Best Restaurants in Virginia Beach (a Local’s Guide to the Oceanfront)
With nearly 3 million people visiting the Virginia Beach every year, there’s no shortage of bars and restaurants in the Oceanfront area. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find spots that are worth raving about. I quickly learned this when I moved here in 2016.
However, through trial, error, and perseverance, I’ve been able to find a handful of hidden gems that are worth visiting. These are the best restaurants that I bring my friends and family to when they visit. Enjoy!
A coffee scene is brewing in the ViBe Creative District, a few blocks away from the beach. It is definitely worth a visit. Here are the coffee shops I usually visit after brunch:
- Bad Ass Coffee has a quirky island vibe. If you’re looking for iced coffee, this is your spot. Breakfast and lunch is also served all day.
- Java Surf Café has great lattes and tasty paninis & wraps. They have surf vibe and feature work by local artist OnieTonie. Cool spot to chill in the morning!
- Three Ships Coffee is a hipster coffee joint that roasts their own beans. It is typically busy on the weekends. They have a limited food menu, too.
- Zeke‘s Beans & Bowls has the best açaí bowls in Virginia Beach. Oh, they have a full espresso bar, too. But seriously, try their Breakfast Açaí Bowl. It is so good!
If you’re looking for Starbucks (hey, we’ve all wanted something familiar), their only location is next to Neptune Park (where the big Neptune statue is) in the 31 Ocean building.
Breakfast & Brunch
Locals like to brunch, but they typically don’t venture out to the Oceanfront to do so. Some of the best local breakfast and brunch locations are away from the beach (see Bee & The Biscuit). However, if you’re at the Oceanfront, you likely don’t want to drive far for breakfast. So, here are a few tasty options:
- Bay Local Eatery is the place to go for eggs benedict at the Oceanfront. So good! Get there early. It is a popular spot so expect a wait (worth it).
- Commune is a trendy spot in the ViBe district that specializes in “farm-to-table” cuisine. Try the sorbet mimosas.
- Doc Taylor’s is a classic breakfast joint. Their menu is simple and cheap. It is always busy, so be prepared to wait on the weekends.
- Esoteric serves brunch on Sundays. Get there early (10AM) for a curated menu by a husband and wife team.
There are two things you need to try when you’re visiting Virginia Beach: fish tacos and orange crushes. Try these places for lunch:
- Bro’s Fish Tacos is a 10 minute drive from the Oceanfront but serves the best fish tacos in the area. Order two or three “Truth” (flounder) tacos and a side of beer battered fries and thank me later. Worth the drive!
- Gringo’s Taqueria is a small shop in the ViBe area serving fish tacos, margaritas, and fresh homemade salsa. Check out Back Bay Brewing (next door) afterwards.
- Taste is a specialty sandwich shop. It’s basically a local version of Panera… but much better. Try the Lynnhaven, stuffed with roasted chicken, pimento cheese, and bacon.
- The Shack is an outdoor bar with free yard games. They hand squeeze fresh oranges to make the area’s signature drink, the Orange Crush. Limited food is available.
If you’re looking for seafood, you’re in luck. The best Oceanfront restaurants specialize in serving fresh Atlantic fish. You can’t go wrong with any of these:
- The Atlantic is a great spot for fresh oysters and clams. Order Oysters Rockefeller if raw seafood isn’t your thing. They have a great happy hour, too (3-6PM).
- Catch 31 is where I usually take family & friends when they’re in town. It’s at the Hilton on the beach by Neptune Park. Iconic. Get a seafood tower for the table and then order your entrée off the daily fresh catch menu.
- Pacifica is a small, cozy bistro with a fireplace. Great restaurant for a date night in Virginia Beach. Their seasonal menu features a rotation of tasty tapas and cocktails.
- Rudee’s is a 5 min drive from the Oceanfront on Rudee Inlet. Lower key than the main boardwalk area. Will be a relaxing experience if you sit outside on the water. Try the she crab soup.
There you have it! Options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Virginia Beach. Don’t forget to use your Gold Card from American Express for 4X Membership Rewards points from all of the restaurants mentioned in this post (and around the globe).
Did we miss anything? Drop your recommendations in the comment area below.