OBX Diners, Drive-ins and Dives?

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Guy Fieri, host of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, came blasting through the Outer Banks like a sudden thunderstorm on a hot summer day. OK–maybe not quite that quickly or explosively since he was here for about a week and rumor has it that he’s coming back for some post-production work. But he was here and now he’s gone and you can’t help but think of the places he didn’t go.

Here’s where he went–Brine and Bottle on the Causeway in Nags Head, Tortuga’s Lie in Nags Head, the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills, Coastal Cravings in Duck, Black Pelican by the ocean in Kitty Hawk and Weeping Radish up there in Currituck–Jarvisburg to be exact.

I’ve been to every one of them and I agree with Guy that each restaurant has great food . . . worthy of national and even international mention. But how many of these qualify as a diner or dive? Not very many.

I’ll concede Coastal Cravings, occupying what use to be a Burger King, passes muster as a drive-in, but that’s as close to the show’s title as Guy got. And Tortuga’s gets the dive award, just because it shows its age.

Brine and Bottle? Had a wonderful lunch with a good friend on the deck overlooking the sound. But a dive? I don’t think so. The Brewing Station? Great beer, amazing food–but it falls woefully short of any of the Triple D descriptions.

C’mon, Guy. What is the selection process?

We’ll start with the obvious. John’s Drive-in. A Kitty Hawk icon that qualifies for two of the three criteria. It is both a drive-in and a dive. The dolphin boat is guaranteed to clog your arteries and cleanse your soul–which is what good fried food should do. The burgers are excellent and the milkshakes are a step back in history to a time when milkshake machines and premixed frozen sludge was unheard of.

A dive? How about Sam and Omie’s. This is their 75th anniversary year. There’s a reason why they’ve survived this long.

Or Art’s Place in Kitty Hawk. Great burgers, huge breakfast and it definitely qualifies as a dive. Check it out on Monday nights when Joe Mapp plays or there’s an open mic.  The beer is cold and the room packed.

Continuing on the dive theme. how about Goombays? We’ve skipped over Kill Devil Hills so far, and that’s right in the middle of everything.

One of my favorite qualities of Triple D is the focus on authentic regional cuisine. Kansas City barbecue, Texas barbecue, a trip through Maine. If anyone is turning out better eastern North Carolina barbecue than Will Thorp at High Cotton in Kitty Hawk, I haven’t met them. Nice smoky flavor, a little bit of pop from the pepper balanced by the acid of the vinegar. It’s not a dive or a barbecue joint, but what he serves is unique to the area.

Just a few suggestion for the next time Guy comes this way. If folks reading this have suggestions of their own, let’s gather them up and send them along.