Admittedly, as a bonafide Miamian and lover of multicultural foods, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d find in Coastal Virginia. Upon moving to Virginia Beach, I quickly learned that anything I knew about seafood was, well, not enough, and that farm-fresh ingredients could in fact be grown just minutes away from the beach (with an extra touch of sunshine and salt air to boot).
The Lay of the Land
The Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay surrounds Virginia Beach with more than 8,000 acres of farmland in close proximity (an area known to locals as Pungo), making Virginia Beach unique. Local restaurants have access to year-round bounty of seafood – think Rockfish and Lynnhaven Oysters galore – and the freshest produced.
And local restaurants certainly take full advantage! In fact, one of the things that surprised and delighted me most about Virginia Beach’s culinary scene is its genuine gusto for all things homegrown. Over the past nearly six years living here, I’ve had a front-row seat to seeing some amazing restaurants pop up, led by a collective of chefs, farmers and purveyors that don’t just love great food but also love the heck out of this city. It has been a joy to watch – and savor.
My favorites? Many of mine just happen to be strewn along the ViBe Creative District, an enclave of art galleries, museums, shops and restaurants that showcase some of the city’s homegrown standouts.
In the true definition of farm-to-table, this farmer-owned restaurant (owner Kevin Jamison heads up New Earth Farm) boasts a delicious and colorful menu that rotates with the seasons, as well as a coffee bar, with a second location in downtown Norfolk. You can find me writing here, while sipping on a burnt-honey latte, several times a month. I may or may not also usually have an indulgent croissant in hand.
Housed in a 1920s-era building on the Virginia Beach Historical Registry, “Eso” serves up European-influenced fare with local ingredients, many of them sourced from their on-site garden, and features an extensive number of beers on draft, alongside craft cocktails and wine. Their “Beats, Beer & Brunch” series is a must-experience.
Prosperity Kitchen is Commune’s sister venue and is the go-to spot for breads, pastries and other delicious baked treats. Head baker Ishiah White uses fresh farm eggs, European butter, local milk/cream and pure cane sugars. Did I mention at night it transforms into a traditional “al taglio” pizzeria, complete with inventive toppings and a menu of local and regional wines and beers? Yup. Salute to that!
While my husband and I are regulars at their Thursday burger nights (they sell out of their mouth-watering burgers every single week), it’s more than just their burgers that keep us coming back. With a menu of delicious wood-fired pizzas, New American-meets-Southern cuisine and craft beer, we never leave hungry.
Just over a mile from the ViBe, Terrapin has long been a VB staple, thanks in large part to Executive Chef and Owner Rodney Einhorn’s commitment to showcasing the very best of the area’s bounty. The beloved restaurant’s menu is a locavore’s dream.
While not a restaurant per se, I can’t talk about my VB favorites without talking about Lynnhaven Oysters. You’ll hear about these treats often in VB. And if you’re like me, you won’t understand the hype until you immerse yourself in what these delicious bivalves represent.
Sourced from the Lynnhaven River, they were coveted around the world and served to royalty for their size, saltiness and subtle zing. Thanks in large part to Chef Einhorn and Captain Chris Ludford of Pleasure House Oysters, I am a Lynnhaven fan-girl. I’m now up to nearly a dozen oyster farm boat tours with Captain Ludford! I promise there’s nothing like enjoying an oyster while on a chef’s table experience right on the water – waders included!
Next time you’re in the area, swing by these gems to unearth a new kind of coastal fare. I promise you won’t leave disappointed – and your tastebuds will thank me. For all of my Virginia Beach recommendations, download the CurEat App and check out my “NFK/VB Eats” list.