Hampton often finds itself in the shadow of places like Virginia Beach, which is only a 40-minute drive away and gets around three million visitors annually.
This is not the case for Hampton, but as a tourist destination, it is well known that this youthful city has an old soul and a unique charm.
It also boasts affordable living, a great location, and access to relaxing beaches and waterfronts.
So, for those willing to steer off the beaten track, there are numerous popular spots to dine and be entertained in Hampton.
The food scene includes some top-quality restaurants, bakeries, smokehouses, and taverns, to name a few.
It is excellent to visit and enjoy the region’s local food and drinks.
Here are the best restaurants in Hampton, Virginia:
County Grill & Smokehouse
Country Grill & Smokehouse, situated on Mercury Boulevard, is a family-owned restaurant and a carnivore’s dream.
They are famous for their homemade southern foods with sides and their range of smoked meats.
The family opened the first County Grill & Smokehouse in 1995 in Yorktown, after which the Hampton branch was born.
They boast a competition BBQ team who competes all over the country and holds numerous titles and awards.
Some highlights on the County Grill & Smokehouse menu include tender brisket, ribs, and smoky chicken wings.
Their team will even cater for private events, so if you are thinking of having a party, you will be the best host if you get these guys to serve their top-quality BBQ dishes to your guests!
On McNair Drive, you will find The Deadrise, one of Hampton’s most popular seafood restaurants.
The Deadrise has taken up this waterfront spot at Old Pointe Comfort Marina since 2015.
Upon arriving, the restaurant might look like a small, elevated warehouse.
However, once you go upstairs, you will be pleasantly surprised and treated to stunning ocean views.
Some crowd pleasers on the menu include the blackened yellowfin tuna entree, fish tacos, fried oysters, and the seafood burrito.
They also offer specials on certain days of the week, for example, Shrimp Day on Wednesdays.
Tommy’s Restaurant, named after Greek restaurateur and founder Tommy Asimeon, has been a Hampton institution since 1983.
This local favorite on Mercury Boulevard serves generous breakfast, brunch, and lunch portions.
People rate the service at Tommy’s Restaurant highly and especially love their breakfast menu.
Try the French toast, topped with syrup, strawberries, or pecan nut pancakes.
Given that this casual diner is the best place to go for affordable American comfort food, you might have to stand in line, but it will be worth it!
Park Lane Tavern
You can head to Park Lane Tavern on Kilgore Avenue for a stylish, more European setting.
Here, you can still get your fix of American pub food but feel like you have been transported to the taverns of London.
Park Lane Tavern has welcomed customers since 2011 and continues bringing a European flair to its food and drinks menu.
They have a wide selection of bourbons, wines, single malt scotches, and drafts (24 taps) available from around the globe.
They serve their drafts in unique brew master glasses to add to the ambiance and European feel.
You can’t go wrong with Park Lane Tavern’s shepherd’s pie, burgers, or Beef Wellington for the best food.
Venture Kitchen & Bar
If you want imaginative and innovative food, you should head to Venture Kitchen & Bar.
This award-winning restaurant on Queen’s Way has been a Hampton favorite since it opened in 2013, serving a varied menu of brick-oven pizzas, tapas, salads, and sandwiches.
Visitors especially love Venture Kitchen & Bar’s pizzas, corned beef hash, and pork belly tapas with sugar-spiced apples and honeycomb.
For drinks, you have a choice between various craft beers and cocktails that will suit every taste.
This place is also trendy for its weekly drinks specials, like reduced cocktail prices on Martini Mondays and Sunday Brunch and 50% off selected bottles of wine on Tuesdays.
The Barking Dog
The Barking Dog is the perfect spot if you crave American classics like hotdogs, burgers, corn dogs, and fried seafood.
The Barking Dog team transformed an abandoned fish shack into this delightful restaurant that opened for business in 2016.
Since then, the restaurant has catered to those looking for a casual dining experience with quality food.
Their El Diablo hotdog (watch out for the kick!), pork roll, and banana pudding are just some of their most popular food items on the menu.
The Barking Dog’s menu also caters to non-meat eaters with options like a chipotle veggie burger, onion rings, and chili cheese fries, which will satisfy anyone.
You can find them by Sunset Creek on Kecoughtan Road.
Surf Rider Restaurant
The Surf Rider Restaurant chain, established in 1980, is some of Virginia’s best seafood mainstays.
The Bluewater branch in Hampton opened around 2006 on Marina Road.
This restaurant has lured people for years because of its affordable prices, fresh seafood, home-style cooking, and eye-catching setting.
Surf Rider Restaurant favorites include oysters, Mahi Mahi fish tacos, and the seafood platter with oysters, scallops, shrimp, and flounder.
They also cater to various dietary requirements, including vegetarian dishes and gluten-free options.
Brown Chicken Brown Cow
If you’re in the mood for BBQ, head to Brown Chicken Brown Cow on Queen’s Way.
They are famous for their grass-fed finished burgers, dry-aged at 28 days.
Some of the best Brown Chicken Brown Cow Featuring menu items include their can chicken, pulled pork sandwich, and beef brisket.
Besides delicious food, they have 20 different beers on tap available, half of which represent local Virginia drafts.
Brown Chicken Brown Cow is also famous for its weekly specials, like Bow Wow Happy Hour on Mondays and Tequila & Taco Tuesdays.
They even allow your furry friends to tag along since their outdoor patio area is dog-friendly.
The Grey Goose
On Old Hampton Lane, The Grey Goose is an iconic eatery in Hampton’s food scene.
Since it opened its doors in 1982 (originally under the name Grey Goose Tea Room), the aim was always to offer delicious, balanced, and nutritious meals.
The Grey Goose continues this mission today with a menu accommodating various food needs and desires.
You can’t go wrong with their jambalaya, Brunswick stew, or their rendition of shrimp and grits (with wild boar andouille sausage).
Try their homemade macarons or cinnamon nut roll to end your meal.
The Grey Goose team also offers their catering service.
Contact them if you host an event and looking for delicious food, like a rehearsal dinner, birthday party, or even a wedding.
Mango Mangeaux was born in 2016 out of a desire to provide the people from Hampton with the flavors of French, Creole, Neo Soul, and gourmet mango preserves.
This restaurant started with three female event planners who created mango preserves that became an overnight hit with the public.
They then started manufacturing it commercially and even appeared on Shark Tank, which caused a massive spike in sales.
Today, they own Mango Mangeaux, which houses the manufacturing and distribution of their famous Mango Mango mango preserve and caters to private parties and events.
Go to this restaurant on Mellen Street to enjoy various mango-infused delights, crab cake dinner, or the Chesapeake benedict for breakfast or lunch.
El Diablo Loco Cantina & Tequila Bar
El Diablo Loco Cantina & Tequila Bar is an award-winning Mexican/Latin cuisine spot on Mellen Street.
It is famous for its innovative tacos and the 50 different tequilas they offer its customers.
This cantina and tequila bar was established in 2017 and is a colorful hangout with an upbeat vibe, delicious food, and great cocktails.
Some of their more popular El Diablo Loco Cantina & Tequila Bar dishes are the fried chicken quesadilla and fish or beef brisket tacos.
These dishes have delicious side options, such as chips, salsa, rice, and beans.
If you are a margarita lover, visit on a Wednesday, when these golden cocktails go for half price until 9:00 pm.
Fuller’s Raw Bar
After its initial closure in 1989, a new Fuller’s Raw Bar opened near Fort Monroe Beach on Mellen Street in 2019.
Fuller’s Raw Bar prides itself on serving quality steamed platters, raw or fried oysters, and other fresh seafood classics.
Specific dishes that have people returning are jambalaya, fish tacos, and battered tempura fish.
Fuller’s Raw Bar specials include $1 for an oyster on select days and $20 for a pound of steamed shrimp and a pitcher of Narragansett Lager every Monday.
The Vanguard Brewpub & Distillery
The Vanguard Brewpub & Distillery is housed in the historic Hampton Armory on King Street and is known for featuring Caiseal beer and spirits; brewed and distilled on-site.
It’s the perfect hangout spot if you enjoy dining on seasonal dishes, with live music and craft beers or cocktails to keep you going.
The Vanguard Brewpub & Distillery patrons highly rate the service and especially love the fish & chips, fried pork rinds, and Swiss mushroom burger.
If you are a Caiseal beer fan, you can enjoy them at $5 every Thursday as part of the Thirsty Thursday special.
Located on Allainby Way, Monsoon is an eclectic, modern restaurant that offers some of the best Indian dishes in Hampton.
They aim to create authentic food with modern techniques to bring Indian cuisine into the future.
Monsoon is a fun restaurant if you are with family and friends since they encourage you to choose a variety of appetizers and entrées to share with your dining companions.
Popular dishes include the spicy vindaloo and garlic tikka chicken and side dishes like fluffy naan bread, aloo gobi, and daal.
Their Melon Ball cocktail is also a sure hit, as well as some non-alcoholic options, including the Dhaba Chai, Indian hot tea, and three Lassi variations.
Monsoon also caters to various dietary requirements, offering customers vegetarian dishes and gluten-free options.
First Watch is an award-winning eatery that offers traditional yet innovative breakfast, brunch, and lunch dishes.
They are known for their friendly service, generous portions, healthy omelets, salads, and soups.
Some other not-to-be-missed highlights on the First Watch menu include carrot cake and pecan pancake, brisket hash, and the Croque Madame.
First Watch keeps an active social media account worth following.
You can visit them in person on Von Schilling Drive.
Hampton is known for its arts community and vibrant festivals and cultural attractions.
However, it is also a great place to experience various tastes and flavors to suit your needs.
The options are endless, from smokehouses and taverns to top-quality bakeries and cafes.
The best restaurants in Hampton, Virginia are diverse and will accommodate people of all ages and requirements, making the city an excellent destination for any foodie.