Nestled on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle offers a wide range of family-friendly attractions and activities to keep everyone entertained. The quaint town boasts a diverse selection of restaurants and eateries situated within walking distance of many Emerald Isle vacation rentals. When it’s time to feed your family, consider these top kid-friendly restaurants in the area.
1. Flipperz Family Bar & Grill
When you need a seafood fix, Flipperz delivers with delicious food and exceptional service. The restaurant is small, so there may be a short wait, but the experience more than makes up for it. Kids love searching for the single heads-down penny on the bar, which is topped with 4,000 shiny, uncirculated pennies, while they wait for their food. Be sure to stop by the fudge shop on the way out to take some sweets back to your vacation rental.
2. Lazzara’s Pizza & Subs
Locals and visitors agree that Lazzara’s has the best pizza on the island. Delivery is also available, so relax after a long day at the beach and let Lazzara’s handle dinner. Feed the whole family with The Godfather, a 24-inch pizza made with hand-tossed dough and your choice of toppings. Order bruschetta bread or wings as an appetizer, and finish your meal with cannoli for dessert.
3. Big Oak Drive-In & BBQ
Treat the family to an old-school experience with a trip to Big Oak Drive Drive-In & BBQ. Order and pick up your food at the window, or just call ahead from your vacation rental. Eat at the shaded picnic tables out back, or take your food to the beach for an impromptu picnic. The Shrimpburger is the specialty here, but there are plenty of other tempting items on the menu for those who don’t like seafood. From wings and barbecue to hot dogs and grilled cheese, Big Oak has something for every taste.
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4. Sweet Spot
No trip to Emerald Isle is complete without a stop at Sweet Spot, a favorite for hand-dipped ice cream. Stop by after dinner, or just drop in on your way back from the beach. There are 50 flavors available, but the friendly staff is always willing to offer samples and suggestions. Enjoy your frozen treat on the colorful rocking chairs out front, and be sure to check out the gift shop before you leave. Kids love browsing the candy and unique souvenirs.
5. The Crab Shack
Enjoy fast and friendly service at The Crab Shack. The quiet restaurant offers a family atmosphere, an extensive menu, and a charming view of the Bogue Sound. Whether you like your seafood grilled, steamed, fried, or panned, it’s all available here, from shrimp and salmon to grouper and deviled crab. For land lovers, there are chicken tenders, steak, and barbecue options. Kids options range from hamburgers to clam strips.
6. Plaza Mexico Restaurant, Bar & Grill
Add a little spice to your life with lunch or dinner at Plaza Mexico. Expect quick service and hot food with lots of flavor. The restaurant is roomy, so there’s plenty of space for larger groups. Order a round of nachos for the table, and start your meal with the chicken tortilla soup. For dinner, choose from fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, tacos, or even seafood. The dessert menu offers flan, churros, fried ice cream, and more.
7. The Village Market
Prepare for a great meal when you visit The Village Market. Order at the counter, and grab a seat, either inside or at the outdoor picnic tables. Try the Village Reuben or a breakfast sandwich on a fresh-baked croissant. Kids meals come with animal crackers and range from ham and cheese sandwiches to the classic PB&J. Before you leave, grab some items from the in-house deli to stock up at your vacation rental.
8. Flip Flops Doughnuts
There’s always room for dessert when you visit Flip Flops Doughnut Shop. Consider stopping in early, because this popular spot sells out of the favorites quickly. Order at the outdoor window, and enjoy your sweets at the provided tables or during your walk to the beach. The cinnamon twists are incredible, and the chocolate cream-filled angel doughnut is pure heaven. Even the glazed doughnuts are unlike anything you’ve tasted before. Delight the kids with a dozen to take back to your vacation rental.
9. Circle Pizza
Make Circle Pizza your go-to spot for an All-American meal. This casual restaurant is perfect for families with kids, and free delivery is available if you don’t feel like leaving your vacation home. The messy Carolina Burger is a fan favorite, topped with chili, cole slaw, onions, and mustard. Kids can choose from spaghetti, chicken tenders, or pita pizza.
10. Olea Mediterranean Kitchen
Mix it up with some Greek-inspired eats at Olea Mediterranean Kitchen. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan items are clearly marked on the menu, making it easy to accommodate everyone in your group. The friendly staff is great with kids, and the food is amazing. Be sure to try the falafel and the stuffed tomatoes. The kids’ menu includes cheese pizza, chicken tenders, gyro burger, and souvlaki. The family platter, which serves five to eight guests, makes ordering easy. Don’t leave without trying the baklava for dessert.
11. Shark’s Den Sports Bar
Grab a booth at Shark’s Den and check out the menu, which features 13 different burgers and 18 varieties of wing sauces. Order the buttermilk-battered grouper bites as an appetizer for the table and a Smokey Cheddar Burger for yourself. If you’re really brave, try The Stingray, a burger with pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, and the restaurant’s hot-as-blazes Maneater sauce. There are salads for healthier eaters, and kids can choose from burgers, chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, and mac and cheese.
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