The North Carolina Coast boasts some of the best restaurants in the south. Oak Island is no exception. With no shortage of sun, surf, and excellent cuisine delivered with a side of southern coastal charm, this small town has many options for your next meal.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor planning an Oak Island vacation, in the mood for casual dining or an elegant experience, the following is your guide for the best restaurants in Oak Island, NC.
From finger-licking barbecue to burgers, pizza, and fresh seafood, this list has you covered!
Located along E Oak Island Dr, just a couple blocks from the beach, the small but mighty Bar-B-Que House brings plates of its namesake bbq, southern sides, and all the fixins’ to hungry tummies.
An ultra-casual atmosphere welcomes diners to try bbq staples like Hickory-Smoked Pork Ribs or Texas-Style Brisket. There are also sandwiches, burgers, wraps, grilled cheese, and hot dogs or corn dogs, as well as more than a dozen classic sides like Fried Okra, Homemade Potato Salad, Slaw, and Hush Puppies.
The Pepperoni Grill satisfies that frequent Italian craving. At this neighborhood pizzeria, locals and tourists can enjoy a family-friendly meal.
The bright yellow building with an oceanfront view invites customers to make their pizza or choose from more than a dozen specialty New York-style pizzas on their extensive menu.
Their “Eat Pizza. Be Happy” motto is enticing enough, but if you’re not in the mood for pizza, that’s okay. There’s plenty of pasta, wings, salads, and sandwiches to choose from, too. Dine-in or grab takeout for a day at Ocean Isle Beach.
If a quick bite is what you’re hankering for, a pit stop at Bob’s Dogs is in order. Conveniently situated a few blocks from the beach, sun and surf lovers can satiate their appetites with various hot dog concoctions. For example, the Taco Dog includes shredded cheddar, lettuce, tomato, taco sauce, and Doritos.
Hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, and dessert round out the menu where Hot Dogs are really the Belle of the ball. In the warm weather months, outdoor seating makes Bob’s Dogs the perfect destination for patrons to fill up on classic beach fare in a casual, tropical atmosphere.
Bob’s Dogs is an elevated beachside hot dog stand with all the classics represented in creatively exciting ways. Don’t forget to top off your meal with an ice cream float.
Little Bit’s Grill
Little Bit’s Grill is an American restaurant in the heart of Oak Island. Burger lovers and anyone craving a savory beach treat will enjoy all this tiny establishment has to offer. From basic breakfast fare to simple burgers and sandwich options like the BLT, Little Bit’s Grill will satisfy your hunger.
It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors who crave big breakfast plates of omelets, pancakes, or that juicy lunchtime burger. Fast and friendly service welcomes you to this casual eatery.
An admirably varied, beachy menu matches the calm, coastal ambiance at this Oak Island Drive restaurant where their “You chill…we grill” slogan couldn’t be more inviting.
An impressive beer menu will make hops fans happy while they peruse the mouthwatering menu. Affordable family dining at Shagger Jack’s begins with Fried Oysters or Pickles before moving on to the Catch of the Day or some Shrimp Tacos.
A Sunday brunch boasts delectables like the Island Spiced French Toast or Fish and Grits consisting of blackened grouper and white cheddar grits in a creamy Creole sauce. And the eclectic flavors at Shagger Jack’s don’t end there.
Swain Seafood Shack
Family-owned and operated, Swain Seafood Shack is dedicated to using local resources. Named out of respect for the original 1930s Swain Shack that still stands on Oak Island, the Swain family continues to dole out delicious family-style food.
From fresh seafood to combination platters, pasta, steaks, and more, Swain Seafood Shack also offers gluten-free options.
Jones Seafood House
Opened in 1964, Jones Seafood House still retains its vintage, coastal esthetic, with bright yellow and blue décor and wooden ceiling beams. The menu is equally as classic, with overflowing plates of simply prepared seafood, charbroiled steaks, chicken, and pork. There are also nightly specials, in addition to a senior and kids’ menu.
Jones’ Seafood House is a solid representation of the classic seafood restaurant that locals and vacationers alike have come to expect and adore.
Thai by the Sea
Oak Island Beach visitors can experience something a little different at this refreshing take on Thai cuisine. Thai by the Sea offers a menu packed with traditional Thai dishes, like Curry Fried Rice and Pad Thai with your choice of protein, in addition to specials, like Crispy Duck. For something more adventurous, try the By the Sea Delight, which includes shrimp, scallops, and a mix of vegetables.
With so many options containing both land and sea proteins, it’s not difficult finding something to satisfy a Thai craving at the uniquely coastal Thai by the Sea.
Joseph’s Italian Bistro
Overlooking the Intracoastal waterway at South Harbour Village, Joseph’s Italian Bistro offers fine dining alongside a premier wine and spirits list. While not specifically located in Oak Island, it’s a worthy 15-minute drive to this Southport, North Carolina Italian gem.
Begin with the Saffron Mussels appetizer before you feast on Linguini Ala Carbonara, a favorite of Joseph’s Italian Bistro-goers while reveling in a breathtaking sunset from their outdoor patio. Outside seating is, of course, weather permitting.
Old Bridge Diner
Old Bridge Diner is your budget-friendly classic all-day breakfast, lunch, and dinner dive. Unfortunately, this hidden gem tucked next to a busy convenience store and gas station is easy to miss. A faux tin ceiling, checkered floors, and maroon-colored booths scream classic Americana.
Old Bridge Diner attracts hungry folks with its traditional American staples, seafood dishes, and southern favorites like the Shrimp Po Boy or Country Fried Steak. The locally acclaimed clam chowder is sold by the quart or the gallon, while the breakfast fare is Old Bridge Diner’s draw. Thanks to an array of pancakes, omelets, biscuit sandwiches, and piping hot coffee, Oak Island beach-goers can fuel up before a long day of coastal activities.
Turtle Island Restaurant & Catering
Combining local flavors and ingredients with a taste of the tropics is Turtle Island’s specialty. Though it may be small in stature, this mighty Oak Island Drive restaurant delivers a vibrant collection of tropical fare in a big way. With its charming in-dining room aquariums, Turtle Island serves up some of Oak Island’s best Caribbean-infused flavors.
Again, don’t let the small restaurant fool you, as seafood dominates the expansive menu. From Annie’s Clam Soup, Coconut Shrimp, Thai Seared Tuna, and Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops to Fried Clams and Shrimp Scampi, Turtle Island doesn’t skimp on the options.
The vast range of appetizers, steamer options, raw bar, pasta, Calabash-style fried seafood, house specialties, and a separate sandwiches and kids’ menu leaves diners with some big decisions.
Pizza Shack has been Oak Island’s “Mom & Pop” pizzeria since 1989.
Homemade dough, fresh ingredients, and amusing “gourmet” pizzas like the All-American Bacon Cheeseburger pizza or Mexican pizza keep locals and tourists on their toes, coming back for more. Fresh Garden Salads, Mozzarella Stix, and Jalapeño Poppers accompany the quirky selections of pizza.
Not in the mood for one of their signature pies? You can create your own from an extensive list of toppings, including Banana Peppers and Anchovies, as well as the more classic Pepperoni and Mushrooms.