A Maritime Menu Spells Danger For Us.
Hampton, Virginia is known as "Crabtown" thanks to James McMenamin developing a revolutionary method for sealing steamed crabmeat in airtight containers during the 1870s. Exporting shellfish became the backbone of Hampton's economy, while consuming shellfish became the foundation for the city's finest restaurants - a tradition that lasts to this day.
Locals may heartily debate which restaurant serves the best crab cakes in town but that's one discussion we won't be weighing in on - Ryan is allergic to shellfish! So in a town so famous for shellfish it revolutionized the crab industry, what are the best options for the shellfish-adverse?
Breakfast in Hampton
My apologies for the unoriginal selection, but the one and only place to go for breakfast in Hampton is Tommy's. Tommy's is EVERYONE's favourite for breakfast and for good reason. Servings are huge. Prices are low, and the recipes are authentic. When in doubt, always trust the restaurant with a line outside the door and pie for less than $3 a slice! Ryan loved the hash, while I stuck with a classic combination of bacon, eggs, toast, biscuits, and hashbrowns.
Lunch in Hampton
The menu at Venture Kitchen and Bar is so mouthwatering you won't even notice that it is almost shellfish free! The two signature items you can't pass by are the homemade tater tots (No, really! Tater tots!) and thin crust, wood oven pizza. The tots were the perfect combination of crunchy and creamy and I loved the dipping sauce (I'm told it's a combination of mayonnaise and chili sauce).
I love thin crust pizza and those served at Venture did not disappoint. I chose the margarita pizza and it was fantastic - blistered crust, rich sauce, real mozzarella. Ryan was thrilled with his meat lover's pizza, which sagged under the weight of all the toppings.
Between tater tots and pizza, I still manged to find room to try one of Venture's salads and it's safe to say I've never had a more unique combination of ingredients. Mixed spring greens, red onion, grilled asparagus and POPCORN!! It was unusual, but I loved it! Venture is not only a great destination for the shellfish free but anyone who prefers a vegetarian diet. Whether they intend to or not, Venture is doing the most innovative vegetarian food in town.
Dinner in Hampton
Admittedly, dinner is the most challenging meal of the day for those looking to avoid shellfish in Hampton. But surprisingly, I found my favourite dinner at the ominously named Surf Rider, famous for it's crab cakes! They have a standard selection of burgers and sandwiches, but it was the fettuccine Alfredo that won me over. Of course, there is an option to top your pasta with fresh seafood, but I stuck with the seasoned grilled chicken and I loved every bite.
Like me, you might be tempted to ask for a side of broccoli to add a healthy boost to your meal but beware that the Surf Rider serves its mega portions of perfectly steamed broccoli with a generous side of Hollandaise sauce!
It's not always easy to track down meals that are as mouthwatering as their shellfish-based counterparts in Hampton but I hope that this list steers you in the right direction and provides you with a bit of inspiration. I found Hampton to be a taste bud tingling, stomach stuffing destination and I hope you will too!
I'd love to hear about your food related travel experiences? Do you have food exclusions to consider when you eat out?
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My visit was sponsored by Visit Hampton. This relationship did not influence my reviews and all opinions remain my own.