Coastal Cuisine and Local Libations Give Visitors a Taste of Virginia Beach
By Arielle Patterson
A thriving culinary scene flour-ishes throughout Virginia Beach. Local chefs are incorporating many aspects of Virginia Beach’s coastal culture into their cuisine to create a memorable dining experience. Complemented by refreshing cocktails from local bars and distilleries, as well as the area’s burgeoning craft beer scene, eating and drinking is sure to be a delicious, fun-filled experience.
Savor Local Seafood
Situated on the coastline, Virginia Beach chefs are no strangers to serving the finest seafood. From oysters on the half shell and creamy She Crab soup to more innovative dishes, there are so many ways to indulge in fresh offerings straight from the sea.
Virginia Beach waterways are full of fish and shellfish that make for a delicious meal. Try our famous Lynnhaven oysters, plucked straight from the water around you. There’s a raw bar pretty much anywhere you go or try bivalve baked as Oysters Rockefeller for a creamy, cheesy twist.
Crab is served so many ways in Virginia Beach. Enjoy a delicious crab dip appetizer or a hot, creamy bowl of She Crab Soup. Lump crab is served in the form of crab cakes or stuffed in the day’s fresh catch. Soft shell crab season typically runs from April to September and the popular delight can be served in a variety of ways, including as a sandwich, main entrée or salad addition. Of course, nothing says summer like steamed crabs, spread out on the table, covered in Old Bay.
Farm to Table
Much like our seafood, Virginia Beach has proudly embraced the farm-to-table movement. Farm-to-table restaurants utilize the freshest, seasonal local ingredients in their dishes. The only thing better than indulging in a delicious meal is knowing that you’re supporting local farmers, growers and watermen.
Pungo, Virginia Beach’s farming community, is the source of much of the produce that local restaurants use. While you’re here, make some time to visit one of the local farm stands or ‘you-pick’ farms in Pungo or another part of the city. These farm stands, along with weekly farmers markets, are a great opportunity to experience the local flavor and enjoy fresh ingredients.
Spring and summer are primetime for strawberry picking and Virginia Beach is known for growing large, juicy strawberries. Summertime is also perfect for picking vibrant blueberries, ripe peaches and more. With over a dozen pick-your-own farms in the area, kids and adults will love spending some time loading up their basket with these naturally sweet treats.
Whether you are looking for a classic adult beverage to pair with your meal or for the perfect beach sip, Virginia Beach has a number of refreshing cocktails to enjoy. Savor a local favorite, the famous Orange Crush, at various popular bars by the boardwalk. Combining fresh-squeezed orange juice, triple sec and Sprite, the Orange Crush is a staple to any summer in Virginia Beach. Another favorite amongst locals and visitors alike is the Rum Runner, which most restaurants have their own special takes on, some serving it on ice and some frozen.
Virginia Beach’s craft beer scene is always growing and evolving. The city has more than 13 breweries producing small batches of juicy IPAs, bursting with flavor to complement the summer season, as well as sours that will make you pucker, rich stouts, seasonal brews and so much more.
Head to one of these breweries to enjoy a drink on a shaded outdoor patio or visit a local bottle shop to purchase a little bit of everything, as well as a six-pack to take home once you leave Virginia Beach. Plan a tasting adventure and check off each of the city’s breweries as you travel along the Virginia Beach Beer Trail. The VA Beach Beer Trail, available online, is your guide to all of the breweries, from the ViBe District and resort area to Chic’s Beach and even more inland.
A Meal with a View
Enhance your dining experience when you enjoy a meal by the water. Virginia Beach boasts 29 miles of scenic waterways, from the ocean to the inland bays. These waterfront restaurants range in style and budget, from laid-back beach bars and casual family-friendly eateries to upscale restaurants perfect for a romantic night out.
Come straight from the beach to one of the bars, grills or restaurants near the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, Chic’s Beach and Rudee Inlet. Discover some of the more secluded waterfront restaurants as well that are frequented by locals. These hidden gems are tucked away overlooking the bays and rivers. Wherever you choose to eat, the scenic, shimmering water vista will complement your Virginia Beach meal.