Experience traditional Eastern Shore farm-to-table cuisine in the “Beautiful Land Across the Water”
World renowned for its ninety-year history of the wild pony roundup, swim, and auction, Chincoteague Island is also widely known for pristine beaches, miles of nature trails and waterways to explore, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and even rocket launches.
Always a nature-lover’s playground, the island is fast becoming a foodie haven offering delectable oysters, clams, and other fresh-from-the-sea wonders! Whether it’s a picnic on the beach, an oyster roast in the backyard, Sunday chicken & dumplings, or a fabulous food festival – the opportunities are endless to explore the rich, diverse flavors from the waters of the Chincoteague Bay or the Atlantic Ocean.
Culinary roots run deep in the rich and abundant oyster and clam shoals surrounding Chincoteague Island and in the verdant soil of Virginia’s Eastern Shore where corn, potatoes, beans, and tomatoes are grown to accompany the sea’s delicacies served on plates in fine restaurants and in baskets from seafood shacks dotting the island. The catch of the day from local waters can be rockfish, flounder, drum, shark, or tuna depending on the season. Blue crabs, clams, and oysters are favored fare any month of the year.
Virginia boasts 7 oyster regions along its developing Oyster Trail with Chincoteague Salt Oysters claiming the choicest seaside distinction. Aqua farms produce delectable bi-valves in the salty waters of Toms Cove. One can literally eat for dinner what was growing in the water just a few hours earlier. It doesn’t get any fresher than that for the exceptional farm-to-table experience!
Enjoy sumptuous entrees at The Village or AJ’s on the Creek; Etta’s Channelside overlooking the Assateague Channel; or Bill’s Prime Seafood & Steaks. Meet Chef Desmond at The Jackspot or talk to aqua farmer Tommy Clark at Don’s Seafood Restaurant. Just a few short miles away on the “mainland” you can dine in an old button factory at Wright’s Seafood Restaurant, enjoy the real seafood shack atmosphere at Crusty Crab Seafood Shack complete with cement floor and bushel basket light fixtures, or fill up on endless plates of all-you-can-eat shrimp at Ray’s Shanty. Ever tried fish tacos? Capt. Zack’s, Pico Taqueria, The Farmer’s Daughter, or Right Up Your Alley will have you hooked. A host of other superb diners and family restaurants offer multitudes of seafood dishes from chowders to fried, steamed, grilled, or blackened selections. Seafood markets offer fresh-from-the-boat catch you can prepare yourself. Top it all off with sinful frozen treats from award-winning ice cream parlors, or other seriously sweet confections from island eateries.
Celebrations of island seafood occur each year in the spring and fall when the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce hosts the Chincoteague Seafood Festival and the Chincoteague Oyster Festival. The Chincoteague Blueberry Festival celebrates blueberry season and kicks off Pony Penning week with food and craft vendors and live music. Weekly seasonal farmers’ markets offer fresh produce, baked goods, and clams – the makings of a perfect seaside meal!