John's Drive In Kitty Hawk, a painting by Outer Banks artist Barbara Noel.

John’s Drive In Kitty Hawk, a painting by Outer Banks artist Barbara Noel.

After 40 years running John’s Drive In in Kitty Hawk, maybe it is time for John Tice to retire. Luckily from the reports we’ve seen, all those wonderful belly-busting selections that have become part of the Outer Banks experience will still be there.

The new owners, Jason and Chelsea Jordan, grew up on the Outer Banks. They also have a background in culinary arts—they were part of the Black Pelican team for a number of year. So they know what they’re getting into.

For anyone who has never been to John’s Drive In…well, your life is lacking an important element.

To be clear—it’s not heart healthy food. What it is, is food for the soul. Food that perfectly matches the scent of the ocean along the Beach Road. Food that so perfectly matches the Outer Banks that once it has been consumed, it becomes part of the Outer Banks mystique.

The Food at John’s Drive In

Personal favorite? The dolphin boat. Batter dipped and fried to perfection, the fries and the fish so hot it can hardly be eaten. And with it a milkshake.

Not that pseudo mystery shake from some chain fast food restaurant that’s been stirred for hours in a milkshake dispenser. No, this is real think. Each shake made with hand dipped ice cream, so thick there’s a good chance the straw will collapse.

And the burgers…the burgers are a reminder of a time when no one worried about cholesterol. And oh my, are they good. Could they be eaten every day? Probably not. But for a family on vacation, two or three visits won’t hurt. And for those of us who live here—two or three times a summer is about right.

There is always a line at John’s Drive In. And a bit of a wait. But it’s worth it.

Now is the time to plan your fall getaway. Check out our vacation rental listings for the finest homes in the best locations.