(UPDATED ON February 1, 2019) When I arrived in Daytona Beach, I had no idea of the incredible food scene awaiting me. While I live in a beach town on the same coast, the culinary offerings here wowed me and made ours seem lacking in comparison. From the freshest oysters imaginable to beautifully plated breakfasts on the beach, and everything in between, here is your guide to the best restaurants in Daytona Beach.
You do not need to “put on the dog” to have a delicious meal at these local eateries. Just pull up a chair and dig right in!
Best Historic Meal in Daytona Beach
This part of Daytona Beach is where beach racing began. Bill France 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 historical landmark where the racers would make a drastic horseshoe turn from the beach to the street during the race. Fatalities were not uncommon.
Racing’s North Turn Restaurant has many cool things to look at to see how racing has changed over the years. It provides guests with a good dose of nostalgic history. Racing relocated in 1958 when the Daytona International Speedway opened for business.
If you can, sit on the oceanfront at Racing’s North Turn. Order a tasty Bushwacker (dark rum, Kahlua, ice cream mix) that comes in an adorable souvenir pirate coconut shell and the Baked Crab Stuffed Mushrooms for an appetizer. The mushrooms are bursting with crab meat and cream cheese filling, with Cheddar cheese on top.
For dinner, go with the Blackened Grouper, which has a delicate shrimp creole cream sauce. I switched up the sides on my plate to include seasonal veggies and bacon cabbage has a specialty side at Racing’s North Turn. OMG, it was incredible! I ten out of ten recommend this meal.
Best Happy Hour in Daytona Beach
The Hard Rock Hotel is one of the newest offerings in Daytona Beach and where you will find the best happy hour. Enjoy Sessions, an oceanfront restaurant with fantastic happy hour prices, creative cocktails, and delicious appetizer/small plates heavily discounted during this time.
Happy hour prices include $3 bottled beers (Miller Lite, Bud Lite, Yuengling), $6 house red and white wine (and cocktails like cosmos and lemon drop or apple martinis), and $9 specialty drinks. Be sure to check out the craft cocktail menu to entice you a bit more.
Go for the Caesar Salad with banana croutons or the Tots drizzled with balsamic and topped with a blue cheese fondue sauce. Appetizer prices during happy hour are $3, $6, or $9 each.
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Best Seafood in 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 Sports Bar and Grill, our party of six ordered a round of Chargrilled oysters, their specialty. The oysters are 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 precisely one day old.
Aside from the epic oysters, the Oyster Pub offered us attentive service and the freshest seafood available. I dined on the Blackened Mahi-Mahi Platter with rice, coleslaw, and hush puppies. One of my friends ordered the Oysters Rockefeller, which looked terrific. I will say that I was incredibly shocked by how stellar the food was, especially considering how relaxed the setting was.
Best Oceanview Restaurant in Daytona Beach
Crabby Joe’s sits on a historic wooden pier that offers fishing and a seat for the perfect sunrise. Picnic-style tables on the deck allow for an excellent beach view. Do not worry about getting sunburned because each table has its own optional umbrella.
For breakfast, I chose my favorite Eggs Benedict from Crabby Joe’s. The cheesy grits made a perfect side dish and didn’t even require salt, a hard task for this Southern grain. The Eggs B was delicious! A friend chose a Crabby Joe’s specialty, the French Toast Delight, fried in a different cornflake crust.
During breakfast, we were entertained by surfers and paddleboarders. The waves rolling in added the perfect soundtrack for our meal.
Best Scenery in DeLand
This breakfast and lunch hotspot around is 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, 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 had plenty of entertainment with the sky-diving, and the food was worth the wait.
Most Relaxing Setting in New Smyrna Beach
Outdoor tables at The Grille at Riverview gave us the perfect place to lap up the scenery. This restaurant is on the scenic Intracoastal Waterway, with impressive boats docked all around. There is a cool drawbridge to watch, too. Luckily, we got to see dolphins splashing around in the water while we waited for our food. If you are there in the early morning, you may even see a manatee or two.
We began our meal at The Grille at Riverview with the Bruschetta Pomodoro, a vibrant 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, perfectly pan-seared rare. The fish was then sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and accompanied by 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 hope that every restaurant had one just like her.
Best Bacon in Daytona Beach Shores
Bacon might be at the top of your food chain like it is ours. Since we stumbled upon a yummy breakfast joint that had superb bacon, Mike’s Galley had to make our list. This no-frills diner in Daytona Beach Shores has a classic breakfast menu and serves amazing crispy bacon. The biscuits and gravy are tasty, and the eggs came out cooked just how I like them.
We could not have asked for better service from our waitress at Mike’s Galley, a great compliment to their business.
If you want a quick breakfast at a sit-down establishment with reasonable prices and excellent food, Mike’s Galley should be your choice.
Truly Nostalgic in Ormond Beach
Ormond Beach is home to a hipster foodie restaurant, Rose Villa Restaurant, Southern Table and Bar. The house has been renovated to showcase its Prohibition-era history, which was at one time a speakeasy. The colorful wallpaper with busy patterns is to be admired, adding a lot of character to the rooms. Artwork by Perego, a local artist, adorn them.
The food at Rose Villa is fantastic! From the Cauliflower Soup (great texture and consistency) to the complimentary bread, each bite was a delight. I had the Lobster Macaroni & Cheese for dinner, gooey and creamy with a buttery mouthfeel. Another tasty choice (and my fave) is the Fried Green Tomato stack nestled with fresh crab. Our specialty Moscow Mules and Sazerac cocktails were the stars of the evening, though.
Best International Cuisine in Holly Hill
When you think of Daytona Beach and the surrounding area, you probably don’t think international fare or specifically Latin-American-Caribbean and Honduran food. You’ll find Caribbean-inspired fusion like no other at Chucherias Hondureñas in nearby Holly Hill. Taste the deliciousness prepared by Chef Mayra Rodriguez like the Green Plantains (with cilantro and habanero sauces), Pupusa with grilled octopus, and pan-seared Chicken Breast with Chimol sauce. Of course, the meal must have traditional rice and black beans, cooked to perfection at Chucherias Hondureñas.
Don’t miss the sampler of fresh juices (pineapple, passionfruit, Mora (wild berries), guava, and tamarind) and the ultimate ending to a superb meal: Sticky Toffee Cake.
Best Lunch in Daytona Beach
Hands down, the best lunch award goes to Red Bud Cafe in downtown Daytona Beach. While showcasing the many recipes and dishes learned from extensively living abroad, this cafe will amaze you with the culinary creations they have to offer. I don’t know whether you will be more in awe of the beautiful and enormous Instagram-worthy presentations or the taste of the prepared items. I was equally torn between both.
Two things I recommend at the Red Bud Cafe are the Greek Chicken crêpe, or any crêpe for that matter, and the Two Dips platter that comes with tzatziki and hummus, amazing homemade bread and fat olives. The crêpe was sensational, maybe the best one I’ve ever had, stuffed with tantalizing ingredients that married well together. A side salad or orzo pasta accompanied the dish.
While you are here, have a specialty coffee or tea, or one of the international dessert items. You can also buy beautiful artwork directly off of the walls.
Friendliest Staff in Daytona Beach Shores
Imagine my surprise when I walked into The Cracked Egg Diner, someone held the door open for me, called all of the locals by name, checked on every table, and made sure the food in the window was getting out timely. This someone was Kevin Purucker, one of the owners, 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. 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. The Cracked Egg Diner is an excellent option for breakfast or lunch with killer service and delicious food.
Best Coffee and Tea in Daytona Beach
Sweet Marlays’ Coffee is where you will find an arsenal of impressive drink selections ranging from teas and coffees to smoothies and cold brew. They also have a decent variety of baked goods, quiche, and breakfast items, with salads, soup, and sandwiches are on the menu for lunch. The Crème Brûlée Latte is pleasing as well as the iced Chai.
The ambiance at Sweet Marlays’ is friendly and welcoming, a great place to read a book, chat with a friend, or just enjoy a change of scenery in downtown Daytona Beach.
Take home a cookie, biscotti, or cupcake for later, you know you’ll want it. Gluten-free options are available.
Daytona Beach: Dishes to Make Your Mouth Water
As you can see, there are so many choices for dining (and drinking) in Daytona Beach and surrounding area. We hope this guide will help you make the best choices based on your culinary desires.
Which restaurant would be your first choice?
Thanks to the Daytona Beach CVB for hosting my travels to the area. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
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