When a pair of former Virginia Beach lifeguards came up with the idea to open the first Chicho's Restaurant in 1968, they had one goal in mind: use nothing but fresh ingredients to make the best pizza they could. Decades later, this simple philosophy has grown into a statewide franchise where every topping is freshness and every pizza is hand tossed. A flavorful layer of marinara, garlic and herb, or hot and spicy sauces cover traditional and thin-crust pies scattered with more than 20 toppings in specialty and build-your-own combinations. Boneless chicken bites and wings soak up 10 different sauce varieties, including Cho's fire, garlic parmesan, and teriyaki. After two-handing a 5-ounce burger or hearty sub, guests can improve hand-eye coordination or get rid of cursed quarters by playing the games in Chicho's arcade.
Backed by live music and sleek décor, the culinary savants at 45 Degrees Martini Lounge concoct more than 60 specialty martinis to complement their shareable cuisine and meaty sandwiches. Diners can feel free to mix and match inventive tapas plates and appetizers, including seasoned steak bites, garlic shrimp, and tilapia stuffed with more crabmeat than a sea captain's pillow. Or dig into standalone entrees such as bison burgers, and then head over to the stainless steel bar to sip flavorful beverages.
Rich blue walls and red curtains make up the dining room, which also serves as a stage where local jazz musicians perform and open mic nights where patrons sing odes to their favorite cut of meat.
Though flavorful Italian cuisine is at the core of Cogan's Pizza, taste buds aren’t the only sensory receptors that perk up when visiting the vibrant eatery. The interior provides a visual feast with huge chandeliers casting subtle twinkles across pressed-tin ceilings and walls covered with posters and music memorabilia. The music motif also engages ears and vocal cords with regular live performances and karaoke.
At the bar, more than 30 beers flow from a lineup of seasonally rotating taps, each carbonated with the perfect number of bubbles to wash down cheesy and meaty pies. For patrons who adhere to a more plant-based diet, the cooks can also top crusts with faux meats, soy cheese, or an evil aunt’s favorite orchid. Pasta dishes, hot sandwiches, and subs stacked with roasted chicken, italian sausage, or roast beef round out the menu.
Resting in the shadow of the Grand Wayne Convention Center, Thirsty Camel features more than a handful of beers on tap and more than a dozen imported and premium bottled beers. The restaurant's suds selection makes for a model accomplice to its food spread, which includes such shareable munchies, such as buffalo-style wings and onion petals served with an onion-petal sauce. After warming up with some appetizers, diners can tackle homemade hamburgers and 16-ounce T-bone steaks—all while nodding to the beats of a live DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.
Neatly packaged in a converted Victorian house, Press626 offsets its shell of Dickensian charm with a cream filling of locally sourced noshables. A small yet diverse menu perks up even the most jaded palates with appetizers such as rosemary sun-dried tomato shrimp ($11.95) and baked chèvre goat cheese ($10.50) before insulating stomachs against stray cannonballs with duck confit in a tart-cherry-cabernet reduction ($19.95) or pumpkin risotto ($13.95 vegetarian, $17.95 shrimp). Those who prefer their meals bookended by bread will gravitate toward the monster steak sandwich, accented with caramelized onions, pepper-jack cheese, cilantro, and chipotle aioli on sourdough ($8.95). For dessert, relive childhood without the early bedtime and constant bogeyman ambushes when you order homemade jumbo cupcakes served with a glass of chilled milk ($5.99).
Although it now has more than 430 locations in 28 countries, Hooters wasn’t always welcomed by the public. In fact, when it opened in October 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, the founders of the restaurant were “quickly detained for impersonating restaurateurs,” according to the company's website. But the restaurant was able to prove it was more than just a pretty face—that it was serious about serving tasty American food and frosty brews—and its popularity exploded in the decades to follow.
Amid its beach-themed vibe and flat-screen TVs, Hooters still fuels appetites with original chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Of course, nobody carries those casual eats and icy pitchers better than the Hooters girls. To complement their friendly smiles, their uniforms harken back to the ones the original waitresses wore in 1983: orange hot shorts and white tank tops with the emblematic owl on the front—though that owl has lost its Lionel Richie perm.