Bordering the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, Virginia has direct access to some of the most delicious seafood on the East Coast. For decades, Bay residents and volunteers have spent their time, money, and energy cleaning and preserving the waterway, and these efforts paid off by creating one of the richest oyster and seafood regions in the U.S.
Many Virginia restaurants have benefited from this growth in the seafood industry, and diners in turn get to take advantage of the mouthwatering results. For a fresh taste of the Bay (and many other Virginia waterways), dine at one of these 18 famous seafood spots around Virginia and vote for you pick in this week’s Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge, Fresh Catch Seafood & Oysters.
Denson’s Grocery and R&B Oyster Bar—Colonial Beach
At Denson’s Grocery and R&B Oyster Bar, they take great pride in doing something different when it comes to preparing Virginia oysters, clams, Rockfish, Blue Crab and the delicious, but less common, Sugar Toads and Croaker. They establish relationships with Northern Neck and Virginia Grown vendors that have an intense passion about their products. Fresh, never frozen, and wild caught seafood is what Denson’s believes in, and it is also what has made the restaurant on the Northern Neck stand out. You will find Virginia seafood paired with local produce, when in season, as well as local wines and Virginia craft beers. The menu is exciting, as it changes daily depending upon what is fresh and available.
Island House Restaurant–Wachapreague
Island House Restaurant is a no-nonsense seaside restaurant featuring all the bounty of fresh seafood, oysters and produce the Eastern Shore of Virginia has to offer. From Sewansecott Oysters in Willis Wharf to Soft Crabs from H.M. Arnold in Bayford to fresh produce from Mattawoman Creek Farms in Cape Charles, The Island House embraces the roots of what Eastern Shore people have made a living and enjoyed doing for generations. Their mantra is to be a fun, friendly restaurant that is as welcoming to fishermen in shorts and flip-flops as they are to a family in their Sunday best coming from church.
As the sun descends on the river, you can enjoy the romance of candlelight dining at Smithfield Station. Delicious aromas will usher you into our white cedar-paneled dining room, where every table offers a panoramic view of the river. Come by car or by boat for a uniquely enjoyable and especially memorable waterfront experience in Smithfield’s Historic District.
Public Fish & Oyster—Charlottesville
Public Fish & Oyster offers some of the best Virginia sourced seafood, meats and produce. They showcase many varieties of Virginia oysters such as Sewansecotts, Shooting Points, Big Island Pearls, Nadnuas and Watch House Points and serve them alongside North Americas other delicious oysters. Additionally, they are big advocates of the Virginia Oyster Shell recycling program through the Rice Center at VCU and have contributed thousands of pounds of oyster shells to help rebuild oyster reefs in the bay. Their team of hospitality and culinary professionals give guests a first-class experience from the second they enter the restaurant to the moment they leave.
Rappahannock Oyster Company—Richmond
Rappahannock is all about the farm-to-table approach to fine dining. As “farmers,” the owners of Rappahannock Oyster Company are in a unique position to bring together the world’s greatest food growers with one of the nation’s best chefs, Chef Dylan Fultineer of Blackbird and Hungry Cat fame. You’ll enjoy a menu that’s unmatched in its freshness and originality, as well as carefully selected craft beers & wines, signature cocktails, and an enormous raw bar focusing on their very own oyster farms.
The Seafare of Williamsburg—Williamsburg
Since 1976, the Seafare of Williamsburg has had one simple goal in mind: to create a restaurant that provided only the best food and service. That mindset has led to their success and popularity on the ever-changing restaurant scene of Williamsburg. Fresh seafood is their trademark, and the staff at the Seafare takes pride in checking each ingredient that comes through the door carefully before preparing the items for your dining pleasure. They have built a menu that is able to withstand the test of time and impresses even the most discerning of seafood fans.
Seafarer’s Restaurant and Seafood Market—Manquin
If you are looking for a casual spot for excellent seafood in the Richmond area, head to Seafarers, a small and quaint family restaurant where people come together over good food and friendly company. They specialize in creating and serving dishes made from the heart, providing locally sourced seafood from some of Virginia’s watermen. Some of these specialty fresh catch items include hand filleted Rockfish blackened and seared served atop in house made “secret sauce”, sweet and succulent Blue Crabs pulled from Virginia rivers which are freshly seasoned and steamed for dine in or carry out. They also serve flavorful and tasty Virginia Oysters served a variety of ways. Seafarers Restaurant is unique and has become widely known which makes it truly Virginia’s hidden gem and hot spot for fresh and home cooked local seafood.
Waypoint Seafood & Grill—Williamsburg
Waypoint Seafood and Grill Restaurant marks Williamsburg’s latest culinary destination from Chef Hans Schadler. The Waypoint menu is a celebration of Chesapeake ingredients and includes items grown at local farms and caught in regional waters. The pure flavors and rich ingredients presented in the seasonally changing entrees represent modern regional American cuisine with classical culinary roots.
Mahi Mah’s—Virginia Beach
For the past 22 years, Mahi Mah’s has been a popular hotspot for the locals, with an incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean, delicious culinary creations, and the largest oceanfront sushi bar in Virginia Beach. The restaurant is famous for their fresh fish, which is cooked to perfection, whether grilled, broiled, or wrapped with rice and served raw. This beachfront restaurant has it all…scenery, great seafood, and an impeccable reputation in the Virginia Beach community.
Ford’s Fish Shack—Ashburn
The menu at Ford’s Fish Shack features home-made dishes, seasonal specials and 20 microbrew craft beers. Their mission is to bring community Fresh-Off-the-Hook Seafood and exemplary service to every visitor. Enjoy delicious New England-style seafood in a relaxed and casual environment at Ford’s Fish Shack. Come with a big appetite and try the Foot Long Lobster Roll!
Wilkerson’s Seafood Restaurant—Colonial Beach
Opened in 1946, Wilkerson’s is still a popular spot in the Colonial Beach area for some of the finest Virginia seafood. They have spent the past 70 years taking extreme pride in the dishes they create, and you can’t beat the fabulous view of the Potomac River seen from the restaurant. There is something for everyone on the menu at Wilkerson’s, and seafood lovers can’t help but be impressed by this locally-focused gem.
The Shanty—Cape Charles
The Shanty’s menu is full of fresh, locally caught seafood among a wide variety of ingredients sourced from the region to provide a fun and unique dining experience for customers. Grab a table inside the dining room, at the bar, or on the covered deck and enjoy one of their tasty dishes, inventive libations, live music, and even a little entertainment while you wait at the corn hole boards, all while sitting directly beside the water for a gorgeous Virginia sunset.
White Dog Bistro—Mathews
Located in Mathews, The White Dog Bistro’s home is in an 1840’s Georgian Mason. This historic restaurant is on both the Virginia and National historic registries, and the property holds a fine dining restaurant, two bars, two dining rooms and a wedding event center. The White Dog Puppies, Clams Manchego, and Chesapeake Blue-Cat are a few of the locally-sourced seafood options on the White Dog Bistro dinner menu, which is reasonably priced and reliably appetizing.
On the Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown, Riverwalk Restaurant is only a short stroll from Yorktown’s historic Main Street, the battlefield sites, and beautiful Yorktown Beach. The menu highlights fresh seafood, steaks, and daily specials all year round. Overlooking the York River, Riverwalk Restaurant provides our customers with a breathtaking view while dining.
Graze on Main—Wytheville
Offering a casual yet elegant dining environment, Graze on Main has a wide array of excellent seafood and beverage choices. The restaurant provides a southern twist on some classic dishes, like pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, shrimp & grits. You’ll love their specialty cocktails, micro-brews, southern teas and savory wines.
Rockafeller’s Restaurant—Virginia Beach
No matter what you order at Rockafeller’s, you won’t be disappointed. Rockafeller’s serves dishes with only the highest quality ingredients– from their always fresh local seafood to the imported spices and virgin olive oil. Everything is made fresh daily in-house including their original recipe soups, delicious desserts, and even the salad dressings. Rockafeller’s Restaurant is one of Virginia Beach’s most popular seafood restaurants and features a magnificent view of Rudee Inlet.
Zynodoa’s commitment to southern cuisine and local ingredients runs deep. So does their sense of adventure and creativity. Taste Chef Zale’s newest fusion plate, the Rappahannock River Fried Oysters in Lettuce Wraps, with Anson Mills Hominy Salsa and a Chili Mustard Crema. The dish pairs traditional southern slow food staples (oysters and hominy) with the freshness of an Asian lettuce wrap and the spicy tang of chili mustard.
Waterwheel Restaurant—Warm Springs
The Inn at Gristmill Square showcases regional American farm-to-table cuisine in their on-site Waterwheel Restaurant. The menu changes with the seasons to guarantee the freshest most authentic flavors. Freshly prepared ingredients from local and regional growers fill the menu, offering guests an exceptional dining experience. Make sure to visit the Wine Cellar which serves as the restaurant’s hands-on wine list.
These are only a small sample of spectacular seafood restaurants in the Commonwealth. Please note that the only restaurants that were considered in the Culinary Challenge were the ones nominated through the Virginia is for Lovers Facebook, Visit Virginia Twitter, and Travel Blog article published on February 5th.
Do you have any recommendations for other great seafood spots we need to try? Tell us where we should go to get fresh, locally sourced seafood in Virginia!