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Best Virginia Beach Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors

It’s tempting—and incorrect—to think of the Virginia Beach dining scene as limited to the cheap (and awesome) fried food goodness on the Boardwalk. Sure, that stuff is there, and please, gorge yourself on pizza and fries while you’re around. But don’t neglect a rather innovative dining scene that’s arisen across the Hampton Roads region, spearheaded by chefs who use and source the best ingredients of Virginia, from the Piedmont to the local Tidewater estuaries, and sometimes beyond—Asia, Latin America, anywhere. Truth be told, Hampton Roads gives Richmond a run for its money when it comes to the best fine-dining scene in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Terrapin' Restaurant

Neighborhood: East of VA Beach
Price: Expensive

Contemporary American cuisine shines best when it respects the integrity of local ingredients and brings the best out of said foodstuffs. That’s the sort of thing the Terrapin—that’s a big word for ‘turtle,’ by the way, although you won’t find our shelled friends on the menu—excels at. Buttermilk fried chicken is crispy and juicy all at once, while a lovely duck confit is complemented by a pillowy cloud of mascarpone grits, a semi-European update of a Southern staple. Pasta lovers mustn’t miss beet ravioli with goat cheese and local pecans. To top it off, Terrapin sources from local farms and watermen, and keeps green sensibilities by serving pesticide-free food.

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Todd Jurich's Bistro

Neighborhood: Norfolk Price: Expensive

Hampton Roads have been blowing up as a foodie spot for the past two decades, a gastronomic renaissance that traces its origins to Todd Jurich’s Norfolk opus. Jurich’s is still the best place to eat in Norfolk by a long shot, so if you want a night of culinary splurge, this is your best bet. The menu is inspired by local bounty and seasons; pumpkin and crab soup is the perfect complement to blustery days, fried soft crabs get a hot kick from a peanut confit, and a Kobe beef rib-eye served with duck fat fries is just decadent. In a good way.

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Todd Jurich's Bistro  

Eurasia

Neighborhood: West of Resort Beaches
Price: Moderate

We tend to be suspicious of attempts at fusion, as they sometimes result in cuisine that’s more cute than tasty, but then along comes Eurasia, making us believe in the power of mixing influences up all over again. Many of the ingredients on this standout menu come from Virginia, but the emphasis on preparation draws largely from Asia. Mussels come in a Thai green curry sauce, while tuna comes with wasabi mashed potatoes. This particular exercise in fusion has gone better than many expected, and sets a bar other restaurants in the region can aspire to.

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Eurasia  

Kyushu Japanese Restaurant

Neighborhood: South of Norfolk
Price: Moderate

Virginia Beach and sushi aren’t two concepts that generally go together in folks’ minds, but they come together just fine in Kyushu--the restaurant, not the Japanese island (there’s good sushi there too, though). Thanks to the presence of Norfolk’s naval base there’s a big swell of Japanese folks here. No surprises in the menu—there’s the usual rolls and sashimi platters, plus noodle dishes like yakisoba and fried goodness like tempura and katsu—but it's all reliable, fresh and extremely tasty.

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Kyushu Japanese Restaurant  

Harpoon Larry's

Neighborhood: Resort Beaches Price: Moderate

What do folks expect out of a Virginia Beach dining experience? Usually, the elements Harpoon Larry’s has perfected: fresh seafood, sea breezes and a general Jimmy Buffet, cheeseburger-in-paradise sense of Zen. Larry’s isn’t the best seafood you’ve ever eaten, but it’s served in a no-nonsense, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-loosen-your-belt kinda spot, where the beer flows fast and the oysters quicker. The raw bar, by the way, is the main reason to dine here. Have a dozen raw boys shucked, toast the sunset with a frosty beer and stick around into the evening, when the bar starts getting decently lively.

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Fire & Vine

Neighborhood: Virginia Beach Price: Moderate

The prevailing culinary theme at Fire & Vine is to serve New American cuisine cooked over a wood-fired grill (the fire) complemented by specially selected wine flights (the vine). The gimmick works pretty well—while amateur sommeliers may want to pick out their own grape selections, the management here has put a lot of thought into plucking out the best wines for signature menu items. So, for example,  Charleston-style shrimp and grits comes with a bouncy Pinot Gris, while a quail stuffed with cornbread and pecans is enjoined with a deep, rich Pinot Noir. Lovely food and lovely drink make for a lovely evening out.

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Fire & Vine  

Baladi

Neighborhood: Virginia Beach Price: Budget

Baladi is yet another example of the surprisingly diverse ethnic eating scene in Virginia Beach. Like Azar’s, Baladi serves Mediterranean food of the pita, baba gnoush and falafel genre. The quality of both spots is surpassingly good—we offer Baladi up not to be redundant, but because the food in both places is so excellent we’d be remiss not to include it here. That said, there’s a perceptibly more polished vibe at Baladi, so it depends on how informal you prefer your dining to be. The tuna garden salad is particularly delicious, as is the sifha, a ground meat and pine nut pie.

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Baladi  

Doc Taylor's

Neighborhood: Resort Beaches Price: Budget

One of our favorite diners in Virginia Beach is just about perfect for Bloody Marys, biscuits and gravy, Carolina barbecue, catfish sandwiches—all the things that basically make the world go ‘round. Service is sassy in a friendly, welcoming way and the atmosphere is a bit more playful than the vibe in Mary’s, the beach’s other great breakfast joint. Put it this way—if Mary’s is where you go with your family to start the day, Doc Taylor’s is where you head the morning after a big night on the town.

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Doc Taylor's  

Jewish Mother

Neighborhood: Resort Beaches Price: Budget

We’re gonna flip some stereotypes on their heads and assume the role of overbearing nag in this case: Get to Jewish Mother already! This longtime locals’ favorite diner is the place to go for a cheap, excellent burger, real deli sandwiches, fresh pita wraps and, come evenings, great live music—Dave Mathews has played here, which actually caused a small war between frat boys at UVA and William & Mary (joke). ‘JewMo’ is a Virginia Beach institution; if you miss lunch here, you’re missing out on the preferred sandwich(es) of generations of Hampton Roads residents.

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Jewish Mother  

Azar's Natural Foods

Neighborhood: Virginia Beach Price: Budget

You come to Virginia Beach, surely you’re expecting food from the Arab Mediterranean, right? No? Well, give Azar’s a shot anyway. After all that Boardwalk grease, it can be nice to come here and luxuriate in the clean, crisp flavors of olive oil and soft cheeses. Shawarma’s, kebabs and kibbis (ground beef, onions, spices and pine nuts) are served alongside the usual rainbow of dips and fluffy pitas. This is a locals’ favorite that tends to slip under the tourist radar, which is a shame as you can stuff yourself genuinely well on the (very) cheap with a visit to Azar’s.

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Azar's Natural Foods  

Jade Villa

Neighborhood: Central City
Price: Budget

The villa ain’t much to look at, especially given its location in a strip mall, but you’re not here to look around. You’re here for some fine Chinese food—the finest in Hampton Roads. The trick is to order like the local Asian populace, which tends to favor Jade Villa over the other options. You can do this by requesting the Chinese-language menu, but obviously, if you don’t speak Chinese that could be problematic. So we’d suggest coming for dim sum, when you can order whatever looks good. The dim sum menu is regularly available, but if you want to double check to make sure this is so, just call before showing up.

Mary's Restaurant

Neighborhood: West of Resort Beaches Price: Budget

Mary’s has been where Virginia Beach starts its day for nearly 50 years, so maybe you should give it a go. This venerable restaurant has all the charm of an old-school diner and every egg and pancake dish conceived on the greater Eastern Seaboard, or so it seems. Any of their breakfast specials and signature dishes is sure to please, especially anything with Virginia ham—salted, smoky and strong—on the side. They dish up a mean lunch here, as well. You’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than $10 a head—bonus!

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Mary's Restaurant  
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