3 Meals:Where to Eat in Virginia Beach
By far the most frequent question I get from family, friends and readers is about where to eat in Virginia Beach. In recent years the culinary scene has really taken off and really there has never been a more exciting time to eat in the Resort City. Inspired by the bounty of the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and rich coastal farmlands a handful of creative chefs and down-home cooks have made Virginia Beach a truly great dining destination. Here are my recommendations for where to eat in Virginia Beach.
Immediately upon entering Commune, you know this café in the ViBe Creative Arts Districtis someplace you want to be. Concrete floors highlight the modern rustic space anchored by a long community style table and flanked by an inviting espresso bar. At Commune farm to table with a conscious isn’t just a concept here, it’s a way of life. If it isn’t grown in the onsite garden or the nearby organic New Earth Farm , it’s sourced from only the best local farmers, watermen and purveyors. The menu is ever changing based on what’s fresh and in-season but you can never go wrong with a savory buckwheat crepe filled with smoked Virginia ham, melted cheese and garden-fresh greens served alongside an all too addictive burnt honey latte.
With over-the-top bloody Marys, boozy mimosas and monster-sized chicken and waffles Bay Local is a place that takes its brunch seriously. Specializing in “Coastal Southern” cuisine the menu prominently features seafood, be sure to try anything that features local Chesapeake Bay oysters or in-season softshell crab (the Bloody Blue Mary playfully topped with a softshell crab is a crowd favorite).
An updated take on the diner Stockpot specializes in homey, made-from-scratch soups. The standard here is the chicken noodle bowl, rich broth with soba noodles, chicken, ginger and kimchi but Chef Anne Galante offers up an ever-changing rotation of soups based on what’s in season. Pair your soup with a fluffy rosemary biscuit or a toasty, a grown-up version of a grilled cheese pocket sandwich. The menu is rounded out with a creative selection of breakfast offering, open faced sandwiches and healthful salads.This is comfort food you can feel good about.
Elegantly refined yet approachable, Terrapin is my pick for fine dining in Virginia Beach. Chef Rodney Einhorn crafts inventive dishes with local, seasonal ingredients(the scallops with fennel dust and Dave &Dee Mushrooms are a personal favorite) and the desserts are almost too pretty to eat. Creative cocktails and a thoughtful wine list complete Terrapin’s award-winning cuisine.
Originally opened as a country store and tackle shop in 1964, Margie and Ray’s is now the place Sandbridge locals and visitors go for huge platters of fresh seafood at down home prices. In season a platter of freshly steamed blue crabs are always a great bet or bring some friends and an appetite for the Hurricane Margie, an extensive offering of fried seafood, crab cakes hush puppies and cole slaw big enough to feed a navy.
Housed in a charming century old farm cottage in the rural Pungo area of Virginia Beach, the Bee and the Biscuit has fast become a local favorite for brunch. The bounty of nearby farms provides the ingredients for veggie loaded omelets, decadent stuffed french toast and signature fluffy biscuits. Complete your brunch with an iced latte or mimosa flight.
In a city dominated by Starbucks, Virginia Beach was long overdue for a well-crafted coffee without pretense. Brad Ewing and his wife Amy, a certified wine professional, began roasting in their garage and selling their beans and brew at the Old Beach Farmer’s Market. Roasted in small batches, Three Ships Coffee is fruity and complex, highlighting the nuances of each coffee whether served as a pour-over or cold brew. Pair your coffee with a scratch made ham biscuit or a flaky Nutella handpie.
A great addition the the Virginia Beach Oceanfront the folks at Repeal know their way around a burger.The Prohibition is the classic bacon cheeseburger made better with a sunnyside egg.With Fire roasted habenero chutney, Tabasco onion straws and sriracha aioli the Fire and Brimstone is the burger for those who like things on the spicy side. As if you needed any more convincing Repeal also has over 100 varieties of bourbon at the bar.
Sharing the same Virginia Beach Historic Registry 1940’s era building and garden as Commune, Esoteric pairs creative fare with an eclectic beer menu. The brainchild of owners Kristina and Tim Chastain, Esoteric aims to provide an intellectual yet playful dining experience while paying respect to Virginia’s local producers. Start off with a draft from one of the best curated beer menus in the area and while the menu is always changing, the house made pimento cheese or bacon sliders are always a good bet.
Zeke’s Beans and Bowls
After a day out on the sand what you really need is something light,filling and above all delicious.. Enter Zeke’s Beans and Bowls. A few blocks from the boardwalk on Norfolk Avenue, the laid-back bohemian vibe compliments the concise menu of poke and acai bowls. Poke, a Hawaiian dish of raw tuna is accented by a dressing of soy and sesame; while the acai bowls topped with granola and fruit (the Haole bowl with banana kiwi, pineapple and coconut is a personal favorite) make for a tasty pre-beach breakfast.
Featuring fresh seafood and coastal favorites Tautog’s has long been an Oceanfront standard. Visitors to the boardwalk line up at this 1920’s beach cottage for creamy she-crab soup (loaded with plenty of lump crab and a generous splash of sherry), world famous crab cakes with granny smith tartar sauce and shrimp and grits with an addictive peach bbq sauce.
Featuring locally sourced ingredients Eurasia Cafe marries classic French technique with an Asian twist. Seared sesame tuna with a miso glaze is a local favorite and the tempura green beans are a surprising take on a familiar side. Complete your meal with a bottle of wine from the wine boutique at the front of the restaurant or an expertly crafted cocktail. This elegant, cozy restaurant is located near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and is sure to impress.
Fruitive is a vegetarian/vegan cafe specializing in juices, smoothies, salads and wraps that will keep you energized throughout your day. The fuschia-hued dragon berry smoothie—a delicious blend of almond milk, peaches, berries and dragon fruit is a healthy way to fuel your beach adventures. The owners work closely with local farms and organizations to provide the best produce for their customers as well as give back to the community.
Serving authentic Puerto Rican cuisine Mojito Cafe takes you to the Caribbean the moment you walk through the door. Be sure to try their namesake drink, the mojito (the mango one is my favorite) alongside scratch-made empanadas and mofongo.
The folks at Hearth know good things happen when fire meets food. A creative menu of wood fired cuisine it’s the pizza at Hearth that is not to be missed. With housemade hot Italian sausage and smoky caramelized onions the Luciano is always a good bet. A solid beer list and well crafted cocktails compliment their wood fired offerings.