I’ve only been to Emerald Isle twice. Once for a quick stay and then one extended 2 week vacation. I actually thought the restaurant scene was much better in nearby Beaufort. I think it was like a 20-30 minute trip depending on traffic. The real cost effective gem there was the Beaufort Grocery Co. They had great sandwiches and soup for lunch. Everything was fresh.
We went to a couple other places in Beaufort and I’m sure I could hunt around and find them but I know they were pretty pricey. Let me know if you are interested and I’ll see if I can remember them.
I’ve only been to Emerald Isle once, back in the 90’s, but I agree with hatteras04 that Beaufort is a better option for dining in the area.