ROAD TRIP: Chick’s Oyster Bar – Virginia Beach
Chick’s Oyster Bar is a dockside seafood restaurant on the Lynnhaven Inlet (by boat) or just off of Shore Drive on Vista Circle (by car) in Virginia Beach. This restaurant is a Virginia Beach staple that both locals and tourists have been eating at since it first opened as a seafood shack many years ago (not sure how long ago but I heard that it has been there for a while). They have increased the size of the restaurant to allow seating more people and have a great Bloody Mary bar on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
I was up in Virginia Beach for one of my best friends’ weddings about two months ago and he had planned the groomsman’s lunch at Chick’s that Saturday before the wedding. The groomsmen all headed up there for lunch and had a blast. It is a great place to get together with friends especially when one of them is about to get married. Grab some cocktails and some good seafood and sit back and take it all in.
They have over a dozen picnic tables out on various patios right on the water and plus inside seating (but come on…why would you sit inside? You’re at the beach!!!). The inlet that Chick’s backs up to is a pretty busy waterway with boats constantly going up and down which is a lot of fun to watch. You will see everything from speedboats to Grady-Whites to shrimping boats so you won’t be bored as you watch them pass alongside the restaurant as you read the names on the boats and see where they hail from.
I do want to note that because you are sitting outside on the water that insects like mosquitoes and flies are prevalent. The benefits of sitting outside on a nice day far outweigh the issue of dealing with a few bugs in the air. It is so worth it when you see an old school 80′s speedboat idle by that looks like it was pulled off the set of the original Miami Vice.
When I think of Virginia Beach, I think of two things: jet noise and Orange Crushes. Jet noise is prevalent around Virginia Beach due to F-18s flying out of Oceana Naval Air Station and flying low enough around the beach area to make noise. Locals are so used to it that they seem to like it and actually even have bumper stickers reading “I (Heart) Jet Noise” but it may be a little too much for visitors who aren’t used to it. I guess it is like getting used to living with crickets in the country and bright lights in the big city.
However, I am more fond of Orange Crushes than I am of jet noise. An Orange Crush is a alcoholic drink served at many restaurants on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach that consists of a freshly squeezed orange, vodka, triple sec and Sprite over crushed ice. There are few things better than sitting out on a patio in the sun with some friends drinking Orange Crushes all afternoon. It might be the simplest beach bar drinks that you can easily make from scratch at home.
Here is the recipe for an Orange Crush that I found from Waterman’s which is considered by some as the best place to go for Orange Crushes in Virginia Beach However, Chick’s is up there with one of the best crushes on the beach:
- 1 freshly squeezed orange
- 1 oz orange vodka
- 1 oz triple sec
- splash of Sprite
- crushed ice
Combine and then pour all ingredients over the crushed ice and enjoy. I prefer using pebble or pellet ice instead of crushed ice which I have heard that you can pick up by the bag at Sonic Drive-Thru’s but that is only what I’ve heard..
The Beach Party Combo ($17.00) is the combination appetizer consisting of four Oysters Rockefeller, four Clams Casino and four fried butterflied shrimp. If you are looking for a taste of what Chicks has to offer. Seventeen bucks is kind of pricey for these for 12 items but they were all delicious and were off the plate almost as quick as the waiter was able to put it down.
We also ordered the North Beach Nachos ($9.50) with blackened tuna bites (+ $4.00) for the table. This was probably the least impressive of the dishes that we ordered. The blackened tuna bites were pretty good but I prefer my tuna when it is cooked Pittsburgh rare. The tuna served on the nachos were well done and kind of chewy. The kitchen could also have layered the nachos a little bit better because once the top layer was eaten, the remaining chips were almost naked and very bland.
We also ordered the Fried Oyster Basket ($12.00) which as you can see was already half-eaten by the time I was able to get a picture of them. They are served with a house dipping sauce called Lava Sauce which is a creamy and spicy. I love the way that Chicks fries their oysters because they use a light breading that has both a hint of salt and a hint of spice to it but let the oyster provide most of the taste. These were a hit and we reordered them the second time.
I don’t know why I ordered the She-Crab Soup ($6.00) that day because it was pretty dang hot outside but I had read on Yelp that you don’t want to miss Chick’s She-Crab Soup. It came in a large bowl with saltines and oyster crackers. Even though it was a hot outside, the She-Crab Soup was on point. It had large chunks of crab and some onions. I couldn’t tell what thickening agent they used outside of heavy cream and the crab roe. This was a great soup and would be even better if the outside temperature was a little cooler and there a nice breeze. I would recommend getting it no matter the weather.
I ordered the Golden Fried Flounder “B.L.T” ($10.50) on recommendation of a few of the guys who had been there before. The sandwich was a bun-sized piece of fried flounder with two pieces of bacon, tomato and lettuce on a kaiser roll. I was so impressed with the fried flounder that I actually ordered this both days that I went to Chick’s that weekend. However, the bun was less than impressive. It fell apart, both days, as I was eating it especially if it touched any of the cocktail sauce that they serve with the sandwich. I decided not to put as much cocktail sauce on it the second day. The first day, the bacon wasn’t cooked to a crisp as I think it should be on a sandwich but they made up for it the second day with some extra crispy strips. The lettuce was great both days but the tomato was sub-par and could have been a little more ripe.
The fries for both the flounder B.L.T. and the burger were fresh cut and fried perfectly. I actually kept the Lava Sauce that came with the oysters and used it for dipping the fries in. They don’t pile on the fries but they do give you enough for a meal.
Someone ordered the Jimmy’s Ultimate Crab Topped Burger ($11.50) which was your average cheeseburger topped with an abundance of backfin crab meat. Both the cheese and the burger looked great but I didn’t get to try it. It seemed to be a winner. It is definitely a little pricey for a burger but anything gets expensive when you put crab meat on it. You will be spending anywhere from $8.00 to $11.50 depending on what type of burger you order.
Chick’s is considered one of the gems of Virginia Beach but it hasn’t been getting the best reviews on social media sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon. Most of the negative comments have been about the food or wait staff. I went twice over the weekend and received great service plus the food was fantastic. I don’t know if this place is hit or miss but it hit both times that I went. You should check out this place if you are in Virginia Beach on a beautiful day and let us know what you think.
Chick’s Oyster Bar only has valet parking, which is free, so make sure that you have a couple of bucks to tip the valets. I don’t believe there is an option to self-park. This seems to be pretty common in Virginia Beach due to parking limitations in the area. You will probably see some $200,000 plus exotic cars there so take a camera if you are a car lover.