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.
Lined with mahogany-colored shelves, Wine Bank's walls display bottles upon bottles of wines, suggesting that its name is no misrepresentation. But unlike most wine shops, Wine Bank isn't just about wine. Here, beers, fine wines, and cigars complement an in-house menu of upscale starters and gourmet entrees, ranging from pork filet mignon to shrimp mac 'n' cheese. And for those who would rather drink wine than spend thousands building vineyards in their basement, Wine Bank offers memberships with discounts and invitations to private tastings and events.
Serving up sauce-slathered eats since 1980, Woody's has garnered praise from publications including the Ledger and continues to woo taste buds with succulent ribs, chicken, pork, and sides. Patrons can perform cheek-stretching calisthenics with the super sampler starter, a piled-high platter of pop-able bites including fried garlic mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, corn nuggets, and onion rings ($7.99), before moving on to a main event such as a full rack of Woody's signature baby back ribs, featuring pork that slips off the bone as sure as a cat slips off an ice sculpture of a larger cat ($14.99). Meat disciplinarians might consider the Sloppy Woody, pulled pork and Woody's secret sauce caught in a prison of formalist bread loaves ($6.99). Vegetarians are invited to pig out on the tossed salad ($2.69) or the country vegetables ($1.89).
World of Beer draws barley astronauts in its gravitational pull, boasting 40 craft draft beers from around the globe and a collection of asteroid-sized pub bites. The bar’s expert staff pairs beer lovers with superb selections such as Magic Hat #9 ($5), a crisp English ale, and Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat ($5), which piques palates with citrusy flavors flowing through the confluence of wheat, crystal malts, and Perle hops. Add salty satisfaction to a hopping hop-laden party with an order of soft pretzels ($4) or pretzel bites ($4), or talk sense into a Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale ($6) with a pastrami sammie ($9) or buffalo chicken dip ($8). Sip suds on the outdoor patio or inside among the brick walls, warm lighting, and numerous flat-screen TVs. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, live music enables rhythmic imbibing and air-drumming using plates of beef sticks ($1).
When French native Joel Martin was young, his family moved to Africa. While there, Joel learned to stalk many jungle creatures including crocodiles with the help of his Malgache friends. Years later, in 1995, Martin packed up his own family and moved them to Florida, where the heat and humidity reminded him of his beloved childhood in Africa. Today he owns and operates Black Hammock Adventures, located near some of Orlando's busiest attractions, and charters picturesque airboat rides on the gator-infested waters of Lake Jesup. His boat, equipped with Goliath's desk fan, skims earplugged riders past alligators and other lake fauna at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. During rides, experienced guides pilot the vessel safely through narrow creeks and shallow wetlands, and help tourists to spot sunning reptiles. After zooming by a congregation of gators, guests can stop by Black Hammock's free wildlife exhibit, enjoy a lively libation at the Lazy Gator Bar with live music every weekend, sit down at the full service restaurant featuring Executive Chef Barth that is known for its fried gator tail, or hand over their cameras as they pose for pictures with a live baby alligator or barter for an autograph with hunks of raw meat.
The view of Florida wildlife from the lakeview terrace at The Lazy Gator Bar needs no food or drinks to make it worthwhile. Over buckets of beers and colorful mixed drinks resting on tables, the setting sun casts an orange-pink glow that adds a charming touch to the airboats coming in from a tour. This glow even makes Hammy look friendly––the 11-foot-long alligator who soaks in a pool at the live gator and bird exhibit adjoining Black Hammock Gift Shop. Waiters bring out bar snacks from the restaurant, while guests to linger over drinks as bands play live music on weekends.