The Charming Drive-In Restaurant Hiding In North Carolina You Must Try
Summer tourist season is winding down; barefoot beachgoers no longer swarm the boardwalks and HWY12 is a little less congested, but there’s still one place that exudes summertime vacation vibes year-round. For 40 years, peak season visitors and off-season locals have ventured to John’s Drive-In in Kitty Hawk for a wide assortment of delectable milkshakes and a famous tuna or dolphin boat.
Like many Outer Banks establishments, the restaurant was opened by former inland dwellers who vacationed on the Outer Banks for years and decided to finally time to call it home. John M. Tice, Sr.(Big John) and his wife Pat opened John's in 1977 and today you'll still see tons of beach goers and locals flock near milepost 5 to sit at one of the few picnic tables or get a simply delicious milkshake just a few steps from the Atlantic Ocean.
Pat infused her creativity in the form of milkshakes and also the delectable homemade tartar and cocktail sauce. Big John brought in his industry experience paired with a menu brimming with fried goodness. While Big John sadly passed away in 2007, 'Little John' had enough experience to continue running the restaurant under family ownership. Described as "food for the soul," there's no place quite like John's for a quintessential dolphin boat or a creamy peanut butter milkshake.
One staple item is the popular Dolphin Sandwich. Don't worry, you won't be eating Flipper, only the freshest locally-caught mahi. The tuna and dolphin boats also bring in plenty of sales and are one reason John's rose to fame so quickly. Other seafood options include a cajun crab or shrimp sub, popcorn shrimp boat, tuna salad or the crowd-pleasing crab cake.
If you're not big on seafood, John's is also known for their big, juicy angus burgers. There's even 'traditional subs' and the popular pulled pork BBQ sandwich.
Plenty of people also flock here for a refreshing sweet treat like a cherry cooler (pictured above). While you might be tempted to fill up on an assortment of fried fare, save room for a homemade milkshake, sundae, or soft serve cone.
Just like summer seems to come and go in the blink of an eye, the same can be said for John's. Operating during seasonal hours, it all depends on the staff and help John's can get for how long they stay open during the off-season. If you're looking to get one last taste of summer with a hearty dolphin boat, or a chiller to accompany a long stroll on the beach, the best time to visit is now.
How delicious is this place! It just exudes summertime and it’s true when they say, ‘you haven’t lived till you’ve tried the dolphin boat.’ Have you been here before?
You’ll find John’s Drive-In at
3716 Virginia Dare Trl N
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
For another delicious seafood restaurant on the opposite side of the coast,
try this amazing restaurant in a quaint intracoastal town.
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