1896 General Booth Blvd., 757-427-9607, malbonbrothersbbq.com
$, B, L, D
"People come, gas up, get a car wash and eat some of the best BBQ around," said Mike Malbon, who grew up nearby, on "the biggest hog farm this side of the Mississippi." The current generation has shed the farm, choosing instead to begin selling their secret-family-recipe barbecue at their gas station-convenience store.
Bay Local Eatery
2917 Shore Drive, 757-227-4389, baylocalvb.com
$-$$, B, L, D
If you begin with a Blue Bloody Mary at this cute "Coastal Southern Fare" eatery, you'll surely be able to handle one of the signature dishes, like the quatro frommage omelette, or fried chicken Benedict. There's new "fresh-ials" every day.
Young Veterans Brewery
2505 Horse Pasture Road, 757-689-4021, yvbc.com
At least six microbreweries call VB home. Young Veterans was founded by two enterprising Iraq War veterans with the motto "Brewing With the Freedom We Fought For." Their tasting room and names of brews are military-themed, like "Jet Noise Double IPA."
The Back Deck
3323 Shore Drive, 757-481-7512, shellfishcova.com/index.php/the-back-deck
$, L, D
Nestled behind the owner's seafood market, this dockside dive bar has a casual fare menu laden with dishes from the market's daily fresh catch. Try the scallop cake sliders and don't miss $2 fish taco Tuesdays.
Three Ships Coffee
607 19th St., 757-301-1848, threeshipscoffee.com
Coffee cognoscenti: This is your roastery. The beans here are fruit-grown single-origin from small growers around the world. The owner tests each batch to determine the optimum roast level before serving it up.
3102 Holly Road, 757-321-6688 terrapinvb.com
$$$, D, R
Terrapin may be Virginia Beach's most sophisticated eats. Incorporating fresh local provisions, the open kitchen turns out a fresh menu of seasonal dishes almost daily, such as vegan cauliflower steak or fennel-dusted scallops with wild mushrooms and black truffles.
Various locations, 410-627-1194, captncrabby.com
$-$$, L, D
"Yes, we have the authentic crab cake, but we decided to be more creative: The Italian one has pesto — almost anything goes," says MJ Medlar, a former Baltimorean who helped found the business. Other Maryland delicacies include pit beef and lemon sticks.
501 Virginia Beach Blvd., 757-963-8985, communevb.com/
$$-$$$, B, L, D (Friday only), R
Virginia Beach's first farmer-owned restaurant featuring a local-harvest-centric (100-mile) menu and coffee bar (with local herbal teas), house-made sodas, kombucha and a selection of local beers.
3640 Dam Neck Road, 757-689-8817, gillyscreamery.com.
Homemade ice cream shop in the VB Farmer's Market, incorporating fresh ingredients in its rotating menu of uber-creamy, seasonal flavors. Ask to taste the triple berry or peach.
207 23rd St., 757-425-1960, doctaylors.com
$, B, L
Imaginative comfort fare with fun and funky names in a pretty historic house (Doc Taylor's of course!), Try ER's killin' ya crabcake, the heart attack (eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns with a chop or flatiron steak), or the catfish po-boy (fried catfish sub with lettuce, tomato and granny-smith apple tarter sauce).
3603 Pacific Ave., 757-422-3399
Forget Fisher's; people in these parts are partial to Virginia peanuts. Some prefer them boiled, others roasted. Taste offers its branded variety six ways – traditional, chocolate-coated, crab-seasoned … you get the picture.
415 Atlantic Ave., 757-428-3644, watermans.com
$$-$$$, BR (Sunday), L, D, R
From people watching to romantic dining, Waterman's Surfside's views span boardwalk to beach. Happy hour is especially popular, and by dinnertime couples and families are contentedly sharing platters of steamed shrimp and crab dip, awaiting the daily catch.
605 Virginia Beach Blvd., 757-962-0662, hearthvb.com
$$-$$$, L, D, R
Originally a popular pizza food truck, the restaurant Hearth offers a full-range menu of wood-fired fare. Regardless, you shouldn't miss those pies —handmade with a creative concoction of local ingredients. Try the Funghi: wild mushroom fricassee, thyme, truffle oil, ricotta and shaved garlic.
205 23rd St., 757-422-0081, tautogs.com
$$, D, R
In a town abundant with phenomenal fresh seafood haunts, it's difficult to stand out. But Tautogs nails it with unexpectedly inexpensive adventurous preparations like potato chip-encrusted mahi, and peach-BBQ shrimp over jalapeño-cheddar grits.
Green Flash Brewery, 1209 Craft Lane, 858-622-0085, greenflashbrew.com. This popular San Diego-based micro-brewery selected Virginia Beach for its East Coast headquarters, recently launching a 100,000-barrel craft brewery, a 30-tap tasting room and beer garden with fire pit and bocce ball court.
Hyatt House Virginia Beach, 2705 Atlantic Ave., from $128, virginiabeach.house.hyatt.com. Brand-new oceanfront digs have opened in the form of a 19-story 4-star hotel where all rooms offer balconies facing the Atlantic and include breakfast, parking and access to the onsite fitness center and heated pool.
Norfolk Premium Outlets, 6282 Northampton Blvd., Norfolk, norfolkpremiumoutlets.com. Northface. Vans. Under Armour. Tommy Hilfiger. And more than 80 designers and well-known retailers will be opening spanking new bricks and mortar shops, when VB's long-awaited outlets center opens in June.
New Earth Farm, 1885 Indian River Road, 757-536-6102, newearthfarm.org. Kevin Jamison, owner of Commune, VB's first farmer-owned restaurant, has purchased this farm where he once taught sustainable cooking classes. Jamison has launched an open-to-the-public "Food Lab" featuring cooking, pickling and fermenting classes, and cheese making, immersing guests into the slow-food culinary arts at this educational working farm.
OBS, 2947 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, 757-227-3516, oysterbarandsteaks.com. The electric-guitar door handle at the entrance reminds you that a top-rate oyster and steak restaurant can also rock after hours. Oysters are served raw, Rockefeller and char-grilled. Prime cuts of beef are offered with fancy toppings: truffle demi, foie-gras butter, and a substantial cocktail menu with creative concoctions of browns, whites and juicy.
Beach Street USA: Every evening from dusk until 11 pm. is a free, family-friendly street festival, presenting live concerts, theatrical productions, singers, jugglers and magicians from around North America. Atlantic Avenue between 17th and 25th streets. beachstreetusa.com
The Patriotic Festival: Set among the largest military bases in the country, this first fest of the summer season honors our armed forces and their families with a weekend of oceanfront concerts, a USO show, expos of mission equipment, mobile tours and games. This year's headlining performers are Darius Rucker, Old Dominion and Jake Owen. May 29-31. patrioticfestival.com
The Boardwalk Art Show: Produced by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, this nationally acclaimed show stages more than 250 of the finest American artists in fine arts and fine craft. June 15-18. virginiamoca.org/art-shows/boardwalk-art-show
50th Hampton Jazz Festival: Patti LaBelle and Frankie Beverly are among the headliners at this weekend concert for devotees of jazz, R&B and soul. June 23-25. hamptonjazzfestival.com
American Music Festival: Three days. Five main stages. More than 20 bands. Dozens of local vendors. There are also musical acts on smaller stages along the boardwalk. Sept 1-3. beachstreetusa.com/festivals/american-music-festival
B = breakfast
L = lunch
BR = brunch
D = dinner
R = reservations suggested
$ = entrees under $15
$$ = $15-$24
$$$ = $25 and up