hi all -
I spent a few months trying several of the places mentioned on these posts that I had not yet been too. Some were outstanding, some were just ok (like the Harold's pizzas which were just eh... I think I knew it wasn't going to work when my Greek pizza came out with regular old generic supermarket black olives, rather than Kalamata's, I mean this is a Greek pizza, right?) I'll stick to Papa John's and YNot.
The Steinhilber's was great.
The one thing that actually truly blew me away, and I can't remember who posted the suggestion, was 58 deli diner. This place is in the same location as, if my memory serves me correctly, the old Ben Franklin's hot dogs..a very nondescript building next to the Wawa at the corner of First Colonial and Virginia Beach Blvd. It's not exactly the most attractive part of town (a section of VBB that is lined with go-go bars and used auto places, though I wouldn't call it unsafe or anything in the daytime)
Apparently they get their meats from Carnegie Deli in New York. I ordered a pastrami at an unbelievably pricey $11 for one sandwich with no sides (well, a miniature pickle slice). The verdict... this was one of the best damn things I have ever eaten in my life. First of all, this sandwich is HUGE, you can make, easily, two or three sandwiches out of the meat they put on there. (you can order extra bread for $1) Even the rye bread is from New York. The pastrami was perhaps the most perfect pastrami I've ever tasted. Even the fat at the edges of the meat, rather than being chewy and a chore to get through, melted in your mouth and only enhanced the flavor and richness of the meat. I can't even eat any other sandwiches now, this place has me completely addicted. But get there early, as they close around 3 or 4.
Hi - I'm born & reared in Virginia Beach (a "NorthEnder") & the following is a short, yet sweet list of do's & dont's via cuisine scene in South Hampton Roads:
Rule 1: Do explore & Don't stick around the Beach for fine cuisine!
If you must remain via oceanfront for breakfast, I recommend Belvedere for the "eyeopener." For a quick oceanfront take-out lunch, Taste Unlimited, but if your desire is to be casually served, Gringo's Taqueria on Norfolk Avenue (about a block from the ocean) provides the freshest variety of Tacos this side of the border & treat yourself for a stroll in the neighboring art gallery, The Artist's Gallery - fun! For supper, if you're wanting oceanfront, The Isle Capri has the view & the best table-side Caesar Salad period - 39th & Atlantic & don't allow the fact that it's on top of a Holiday Inn to stray you away - it's locally owned & managed. The Lobster Ravioli is super, as well as, the Salmon Della Casa; however, there's more than Italian to their menu! For an old-fashioned Virginia Beach classic, Steinhilber's aka Thalia Acres Inn - even if you normally never desire "fried anything," you must at least order "The Original Steiny’s Fantail Fried Shrimp" for an hors d'oeuvre - the dipping sauce is special.
I recommend staying clear of our city's infamous "downtown" - Town Center, as it's full of familiar chain restaurants; however, if you're in that part of town & hungry for pizza, Harolds (aka Azalea Inn) on Virginia Beach Boulevard across from Princess Anne High School has THE BEST PIZZA in that part of the city; otherwise, order a take out from La Bella Italia (on Laskin a few blocks from the ocean) as their pizzas are prepared via brick oven, true Italian style!
If you'd rather navigate away from the tourists, which I highly recommend, Croakers offers the freshest seafood in town & they're conveniently located in "the bay area" just up Shore Drive. Not far from Croakers for more of a fine dining experience is my persoanl favorite, The Lucky Star - the duck is awesome, as well as, the soft shelled crabs, but if you're a Tuna lover, you must treat yourself to their siganture dish, BAYOU BANANA SPLIT, which is a blackened tuna steak with saffron rice and sautéed bananas
in an awesome sweet rum raisin sauce - it's been on their menu for 15+ years! Best runner up for fine, yet comfortable (atmosphere) dinner is Coastal Grill on Great Neck - unsurpassed quality & the "seasoned servers" will treat you like family.
If Norfolk is on your agenda, don't miss The Pagoda adjacent from the USS Wisconsin, or its sister bistro, Voila - my personal Norfolk favorite. Cocktails @ Todd Jurich's bistro downtown is fun too.
Port Norfolk & Old Towne in Portsmouth can be fun. I recommend Sydney Meer's Stove restaurant in Port Norfolk - Sydney is a lot of fun or Fusion 440 @
467 Dinwiddie Street - have fun & drive safely.
ps...for the best hand scooped icecream on a homemade (literally, they invented the cone) cone, hit Doumar's in Norfolk on Monticello. The best part is it's curb service & you don't have to leave your car! This would be a good dessert detour on your way back from P-town!
Hi..I'm a local who has lived here about 12 years and a serious food lover. Unfortunately, sometimes I feel like I live in a food wasteland...Virginia Beach is coming along, but this is a very touristy area, and there can be slim pickings. A lot of Oceanfront businesses are in the "make money who cares about quality" game, and it really shows. Unfortunately some of the chains (Ruth's Chris, Carraba's, Bonefish, the always great P.F. Chang's, etc.) are actually more desirable than the mom and pops in many cases.
Most of the other posters are right on..at the Oceanfront I would head to the places along Winston-Salem (Big Sam's, Rudee's) for fresh seafood. It's a few blocks from the beach (Winston-Salem is the same thing as 5th street, but inland). Most of the stuff along the Oceanfront, especially the seafood buffets and pancake houses are terrible and meant to get you in and get you out...tourist cash machines. Tautog's is excellent, but easy to miss (it's in the 200 block of 23rd). I'd stay away from Pi-zerria (on Atlantic at about 33rd..attractive decor, terrible pizza, but it's still always packed from the influx of tourists who don't know any better). A Papa John's at 31st and Arctic is probably the best pizza at the Oceanfront, despite the disorganization I always seem to be greeted with everytime I enter the place.
Tad's Deli (aka Beach Smokehouse; Smokehouse Deli) at Mediterranean and Norfolk has great cold sandwiches (skip the hot ones). Try the Country Boy (thin sliced country ham...mmmm), or the Gobbler (deli sliced turkey breast, cream cheese, cranberry sauce and fresh cracked pepper)
Jewish Mother has great, oversized sandwiches, and is a very cool and long-standing local hangout for live music, but count on dropping $10 with tax for one sandwich. Outstanding desserts (mostly cakes) here as well.
Beach Bully on 19th has excellent pulled pork BBQ sandwiches
We are home, ironically, to some of the best NY style pizza...YNot at Great Neck and 1st Colonial, Sal's Bella Pizza (important to make sure it's the one at 2800 block of Va Beach Blvd) and Primo Pizza are all great.
Aldo's at Le Promenade (on Laskin) has some great pasta.
Reisner's on Great Neck has great Jewish deli style sandwiches were they actually fry the corned beef and pastrami on the grill to get it crispy..great stuff.
I have heard great things about Fire & Vine (at Hilltop Shop Center), but have not been there.
Also at Hilltop...The Baker's Crust, kind of a yuppie hangout, but stop in lunchtime for a chicken and cheddar sandwich and tomato-cheese soup and you will be in heaven.
Quality breakfasts are severely lacking..Mary's is a local favorite (on 17th, and relatively cheap), but I never found them that outstanding. Food Network came to Pocohantos (Atlantic and 35th-ish) to do a little spot a long time ago..it's ok, but nothing deserving of that kind of attention.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries (Independence Blvd) has simple great burgers and fries, kind of an In & Out concept.
Down in Ocean Lakes, of all places, a Neopalitan transplant has opened Rigoletto (in the strip mall adjacent to Wal-Mart). It's very small...just a few main courses...but the pastries are outstanding.
Lots of great stuff in Norfolk..too much to get into, but that's a good drive from the Oceanfront.
Jump in your car, right now and go to Bardo (430 W 21st St, Norfolk).
Had lunch there today and WOW!!! Ginger pork dumplings (with a mango marmalade/ chutney) are now on my top 10 best dishes ever! There is intelligent life in the kitchen, the service was superb, and the food first rate.
Save room for the dessert "bento box". I always want to try ALL the desserts and with this option, I got to try ALL the desserts. Amazing doughnuts, excellent peach cobbler, wonderful sorbet... Go NOW!!!
We will hit there again (probably for dinner) before leaving Virginia Beach!
Here are your best bets for breakfast:
Big Sam's Inlet Cafe & Raw Bar: Funky oceanfront marina bar that serves best pancakes and local made sausage in town as certifed by local paper. Total Chowhound spot.
Belvedere: This tiny luncheonette is smack on the Ocean. Great spot. Good food. Expect to wait
Doc Taylors: Excellent new Locals Favorite. Kitchen run by former Belvedere cook Ray Ray. Excellent, really. Bldg formerly housed the practice of a real Doctor Taylor.
Citrus: New and away from the beach but maybe the best breakfast in town now
Mary's: Old timey, "in the know" locals favorite. Great lunch too. Cheap
58 Deli Diner: Some of the best deli anywhere can be found at the 58 Deli Diner on Virginia Beach Blvd. Meats and bread are imported from NYC. The sandwiches are nearly $10 and worth every penny
Pelon's: Very hip California Surfer style mexican. Great!!
Nicks: Famous"locals only" dive. Known for their fried seafood platter. Best fried flounder on planet. At the oceanfront on Laskin Rd
Surfrider: Awesome seafood spot at the Oceanfront. Local favorite. Cheap. Kid Friendly.
One Fish Two Fish: Very stylish place on the water that feels more like NYC than VBVA, Top Rate seafood.
Catch 31: Very, Very Stylish bar and restaurant in the Hilton, Ranked 4th out of 50 best area restaurants by Hampton Roads magazine.
Tautogs: Outstanding locals Favorite run by Bill Gambrell, owner of Doc Taylors. At the oceanfront
La Marinalla: Outstanding Italian in a slick and comfortable setting. The owner Sal will probably visit your table.
Steinhilber's Thalia Acres Inn: Amazing 60 year waterfront restaurnt. Famous for fried shrimp. Food is OK but Setting is spectacular. Taste of old Virginia Beach
Chick Oyster Bar: Favorite Hangout for locals. On the water. Shore Drive
Charlies: Dive Seafood spot. Very cool old timey spot. Shore Drive.
Hi, I posted this same question a couple of months ago and a VA Beach local gave me some great recs. We tried Rudee's at the marina and they had great casual local seafood. Some of the best peel n' eats I've ever had and outdoors they have these great glider tables. Mary's for breakfast apparently is a local fave and upscale dinner at the Hilton's Catch 21 is supposed to be very good (plus they have outdoor fire pits). Check out my post for the specifics: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/412339