OBX Winter Dining Specials
“Sounds great, but what’s there to do in the winter?” Someone asks after telling them you live on the Outer Banks. “Plenty!” is the short answer, truly though, the mind starts to list the slower season benefits and cross off what is appropriate to share. It’s an oft repeated scenario.
Crossed Off the List:
-taking a left on the beach road
-getting a seat at the local bar
-having a few days off
-driving anywhere on the weekend
-short lines at the grocery stores
Tourism drives the local economy, so complaining about its impacts on daily life during the summer seems counterintuitive. So, what’s an appropriate answer? Here’s one: Dine Out!
Restaurant specials and discounts are just a few positive aspects of the less crowded months but are tops for local food lovers. Many restaurants barely able to keep up with demand in the summer can offer creative specials and discounts in the winter. With sparser crowds, you can easily plan a spur of the moment dinner without worrying about long waits or reservations. These specials are generally only offered one night of the week, so with some planning you have another reason to visit your favorite local spots.
Tapas Thursday at The Outer Banks Brewing Station
Thursdays starting in October chef Tony Duman presents a themed tapas menu at the wind powered brewery in Kill Devil Hills. Always pushing himself and his team Tony describes why he takes on the challenge each year. “I love doing tapas because it gives myself and my crew a chance to spread their wings.” He continues, “I will not repeat any themes within 2 years of each other… because I thrive off of the challenge as well as I love learning and teaching new cuisines and techniques to the staff and clientele.” He endeavors to expand horizons, “My absolute favorite is… to hear someone say they don’t like a certain ingredient and then love a dish I made that has that ingredient. That’s also why I’ve done themes like mushrooms, coffee, cactus, and chocolate. I believe that we should all constantly grow and evolve but we cannot do that without pushing our limits. This is how I do that.” See the full tapas schedule on the OBBS website and watch for each week’s menu on their Facebook page.
Burger Night at JK’s Restaurant
In house ground beef burgers from one of the preeminent steak restaurants on the Outer Banks? The concept sells itself, but I’ll wax on: wood fire grilled to your preference with your choice of classic toppings like cheddar, jalapeños or blue cheese and a side of JK’s seasoned fries and a pickle, these burgers are well worth the venture out on a cold Monday night. They’ll still be offering their full menu and drink list, so if someone in your group isn’t a burger fan they’re covered. Whether you sit in the front bar or in the dining room, you’ll still get that upscale JK’s service, but with a bit more of a casual price tag. Fair warning, this place can get crowded, as it’s truly a local’s favorite.
Oyster Happy Hour at Blue Water Bar and Grill
While the colder months mean the closing of Mimi’s Tiki Bar overlooking Pirate’s Cove Marina, it signals the return of Oyster Happy Hour. From 4-6 pm on select days each month, a selection of fresh shucked oysters is available for a dollar apiece. Sit at the sprawling bar with its excellent selections of beer, wine and cocktails, or at one of the many tables overlooking the water from the warm upstairs dining room. With both lunch and dinner daily specials, there’s always a new reason to check out Blue Water Bar & Grill, but locals and visitors alike certainly look forward to the return of this perennial special.
Pad Thai Thursdays at Mama Kwan’s
Everyone loves Mama Kwan’s, as is well evidenced by their crowded patio waiting area all summer long. Good for business but a difficult option for locals on a schedule during the season. However, that does not mean there is any local love lost for Mama’s, it’s the opposite. So much that as the busier months start winding down, the horseshoe bar becomes a place of familiar faces returning for their favorites. Owner Kevin Cherry explains the origin of Pad Thai Thursdays because of having to winnow the menu as they got busier over the years to streamline service, “we took the Pad Thai off of the menu and took such a kick back [from the locals] that we brought it back, but just on Thursdays,” in the winter, “so we can get it done right” he added.
Locals Only Discounts
As for locals only discounts, Jolly Roger in Kill Devil Hills is one of the most generous, offering year-round discounts and seasonal specials for residents with local ID. Stack ‘em High and Henry’s, both in Kitty Hawk, also offer locals discounts year-round. Many businesses offer but do not list specials for locals, so just ask.