Beach Eats & Unique Treats

Finger-lickin’, nap-worthy noshes.

  Illustrations by Enya Todd

Virginia is home to a lot of places to relax with the sun on your shoulders and the water at your toes. The only thing missing is a snack—preferably something that necessitates the use of moist towelettes and requires a nap immediately following. Soak up the rays and waves, and kick back with one of these delicious beach bites. 

Waller’s Chocolate BBQ Nachos

After a few hours of floating or fishing on Smith Mountain Lake, it’s time to head to Waller’s, which is known for live music, family-friendly games, and chocolate barbecue nachos. While studying at Johnson & Wales in Charleston, Waller Perrow was struck with the kind of idea you can’t ignore—he laced a classic barbecue sauce with a habanero reduction and melted Ghirardelli chocolate to concoct a sauce with a deep, full-bodied flavor reminiscent of a Mexican mole. For his popular nachos, Perrow slathers the sauce on slow-roasted meat, then piles the barbecue on warm, crispy tortilla chips and adds queso blanco and a sprinkle of lettuce.

The Great Machipongo Clam Shack’s Eastern Shore Clam Chowder

The outside of the Great Machipongo Clam Shack in Nassawadox is unassuming, as befits a spot with “shack” in its name. Inside, however, the former McDonald’s has been transformed into something bright and fun, with an aqua-blue bar and giant crab cut-outs on the walls. It’s part fresh seafood and gourmet market, part shrine to golden fried sea treasures served in little red plastic baskets. The unique chowder forgoes heavy cream for a lighter variation that’s chock-full of local chowder clams and their sweet broth, plus potatoes, celery, corn, and a hint of bacon. Owner Roger Mariner says the recipe came from a long-time employee with deep Eastern Shore roots. Locals seek out the chowder as a restorative when they’re feeling under the weather and swear by its healing powers.

Doumar’s Ringo Sundae

This historic Norfolk gem radiates nostalgic charm and lays claim to the world’s first waffle cone machine, which was invented by the restaurant’s founder, Abe Doumar, in 1904. Guests can watch as the staff uses the machine to continuously crank out cones using the same recipe devoured by beach-goers for more than 100 years. An ingenious way to repurpose broken waffle cones, Doumar’s award-winning Ringo Sundae is an example of balance perfected—classic Maola Milk vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, crumbled waffle cone bits, whipped cream, and, of course, a cherry on top.

Urbanna Seafood’s Urbanna Bucket

The road meanders through the Middle Peninsula, and for a minute, you’re certain that you’re lost; then, all at once, you’ve arrived at Urbanna Seafood, where the Urbanna Bucket is the pot at the end of the rainbow. In it you’ll find heaps of snow crab legs, spiced shrimp, and steamed clams and mussels; it’s intended for two, but can be capably conquered by one. It’s steamed seafood with a side of waterside sunset. Pump up the charm factor with a ride there on the Urbanna Trolley, or dock your boat for a midday snack as you float along Robinson Creek.

This article originally appeared in our WaterLife 2019 issue.

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