Daytona Beach has a reputation for being a pristine family vacation destination; but do you know what else it has? Epic restaurants, cafes, diners, and bistros. I was surprised at how many upscale eateries the greater Daytona Beach area had to offer. The best part is that the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean brings the freshest seafood available, while the laid-back charms of Daytona make all of the restaurants casual in feel and fashion. You do not need to “put on the dog” to have a delicious meal at these best restaurants in Daytona Beach. In fact, I found the prices incredibly reasonable (especially for a coastal Florida town) and the menus to be foodie in thought, yet simple and trendy.
The Seven Best Restaurants in Daytona Beach
Best Seafood: The Oyster Pub Sports Bar and Grill, Daytona Beach
Even though I was squeamish about trying oysters, I love to watch people eat them because there is such an art to it. During my visit to the Oyster Pub, our party of six ordered a round of Chargrilled oysters, their specialty. They were topped with the Pub’s secret sauce, and unlike raw oysters, can be chewed. Since I was Snapchatted this meal, I found this to be the perfect time to try my first oyster. I was shocked at how wonderful they were! The oysters were very addictive and smooth like a buttery pillow of heaven. The owner saw how quickly we polished them off and brought another platter to the table with the receipt showing that they were exactly one day old.
Aside from the epic oysters, the Oyster Pub offered us attentive service and the freshest seafood of maybe any restaurant I have ever been to. For dinner I chose the Blackened Mahi-Mahi Platter with rice, cole slaw, and hush puppies. One of my friends ordered the Oysters Rockefeller, which looked amazing. I will say that I was incredibly shocked by how stellar the food was, especially considering how relaxed the setting was.
Best Scenery: The Perfect Spot, Deland
This breakfast and lunch hotspot is located at Skydive Deland, a world class skydiving facility that hosts international and local chutists (Tandem and AFF) almost every day. Though you are not guaranteed to see jumpers/chutists, we got lucky and saw about fifty of them. The thrill was exhilarating on the ground as we watched and cheered for them while we shot epic photos.
My group dined outside at the Perfect Spot, literally, so we would not miss a thing. I had a perfectly prepared omelet served with fruit and their specialty, pressed potato pancakes, which tasted a lot like tater tots. They were even more delicious with a side of sour cream, which the waitress recommended. The food delivery time was rather slow, but we were so entertained by our surroundings that it was fine.
Most Relaxing Setting: The Grille at Riverview, New Smyrna Beach
Outdoor tables at The Grille at Riverview gave us the perfect place to lap up the scenery. This restaurant was located on the scenic and peaceful Intracoastal Waterway that has impressive boats docked all around and a draw bridge in site as well. Luckily, we got to see dolphins splashing around in the water while we waited for our food. They have native manatees as well.
We began our meal with the Bruschetta Pomodoro, a rich mix of deep flavorful tomatoes, garlic, basil, and parmesan cheese, and Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna. The tuna was picture perfect and the taste was divine. It was cooked to pan seared rare perfection, with black and white sesame seeds coating it plus a Thai ginger soy sauce drizzle. The garnish was pickled ginger and wasabi, yummy!
For lunch I chose a BLT with avocado but everyone else’s meals looked far better than mine. My toast was a little overdone. The strawberry and baby brie salad was the one I wish I had selected. Our server was the best! I wish that every restaurant had one just like her.
Truly Nostalgic: Rose Villa, Ormond Beach
Ormond Beach is home to a new hipster foodie restaurant, Rose Villa, Southern table and bar. The house has been renovated to showcase its Prohibition-era history which was at one time a speakeasy. Our tour guide showed us around the beautifully decorated restaurant. It had the coolest wallpapers (both on the walls and ceilings) in fun, busy patterns that worked wonderfully in each room. There was an Absinthe lounge on the second floor where this controversial liquor was truly the star (you may be chasing the green fairy!). We learned how to serve Absinthe, were given a brief history of the powerful alcohol, and had a chance to admire nostalgic artifacts. My favorites were the newly painted wallhangings by local artist Perego.
All of the food at Rose Villa was amazing! I started with the Cauliflower Soup, which had a great texture and consistency; I enjoyed it very much. We munched on complimentary bread which was billowy and delicious. For my meal, I had the Lobster Macaroni & Cheese, gooey and richness all rolled into one dish. When dessert time rolled around, the manager brought us desserts to share. These desserts, prepared by the Cakery Creation, included the Chocolate Brownie, Red Velvet Cake, and Pecan Pie a la mode. Though I did not try them, my friends raved about each and every one. They sure were aesthetically pleasing! Our speciality cocktails, including the Moscow Mules and Sazerac’s, were the stars of the night.
Best Historic Restaurant: Racing’s North Turn, Daytona Beach Shores
This is where beach racing began. Bill France, of Daytona Beach, started racing on the beachfront in 1936 and the sport continued here until after WWII. Sports enthusiasts took notice and began following what would later become a worldwide phenomenon. Racing’s North Turn is a historic landmark where the racers would make a drastic horseshoe turn from the beach to the street during the course of the race. Fatalities were not uncommon. The restaurant was filled with cool things to look at to see how racing has changed over the years. It provided the guests a good dose of nostalgic history. Racing relocated in 1958 when the Daytona International Speedway opened for business.
We sat on the oceanfront and could still hear the live band inside. The group ordered speciality drinks that were served in a souvenir pirate coconut shell that doubled as a bank. I chose the Bushwacker, a combination of dark rum, Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, and ice cream mix. We ordered the Baked Crab Stuffed Mushrooms for the table to share. They arrived bursting with crab meat and cream cheese filling, then topped with cheddar cheese. Extraordinary!
My dinner selection was the Blackened Grouper with a Shrimp Creole Cream Sauce served with seasonal vegetables and bacon cabbage hash. The hash was their speciality side dish which I asked to try. OMG it was so amazing! Just guessing, it was probably sautéed in loads of butter. The end results were unbelievable. I think this could entice non vegetable eaters to become vegetarians, sans the bacon.
Best Oceanview Restaurant: Crabby Joe’s, Daytona Beach
Crabby Joe’s is situated on a historic wooden pier that offers fishing and a seat for the perfect sunrise. Picnic-style tables on the deck allow for optimum beach and sea life views. Do not worry about getting sunburned because each table has its own optional umbrella. We were entertained by paddle boarders and surfers throughout our breakfast. The waves rolling in added the perfect soundtrack for our meal. With as much business as Crabby Joe’s has and how laid-back casual it is, I was shocked to find the food to be of high quality and prepared wonderfully. Our server kept things going for us as well as all of her other tables and we were never in need of anything.
For breakfast, I chose my favorite Eggs Benedict. My side dish was cheesy grits. Spectacular! A friend had one of Crabby Joe’s specialties, the French Toast Delight, bread fried in a corn flake crust, and it was very enjoyable and unique.
Friendliest Staff: The Cracked Egg Diner, Daytona Beach Shores
Imagine my surprise when I walked into The Cracked Egg Diner and someone held the door open for me, called all of the locals by name, checked on each and every table, and made sure the food in the window was getting out timely. This was Kevin Purucker, one of the owners of the diner, who set an exemplary model for his workers that seemed to be following suit. I situated myself at the bar of this classic diner, complete with 1950’s music playing on the jukebox, and watched the kitchen pump out dozens of breakfasts at a time.
My waitress was incredibly friendly, kept my sweet tea refilled, made small talk, and smiled at each guest. I was taken back by all of the camaraderie between staff and clientele. My breakfast was the Country Benedict, a split biscuit with sausage patties, poached eggs, and homemade sausage gravy. Nom! The eggs were perfectly poached so all of that yolk spilled out to make for tasty dipping. When the staff learned I was a blogger, they prepared dishes for me to photograph including the Belgian Waffle with strawberries, Corn Beef Hash, and the Eggs Chesapeake, a house speciality and Kevin’s grandmothers recipe. I was too stuffed to even try these items, but we had no trouble finding some local regulars that obliged. The Cracked Egg Diner’s menu cover was maybe the best one I have ever seen. Well done.