20 Jan 2023
Planning a beach vacation is sure to be fun and exciting. There are so many things to think about: where to stay, what to bring, and what to do when you get here. But for people with food allergies, spending a week or more away from home requires a little extra preparation to ensure that you're able to find allergy-safe food to enjoy during your stay. Here at Seaside Vacations, we want to help make your Outer Banks vacation hassle-free, from booking to check-in and check-out, and that includes helping you plan ahead for a fun, safe Outer Banks vacation experience. So we did some research and came up with some recommendations on some of the best allergy-friendly places to eat on the Outer Banks as well as some tips and tricks for how to make taking a vacation with a food allergy a little bit easier. Keep reading for our Guide to Visiting the Outer Banks with Food Allergies!
Food-Allergy Friendly Restaurants
Below is our list of recommendations for restaurants that are known on the Outer Banks for offering clear menus, multiple food options for guests with food allergies, and a knowledgable staff to help with any additional accommodations. As always, clarify anything with the staff and check out the menu before dining. If you’re looking specifically for dairy-free and egg-free options, check out our guide to Eating Vegan & Vegetarian on the Outer Banks for additional suggestions!
1174 Duck Rd. Downstairs, Duck
Multiple Gluten-Free options, all labeled on the menu. Staff is very knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to accommodations and ensuring the safety of guests. Gluten-free and allergy-friendly options are usually prepared in a separate part of the kitchen, but always ask your server to be sure. The “allergy menu items” change daily and are free of gluten, dairy, and nuts, making this the safest possible choice while still being delicious.
1187 Duck Rd, Duck
Great spot to stop that offers a selection of gluten-free cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and other desserts. Breakfast sandwiches can be made gluten-free with GF bread.
1209 Duck Rd, Duck, NC 27949
Coastal Cravings has plenty of options on their lunch and dinner menus that can be quickly and easily made gluten-free. Breakfast sandwiches can be swapped out for a gluten-free roll. As of 2022, they were also using a separate gluten-free fryer, so fries are no longer off the menu for folks with gluten allergies and Celiacs! The staff is knowledgeable and helpful, so be sure to ask if you have any questions.
1216 Duck Rd, Duck
Serving up ice cream and donuts, Donutz on a Stick is known for having multiple vegan and/or gluten-free donut flavors including cinnamon roll, maple glaze, and strawberry shortcake. Be sure to call ahead to ensure availability, as gluten-free donuts sell out quickly, and it’s best to reserve your donut order at least a day in advance. They also offer a gluten-free cone for ice cream.
3730 N. Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC
Depending on which specific allergies you and your loved ones have, Barefoot Bernie’s is known for being wonderfully accommodating. The staff is knowledgeable about food allergies and plates are labeled with allergy information upon serving. Barefoot Bernie’s also has multiple Gluten-Free items available on the menu and notes that they can prepare most items to be Gluten-Free upon request. Be sure to talk with your server while ordering to ensure a safe dining experience for you and your family.
3848 N. Virginia Dare Trl, Kitty Hawk
Gluten-Free options are clearly noted on the menu. Staff and chefs are always willing to answer questions and accommodate. You can enjoy this Outer Banks classic without the stress of wondering if your food is safe.
1225 S. Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills
Multiple gluten-free options and cook on a separate grill. According to their website, while they do not currently offer gluten-free pancakes or waffles, they do have gluten-free french toast and bread options with omelettes and egg platters.
1469 Colington Rd., Kill Devil Hills
The Saltbox Cafe has one of the most allergy-friendly menus on the Outer Banks. Menu descriptions include listings of allergens and specify dishes that are vegan, peanut-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Discuss concerns regarding cross contamination with your server.
1520 S Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills
While there’s not a separate gluten-free menu, visitors have reported that there is a dedicated fryer and staff are extremely welcoming and knowledgeable about gluten allergies. Be sure to ask for any accommodations and let your servers know so that they can help! Certain sauces aren’t gluten-free, but chefs can easily make any necessary changes.
600 S. Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC
Just because you or someone in your family has a gluten allergy or sensitivity does not mean that you have forego enjoying the best brews and delicious food on the Outer Banks! Outer Banks Brewing Station offers an amazing selection of Gluten-Free food options as well as at least a couple Gluten-Free beers. Keep in mind, Outer Banks Brewing Station does not separate their fryers, so cross-contimation is possible. Please notify your server of any allergies prior to ordering.
4104 S. Virginia Dare Trl, Nags Head
South Beach Takeout, Catering, and Delivery prides itself on having plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, which are all clearly labeled on its menu. Everything is cooked to order, so be sure to ask about any additional allergies or accommodations. South Beach also has an “Allergy Friendly OBX” sticker on their door, showcasing their dedication to a safe dining experience on the Outer Banks.
4104 S Virginia Dare Trail #16, Nags Head
Blue Moon has a dedicated fryer for allergy-sensitive meals and while they no longer provide a separate gluten-free menu, all staff are readily familiar with dietary restrictions and gluten allergies. They encourage guests to ask questions and talk to your server, as most dishes, including their famous Shrimp and Grits, can easily be made gluten-free.
7575 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head
Tale of the Whale has a reputation among visitors to the Outer Banks with food allergies and sensitivities for its multiple gluten-free options available on the primary menu. Many local favorites including Stuffed Flouder, Garlic Shrimp, and Blackened Fish & Grits are gluten-free. As always, be sure to let your server know that you are ordering with a food allergy to ensure careful preparation. Staff is knowledgeable and ready to help.
4036 S. Virginia Dare Trl, Nags Head
Nags Head Pizza Company boasts dairy-free cheese and gluten-free crust as well vegan pepperoni and vegan/vegetarian specialty pies. This is a great option if you’re looking for an allergy-friendly pizza night as they also have non-tomato sauces and a variety of other delicious options to keep everyone in your family safe and satisfied.
207 Queen Elizabeth Avenue #5, Manteo
Open primarily for lunch, this fantastic restaurant offers fresh, locally-sourced ingredients with a focus on gluten-free and healthy fare! Menu is clearly labeled with gluten-free and vegan meal options with additional options for gluten-free buns and vegan cheese.
Tips for Vacationing with Food Allergies
Planning a vacation can be a fun and exciting experience, especially when you're on your way to somewhere as amazing as the Outer Banks! But when you're traveling with food allergies, there's an extra layer of planning that has to go into making the perfect vacation. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks to help make your next vacation relaxing, fun, and easy!
Be Sure to Bring Auto-Injectors and Medication
Consider investing in a travel case that is sure to make outings and visits to the beach a little bit easier and a lot less stressful. Amazon has plenty of options, but we thought this one was super cool while this one is great for the kids!
Always Bring Back-Up Snacks & Safe Foods
As you can see, there are lots of allergy-friendly dining options up and down the Outer Banks. However, it's still important to plan ahead and bring a selection of safe foods and snacks. Anticipate needing a backup food, just in case. And if you need to make a run for emergency snacks, take a look at our list of grocery stores on the Outer Banks. Places like Publix and Harris Teeter tend to have pretty substantial selections of allergy-friendly foods.
Keep A List of Emergency Numbers
Even the best plans can sometimes go awry and accidents happen, so make sure you're away of the closest urgent centers and doctor's office wherever you are on the island. Here's a list of nearby urgent cares and hospitals to keep on hand while traveling.
Urgent Care Centers
Sunny Care Clinic PLLC
1187 Duck Rd., Suite 10, Duck, NC 27949
The Outer Banks Hospital Urgent Care - Kitty Hawk
5112 N. Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
Surf Urgent Care
400 S. Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
Outer Banks Urgent Care - Nags Head
5002 S. Croatan Hwy, Suite A, Nags Head, NC 27959
Outer Banks Urgent Care: Sawin Shannon, MD
4923 S. Croatan Hwy, Nags Head, NC 27959
Manteo Health Clinic
109 Exeter St., Manteo, NC 27954
The Outer Banks Hospital
4800 S. Croatan Hwy, Nags Head, NC 27959
Sentara Albemarle Medical Center
1144 N. Road St., Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Download the Apps
While we've tried to highlight some of the most well-known allergy-friendly restaurants on the Outer Banks, when you need a little extra support, there's usually an app for that. Check out Find Me Gluten Free, Happy Cow, and Allergy Eats to get even more recommendations, both while you're here and while you're traveling! This way, you'll also be able to find places to eat while you're on the road.
Rather Cook at Home? We Can Help.
Most of our available vacation rentals offer kitchens of various sizes to fit your needs. From small kitchenettes to large, gourmet kitchens with multiple refrigerators and dishwashers, here at Seaside Vacations, we want to help you find the perfect Outer Banks vacation rental. Take a look at our available rentals and book yourself the perfect Outer Banks beach vacation rental today. Whether you're looking for a two-person getaway space or a larger home for your whole family, we've got what you're looking for. Give our wonderful Guest Services Team a call today at (866) 884-0267 to get started planning your next epic Outer Banks getaway.
About the Author: Lauren is a mom, author, and travel enthusiast. She grew up on the Outer Banks and only left for a few years to get her degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and complete a tour in the Coast Guard before making her way back to the beach in 2017. When she isn’t writing for the Seaside Vacations Travel Blog, Lauren can usually be found with a book and cup of tea in hand, planning her next travel adventure.