaurant on Roanoke Island. It exudes cosmopolitan class, with soft lighting, a copper-topped bar, polished wood, subtle lighting and a view of the harbor. Dining here is an intimate experience, with servers that make you feel as if you’re their only customer. Food presentation is a priority, and all dishes are works of art. Taste is important, too, and you’ll be wowed by dishes with lengthy descriptions of the style of preparation and unique combinations of ingredients. Fresh local seafood and produce, prime meats, fowl, game and vegetarian offerings are featured, and the desserts are outstanding. With a diverse wine list, specialty craft brews on tap at the bar and a tasteful selection of fine liquors, you're sure to find the perfect complement to your meal. 1587 is open seven nights a week in the summer; call for off-season nights of operation. Reservations are recommended. 

Basnight’s Lone Cedar

7623 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head/Manteo Causeway
(252) 441-5405

This Outer Banks landmark is where you’ll find many a local eating every night, so you know the food must be really good. This restaurant is, in fact, at the top of the list of many locals’ favorite spots. The service is genuinely friendly, and the portions are more than generous. You’ll enjoy the vast views of the sound and dining on their outdoor deck overlooking the osprey nest. Basnight’s serves brunch Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner seven nights a week beginning at 4:30 p.m. (During the off-season, the days they serve dinner vary, so call ahead.) They feature only local, fresh North Carolina seafood that comes in whole and is cleaned in their kitchen, along with vegetarian dishes, pasta and USDA Angus steaks. Their dedication to freshness includes their own herb garden. They also serve local produce as well as all-natural chicken. And you will marvel at their incredible wine cellar (well, it’s a room, really) featuring thousands of bottles of wine. This accompanies a roomy bar area where you can pick from a new bar menu full of tasty offerings or order right from the full restaurant menu. They also have live music in the bar area on Friday and Saturday nights. Each year, they close December 31 and re-open right before Valentine’s Day. Basnight’s also offers on and off-premise catering for any size or type of event.

 

Full Moon Cafe & Brewery

208 Queen Elizabeth Avenue
Manteo
(252) 473-6666

This café is a locals’ favorite for its relaxed atmosphere, friendly service and eclectic eats. Notable for bringing a touch of big city style to the downtown Manteo Waterfront, The Full Moon Café is located at the intersection of Queen Elizabeth Avenue and Sir Walter Raleigh Street. Take a seat at one of the umbrella-covered outdoor tables on a sunny day or balmy summer night and watch the world go by as you dine. The menu features creative, nouveau American cuisine and offers something for everyone, from grilled Angus steaks and delicious seafood entrees to tasty vegetarian dishes. Appetizers, soups and salads are delectable, and you can’t go wrong with any of the daily lunch and dinner specials, including wonderful pasta and quiche options. The wine list is extensive, with more than 50 choices available. Taking his fascination with beer to the next level, co-owner Paul Charron brews his own distinctive beers in the adjacent brew pub, billed as "the smallest, coolest brewery on the East Coast!" The Full Moon Brewery swept the recent World Beer Championship, grabbing eight medals for eight entries. Stop in, take a stool and witness the ancient art of brewing as you enjoy a modern, flavorful craft beer. The outside terrace is dog friendly — they even serve your pooch homemade dog biscuits. The café is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week in-season. Call for off-season hours. Dinner reservations are accepted.

Poor Richard's Sandwich Shop

303 Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Manteo Waterfront
Manteo
(252) 473-3333

Poor Richards is the local meet-and-greet neighborhood sandwich shop by day and bar by night. It has two doors, one leading from the Manteo boardwalk and another off the street. You can eat inside in a booth or table or sit outside on the patio right next to the water. You order at the counter, get your drink and your number then wait for your meal to be delivered to your table. Poor Richards is a Boar's Head deli serving hot and cold sandwiches made to order and served with chips and a pickle. You can also get burgers, hot dogs, soup, chili, salads, fries and onion rings and ice cream. For breakfast, there are egg sandwiches, toast and bagels, pancakes and bacon and sausage. Breakfast and lunch are served Monday through Saturday, and lunch is served on Sunday. In the summer, they also serve dinner most nights until 8 p.m. In the evenings, Poor Richard’s After Hours, a pub in the front of the restaurant, is open and serves wine, beer and a full cadre of bar drinks. They open at 5 p.m. every night but Sunday, when they open at 3 p.m. The pub offers karaoke on Wednesday nights year round and live music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights year round. In the summer, there's music on Thursday nights as well.