We recently relocated to coastal North Carolina, and prior to moving spent the summer visiting the Inner Banks. That's when we discovered Backwater Jack's. The atmosphere is lively and fun, they have live music on weekends, and it's always bustling with locals and visitors alike. The menu is Caribbean Islands-meets burger joint, and they have fantastic fresh local seafood (oysters, shrimp, seasonal local fish). They offer healthy vegetarian options too, and the food, while casual, is well-seasoned and freshly made.
What really makes BJX a must-visit is the atmosphere. It's like a mini vacation. The staff and owners are super-friendly and welcoming, and the restaurant is on two open-air levels, with an outdoor bar, all looking out on the Pamlico River. They have an interesting selection of local micro-brews as well as classic great beers like Stella, on tap.
We have been to BJX at least 20 times since July, with or without our teenage kids, and it never misses. Great place for lunch, dinner, or just a draft micro-brew on the deck on a hot summer evening.