Virginia Beach is located right at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, which is considered the largest and most biologically diverse estuary in the America. So it’s no surprise that the city is a seafood treasure trove, from the local favorite rockfish to the legendary Lynnhaven oysters. Here’s where to find the best of the best.
Dine on The Water: Pleasure House Oysters
Served to presidents and royalty, Lynnhaven oysters are world-renowned for their size and saltiness. But even though they’re featured on menus up and down the East Coast, there’s no better place to sample them than right on the oyster farm. And thanks to Pleasure House Oysters, this is possible: the company offers three types of oyster farm boat tours, all of which include a sampling. However, to make an evening of it, the one to book is the Chef’s Table Tour, at sunset: with Captain Chris Ludford at the helm, up to eight guests can venture out onto the river to see the farm, learn firsthand about the harvesting process, and enjoy a delicious dinner of oysters shucked right then and there. (Guests are also encouraged to bring their own wine.)
A Family Affair: Margie & Ray’s
This quaint, family-owned spot in Sandbridge Beach originally opened as a small country store in 1964 but was renovated into a seafood restaurant in 1997. Today, the joint is a tried-and-true local favorite, known for its extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu that boasts everything from staples like shrimp and scallops to more involved dishes, like flounder stuffed with crabmeat and broiled in butter and seasonings. Plus, all lunch and dinner dishes are served with homemade hushpuppies, a deep-fried ball made from cornmeal-based batter. It’s a classic seafood-lover’s paradise.
A Sophisticated Evening: Terrapin
Located near the Resort Beach, Terrapin was one of the first restaurants in the city to embrace elevated, farm-fresh food—thanks, largely, to acclaimed chef Rodney Einhorn and his vision. Of course, Terrapin’s menu extends beyond seafood (the truffle mac ‘n cheese is a perennial favorite), but Einhorn’s perfectly produced proteins are true standouts, like the fennel-dusted sea scallops (with wild and local mushrooms, sea beans, oven-dried tomato, black truffle and garden herb pan sauce). Plus, the restaurant’s confidently crafted cocktails and attentive (but never overbearing) service make it a can’t-miss dining experience.
New York-based journalist Avery Stone is exploring Virginia Beach all season for Coastal Living. Follow her adventures here, and catch up on her previous discoveries, below!