Eating Our Way Through Virginia Beach

09/14/2011 08:48 am ET | Updated Nov 11, 2011

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, my boyfriend and I decided to flee New York City and visit his brother who's in the military before he deploys. He's stationed in Virginia Beach. I didn't know what to expect -- I hadn't been to the resort city since I was a little kid and my parents, aunt, uncle, cousins and I took the long drive down to get some sun. One of the most excruciating rides of my life, I recall it being an eight-hour hell with window power and no iPod or handheld video games. When you're 12, that's enough to drive you crazy.

Now 31, we opted to fly. The roughly one-hour flight was glorious despite the seemingly tighter security at Newark International Airport and a short delay to and from. FYI, Norfolk Airport is kind of like a dream. People are friendly, it's not crowded and you're not herded around like cattle through security. Again, glorious.

Seafood, Seafood, Seafood

Upon our arrival, we begged for seafood. I mean, what else are you going to eat in Virginia Beach? No chain restaurants, please! So my boyfriend's brother took us to Lynnhaven Fish House, a favorite among locals. We ordered oysters rockefeller, which seems to taste different everywhere and every time. Although we were confused by the over abundance of leafy greens on the shell, which masked the main attraction -- the oysters -- if you're a fan of spinach, you'll love it. The She-Crab Soup was easily the best part of the meal. The server will give you a side of sherry for it, but it's not necessary. And oh, a generous helping of marshmallows on top of my baked sweet potato that came on the side of my Grecian catfish made the meal ultra memorable. Go there if you're ever in the area. You won't be disappointed:

Lynnhaven Fish House
2350 Starfish Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Crab for Breakfast? Okay!

The following morning, we jumped in the car to find the best pancakes in the world, but were delighted to discover a totally foreign breakfast dining experience -- to us anyway. And by that, I mean: crab for breakfast. The Beach Pub had the usual suspects -- pancakes, omelettes, toast -- but when I saw the words "deviled crab," I was sold. I'm weird, I like to eat seafood first thing in the morning. And FYI, the stuffed crab (you get two of them with one of the specials) was divine. It had a bit of a spicy kick too -- my favorite. Plus, my boyfriend's bacon was deliciously crispy. Want to experience it? Here are the specifics:

The Beach Pub
1001 Laskin Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Poolside Dining, a Pleasant Surprise

Now this is living. To continue our eating fest, we lunched poolside at the Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach where we were staying. By the way, there are three pools -- one indoor, two outdoor, and hello, there are two water slides and two lazy rivers. Not for nothing, we felt like kids again enjoying the ocean-front hotel's amenities. Anyway, back to food... So what'd we eat? The appetizer platter was gross in the best possible way. Okay, so it was an oil frenzy of mozzarella sticks, fried shrimp, calamari, chicken tenders and boneless buffalo wings, but if you have no shame about what you look like in your bathing suit, eat on! The freshly-cut fries were also yummy.

Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach
39th Street and Atlantic Avenue
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Organic Options

And then dinnertime came. In case you were wondering, all we did was -- well -- eat on this trip. After all, that's the best way to catch up with family members you don't get to see that often. What better way to converse, tell stories and laugh than with the accompaniment of food. For our last meal with my boyfriend's brother before we departed, we opted for Terrapin Restaurant, a sophisticated oceanfront restaurant that serves contemporary American cuisine with an organic flair. It was quite difficult to get a reservation, so if you're planning to eat there, plan ahead.

The service was spectacular and the food had it's very good moments, as well as mediocre. We did a tasting menu of four courses whereby we were able to choose from the menu. Our highlights: the garden salad with figs, foie gras with apples and the fried chicken. What we were lukewarm about included the truffle mac and cheese that had no sign of (ugh) truffle oil. You couldn't smell a drop of it and the generous portion became a burden because we didn't want to eat more than a couple of bites. It was generic at best. The duck, on the other hand, was over-seasoned, it was like they drenched it in salt, rolled it in pepper and forgot to cook it all the way through. The best part of the meal, however, came in the end. Thinking about that root beer float still makes our mouths water, not to mention the bacon and chocolate dessert was a pleasant surprise at meal's end.

Terrapin Restaurant
3102 Holly Road
Pinewood Square, Suite 514
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

All in all, we'd certainly visit Virginia Beach again -- with military family members to visit or not. It was a nice, quick getaway before the onslaught of sweaters and boots... And now we'll have the full tummies and bloatedness to match. We can slim down and tone up next summer before our next visit.

For more information on Virginia Beach -- because obviously, there's more to do there than just eat -- check out