A couple of Sunday’s ago, the Mimosa Moms (minus Angie) left the Mimosa husbands with our collective 7 kids, put on our Sunday (brunching) best and set out on a marathon brunch tour. We did this in the name of research so that we can give our readers an honest review of a few locals’ favorite restaurants here in Virginia Beach. We kept this tour on Shore Drive, well, because it’s in our backyard.
So, you ask, why should you care what a few Moms with zero culinary expertise say about a restaurant? Well, because Moms brunch too, just not as often as we would like. We take our brunching seriously and we can have high expectations for the setting in which we will try to maximize the amount of time chatting with our girlfriends, talking to other adults and re-joining civilization for a meal where hope to not have to utter the words “do you have to go potty” and “please use your napkin instead of your shirt”. Also, while out, we are taking mental notes on whether or not a place would be suitable to return with our unruly kids in tow. Sure, we are also just happy to be out of the house and not doing the actual serving or cooking, but let’s be honest, it took careful scheduling, long term planning, and pleading with our husbands to get away for this brunch that we’ve been looking forward to since the day we penciled it in on the calendar. We so rarely get out to places without kids, that we are scared to have a less than stellar experience trying the “new” place. In fact, having a less than awesome experience is enough to remind us as to why we should have never deviated from our comfort zone in the first place. I think this is true for most people, and the list of places to “try” is even smaller if you are venturing out with kids. So, here it is our reviews from Mimosa Moms Brunch Tour #1.
Our first stop was Bay Local Eatery on Shore Drive. This was intentionally our first stop, as we have all eaten here before, and while it’s always one of our favorites, we know that the dining area is rather small and every weekend the locals flock to it like it’s the only brunch spot open in Virginia Beach because of the long lines. It’s definitely a “Locals Favorite”, and for good reason.
What we love- everything from the cocktails and beer to the food has a farm-to-table and local emphasis. The mimosa menu offers options of your standard juice as well as sorbet mimosas, which is champagne with a scoop of sorbet melting on the top and a Bay-Mimosa, with a splash of coconut rum (yum!). You can order mimosas in regular, jumbo, or if you are brave enough- giant- with two bottles of champagne in a two foot tall glass with enough straws to share (still one of my girls day out brunch goals). The atmosphere is super cute and eclectic, with handmade décor -think Joanna Gaines meets coastal Virginia. It’s the perfect beachy-chic back drop for sipping crafted cocktails and enjoying local fare by the Bay. The food is just as tasty as the drinks, with all of the standard breakfast options, but more than enough specialty entrées that will keep you coming back for more (think crab cake bennie and cinnamon-sugar coated fried biscuits), it’s a foodies dream. We ordered and shared the “Ta-chos”, basically, tater tot nachos covered with bacon, cheese, arugula, jalapenos, and avocado with options to add on a protein. There isn’t much not to love about this dish.
What we didn’t like- As I said earlier, its small, which gives a quaint feel but also easily packed. Get there after the church crowd on Sunday and expect over an hour wait. If you don’t mind a wait there is a bar to grab a drink while waiting for a table.
Simple Eats- just up the street from Bay Local on Shore Drive is Simple Eats. Walking in you immediately sense a farmhouse-beachy vibe. The food and drink menu also offers plenty of local farm-to-table options. We sat down at a wooden planked farmhouse style picnic table big enough to accommodate a couple of additional friends that would be joining us. This being our second stop, we were well into the brunch crowd time frame, however we were pleasantly surprised with no wait. A flight of bloody marys on the table next to us caught our attention. As we perused the beverage menu we realized they offered a mimosa flight too- SCORE! Who doesn’t want to drink 4 different flavors of tiny mimosas?!
What we liked-The local food offerings, the creative drink menu and the cute farmhouse feel. Let’s be honest, they had us at “flights”. Natalie and I decided on the mimosa flight and Amanda went with the bloody Mary flight (4- 8 ounce flavors of your choice). Between Natalie and I our mimosa flavors ranged from citrus, to berry with fresh fruit, sorbet and a fall mimosa with VA apple cider. Amanda’s bloody mary flight ranged from simple, spicy and local “sassy” mix to tequila and topped with fun garnishes such as shrimp and bacon! We could hardly wait to have 12 mini cocktails on our table between the 3 of us. So we waited, and waited….and WAITED. TWENTY MINUTES! Finally they arrived, displayed in cutest wooden serving logs and were ever so tasty. In addition to flights they also offered “manmosa”, a mimosa with a splash of vodka. As we sipped our cocktails we noticed, in terms of atmosphere this was a place that you would feel comfortable bringing your family. There were plenty of large tables with young kids and a very open airy feel to the restaurant. Actually, what we said was “Bay Local is where we want to be, this is where we should be”, if we had kids with us.
What we didn’t like- Obviously the extremely slow service, considering the tables were not close to full. Also the food was just average. We decided to order a couple of apps, a cheese board and tuna bites. The tuna tasted fresh and although the cheese board was a beautifully displayed mixture of crostini, different cheeses and meat, it was pretty basic. Even though the food didn’t steal the show for us, the cocktails more than made up for it. Hoping the slow service was a one time occurrence, we will be back for those flights again.
Our next stop was Leaping Lizard. Featured in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, it’s no wonder Food Network would take the trip to visit this quaint, home-like little slice of the best of Virginia Beach. Literally, upon arrival it looks like you are walking up to a cute little house. There’s a small patio in the front and a small dining area inside complete with a decent sized bar area. We asked to sit on the back deck, which is where the atmosphere to Leaping Lizard rises above. Completely covered for the winter, he deck gives you the feeing of being entertained in a good friend’s backyard. Overlooking a barn- where they grow produce to sell and use in their dishes, (it doesn’t get any fresher than that!) and a chicken coop, you do not feel like you are only steps away from Shore Drive.
What we liked- We loved our waitress. She was extremely friendly and passionate about the food and drinks that she served. It was refreshing to listen to someone truly take ownership, and wanted us to have the best experience that she could make possible. I’ll tell you, we DID! A disclaimer- she had no idea until the end of our meal that we were going to be blogging about our visit. On to the atmosphere, the inside of the restaurant is small and quaint, so if you are looking for a romantic, quiet brunch, it’s perfect. If you have a larger group the deck is where you’d want to be. It’s heated and spacious and- coming from a Mom of 3- the vibe doesn’t make you feel like you must keep your kids completely silent the entire visit. The drink menu offered only your standard OJ mimosa, so we trusted our waitress with her suggestion to try their “specialty” drinks. We tried the ginger vodka lemonade and the blueberry basil mojito, with blueberries soaked overnight in vodka, which our waitress insisted we eat with a spoon at the end! All of the drinks were served out of my personal favorite- mason jars (YAY)! The food was SO fresh and the menu is ever changing to accommodate seasonal fare. They have an in-house bakery so all of the breads are also super fresh. Our waitress insisted that we try the sweet potato biscuits and the hummus platter- both were amazing.
What we didn’t like- As I was compiling all of the MM comments and thoughts, there weren’t any negatives for Leaping Lizard. If we had to say something it would be that they didn’t offer exciting mimosas on the menu. So, I’ll just continue with the good. The homegrown local fare and the beach farmhouse style setting make for the ideal relaxing environment away from the kids- or even with. I don’t think you could be unhappy with the laid back vibe that hits you the second you walk in. Leaping Lizard was a total win for the Mimosa Moms!
Thank you for taking the time to read our reviews, we loved doing a brunch tour. What made the day awesome was spending time laughing with these girls. I love that we could be anywhere and we’ll have so much fun! Make sure to leave us a comment with location suggestions for the next Mimosa Mom brunch tour!