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The Best Kept (Kinda) Secret In Virginia Beach

by Courtney on July 11, 2011

Last night, Jay and I had such a great Date Night.

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But I know you guys already heard about it!

Yesterday afternoon, I put out a call on Twitter for suggestions of restaurants here in Virginia Beach. Not long after, I received this message from Alyssa

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Best kept secrets?? Well let me tell you…I loooooove finding great, local, “secret” spots! So Jay and I made a date night out of it and headed out on the town.

Since the restaurant was within (a pretty long) walking distance from our hotel, we decided to make the trip on foot. On our way, we even passed some live music that had attracted some pretty great crowds.

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Unfortunately, they were just about to take a break, so we didn’t get to hear much.

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Eventually, we reached our “secret” dining spot…Tautog’s.

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When we got there, we were told there would be about a 20 minute wait, which was perfect. I know I’ve already told you guys before that Jay and I love when there’s a short wait; that way, we get to spend some quality time chatting at the bar with a cocktail.

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The inside of Tautog’s was so cute and cozy. I’m pretty sure that the building is an old house that was converted into a restaurant, since it still carried so many features of a house.

Ummm, I’d be cool with having something like this in my house. Winking smile

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Lucky for us, there was even two open seats available at the bar, so we sat down and started to peruse the bar for some ideas. I eventually looked up and noticed the sign with “Firefly ‘Skinny’ John Daley.” Jay and I were immediately sold.

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The drinks were exactly what we had hoped for: just like an Arnold Palmer, but you know, with a kick of vodka in there too.

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They tasted absolutely amazing. I really hope that more people start to carry the Firefly Skinny Tea, seeing as my love for it seems to grow every time I have some.

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About halfway through our beverages, our table was ready…out on the patio no less! So me and my handsome hubby sat down and started to check out the menu.

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I think all of your comments from Friday about less makeup are starting to rub off on me…I decided to go the sans makeup route along with my attempt at “beach” hair. Yeah…beach hair doesn’t quite work on my pin-straight mane. Ahh well!

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When Alyssa recommended that we hit up Tautog’s, she also mentioned that they have a phenomenal crab dip. So Jay and I decided to order that as an appetizer before really even looking at the menu.

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Sure enough, this crab dip was serious stuff. Oh.my.god. Jay and I had no problem dominating most of this portion, which I was both a little ashamed and proud of. Winking smile

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For my entrée, I decided to get the Tilapia Au Gratin, which was Oven-Roasted Tilapia topped with Fresh Asparagus and Crab Au Gratin.

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Ah-maz-ing!

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The oven roasted New Potatoes that came with my tilapia were just as delicious. Jay and I may or may not have taken some of the extra crab dip and topped our potatoes with it…

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Jay’s entrée of choice was the Potato Chip Encrusted Mahi, which was finished with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis and Dill Sour Cream.

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Jay absolutely loved it, which was rather impressive, seeing as though he’s not usually much of a seafood guy. But I can attest to the fact that his dish was also incredible. So full of flavor and baked to perfection.

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We decided to pass on dessert, seeing as though we had already housed a pretty heavy appetizer plus both of our entrees. But we left Tautog’s with two full, very happy bellies. I will say, if you’re ever here in Virginia Beach, I would DEFINITELY recommend this place! Thanks again, Alyssa, for letting me in on the secret!

After dinner, we started to make the walk back to our hotel and quickly found ourselves in the middle of a crowd watching Dallas the Fire Guy. It was a quick show, but he was quite entertaining!

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Shortly after we got back to our hotel room, we were delighted with a nice little fireworks display that went off right out in the ocean. Lucky for us, they shoot them off close enough so we were able to watch right from our hotel room balcony.

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It was the perfect way to end a great day and night!

Questions for the Afternoon:

What would you say is the “best kept (kinda) secret” where you live?

Do you prefer smaller, local restaurants, or larger chain restaurants when dining out?

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jordan @ food, sweat, and beers July 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I think that I live very close to the cheapest pint night in the area, which consistently has an excellent set of taps on draft and fantastic seafood. It’s called Rockfish, in Durham, North Carolina, and they truly are the first restaurant to turn me onto seafood dishes like pecan crusted salmon or volcano shrimp!

Now, I’m a believer and go there every week!!

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2 Chocolate, Cheese and Wine July 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I have been dying to try Rockfish! I’ll have to make a trip over there soon.

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3 Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out July 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Awesome! I love finding spots like that to eat at, too. Great date night indeed.

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4 Chocolate, Cheese and Wine July 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Smaller restaurants – I feel better supporting them than the big chains!

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5 Molly Carter July 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I HATE eating at chains when I’m traveling…I want to experience the local fare! I love stumbling upon little secret gems that only locals know about. That crab dip looks killer!

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6 Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles July 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Awesome date night! …. Crab dip looks FAB! ….. I like smaller mom & pop joints!

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7 Cait @ Cait hates Cake July 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Local restaurants for sure. I live downtown Chicago and the chain restaurants tend to be located in the suburbs, so it’s actually easier to find unique, local restaurants.

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8 Lauren @ Sugar Coated Sisters July 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Just came back from a trip to Chicago and you’re totally right about the suburbs… we ate in Bucktown and Lakeview (Northside Grille and Sopo, respectively) thank goodness for Yelp!

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9 Lauren @ Sugar Coated Sisters July 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm

DEFINITELY a fan of small/local restaurants. I’m the girl who hates going to the same restaurant twice, even if it’s fantastic. You just never know if you’re going to find something better!

Hidden gems from where I’ve lived:
- Tico’s Breakfast and Lunch in Marina, CA (near Monterey)
- Lalla Grille (Monterey, CA)
- Sumo Sushi (San Luis Obispo, CA)
- SA-By Thai Cuisine (San Jose, CA)… oh boy there are so many more in SJ…
- Sancho’s (Palo Alto, CA)

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10 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy July 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

There is a place called Traders Point Creamery near my home that is a farm, farmer’s market, restaurant, and “dairy bar” all rolled into one. They have a restaurant called The Loft that serves all organic food, and all of the food (well, most of it) is grown right on the farm. The atmosphere and the food are both great, but I never would’ve known about it without word of mouth!

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11 Lindsay@ In Sweetness and In Health July 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I love finding local, smaller spots to eat a good meal! And, I LOVE firefly :). That stuff is good!

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12 Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) July 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm

You look gorgeous with beach hair (& yes, it looks good on you!) and sans makeup… :)

I love when a someone reccomends you a restaurant and it turns out as good as they say it is… yum! Enjoy your trip!

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13 Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life July 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Definitely smaller restaurants, the food is usually better and I love finding really unique places. The crab dip looks sooooo good!

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14 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn July 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Giiiiirl you are gorg sans makeup!!! If you want good beachy hair, just put a tablespoon of sea salt in a spray bottle with a cup of water and shake it up. Just spray it in your hair and scrunch a few times — it will dry sooo beachy!

p.s. I gave you an award on the bloggy :) http://www.chefkatelyn.com/oopsie-daisy

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15 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen July 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I love the sans makeup look! With a tan, it’s easier right? :) Dinner looks amazing. I love hidden gems like that.

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16 Bethany July 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm

We have a place called ‘The Waffle Shop’ here and it’s locally owned, there are 2 different locations. It is the BEST little breakfast shop, ever. I don’t know of a better tasting breakfast, and it’s pretty cheap. When we have gone out to eat at other breakfast places, nothing ever seems to come close to ‘The Waffle Shop’ I like small local restaurants as opposed to chain restaurants, but I do however like The Texas Roadhouse :)

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17 Angela @ Pinching and Packing July 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

What a fun date night! I live in the Tampa/St. Pete area and we have soooo many great lesser known restaurants here. My faves are Ella’s Folk Art Cafe, The Independent Brewery, Sono Cafe at the Tampa Art Museum, Spaghetti Warehouse in Ybor City, and Tampa Bay Brew Co, also in Ybor City. I could go on and on though. I try to write about great Tampa places in my blog :0)

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18 Amy @ My Life as a Lazy Girl July 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

That dinner looked amazing!! I love finding local places when on vacation! In Vegas there is a local tapas place that is amazing and has the best sangria. Whenever I have friends in town I always take them there.

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19 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun July 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I love small and local places like that. They are always the best! Looks amazing!! And you look so pretty. Really gorgeous.

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20 Lindsey July 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Smaller, local restaurants hands down. When travelling we always like to do some research before hand to find some of these “secret” spots.
I love seafood and both entrees looked amazing!

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21 Meg July 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Ahhh Lyss has the BEST ideas ;) You look beautiful, Courtney! Let that beach hair rolllll girlfriend.

The food looks beautiful as well, just not as much as you :)

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22 Courtney July 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Meg, you’re too sweet my dear! ;)

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23 Claire July 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I rocked the non-makeup look most of my weekend away @ the cabin as well!

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There’s the proof (with a little washed out eyeliner I believe)

Glad I’m not the only one…and you are beautiful with/without that makeup :-)

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24 Courtney July 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Giiiiirl, you are gorgeous!! :)

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25 Ericka Andersen July 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Okay here’s what I love about this post…I never knew other people loved the short wait at the restaurant. That is also one of my favorite things — just so you can hang out and have a drink and chat. I hate it when you get seated and served right away. I love the whole elongated experience. Very cute spot too!

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26 Courtney July 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Isn’t the little wait the best?? Sometimes Jay and I decide to wait anyways, just because we love that part of the experience when dining out. Glad to know we’re not alone! :)

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27 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance July 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Oof! That fire guy looks pretty hardcore!
Just sayin…

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28 Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries July 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

You look gorgeous, lady! If you can look like that with NO make-up, why even bother with it!? Oh, and Firefly? I have a love affair with that amazing liquid as well :)

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29 Laura @ Unchartered 20s July 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

That entire meal looks amazing!!! MmMm

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30 Amber @ Stop and Smell the Wildflowers July 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I figure why go someplace you can go to anytime you want? I would much rather try something that is unique to the area I’m in. It looks like you found a good one!

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31 Jamie aka "Sometimes Healthy" Girl July 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

You look beautiful sans makeup! The tan makes your face glow :-).

Best kept secret in NYC? Wow, that’s a tough one, seeing as nothing seems to stay a secret in this town for too long! It’s certainly not a secret, but there is a bar in the West Village where the bartender is from Nebraska and the same staff has been there for at least 7 years, since my brother lived here. Thus, it feels like home to me! It’s a hole-in-the-wall but it feels like Cheers, where everybody knows my name. I always take guests there and they are so impressed that even the bouncer knows me hahaha.

Again, I kind of love chain restaurants, only because I never go to them in NYC. There is no Cheesecake Factory here! So when I go home, it’s my dinner of choice :-)

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32 Lindsey @ Cardio Pizza July 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Finding hidden gems is the best!

Everything you got to eat looks amazing, especially that dip…that is right my ally!

You look great with your beach hair and no make up….so natural and pretty :)

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33 Kristen @ notsodomesticated July 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I love trying all new restaurants… hole in the wall places, well-known places, chains… doesn’t matter. I just like trying new things. :)

In Sarasota, one of my favorite places is Urban Flats. It’s a cool restaurant that serves all flatbreads. And they do a “Wine Down Wednesday” where you pay $20 and get all the wine, flatbread, and chocolate fondue you could ask for! So yummy!

In the Wapakoneta, Ohio area (where I currently reside), they have a fastfood place called Kewpee that is super popular. So anyone who visits Lima, you gotta try a burger, fries, and a malt (like a Wendy’s Frosty) at the Kewpee! ;)

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34 Katherine July 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Small, local restaurants FTW. The chefs are awesome usually and will make you anything you want! Will make anything vegan for you :)

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35 Kristine @ Running on Hungry July 11, 2011 at 10:58 pm

That looks like SO much fun – and ohhh myyy that food looks unreal!

You look adorable sans makeup and with beach hair! I have wavy hair and trust me you’d definitely rather have the pin-straight! Grass is always greener right? :-)

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36 Jamie July 11, 2011 at 11:33 pm

I went there for valentine’s day! SO GOOD.

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37 Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats July 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

That cocktail sounds amazing! I absolutely love a good Arnold Palmer! :) I definitely prefer smaller, local restaurants. I love the vibe and friendly service they usually have!

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38 Allison July 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Your fireworks pictures came out really nice!

The best kept “secret” where I live now is a little spot called Flying Fish. Its a hole in the shopping center sushi place that made me nervous at first, but it is SO good! The owner is so friendly and usually throws in a miso soup or edamame before you order. :)

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39 Shayla @ The Good Life July 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm

You look so gorgeous Courtney!! Love the sans makeup look, and may I borrow your skin please??!! Absolutely stunning girl.

And I love local, small restaurants…the food is always more delicious and fresh!

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40 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss July 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

oh my gosh, how am I SO behind on seeing this? clearly, I was slack-a-lackin’ on my blog reading.

SO GLAD you enjoyed my favorite place at the beach… although, I knew you were gonna. ;)

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