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10 Must-Try Manteo Restaurants, North Carolina | Best Places to Eat in Manteo, NC

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The first time my husband and I visited the Outer Banks we knew it was special. We experienced white-sand beaches, crystal-blue waters, islands, ferry rides (the only mode of transportation to and from some islands), lighthouses, historic landmarks, and famous beach towns.

As we headed home, west on Hwy 64, we crossed the bridge from Nags Head and discovered the seaside town of Manteo (pronounced Maneo by the locals).

It’s a quaint, picturesque town on historic Roanoke Island, and yes, part of the Outer Banks. Just two hours from Norfolk, Virginia, and three from Raleigh or Jacksonville, North Carolina, it’s an easy trip, and there will be some great restaurants in Manteo just waiting for your arrival.

Some say Manteo is enchanting. We agree. We could not wait to return to explore and see all that she had to offer. Recently, we finally made the trip back and stayed for almost a week. We fell in love with the little harbor town, its history, its people, and being foodies, the amazing Manteo restaurants.

Here is my list of 11 Must-Try Restaurants in Manteo, North Carolina.

10 Must-Try Manteo Restaurants

Avenue Waterfront Grille

207 Queen Elizabeth Avenue // 252-437-4800

Located at the Waterfront Shoppes, Avenue Grille is a casual, family-friendly restaurant. Overlooking Shallowbag Bay and Manteo Harbor, you can walk in or arrive by boat.

Fresh, locally caught fish and seafood dishes are their specialties, but their menu also includes dishes for the meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free eaters.

shrimp and sausage dish

I was impressed with the selection on the kids’ menu and the key-lime cheesecake on the dessert menu was tempting.

Some popular dishes include Seared Tuna Sushi, Bayou Shrimp and Grits, and Fish Tacos.

fried chicken sandwich

I enjoyed a beautiful dinner salad, slow-smoked beef brisket with mashed red potatoes and fresh green beans. Did I mention the key-lime cheesecake for dessert?

pizza in front of a bar

The spacious dining room is walled with windows for a fantastic water view from every table. You can also dine outside on the patio while enjoying a great view and a cool breeze. The full-service bar serves craft cocktails, locally crafted beer, and wine. For a casual, relaxed restaurant in Manteo, visit the Avenue. 

Olives A Greek Kitchen

207 Queen Elizabeth Avenue // 252-423-3322

Your senses come alive the moment you walk through the door at Olives. The aroma, a tantalizing mixture of spices like rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, kalamata olives, meat, fresh-baked bread, cheese, and coffee greets you immediately.

pita covered in salad

Next, your eyes feast on a large, glass case filled with Greek delicacies. Gazing further into the room you see a wall of windows overlooking the waterfront with tables at each one. You hear traditional Greek music softly playing as you are seated, most likely by Gayle, the owner.

Greek lemon soup

Your mouth waters as you read the menu full of authentic Greek cuisine – gyros, moussaka, spanakopita, chicken karas, baklava, and more.

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The pizzas are amazing, all made with a cauliflower crust.

You can’t go wrong with the Mezede (appetizer) platter – dolmades, olive salad, roasted garlic, feta cheese, tzatziki, hummus, and bread.  You’ll feel like you are in the Greek Islands while at this Manteo restaurant.


Ortega’z Southwestern Grill and Wine Bar

201 Sir Walter Raleigh Street // 252-473-5911

In the historic downtown area of Manteo, housed in a completely restored and renovated 70-year-old building, Ortega’z brings a relaxed, casual atmosphere with a southwestern flair.

Using the finest local seafood and produce, they offer everything from house-made chips and salsa and street tacos to Wasabi Shrimp and Carne Asada.

tacos with avocado and hot sauce

You can try a Cubano Press Sandwich, Sizzling Fajitas, a mouthwatering meatloaf, and of course, the local catch of the day.

With two large dining rooms, an outdoor patio, and bar seating, there is always room at Ortega’z. Bring the whole family for lunch or dinner, or stop by for a glass of wine. For a Southwestern and Mexican flair, you can’t beat Ortega’z restaurant in Manteo.

Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop and Pub

305 Queen Elizabeth Avenue // 252-473-3333

After arriving, while looking for a restaurant in Manteo, we asked several locals where to eat downtown. Poor Richard’s was at the top of everyone’s list.

A Manteo favorite since 1984, Poor Richard’s uses only the finest Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. They say their Rueben is the best, but you’d have to convince me with all the great sandwiches, burgers, and wraps on the menu. They also have soups and salads.

Reuben sandwich

Ordering from the chalkboard menu on the wall, I selected the daily special – lump meat crabcake sandwich and cucumber salad. The best crabmeat sandwich ever! The bun was so fresh and tasty with crisp lettuce, red-ripe tomato, and house-made tartar sauce. The cucumber salad was fresh and tangy.

fried chicken sandwich with pickles and dressing

You can enter from the street side or from the boardwalk on the harbor side. There is ample seating inside as well as outside on the “back porch” where watching the passerby’s on the boardwalk and the boats come and go in the marina adds a nice addition to your meal. For casual seaside dining in Manteo, you’ll love this place. 

Darrell’s Restaurant

521 US Hwy 64 // 252-473-5366

Darrell’s has been a favorite family-owned Manteo restaurant since 1960. Conveniently located on Old US Hwy 64 (Manteo’s only major road), visitors driving into town can’t miss it.

They serve classic Outer Banks fare such as fried oysters, wood-fired barbecue, and Hatteras clam chowder. Portions are plentiful and the prices are modest.

fried fish with coleslaw and french fries

Seafood is Darrell’s specialty but they also offer “land food” plus daily dinner specials like meatloaf, chicken pot pie, and their legendary boiled drum (fish). The daily lunch specials always include options for under $10.

fried chicken plate

As many restaurants in Manteo open for lunch and dinner only, we opted to go to Darrell’s for an early breakfast. I stuffed myself on amazing sweet-potato hotcakes while my husband ordered a bacon-cheddar omelet with home fries and biscuits and gravy. Needless to say, neither of us could finish our meals.

The two dining rooms were spacious, the staff friendly, and even the owner, Ali, granddaughter of the original owner, came over for a quick hello.

Carolina Bar-B-Que Company

908 US Hwy 64 // 252-305-8844

If you want traditional North Carolina bar-b-que, look no further than Carolina Bar-B-Que Company. The owner, Mike Weaver, has a passion for BBQ (and people) and it shows.

The menu is simple — delicious pork and brisket bbq plates and seafood baskets along with hamburgers, hotdogs, and sandwiches with all the country fixin’s (sides) and apple, pecan, or sweet potato pie for dessert.

pulled pork sandwich

Pulling up you might see smoke billowing from the adjacent smokehouse. Once you get a whiff of what’s smokin’, you can’t wait to get inside. The large dining room with its mix of maritime and country décor is fun and inviting right down to the red-and-white checkered tablecloths.

BBQ full of chicken and sausages

Ordering is simple too. Order at the walk-up order window, get your food from the pick-up window. Don’t forget your sweet tea or fresh-squeezed lemonade. Want barbecue in Manteo?  This is the place. 

Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar

2000 Sailfish Drive // 252-473-1955

The Blue Water Grill is the sister restaurant of Blue Moon Beach Grill, a Nag’s Head favorite. It has a warm and friendly atmosphere with wooden floors, teak wood seats, and Ball-jar candles atop each table. The open, vaulted ceiling is crisscrossed with long wooden beams and trophy sailfish sit above the full-wall bar. Every table has an impressive view of the sound and marina.

raw oysters on a plate of ice

The menu rotates seasonally, and always including fresh, local fish and seafood and crops. The lunch and dinner menus slightly differ and there are always daily specials on both. The raw oyster bar is a must-try experience, as are the yummy signature cocktails.

grilled salmon over grits

Located outside on the deck, next to the marina, is Mimi’s Tiki Hut. It has a super casual, laid-back atmosphere with all outdoor seating. Have a drink and watch the boats come and go. If the fresh air makes you hungry, they offer the same menu as the Grill.

For a top-shelf seafood restaurant in Manteo, look for Blue Water. 

Shaddai Restaurant

112 US Hwy 64 // 252-423-3013

The Outer Banks’ first Peruvian and Mexican restaurant, Shaadai’s quickly became a local favorite.

Their signature dish is Peruvian rotisserie chicken, Pollo-A-La-Brava. Other offerings include authentic Peruvian dishes such as Mahi ceviche, Sauteed Lomo Steak, and Jalea Mixta – mixed seafood, deep-fried with cassava and salsa criolla.

peruvian ceviche peruvian cuisine peruvian dish peruvian food

Mexican favorites include mojarra, carne asada, fajitas, tacos, and nachos – all authentic and made with the freshest ingredients.

best Manteo restaurants

The large dining area is casual and comfortable offering both tables with chairs and booths. Portions are plentiful and prices reasonable. The staff is friendly and helpful in explaining some of the maybe-not-so-familiar dishes on the menu. 

For a south-of-the-border experience, visit this Manteo restaurant.

Stripers Bar and Grille

1100A S Bay Club Drive // 252-475-1021

From the moment you walk through the doors at Stripers Bar and Grille, you know you’re in the right place. The first thing that catches your eye, just beyond the large three-sided wooden bar, is the wall of windows offering a spectacular view of Shallowbag Bay.

Stripers is a unique, three-story restaurant so there is always plenty of seating and great water views from every table. Sit at the bar and socialize while dining or relax with a signature cocktail. The outdoor deck is pleasant with views of the bay and marina.

Stripers has an extensive menu, including an amazing Sunday brunch, with their specialty being steamed and fried seafood, all locally sourced when possible.

fried calamari with two dipping sauces

Other items on the menu range from burgers and sandwiches to pasta, meatloaf, and prime rib. We spent the afternoon sipping specialty cocktails out on the deck while snacking on a plate of steamed crab legs.

prime rib cooked medium

Striper’s is a fun and friendly place with a casual, relaxed environment, like most Manteo restaurants. The kind that keeps you going back.

Lost Colony Brewery and Café

208 Queen Elizabeth Street // 252-473-6666

You know that my list would not be complete without a brewpub (brewery and eatery). The Lost
Colony Tavern does not disappoint.

There has been some changes recently but in keeping with rich local history, Lost Colony now
features the flavors of the Old World with traditional British Isle dishes. You’ll discover dishes
such as bangers & mash, shepherd’s pie, and fish & chips along with some Outer Banks
favorites such as Pamlico Sound crab cakes, Carolina bbq sandwich, and a Virginia Dare

My taste buds were delighted by the fresh English Garden Salad and Guinness Stew while my
husband thoroughly enjoyed his Lost Colony Steak & Ale Pie. They also have a great kids’
menu with everything under $8.00.

The Lost Colony Brewery (housed on a separate site) specializes in British and Irish-style beers
with names like Kitty Hawk Blonde, Nags Head IPA, Kill Devil Scotch Ale, and my favorite,
Raleigh Buxton Brown, all award winners made with ingredients imported from the United
Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. The Tavern now boasts a Signature Cocktails program
centered around Irish Whiskeys, Scotch Whiskeys, and London Dry Gins.

Located in the heart of downtown, this Manteo restaurant has a lively, happening vibe. The
atmosphere is fun, casual, and relaxed, with friendly service. There is ample seating indoors
and even more outside on the tiered patios strung with lights.

Which of these restaurants in Manteo do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!

Visiting other cities in North Carolina? Check out our foodie guides to the following cities:

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Tuesday 28th of September 2021

Don't think Big Al's open any longer. They auction stuff off 1st of Sept. 2021. Saw you didn't apparently try TJ's Family Restaurant which we thought was very good....

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