You’ll eat well on Roanoke Island. For such a small island, it has a good share of restaurants.
Manteo 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. Most local restaurants cut back their hours in the off-season, and several take a break for a month or so in the winter, so be sure to call ahead.