Final Feasts: Foodies and Local Celebs’ Picks for Their Last Meal in CoVa
We asked some of our favorite food writers, media personalities, politicians and local celebrities what they would choose for their last meal in Coastal Virginia. Here are the results.
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Tamales from Luna Maya, Norfolk. Photo by Ilsy Serrano.
Compiled by Angela Blue
If you knew that you had one day left to dine in Coastal Virginia, where would you go, and what would you order? This is the question we asked some of our favorite food writers and bloggers, media personalities, politicians and local celebrities, requesting that they each tell us about an appetizer, main course, dessert and drink they’d choose if they knew it would be their last in this area. What we received is a fantasy-worthy list of meals that showcase Coastal Virginia’s uniquely delicious dining scene.
Appetizer: Soft shell crabs from Coastal Grill. Crispy every time and the perfect batter-to-crab mixture that highlights the crown jewel of the Chesapeake Bay.
Main Course: Tamales from Luna Maya. Everything you could want in a dish—some smoky brisket with a touch of heat after simmering in chile sauce that is perfectly paired with the next best thing to corn casserole.
Dessert: A handful of deliciously airy pistachio macarons from Hummingbird.
Drink: Smartmouth Alter Ego Saison
Artist, Designer, Food Writer
Aside from the fact that I don’t want to have to do this anytime soon, here goes …
Chicken Liver Tart from Codex, Norfolk. Photo courtesy of @InsideVirginia.
Appetizer: Hands down, Chef Ian Hock’s CLT. For clarification sake, since my moniker hasn’t really caught on, I am referring to his Chicken Liver Tart with pistachio crust and Riesling gelée. Incredible.
Main Course: I’ll be sliding into 1608 Crafthouse for Chef Kevin Sharkey’s apple smoked, bacon crusted cheeseburger stuffed with cheese or his lamb and roasted oyster mushroom burger with curry aioli. Of course, I’d get the over easy egg on top.
Dessert: Because we eat with our eyes before our taste buds, I would have to choose the ethereal Avocado Cheesecake at Eric Nelson’s Crudo Nudo. Once cracked, the dark chocolate shell reveals a luscious layering of avocado cream cheese mousse and a pumpkin seed and Dutch cocoa center topped with a cumin lime sauce.
Drink: Since I am not much of a cocktailer, I’d plop myself down at Cobalt Grille in Hilltop and ask Sommelier Arden Allen to pour me something oaky, buttery and smooth. And I would most definitely indulge in another.
So hard to choose. Good thing I have a lot more time to continue my culinary research all over our delicious town.
WAVY-TV 10/FOX43 News
Cheese and Charcuterie Plate from Supper Southern Morsels, Norfolk. Photo by
Appetizer: Ham & Cheese Plate from Supper Southern Morsels.
Main Course: Tortellini Mannino from Mannino's Italian Bistro.
Dessert: Jamaican Crepe from Baker’s Crust.
Drink: Madame Beauregarde Blueberry-Basil Martini from Tupelo Honey Café.
Food writer for The Virginian-Pilot
If I’m dining for the last time in Coastal Virginia—I’d hate to think what I did to get kicked out—the things I want are the things you can’t get the same way anywhere else.
Appetizer: If we want to call it an appetizer, I'd sit on the patio of Edwards Ham Shop in Williamsburg and eat Surryano on buttered bread till I drop dead from the salt—and slurp self-shucked Chesapeake oysters from Uncle Russ’ Dockside Market down the street.
Main course: Soft shells are better nowhere in the world than here. And the best I’ve had here is the spring plate at Terrapin in Virginia Beach: two jumbos deep-fried in tempura over asparagus, snap peas and a bright garlic-basil emulsion that tastes like the distilled essence of a Virginia garden.
Dessert: Slice of peanut pie with a side of borrowed nostalgia. Virginia Diner, Wakefield.
Director of Media & Community Relations for Hampton CVB
Appetizer: Tots from Venture Kitchen and Bar. Not your average tater tots, these are like deep-fried squares of the most delicious mashed potatoes you have ever had. Like ever. Ask anyone that has tried them, MONEY.
Main Course: Chicken Fried Chicken French Toast from Mango Mangeaux. So, we have all heard of chicken and waffles by now, but chicken and French toast? This is just another level of decadence. And the girls from Mango do it right. If I could have any dish in Coastal Virginia, this is my choice. Followed by this dish again as my second choice.
Dessert: A dozen assorted donuts from Glazed Doughnuts. The best doughnuts I have ever had, and anyone that knows me, knows that I am a doughnut connoisseur.
Drink: My dear friend Robert Gregory of Fin in Newport News makes the best cocktail in Coastal Virginia hands down, but I am a Hampton guy, and I’m a big cider fan too. Cider Maker Brent Miles has been a breath of fresh air by bringing his West Coast cider game to the East Coast. Instead of just super sweet, it’s just super delicious and you can drink more than one in a sitting, which is a huge plus. My favorite is the Cut and Run Ginger Cider. And the Sly Clyde logo is pretty rad, as well.
Mayor of Chesapeake
She Crab Soup from Passion the Restaurant, Chesapeake
Appetizer: She crab soup from Passion The Restaurant.
Main Course: Salt Baked Rockfish from Saltine at The Main.
Dessert: Coconut cake from Aldo’s.
Drink: Glass of Yiannis best Napa Cabernet.
Culinary Instructor at Tidewater Community College, Norfolk campus / Award-winning chef
If this was the last time I would be dining in Coastal Virginia, these are all the places that I would hit before I moved or died.
Appetizer: Aldo’s Ristorante Antipasto Platter with a sommelier from Aldo’s picking a bottle of wine out for me.
"The Woody" from Redwood Smoke Shack, Portsmouth. Photo by Emi Ostrander.
Main Course: Redwood Smoke Shack’s “The Woody.” It is a Krispy Kreme doughnut with coleslaw, beef brisket and pulled pork barbecue, and for a dollar more I would ask for another doughnut in the sandwich. It will be the foodie version of the “Big Mac.” It makes all my taste buds stand up and say Hallelujah because it is sweet, savory, soft, crunchy and then spicy.
Dessert: BoBo’s Fine Chicken’s grown-up flavors of ice cream. Apple Bourbon (winter flavor), Corn (summer flavor) and my in-between flavor is Virginia Swirl Peanut, and yes, he makes vanilla and chocolate flavors too. As a chef, I understand the process and ingredients in making homemade ice cream, and it’s hard to get that concentration of flavors because the product is cold. Bo makes favors of ice cream that are in season with the local produce. It is my Zen moment.
Drink: The Hunt Room’s Shirley Temple and Old Fashioned with Tarnished Truth Bourbon to toast new beginnings. This is where my parents took me to celebrate my naturalization being sworn in as a United States citizen when I was 8 years old and where I went to prom with my husband in 1980, so this is where I would go to celebrate my new journey wherever it was going to take me.
Bryan K. Stephens
President & CEO of Hampton Roads Chamber
Appetizer: Shrimp cocktail at Salacia at the 31st Hilton. Absolutely amazing jumbo shrimp with delicious cocktail sauce and nicely presented. Perfect for sharing.
Main Course: Filet mignon at Byrd & Baldwin Downtown Norfolk. Best steak in Hampton Roads and the service is spectacular.
The Orb from Saltine. Photos by Ilsy Serrano.
Dessert: The Orb at Saltine in the Norfolk Main. Uniquely made at your table. Delicious and fun to share. Definitely a conversation piece.
Drink: Dirty martini at the Raleigh Room in the Cavalier. No better way to relax and knock off the dust after a long day.
Host of HearSay with Cathy Lewis/President and CEO of the CIVIC Leadership Institute
Appetizer: Truffle Fries at Todd Jurich’s Bistro in Norfolk. For the second year in a row, I’ve celebrated the success of the CIVIC Leadership Institute’s Darden Awards for Regional Leadership with truffle fries delivered by the exceptional Gordon MacArthur. Those fries (and the exquisite relief of taking off my shoes) are seared to success for me.
Main course: Chef John Tsouris’ salmon Mediterranean at Voila! in Norfolk. John manages to create just the right blend of tart and mellow, and salmon obediently cooks itself perfectly under his watchful eye. Maggie and John Tsouris used to have a restaurant called Enrico’s on Colley Avenue, and I like to think I had a hand in helping John perfect this dish, given the thousands of times I ordered some variation of it. Viola!’s atmosphere is cozier and more elegant than Enrico’s, and if possible, the food is even better.
Dessert: Tres Leches cake at Luna Maya. This is another dish that’s seared in my memory because we started going to Luna Maya when our (now) 28-year-old daughter was in third grade and the restaurant was located in an Aragona strip mall in Virginia Beach. That cake carries the flavor of warmth and love, and it makes me smile that it’s a family recipe for co-owners Karla and Vivian Montano.
Drink: Any wine at Press 626 in Norfolk (and now in Virginia Beach). I especially enjoy Ladies Night on Mondays because they discount the price of wines, cosmos and sangrias and serve half-priced apps. On a night when many restaurants are closed, this is a delicious haven for great cocktails and conversation.
Appetizer: She Crab Soup from Freemason Abbey. My first brush with She Crab soup was at Freemason Abbey while visiting Norfolk in 2005. Since then, I’ve judged all other She Crab soups by this one. It’s velvety smooth, it’s rich—but not too rich—and it hits the spot like nothing else can on a cold day.
Main Course: Tamales Luna Maya from Luna Maya. There are tamales and there are Tamales Luna Maya. These are unlike any other I’ve had. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about them. I have loads of fond memories of grabbing chips, guacamole and these sweet and savory beef brisket tamales with a big group of friends. Oh, and don’t forget the margaritas!
Dessert: Baklava from Orapax. I order from Orapax at least twice a week. It’s my go-to neighborhood spot for my favorite Greek food in the city. I usually stick to the salads, but when it’s time to splurge, my go-to is a double order of Orapax’s baklava. It’s sweet, flaky and a little nutty, just like me!
Drink: Café au lait from Café Stella. Closest thing to the Café au lait you get at Café du Monde in New Orleans. Perfect balance of flavor. Plus, it’s one of my favorite quirky, local coffee shops.
Food, Beverage & Travel Writer and Johnson & Wales University Recruiter
Local oysters on the half shell from Coastal Grill, Virginia Beach. Photo by Angela
Appetizer: A dozen raw local oysters on the half shell with a kiss of mignonette sauce at Coastal Grill. You don’t want to take any chances with a last meal, and consistency is key at Coastal. These oysters are so divine, they’ve always made me pity those who get only pearls.
Main Course: Pastel de choclo con chorizo and spicy vegan burrito are close runners-up, but I’d have to go out with the signature sweet yellow corn tamales with beef brisket slow-cooked in chile sauce at Luna Maya. The vibrant flavors of every dish pulse through the place, creating an energy that makes me feel miraculously alive—and the back room would allow for a party of loved ones.
Dessert: Blue cornbread with white chocolate and poblano ganache and buttermilk-sweet corn ice cream at Crudo Nudo by Eric Nelson. It’s seasonal (Nick Lautieri created and served it as a special late last summer), so I’ll just have to wait for it. Bought time! All the better to enjoy life … and run Josh Seaburg’s brilliant cocktail list here.