Savor the Flavor of Virginia’s Waters at These 6 Oyster Trail Restaurants
By Aila Boyd
May 4, 2023

Coastal Virginia is known for its oysters—and if you want to try some, consider dining at one of these six restaurants on the Virginia Oyster Trail.

Most people are probably familiar with the saying that “Virginia is for Lovers,” but did you know that Virginia is also for oyster lovers?

The Virginia Tourism Corporation put it best when it said, “The best food tells a story of the place it is from. Eating an oyster in Virginia captures the character of our waters in one quick, complex taste.” 

If you’re looking to enjoy some oysters, the quintessential coastal Virginia delicacy, consider dining at one of these six restaurants that are part of the Virginia Oyster Trail.

Rockafeller’s Restaurant

Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

Location: Virginia Beach

Serving seafood since 1989, the family owned and operated Rockafeller’s Restaurant is known for its fresh food and renowned service on Rudee Inlet, which is at the south end of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

How fresh is the seafood, you might wonder? The restaurant works with local vendors, including fishermen, oystermen, crabbers, brewers, and farmers to source “the freshest and highest quality products,” according to the eatery’s website

The restaurant serves oysters for both lunch and dinner. You can pick from a half-dozen or dozen oysters on the half shell or oysters Rockafeller, which is a house specialty that comes with bacon, cheese, and spinach. 

Tautog’s Restaurant

Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

Location: Virginia Beach

Tautog’s Restaurant is a unique dining venue—a 1920s beach cottage—in the Virginia Beach resort area. 

The restaurant’s setting is “intended to provide patrons a glimpse of the area’s maritime past, while enjoying some of today’s finest seafood fare,” according to its description on the Virginia Oyster Trail.

You can’t go wrong by ordering oysters on the half shell, but if you’re feeling more adventurous, try the other oyster options on the menu. Benny’s oysters come oven-roasted and topped with sun-dried tomato pesto and melted Havarti cheese. The oysters Rockefeller entrée consists of oven-roasted oysters topped with spinach, bacon, and parmesan. 

Be sure to also keep an eye out for weekly specials, like the recent Laughing King dish, featuring salty and sweet oysters from Cape Charles.

Off the Hook Seafood & Chophouse

Location: Chesapeake

Off the Hook Seafood & Chophouse opened in 2014 in the heart of the Great Bridge area of Chesapeake.

“We offer a large seafood menu, a raw bar featuring the freshest of oysters, shrimp, and clams, and prime cut meats for the land lovers,” the restaurant said on its website.

Off the Hook Seafood & Chophouse serves nine “fried to perfection” oysters as an entrée. For your sides, try the garlic mashed potatoes and coleslaw.

Even if you don’t want oysters as your entrée, you can still order them on the side in a variety of ways: fried, steamed, or raw. They’d surely pair well with the 14-ounce hand-cut ribeye or dry-rubbed New York strip.

Harpoon Larry’s Fish House & Oyster Bar

Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation 

Location: Newport News

Harpoon Larry’s Fish House & Oyster Bar’s oyster offerings showcase selections from the Chesapeake Bay area, as well as the East and West coasts and Canada.

Those looking to taste some of the best seafood the Bay has to offer can order a peck of local Virginia oysters from the raw bar menu. If you like oysters, but want some other seafood to go with them, try Larry’s steamed combo, which comes with oysters, clams, and shrimp. 

For a more savory option, order some fried oysters, which pair nicely with a side of sweet potato fries.

King Street Oyster Bar

Courtesy of Virginia Oyster Trail

Location: Leesburg

King Street Oyster Bar claims to offer “the freshest and widest variety of oysters.” On any given day, it serves 10+ varieties of oysters harvested within 24 hours on the East Coast, and within 48 hours on the West Coast.

Some of the Virginia oysters come from Hog Island Bay, Chesapeake Bay, and Chincoteague Bay.

The raw bar offers oysters on the half shell and three types of grilled oysters. The Oscar style oyster option comes with crab meat, asparagus, and bearnaise sauce. The bar’s version of oysters Rockefeller is served with spinach and parmesan cheese. The charbroiled oysters are served with garlic butter and parmesan cheese. 

For an entrée, many guests enjoy the fried oyster platter, which comes with French fries, coleslaw, and remoulade.

King Street Oyster Bar also has a location in Middleburg.

Berret’s Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill

Courtesy of Virginia Oyster Trail

Location: Williamsburg

Berret’s Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill has been serving oysters, and much more, in Williamsburg since 1983.

“Our proximity to the York and James Rivers, Chesapeake Bay, and offshore Atlantic waters, provide a variety of fresh seasonal catches,” the restaurant said in its profile on the Virginia Oyster Trail. “With the availability of local natural oysters and clams and the advent of aquaculture, we offer shellfish year-round.” 

There are nine oyster options on the menu. For fresh oysters, order a half dozen James River oysters on the half shell. The southern baked oyster option comes with Surry sausage, fresh tomatoes, and pimento cheese. 

For something a bit different, order the flash-fried gulf oysters and seared duck breast meal. It comes with cheese grits and apricot marmalade. 

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

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