By Laura Dunbar
Dinner in Nags Head was one of the most difficult choices we had to make on our trip. Compared to the other towns we had visited, Nags Head had an abundance of restaurants to offer. When we shared our dilemma with our Uber driver, she told us, “If you’re only in Nags Head for one night, you have to go to Blue Moon.” After looking it up, we learned that Blue Moon Beach Grill was one of the best rated restaurants in town, so we knew it was a must.
When we pulled up to the restaurant that night, we were surprised to find it nestled into a strip mall. The windows were dark and tinted, and from the outside it appeared as if nobody was inside. We had expected the number one rated restaurant to be a bit more popular on a Saturday night, and were sure we had the wrong place, but upon double checking we found we were right. We almost turned around and went somewhere else, but decided to give it a try.
When we walked in, we saw just how wrong we had been. The restaurant was packed, with groups of friends sitting at the bar and big family parties taking up many of the tables. We ended up having to wait a few minutes while a table was cleared for us, and the host was extremely friendly, making conversation with us while we waited. Our waitress was very kind as well throughout our meal. The Blue Moon Beach Grill was clearly a place of real southern hospitality.
Although the restaurant appeared to just be like any other bar on the inside, with flat screen TVs and neon beer signs, the menu proved otherwise. It wasn’t just typical bar food, like burgers and fries. The food was creative and new, with dishes like fried green tomato and shrimp napoleon and a braised portobello mushroom stuffed with arugula and goat cheese risotto. Everything on the menu seemed delicious, and there was also a blackboard of specials that change daily. It was clear that seafood was the specialty in this coastal town, so I ordered the seaside bucatini, a pasta dish tossed with a roasted tomato pesto sauce with sauteed shrimp and scallops, artichoke hearts, baby spinach and parmesan cheese. The shrimp and scallops were large and tender, and the vegetables and sauce paired with them perfectly. Jennifer, the group member at dinner with me, hopped on the seafood train as well and ordered the salmon gnocchi special. It came in a tomato cream sauce with fresh sauteed vegetables and a filet of salmon cooked so well that it flaked away with the touch of a fork. It was, hands down, the best meal of the trip. For dessert, we split the pumpkin cheesecake, a dessert special for the autumn months that exceeded our expectations with its creamy filling and sweet whipped cream topping. After every course, we became honorary members of the clean plate club.
We said goodbye to our waitress and left the Blue Moon Beach Grill feeling happier— and much more full— than when we had entered.