Fishing in Virginia Beach is fun, but eating what you catch is even more memorable. A fish you catch yourself just tastes better, right? And there’s no doubt that it couldn’t be fresher.
Charter captains in Virginia Beach can’t promise that you’ll end a trip with fish for the table, but leaving the dock with a bag of fresh fish fillets after a day out on the water is a reasonable expectation. Your charter captain or a dockhand will fillet in a flash your red drum, flounder, croakers, spots, bluefish or whatever is hitting the day you’re out. If you want to savor your tasty catch that day, here are several Virginia Beach restaurants that will cook your catch.
Surf Club Ocean Grille
Chuck Bing is one local chef who’ll cook your catch, if you make arrangements beforehand. His domain is the Surf Club Ocean Grille at the Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront in the Oceanfront District. On the day of your charter trip, he’ll send you on your way with precise instructions about the proper handling of your catch. After your boat comes in, back at the restaurant, Chef Bing will invite you into his kitchen for a special culinary experience. If you choose to bring back whole fish, he’ll even show you how to fillet them.
“I’m all about teaching,” he said, noting that preparation depends on the kind of fish you bring him and your tastes. “I’m a Southern guy, so I have to say I enjoy breading fillets and deep frying them right to the point they are GBD, which means ‘Golden Brown Delicious’.”
Chef Bing said other preparation options are almost endless. One he likes is sautéing fish in a cast iron skillet with clarified butter, garlic and white wine and accenting the dish with a Cajun-style sauce inspired by maque choux, which features shrimp, corn, roasted red peppers, cream and butter.
Nick’s Raw Bar & Grill
Chip Holland, owner of Nick’s Raw Bar & Grill in the Oceanfront District, is delighted when vacationers drop in with fresh fish, which his talented kitchen crew will deep fry, grill or blacken.
“A lot of people have never tasted truly fresh fish, meaning right off the boat,” Holland said. “When we deliver a platter of beautiful fish that they caught themselves, the smiles on their faces are priceless. I enjoy that because when people come to Virginia Beach and have the time of their life, they will come back.”
Holland calls his program “Hook It, Cook It,” and said he’s even had anglers request their fish at breakfast. Nick’s – described as a classic, old-school diner – is a Virginia Beach tradition that opened in 1952. According to Holland, it’s the city’s oldest restaurant on the oceanfront.
Dockside Fishing Center
Dockside Fishing Center on Lynnhaven Inlet in the Chesapeake Bay District provides an even quicker way to eat what you catch. That’s because owner Kevin Seldon’s operation includes his 40-passenger headboat, the Nancy Ann, as well as a 200-seat restaurant. You can’t get any closer from dock to plate than here. (The Nancy Ann offers four-hour morning trips and three-hour afternoon trips from spring through fall.)
“These trips are great fun for families, especially those with small children,” Seldon said. Several varieties of fish such as sea bass, roundheads and sea trout are possible, but croakers are a mainstay catch, he said. A mature croaker will measure about 20 inches and weigh perhaps 3 pounds, so they are far from giants of the sea, but fun to catch and especially tasty fried and consumed at a waterside table.
If You Decide to Cook Your Catch Yourself
If your vacation accommodations include a kitchen, cooking your own fish can be quite simple. “Fish in foil” recipes require few ingredients and have the bonus of easy cleanup. This recipe needs only a roll of aluminum foil, black pepper, olive oil, garlic salt, a jalapeno pepper and some lemon slices. “Fish in foil” recipes work on a grill, too.
Ensuring a Fresh and Safe Fish Dinner
If you decide to take your catch home or to a local restaurant, be prepared to transport it safely. The first order of business is having a cooler with an airtight seal. Then, rinse your fillets in cold water, and place them in good-quality plastic storage bags, then in the cooler. These steps and more tips will help ensure you serve up tasty meals and enjoy great memories of your time in Virginia Beach.
About Our Writer
Tom Adkinson is a travel and outdoor writer from Nashville, Tennessee, who has enjoyed chasing fish throughout the United States and around the world. He is a Marco Polo member of the Society of American Travel Writers, and his “100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die” book is in its third edition.