I don’t know if everyone loves their hometown as much as I do, but I’m pretty sure they don’t.

Most kids leave the city in which they grew up at some point, usually during/after college, and say “I’m never coming back” or “I’ll come back someday when I want to settle down.” I was the second one. I loved Virginia Beach, but managed to find all of its flaws because I was a restless college graduate who wanted to “do big things.” Ah, to be young and have dreams. Kidding, I still have dreams…not that I’m old or anything. But I am turning 28 in a month, and that number makes me extremely uncomfortable.

Anyway, I moved back to Virginia Beach years earlier than I’d ever foreseen when I left, and– as I’ve said 1,000,000 times, so I won’t bore you with the details again– it was a spur of the moment decision that led to me meeting my husband and blahblahblah. But seriously. Best decision ever.

no place like home

Virginia Beach is one of those places that is full of secret spots and local obsessions that lure you in whenever you try to get away. If you move somewhere else, you love to visit and wonder why you ever left. All of the bars are right on the water. Nobody cares how you dress, and drinks cost like, 4 pennies. There are beach parties every weekend, no one seems overly stressed, the school districts are excellent, it’s safe, there are trendy food spots everywhere (increasingly so), and everybody is freakishly nice. I remember when I worked at Cheeseburger in Paradise in Virginia Beach the year after college, and one of my customers asked me, “Why is everybody in this city so nice? I’ve never been somewhere where so many people wave and strike up conversation and are so smiley.” Obviously I told her that they drug our water with E.

Wait, what?

For those of you who care, I can also say that I’ve never been in a place with more eligible singles than Virginia Beach. Annapolis is a close second. I like to use this little fact as bait when I try to get my [single] friends to come visit me. Everyone thinks Virginia beach is full of only military guys (who I swore I wouldn’t marry either…whoops), but that’s actually not the case at all. It’s only mostly full of military guys. The rest have “normal” jobs– but they tend to not be as pretentious about their careers as guys with “normal” jobs in metropolitan cities. I find it incredibly refreshing that the leading question around here isn’t, “So, what do you do?” Barf.

I shouldn’t leave the girls out. The ladies in VB are all so hot that simply leaving your house and seeing them in the grocery store is great incentive to get your butt to the gym. I mean, sure, most of them tan for a living and have fake boobs because it’s your standard beach town, but still. I’m not going to complain about the extra motivation.

Everyone I know who has left Virginia Beach is in one of two categories: 1. Already moved back, because they realized that there’s no place better to live, or 2. Wants to move back, because they’ve just realized that there’s no place better to live.

I know most of my readers are not from Virginia Beach, but I feel like I’d be doing a disservice to my city if I didn’t dedicate a blog post to it every once in a while. Plus, I really miss VB since I’ve been traveling for so long. Inspired by the 5th person to ask me for recommendations of places to eat when they visit this summer on family vacations, I present to you my 5 favorite dishes to eat in Virginia Beach:

By the way, food pictures are gross unless they’re professional, so I wasn’t going to degrade these meals by putting up pictures of what they look like.

1. Gringos Tuna and Mushroom Taco(s) (Oceanfront)

I’m obviously not only going to have one taco, hence the (s) in the title. That is especially the case since this is the best taco I’ve ever tasted. I thought tuna and mushrooms was an odd combination, but come to think of it, so is peanut butter & jelly. Gringos is the only Oceanfront location on this list, mostly because I rarely venture down thataway. (Shore Drive high fiiiive.) Still, serve me up a delicious fish taco and I’ll literally go anywhere.

taco gif

 

2. Havana Shrimp & Chicken Curry (Great Neck)

Tuesday night Buy One Get One Entree Free at Havana gives me something to look forward to on Tuesdays other than Bachelorette Recaps. I only go if their shrimp & chicken curry is on the BOGO menu (they switch it up), though, because I refuse to order anything else when I’m in that restaurant. I’m sure lots of other entrees are amazing, but if I had to choose a way to die, it would be by eating their shrimp & chicken curry until my stomach bursts. It’s just creamy curry goodness over rice, and now I’m salivating on my computer because I’m thinking about it. I wish I could tell you all the spices they use or something more profound about the ingredients, but I am an idiot when it comes to cooking. All I know is that it tastes like heaven.

yum gif

 

3. 37 North Shrimp & Grits (Shore Drive)

37 North has had a hard lock on the best shrimp & grits in Va Beach since I discovered that they serve brunch. Between the chorizo, shrimp, and the fact that you never have to wait for a table, there is zero room for disappointment. I order shrimp and grits basically anywhere I go for brunch because even though grits are full of butter and cheese, I somehow always walk away feeling far less guilty than when I order a Mexican Scramble or something like that. So, given my vast experience, you can really trust my judgement when I say these shrimp & grits are the best.

turst me gif

 

4. Anchor Allie’s Tuna Melt (Shore Drive)

Anchor Allie’s is hands down my favorite spot to go when I’m hungover tired. Their Bloodys are great, the staff is super nice, the decor is adorable and chill, and the food is always spot on. I’m not sure what possessed me to order a tuna melt one morning, but being hungover is a bit like being pregnant in that sometimes you crave the strangest foods. I’m so glad my body was randomly begging for tuna and cheese, because I now get this tuna melt at least every other week. Come to think of it, that may be the sole reason I gained weight after the wedding. I had these tuna melts for like, every meal. Aha! Mystery solved.

Usually ciabatta buns are hard to eat, but the one on this tuna melt is the perfect consistency and doesn’t scratch my gums. The capers give me life. The cheese is gooey. God, I want one so bad right now. OH and you can choose sweet potato fries as your side, which you should because Anchor Allie’s sweet potato fries are the best I’ve ever had. Dying of desire at the moment. BRB, I need to calm down.

balanced diet gif

 

5. 1608 Crafthouse Skillet Cookie (Shore Drive meets Independence)

Occasionally when I’m sad, Aaron tries to cheer me up by putting me in the car and driving me to 1608 for a skillet cookie. It works 100% of the time. You really can’t go wrong with a skillet cookie, but there’s something about 1608’s– which comes with vanilla ice cream, duh– that makes the entire world stop. Maybe it’s because 1608 catered our rehearsal dinner, so I just love them as a whole. Maybe it’s because I know that they also serve the best Bloody Mary flights in existence. Or maybe it’s because they put crack in the cookie. Whatever it is, it’s working.

cookie monster

 

Come see me soon, kids! If my smiling face isn’t motivation enough, maybe one of the foods on the list will spark your interest in visiting.