One of the most popular questions when people check into the Night Swan is, "Where should I go eat?" Invariably, I am called out of the kitchen and go through my short list of "Heather approved local eateries." I don't mind leaving the kitchen because, frankly, food is my favorite topic and I love supporting independently owned restaurants (and I love chatting up our guests). I often joke about starting my own blog, and after this weekend when it was suggested that I host my own show, I figured it was time I sit down and write it all out.
I will begin by prefacing this post, as I do in conversation, that not only am I a foodie, I am also classically trained. I can cook most things myself, so when I go out to eat, I want to be WOWed. I am a self-declared picky b***h when it comes to eating out and that's good for my guests. I know if a restaurant can make me happy, they will almost certainly make my guests happy. As an innkeeper and working in the hospitality industry, my main goal is for my guests have the most amazing vacation ever. If a particular restaurant is not listed here, it doesn't necessarily mean that is bad -- it just means that either the food or service can sometimes be hit or miss (or I haven't yet been there), and I don't feel comfortable recommending it to my guests. So if you are a foodie, please take note. If you are not, then there are plenty of other restaurants in town that will probably suit you just fine.
Local NSB Resturants
Ocean's Seafood for great, casual seafood
Oceans is an awesome little fish market off of Third Avenue on the beachside. A fish market on one side, they serve prepared foods on the other. It doesn't get much fresher than being at a seafood market. Peel and eat shrimp is my particular favorite, but they have blackened mahi, grouper sandwiches, and even some burgers and chicken for those who don't like seafood... Crazy, I know. It can get super busy, and the wait can be lengthy at times, so if you are in a rush, call ahead and pick your order up. Keep in mind that this is a fish market, so the ambiance is null. Everything comes in a styrofoam box. For our guests, I recommend coming back to the inn and eat on the front porch or even out on the dock. For others, the beach is only a short drive away.
Manzano's for amazing sandwiches
Manzano's is a little deli over on Flagler Avenue, just blocks from the beach. With a surfer theme, they have boards for sale and pretty much always have some type of surfing video displayed on the TV. Ambiance is what it is... It's a deli and an amazing deli at that. The have a HUGE list of sandwiches, paninis and cold sandwiches alike (my favorite is the Siciliano). They use Boar's Heads meats and cheeses and do not skimp even a little bit. The cold sandwiches can be a bit pricey, but as soon as they hand it over to you, you'll see why -- it'll be about 5 pounds and can easily last several meals. For foodies like me, they have the roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomato tapenade, and proscuitto, and for normal folks, they have turkey, ham, and American cheese. Well worth every penny, I gladly recommend Manzano's as often as I can. And they reopen late on Friday and Saturday evenings (11pm-230am) for the after-bar crowd.
Cafe Verde for something fresh
Cafe Verde is a fun little spot that serves mostly a number of small plates (with recently added entree sized portions), which allows its patrons to taste a little of a lot of different items. Definitely Latino influenced, I cannot pinpoint a particular country from which the food stems (hence the "Food Without Borders" subtitle). Fried plantains, Mexican street corn, carnitas, shrimp and watermelon ceviche are some of their items. This is the place I send all of our vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free guests for they have a number of options that are sure to please, including a beautiful kale salad, quinoa salad, and vegan tacos. With an open kitchen and beautiful plate presentation, Cafe Verde is a great stop for something on the healthier side of things.
Panheads for smoked chicken wings (and pizza, but really for smoked chicken wings)
When Mike and I lived in California, he made apple juice injected smoked chicken wings. It's a mouthful to say, and it was an amazing mouthful of wings that tasted more like applewood smoked bacon than it did chicken wings. The minute Panheads' wings touched my lips, I was brought back to that meal in San Diego. The pizza is good, but the chicken wings are amazing. I order them naked and extra crispy because the smoking doesn't tend to crisp the wings as a fryer does, and order a number of different sauces to get the full effect. So popular in New Smyrna, they just opened a new location in Port Orange on US1 and Dunlawton.
The Breakers for a good burger right on the beach
Breakers is a NSB staple -- burgers on the beach. And let me tell you, it is definitely a beach bar, complete with bikini clad women and sandy floors. They have over 17 burgers, and do cook to temp. If you are looking for a beautiful view of the water and some casual eats, Breakers is the way to go, but beware of the prices of their beer. It is a beach bar, after all.
Lost Lagoon for the best burger in town
If you are looking for the BEST burger in town, however, go to the local spot Lost Lagoon on US1. Here they really take pride in their food, cook their burgers perfectly, and even toast their buns (it's the little details that count). ***Update*** Lost Lagoon just moved North, right next to the New Smyrna Beach Airport -- the place where the Skyline and other restaurants have been and not quite survived. They now have a full bar with some nice beer additions. Food does take a little long to come out, but that's because the burgers are so thick -- your patience will be well rewarded here.
Hottie Coffee for amazing local coffee
Who needs Starbucks when you've got your own local roaster? Lori and David are wonderful people who put a lot of love in their product, and I am all about that. I prefer the dark roasted Sumatran, but they have mild and medium roasts as well. They even offer signature blends, which you will hopefully see here at the Night Swan sometime in the future.
Spanish River Grill for (hands down) the best food in town
Starting the week of Labor Day, Spanish River Grill will be closed on both Monday and Tuesday (usually just closed on Monday) until the beginning of the year. On Thursday evenings, available at the bar and on the patio only, women eat and drink for 50% off. Quite a deal, I must admit. Hope to see you there!
You know I can't write about great food in town and not give ourselves a shameless plug.
Nightswan Bed and Breakfast for (you guessed it!) Breakfast
Fresh fruit, yogurt, homemade granola, a variety of homemade baked goods, beautiful view of the Intracoastal waterway, charming personalities and a delicious entree.... what more could one want in a breakfast? Of course we serve breakfast to our guests, but what most people don't realize is that we are open to the public for breakfast, with advanced notice of course. We aren't a restaurant so we don't have a menu, but our items change daily, and if you do not enjoy the entree, we can always make eggs to order or French toast with our homemade challah bread.
Heather (that's me!) for Specialty Desserts
I'm typically quite modest about my food, but I can't help but brag a little about my chiffon cake. Light and fluffy with homemade preserves, and a true Italian meringue butter cream, this cake is a little taste of heaven. Through special order only, I can prepare any of the baked goods you see at the Night Swan (including an incredible flaky crust for your next quiche or homemade pie) or a special dessert for your next occasion. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are out and about...
Tia Cori's Tacos for awesome (and inexpensive) tacos
After living in Southern California, only minutes from the border, I learned what Mexican food is supposed to taste like, and Tia Coris is the closest to authentic Mexican food I have found in the area. If I am anywhere close to Beach Street in Daytona, I am sure to stop by for their carnitas tacos with chips and salsa, and my favorite horchata (a sweetened rice milk with cinnamon). They offer American style and Mexican style tacos, American being with cheese, lettuce and tomato, and Mexican with cilantro, onions, and lime. If you like Mexican food, give Tia Coris a try. You won't be disappointed!!
So there you have it as it is in my world. If you find some place that you absolutely love that is not listed here, let me know and I will gladly give it a try. We'll see if it makes the cut.