Nothing beats ending a long, beautiful day on the Outer Banks like a home-cooked meal featuring all of the freshest, highest quality, local ingredients the island has to offer. Whether preparing to grill out for the Fourth of July weekend or just looking to cap off a summer day on the beach, put down those Oscar Mayer wieners and step into the world of Outer Banks fresh cuisine. We’re here to tell you exactly where to go to create the farm-to-table meal of your dreams.
Looking for the freshest veggies for that salad?
Go here: Secotan Market
Located in Wanchese under a picturesque green-roofed barn house, Secotan Market is the most adorable little farmers market you ever did see. Held from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday, it features goods from northeastern North Carolina growers, producers and craftspeople. The market is the place to find the freshest, most vibrant vegetables on the Outer Banks from three different farms. Croatan Gardens is a small farm owned by Secotan Market co-founders Eric Soderholm and his wife, Ladd Bayliss. Using sustainable practices, they grow produce in Manteo, Manns Harbor and right around the Wanchese market itself. Then there is Island Farm, located on the other end of Roanoke Island in Manteo, a living history establishment that offers heirloom varieties that have been grown on the Outer Banks since 1757. Somerset Farm is a certified organic farm from Edenton, North Carolina, and provides a wide variety of produce, as well as fresh salt, spice, and herb mixes with which to season them.
Go here: Weeping Radish Farm Brewery
If you’re tired of standard packaged lunch meat and hot dogs, look no further than this butchery and restaurant for their award-winning charcuterie and sausages, all made in-house. It’s located on Caratoke Highway (U.S. 158) in Grandy, a short drive from the Wright Memorial Bridge. Owner Uli Bennewitz’s dedication to sourcing only hormone-free beef and free-range pork from local farms, and his commitment to making all products free of sodium nitrate, fillers, colorants and preservatives, means Weeping Radish is the epitome of farm-to-fork cuisine. They even use hickory hardwood chips from the Virginia mountains to smoke their meats.
Also the first microbrewery in North Carolina, Bennewitz produces beer according to Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516, which dictates using only hops, malt, yeast and water.
Looking for fresh oysters or shrimp?
Go here: O’Neal’s Sea Harvest
O’Neal’s Sea Harvest, located on the water in Wanchese, is an Outer Banks staple for fresh, quality seafood. As they say, “Skip the middlemen. … (G)et your seafood where it’s caught, cleaned and cooked.” If you go at the right time you can even see the boats dock and watch them unload that day’s catch. You could be boiling up some crabs that were caught an hour earlier – now that’s ocean-to-table seafood! They offer a variety of hard or softshell blue crabs, deep sea and inshore fish, as well as North Carolina shrimp and ocean scallops caught and purchased daily. We highly recommend checking it out, if not only for the delicious, fresh seafood, but also to get the Wanchese fishing village experience. This is your chance to really see what the Outer Banks coast has to offer.
Looking for a great cut of meat to throw on the grill?
Go here: Heavenly Portion Family Farm
Available at Secotan Market, Heavenly Portion Family Farm offers all natural, non-GMO chicken, lamb, beef, pork and eggs, all fresh from their farm in nearby Creswell, North Carolina. Their animals are pasture raised in the fresh air and sunshine, they use rotational grazing methods, and no chemical fertilizers. They believe in the connection between farmers and their customers and that it’s often missing in modern commercial agriculture, so they have intentionally chosen to sell only at farmers markets and on their farm. Be careful: Once you throw this high quality, pasture raised local meat on the grill, you may never go back to that grocery store stuff. Available at the Secotan Market on Saturdays through November, as well as a pre-order drop off at the same location from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and Dowdy Market every second and fourth Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. throughout the summer.
Looking for a fresh loaf of bread?
Go here: Gutsy Grain
Gutsy Grain is a small, local bakery featured exclusively at Secotan Market. They offer a rotating selection of small batch items, including naturally leavened artisan breads, made with local North Carolina Lindley Mills organic grains, and a traditionally fermented sourdough loaf. The fermentation process allows bacteria to break down the carbohydrates and gluten, making it much easier to digest than regular bread. In fact, many gluten-sensitive people have no problem with traditional fermented sourdough. Jamie Wegener, baker and co-owner with husband Kenan Watkins, is committed to using as many local and high-quality ingredients as possible. Some of her other offerings include focaccia bread, a Funfetti Rice Krispy Treat made with homemade marshmallows, zucchini and yellow summer squash slices with lemon glaze using organic and local zucchini and squash from Somerset Farm, and roasted macadamia nut and hibiscus white chocolate chip cookies made with locally made chocolate from Shelley’s Chocolate. Go try out her amazing baked goods at Secotan Market, but be warned, she often sells out within an hour so get there on time!
Looking for a great dessert?
Go here: Tullio’s Bakery
Located in Duck, Tullio’s is the Italian bakery of the Outer Banks. Of nationwide fame, after being featured on the Food Network, Tullio’s offers a wide selection of delicious cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cookies, and many other pastries and desserts all made from scratch. But what we really love about them is they say they are blessed to have access to the freshest local ingredients and do their best to incorporate them into all of their desserts. Celebrating 20 years on the Outer Banks, Tullio’s is the obvious choice for dessert for your fresh-on-the-OBX meal.
And now for something to wash it all down: Buffalo City Jug Shop and Sanctuary Vineyards
Buffalo City Jug Shop, the first growler fill station to open on the Outer Banks, offers a wide selection of craft beers. Founded by Morgan Myshin and located at mile post 9.75, just off U.S. 158 in Kill Devil Hills, the name has a cool story. It’s a tribute to Buffalo City, a community with a long history of logging and moonshining once nestled in East Lake Township, 19 miles west of Manteo, near Manns Harbor. Offering a rotating selection of 24 beers on tap, filling up a growler gives you to that “fresh-from-the-tap experience” in your home, the shop says. Not only that, but there’s a wide variety of North Carolina beers and more recently offerings from breweries in the Virginia Beach area, the closest city to our island. They also carry a wide variety of packaged beer as well.
Sanctuary Vineyards, located over the bridge on the Caratoke Highway (U.S. 158) in Jarvisburg, is the Outer Banks grape-to-glass experience. It’s owned by the Wright family, who are seventh-generation farmers in Currituck. Their ancestors literally crashed their boat in Duck centuries ago. The wine is produced from 10 acres of grapevines located between hundreds of acres of farmland and wildlife impoundments that the family calls the “sanctuary,” hence the name. As North Carolina Wine Growers of the Year award winners in 2015, varieties include syrah, tempranillo, viognier, Norton and the classic muscadine. This local wine would be the perfect thing to wash down that farm-to-table meal.
With all of these options, you are sure to create a meal to remember while enjoying some of the best – and freshest - the Outer Banks has to offer. Happy shopping!