The DeLand Stockyard is renowned for its steaks, which earned the “Best Steakhouse” vote from Hometown News readers in 2012 and a Best of the West award from The Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2010, 2012, and 2013, as well as for its history. The restaurant’s structure was built in the 1920s, and its rich wood paneling and stately décor, replete with black and white photos and mounted portraits on the wall, reflects this storied history. Atop dark wood tables, the wait staff sets down steakhouse staples, from juicy burgers and grilled seafood to the hefty porterhouse, which weighs in at 24 ounces of char-grilled goodness.
A lonely fire flickers in the night, punctuating the vast expanse of Brazil’s southern plains. A spitted side of Nelore beef roasts over the flames; from that famed beast and this timeless fireside scene, Nelore Churrascaria takes its name, recipes, and spirit.
Nelore Churrascaria’s chefs draw inspiration from the gauchos of South America, piling plates high with carvings of 15 spit-roasted meats. The spirit of the southern plains remains alive and well in the dining room, where wrought-iron chandeliers and a dark hardwood floor evoke rustic elegance as a warm breeze filters in through the front doors. Veggies, fine cheeses, and pastas fill more than 40 basins at the salad bar, whose glistening glass protects the trays from grazing cattle and errant horseshoe tosses.
In the midst of nightly live jazz, diners feast on a plethora of dishes made from premium ingredients, including Japanese Kobe beef and hand-foraged mushrooms, while sipping sommelier-recommended wines from an award-winning selection. To gear up gustatory glands, patrons can dive fork-first into the sesame pepper-crusted Hawaii bigeye ahi tuna partnered with pickled cucumbers and seaweed salad ($18). Served with french fries and chimichurri sauce, the Kobe skirt steak ($29) comes from cows raised according to the strict laws in Hyogo Prefecture, which forbids cattle to date until they graduate high school. Alternatively raised in free-spirited rivers and music festivals, the wild-caught salmon shares plate space with tuscan potato salad, capers, arugula, and a citrus-fennel purée ($34). Similarly sating, the double cut Australian lamb chops are bathed in a zinfandel reduction sauce and paired with rosemary-garlic mashed potatoes ($44).
In 170 feet of water, running from the east coast of Fort Pierce, Florida, to the Carolinas, lies a reef populated by game fish, dubbed 27 Fathoms by local fishermen. Chefs in the kitchens of 27 Fathoms, named for the reef, cook locally caught wild fish and seafood such as the pan-roasted diver scallops with smoked gouda and crushed macadamia nuts. For the culinary prowess they display in doing so, they have earned a 2012 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. Their sushi menu includes signature rolls such as the ultimate maine lobster—a tempura whole lobster with smoked bacon, avocado, and baked seafood volcano sauce. In addition to seafood, the staff pan roasts venison tenderloin and blackens elk steak by hiding it in a darkroom. They also add their own spin to chicken and waffles with sweet-potato-infused waffles, brussels sprouts, and peppercorn mélange syrup.
Gentle breezes ripple through the palm leaves on the outdoor patio, where glasses of fine wines and craft beers clink along with the sounds of nature. Friday and Saturday nights feature late hours and live entertainment for diners seated indoors at the high-topped wood tables.
Twenty-nine stories separate Top of Daytona Restaurant & Lounge from the sands and rolling surf of Daytona Beach. From this vantage point, diners savor expansive, 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, the mainland, and the Halifax River—views that the Orlando Sentinel lauded as "spectacular"—all while indulging in a menu inspired by classical pan-European cooking.
Executive Chef Vadim Vladimirsky incorporates Portuguese, Russian, French, and Italian flavors into his dishes, embracing the cuisines' rustic roots while adding his own refined, yet accessible touches. Accents such as homemade mozzarella cheese, a reduction of aged balsamic vinegar, and a rosemary-tinged port sauce demonstrate his dedication to upscale eating. And given the restaurant's oceanside location, an emphasis on fish and Caribbean lobster comes perfectly natural—Chef Vladimirsky even personally buys the seafood fresh from local suppliers each morning.
Should guests somehow tear their eyes away from the food and the view beyond the curving wall of windows, they find the dining room echoes Top of Daytona’s classic feel. A stone-circled fishpond bubbles in the center of the room, surrounded by stately chairs and tables draped with crisp white linens. The ambience grows most spirited on select Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings as live musicians entertain the crowd and help teach passing seagulls to sing in tune.