John's Drive-In - Outer Banks Restaurants
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John's Drive-In


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3716 N Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Home of the planet's best milk shakes, John's has been an Outer Banks institution for years. Folks have been known to drive two hours from Norfolk just to sip one of the fruit and ice cream concoctions, which are often so thick they won't even flow through the straw. Our favorite is the chocolate peanut butter and banana variety, but you'll have to sample a few first and create some of your own combinations before making that call for yourself. You can't eat inside here, but plenty of picnic tables are scattered around the old concrete building across from the ocean. Everything is served in paper bags to go. While you're waiting for your food, check out the faded photographs of happy customers lining this diner's salt-sprayed windows. You may even recognize a few local friends.

Besides the milk shakes and ice cream sundae treats, John's serves delicious mahimahi, trout, and tuna sandwiches or boats with the fish crispy-fried alongside crinkle fries. Dogs love this drive-in too. If your pooch waits patiently in the car, the worker behind the window probably will provide him or her with a free "puppy cup" of soft-serve vanilla ice cream. We can't think of a better doggie treat on a hot summer afternoon. John's Drive-In is open from May through September or October for lunch and early dinner. It's closed Wednesdays, unfortunately (we could eat there seven days a week).

John's Drive-In Reviews - Add A New Review
Rating: essay 2/4/2021
Reviewer: KateFisher

You might be bored with the subject, in love, or busy. Students always were and still are. But previous generations had to deal with bad grades, or grit their teeth and write on topics they didn’t want to, while today you can get both good grades on all subjects and free time for what is really important to you. Stay true to yourself, and let us do what you don’t want to.

Rating: New Owners have made delicious improvements 8/29/2020
Reviewer: Tim-OBX

The New Owners have made delicious improvements. For those that gave up going here years ago, like me, the new owners (May 2020) have really stepped up to the plate and upgraded the food and quality. If you are one of those that have been going there, then you will notice the new quality and taste of the food. If you are one, like me, that just avoided the greasy fishy tasting food then you are going to be really surprised what the new owners have done. They are closed Tuesday and Wednesdays but they are now open late on Thursday and Friday until 9pm. If you have not been to John's on the beach road at the 4.5 mile post in Kitty Hawk then go. The dolphin boat is delicious (aka Mahi-Mahi) not porpoise. I can't wait to try all the other things on the menu I have avoided for the past 11 years and I live just 100 ft away.

Rating: The Best! 6/26/2019
Reviewer: DeanK

Loved John's. The dolfin boat is so very good! Would be really good with a beer, but a vanilla shake is almost just as good! The whole family liked their food, and I was the only one that got the dolfin. Can't wait to go back and try something else. Or... maybe have another dolfin boat!

Rating: Great Food & Service 6/26/2013
Reviewer: marbek_pa

Burgers, shakes and fries were great. Employees were very nice. Food was served quickly.

Rating: Great food 10/5/2010
Reviewer: marid4061

An absolute must when we are there on vacation. I have learned to call ahead. The lines are long and parking is limited. But it is worth the trip. My husband simply loves the dolphin boat.

Rating: Call ahead! 9/11/2008
Reviewer: Colleen

John's is AMAZING, but good luck parking on a sunny day! My tip- call ahead and drive with someone that can hop out while you drive around the block :-) I can't skip the mahi boat and a B&W milkshake! DELISH!

Rating: John's is the best! 4/21/2008
Reviewer: Meagan

LOVE LOVE LOVE JOHNS! Best place in the OBX to eat by far. Unfortunately it's hours are limited so you need to check them out before you decide to go so you're not let down when you get there! Mahi Mahi is the best! So is the peanut butter chocolate banana milkshakes! Hands down the best milkshakes I've ever had!

Rating: Love John's! 10/1/2007
Reviewer: Anonymous

We love John's! The milkshakes are like no other and the dolphin boat is so good. Too bad(for us) they close for the off season so early!

Rating: Yum... 7/2/2007
Reviewer: Melody

Dolphin sandwich and onion rings with a shake! Don't miss this one.

Rating: The Best 5/22/2004
Reviewer: Anonymous

John's is the essence of the OBX plus great food. I've never had a better milkshake or fried dolphin. The crab cutlet is the best crabcake I've ever had.

Rating: best local secret 1/19/2004
Reviewer: gofish

try the dolphin sandwich with lettuce and tomato and tartar sauce. Get the best shakes on the outer banks or try a strawberry summer cooler.

Rating: John's Drive-In 11/18/2003
Reviewer: obxgrlinva

Not fancy at all, just walk right up and plan on a line during the summer months...

Delicious ice cream and shakes, burgers, shrimp baskets, burgers and more. The only problem is that once we started going in the fall John's is closed for the off season. :(