The idea wasn’t to set out and establish a new concept restaurant on the Outer Banks, but that’s exactly what Awful Arthur’s owner Jo Whitehead and her late husband, Jay, accomplished more than 35 years ago when they opened the area’s first authentic oyster bar.
Awful Arthur’s opened in May 1984 on the Outer Banks. “We embraced the concept of an authentic copper top bar with the idea of it being a major drawing card and it still is,” explains Whitehead. “I get oysters wherever they are local. We follow the warm waters.”
Just across from the ocean, in Kill Devil Hills, oyster season is year-round at Awful Arthur’s. Diners can take a seat at the copper-topped bar to observe the staff shucking oysters, served raw or steamed, along with shrimp, crab legs and clams all steamed to perfection.
It’s not just the raw bar that’s earned Awful Arthur’s both local and national recognition, including being named one of America’s greatest oyster bars by Coastal Living magazine. The restaurant is a seafood-lover’s paradise, offering the freshest catches available.
Start your meal with creamy crab and lobster bisque or New England-style clam chowder. Crack open snow crab legs or get your fill with one of the large-portioned seafood platters featuring the catch of the day, along with oysters, shrimp, clam strips, crab cakes or soft-shell crabs.
Awful Arthur’s menu doesn’t stop at seafood. The restaurant has something for every diner, including a kid’s menu that is sure to please even the pickiest eater.
“I do sell a lot of game fish and other seafood, as well as steaks, chicken and pasta,” notes Whitehead. Awful Arthur’s has no shortage of other options. A local favorite in the spring and fall that’s not to be missed is the Friday night prime rib dinner.
The casual, family-friendly restaurant is also known for being one of the only restaurants on the Outer Banks with an ocean-view lounge. Located on the second floor, across from the Avalon Fishing Pier, the lounge is the perfect place to relax and take in the view while you wait for a table and enjoy an appetizer with a refreshing beverage.
The nautical décor, that has been collected for decades, adorns the walls of the main dining room. From the welcoming, laid-back atmosphere to the locally caught fare, a trip to Awful Arthur’s is a must-have Outer Banks dining experience.
In the mood for a little retail therapy? A few steps from the restaurant you can visit Awful Arthurs’s Beach Shop where you will find their logo apparel, ladies wear, fashion jewelry and everything for enjoying the beach, such as toys for the littles, beach chairs and coolers to fill with ice and your favorite drinks.
Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar is located at 2106 N. Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills.