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Best Restaurants Near VA Beach

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I'm a DC hound planning a trip to VA Beach in August and will be staying on the oceanfront. I haven't been in about 8 years, and would greatly appreciate suggestions for some great restaurants for dinner. I'm looking for the absolute best you can find - price is not an option. Cuisine is also flexible, we pretty much like all ethnicities, but a contemporary/modern american or french restaurant would be nice if that was available. I've done a little research on my own and the menus at Fire & Vine, Terrapin, Silver Palette Bistro, and Sonoma look good. How are these restaurants? Any better choices in the area? I'm also definitely willing to drive a half an hour or so outside of VA Beach for great food. Thanks for your suggestions!

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  1. I'm also a DC native and went down to VA Beach for a few days this week to get away. After reading the posts on Terrapin, my wife and I decided to try it out. We went for the bar tasting menu at $28/person and were thoroughly impressed. My wife's crispy free range hen tasted like Peking duck and my sea scallops were perfectly seasoned/cooked, albeit a bit small with only two pieces when I was expecting three. Regardless, it was one of the best meals either of us have ever had and we are both extremely picky eaters. They also do $6 quartinos - get the Tempranillo, it's the perfect complement to your meal. We'll definately be coming back next month when our friend gets married to try more of the menu.

    1. DCfoodie --- hope you still haven't made the trip. You won't go wrong with Terrapin or Sonoma. Have eaten at both in the last month, and while it is hard to choose, I would pick Terrapin by a nose. I go to NoVa frequently for business -- Terrapin would hold its own with the best up there. Bright, creative -- heavy use of local ingredients, but when they make sense, rather than trendiness. Sonoma has improved dramatically in the last year, with a new emphasis on the food over the wine (before it was the opposite). Another good bet, if you want to go more for steaks (and more) is Zoe's, 19th St. near the new covention center at the oceanfront. Another thought for excellent, creatively prepared seafood is One Fish Two Fish north of the oceanfront in Great Neck. Sadly, you won't find a decent French restaurant here -- someone tried two years ago. Brassierie menu lasted less than six months, and it finally closed earlier this year. This is a pretty mainstream dining scene, and choucroute or duck confit is too many standard deviations off to survive.

      1. Bobby Huber's restaurant, Bobbywood, in downtown Norfolk is fantastic. You can choose to order one of their main courses...or you can go for the spoons. One mouthful of culinary goodness.

        1. Thanks for the suggestions! I haven't made the trip yet (pushed it to September) so any more ideas would be great!

          1. All of these are good recs. My experience at Terrapin was not as good as everyone else's but I've only been there once. I always recommend The Lucky Star and Zoe's as well in VB and Bobbywood in Norfolk is one of our favorite local haunts. Vintage Kitchen in Norfolk is good, and Vintage Tavern in Suffolk is supposed to be excellent (it's on my list!). I would also recommend Stove in Portsmouth--very good and super creative--highly recommend. Good luck!

            1 Reply
            1. re: alsky

              Forgot to mention Todd Jurich's Bistro in Norfolk--a lot of people would say this is the best restaurant in the area.

            2. Thanks for all the recommendations! I went ahead and made reservations at Terrapin and One Fish Two Fish. I will report back on the meals after the trip.

              1. I just wanted to report back on my recent trip.

                Went to One Fish Two Fish and had a pretty good meal. It seemed to be kind of hit or miss as some dishes were excellent and others were just so so. For the appetizers, the mussels were cooked very well and came in a delicious broth of garlicky tomato sauce. The scallop appetizer was just okay. The scallops were a little gritty, for lack of a better description, and the sauce had a very weird flavor, almost like a very acidic and fishy clam sauce. However, the ham atop the scallops was delicious.

                For entrees, the crab cakes were absolutely phenomenal! Lump crabmeat with the most delicious remoulade I've ever had. The only disappointment was the sliced potatoes and vegetables underneath the crabcakes were pretty bland. The fish special for the night, rockfish with a sweet potato - sausage mash was eh... The fish was just fish - nothing special at all. However, the mash did have a very good flavor. We skipped dessert so I don't have any comments on that.

                The one thing I was really impressed with was the service. The waiter was very knowledgeable and was always there when needed, without being too pushy. I would definitely recommend coming here for a light dinner of just crabcakes. As a recall, there was an appetizer with crab so that might be good as well...

                The next night we went to Terrapin. I would definitely recommend this restaurant - it is the best I've been to in VA Beach so far. For appetizers, a mushroom and ham risotto was delicious and the shrimp tempura came in a very flavorful sauce and the spring roll was excellent. For entrees, the scallops were phenomenal. Cooked to perfection in a marsala-like mushroom sauce. The half-hen was so-so. It was perfeclty tender but lacking much dimension. It could definitely have used some more seasoning or an accompanying sauce. However, I do recommend the truffle mac and cheese that came with the hen on the side. For desserts, both the apple tart and the banana split were winners.

                Thanks again for the recommendations!