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 Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area?

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  • Total Posts: 510
  • Joined: 3/24/2009
  • Location: Northern VA (the nasty Washington D.C. 'burbs part
Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Tue, 08/16/11 4:45 PM (permalink)
We'll be at a conference in Cambridge, MD this Thurs and Friday.  Affer the conference ends Friday afternoon, we plan to make a weekend of it, and head down the DelMarVa to the the bridge tunnel and go to the Norfolk area. 
Looking for NON-seafood suggestions along the route heading down the Eastern Shore (or off the route), as well as in the Norfolk / VA Beach / Hampton / Portsmouth areas.
The one definite we want to go to is Doumar's Cones and Barbecue in Norfolk.  
What else do you recommend?  
Janet and Glenn  

    • Total Posts: 395
    • Joined: 5/26/2005
    • Location: Williamsburg, VA
    Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Thu, 08/18/11 11:19 AM (permalink)
    If you go to Chincoteague on the way down there is Bill's
    In Exmore, VA - the Exmore Diner.
    Sting Ray's near Cape Charles
    All have non-seafood selections. If fact, Bill's has one of my favorite cheeseburgers. Not sure why. It's nothing fancy, but it is so good. Maybe it is because I'm usually eating it after a cold morning of birdwatching.
    I've only eaten seafood at Exmore, but the milkshakes are excellent.
    Sweet potatoe biscuits with country ham at Sting Ray's are wonderful.

      • Total Posts: 395
      • Joined: 5/26/2005
      • Location: Williamsburg, VA
      Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Thu, 08/18/11 11:47 AM (permalink)
      Missed that you were also asking about Hampton.
      County Grill and Smokehouse My fave BBQ place in the area
      Smitty's Better Burger
      Like Doumar's it's an old-fashion drive-in. Get the Twirlydog.
      More Upscale - Taphouse Grill - one in Downtown Hampton, one in Ghent.
      Brent's in downtown Hampton
      Baker's Crust in Ghent -
      Coastal Grill in VB -  Mostly we go for the soft shell crabs and the acorn squash, but they have non-seafood too.

        Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Thu, 08/18/11 12:56 PM (permalink)
        Can't personally vouch for Taylor's Barbecue in Salisbury, MD, because I haven't made it there yet, but family in the area swears it is quite good. 

          • Total Posts: 510
          • Joined: 3/24/2009
          • Location: Northern VA (the nasty Washington D.C. 'burbs part
          Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Thu, 08/18/11 4:12 PM (permalink)
          Thanks Williamsburger and Buffetbuster!
            After some searchng last night, we had intended to also add on the sweet pototo / ham biscuits at Sting Ray's.  That sounds great!   We'll look over your other suggestions tonight when we have more time.   We're not "marathon eaters", so we'll have to make our choices wisely amongst the several suggestions.  
          We'll head back to northern VA via Williamsburg, Richmond, and Fredericksburg on Sunday.    We both went to William & Mary in the 'burg for 4 years, so we're pretty familar with that area.  Probably hit Pierce's....always good.   Probaly hit Carl's in Fredericksburg farther north.
          On Saturday afternoon, we're thinking of heading to Bunn's BBQ in NC.  Went there once before, and it was closed when we arrived. :(  I think it was a holiday weekend that time.   
          We're lookijng forward to trying the new spots for us in Norfolk/Tidewater area.  
          Much thanks!
          Janet and Glenn
          <message edited by Glenn1234 on Thu, 08/18/11 4:15 PM>

            Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Thu, 08/18/11 9:06 PM (permalink)
            If you want to try something unusual, Peaky's in Princess Anne is a good place to get the official state dessert of Maryland,

            Smith Island Cake.

              • Total Posts: 510
              • Joined: 3/24/2009
              • Location: Northern VA (the nasty Washington D.C. 'burbs part
              Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Fri, 08/19/11 12:51 AM (permalink)
              That's pretty good looking.  Is it pretty much alternating layers of yellow (or white) cake and chocolte frosting or fudge that we see there?
              Janet and Glenn

                • Total Posts: 510
                • Joined: 3/24/2009
                • Location: Northern VA (the nasty Washington D.C. 'burbs part
                Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Fri, 08/19/11 11:03 AM (permalink)
                Oh, by the way....regarding our non-seafood request.    We don't dislike all seafood.   We're just not fond of the type of seafood that is typically in these parts of the country....crab...rockfish, etc. 
                Janet and Glenn 

                  • Total Posts: 395
                  • Joined: 5/26/2005
                  • Location: Williamsburg, VA
                  Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Mon, 08/22/11 11:24 AM (permalink)
                  Well, the Exmore Diner had "Sweeling Toads". Maybe you'd like them!

                    • Total Posts: 510
                    • Joined: 3/24/2009
                    • Location: Northern VA (the nasty Washington D.C. 'burbs part
                    Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Mon, 08/22/11 8:40 PM (permalink)
                    First of all, we'd like to thank you all for the suggestions.  We were able to visit some of them.   
                    Sorry there are not any photos below.  but hopefully you find our brief descriptions  helpful. 
                    After leaving the conference in Cambridge, MD Friday afternoon, we stopped at Flannery's BBQ in Fruitland, MD.  Unfortunately, they closed up a couple hours early because the torrential rains that came through flooded out part of their cooking trailer.  
                    Moving on, we went to Peakey's in nearby Princess, Anne, MD.  We were not impressed by the Smith Island Cake.  It sure did look fancy, and had to be a lot of work to make all those layers.  But, it was quite dry, and despite the looks, it did not taste all that special.   What we did LOVE at Peakey's was their fried chicken and their "wet"  cornbread.   Does anyone know how "wet" cornbread is made.  It was moist and very dense.  It almost tasted like it had creamed corn in it?   The fried chicken was crisp, nicely seasoned. and just delicious!
                    Next stop was the Exmore Diner in Exmore, VA on the eastern shore of VA.  Given we had recently eaten at Peakey's, we didn't go for a meal at Exmore Diner, but still wanted to stop for a taste.  We just got a vanilla milkshake.  Loved the atmosphere of the old, classic diner.  The vanilla milkshake was thick, but needed much more vanilla flavor.   It was pretty bland.  We wouldn't mind returning some time to try something else.   What are the suggested items to get there?
                    Next we went to Sting Ray's near Cape Charles, VA.  It was already 7:30 pm, and the sweet potato ham biscuits are only served at breakfast.   But, they sold cold sweet potato biscuits to go.  We got several to go, as well as a piece of sweet potato pie.  Our expectations were a bit different.  The "biscuits" had the consistency of cornbread ... not like what we think of as a "biscuit" at all.   They were just okay, and we wouldn't go too much out of our way for them.   Maybe they are served hot in morning.  Probably having the ham on them would make them better.   The piece of sweet potato pie was "okay", but we were a little disappointed they hadn't given us any of the damson plum sauce it is supposed to come with. 
                    We checked into a Norfolk, VA hotel that night, and later went out to Doumar's Barbecue and Cones at about 11 p.m.  We ordered minced BBQ pork sandwiches, fries, lime-ade, and  vanilla cones for dessert.   The pork BBQ sandwiches were very good.  We left off the optional slaw, as we are not slaw fans.    The pork was an eastern NC style.  Kudos to Doumar's for not doing a sopping wet vinegar overkill as some eastern NC-style places do with dripping wet vinegar and soggy wet BBQ.    The Doumar's BBQ was very lightly marinated in an eastern NC vinegar/pepper "sauce"   There was extra sauce on the counter, but it was not quite NC style, ... but something hotter and a bit thick for eastern NC style.   One little sample of that stuff from the counter, and we left it alone on the counter.  The BBQ was fine without it.    The fries were hot and crisp.  No complaints.  The lime-ade was freshly made, tasty, and refreshing.   The ice cream cones were very good.   The vanilla ice cream was fairly creamy, and had a good bit of vanilla flavor.  Bravo.   (weak vanilla is a pet peeve...such as was the case at Exmore Diner).   
                    Abe Doumar is credited with being the first person to make an ice cream cone.  He did this in 1904 at the St. Louis Exposition.  He made the first cone machine in 1905, which was used at Coney Isalnd, NY.  Doumar's uses that same machine today to  make their own cones on site.   Yay!
                    Saturday morning, we went to the Do-Nut Dinette in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk.  Janet had scrambled eggs, hash browns, and sausage patties.  Glenn had hash browns and sausage links.  The hash browns were really home fries and not hash browns, but were still good.  We both had some doughnuts.  All the food was very good.  They only have one kind of doughnut,.... a raised and glazed type. 
                    Some reviews say they are like Krispy Kremes.  They don't seem as gooey-sugary as KK's.  They seem more like the "Honey-Dipped" of Allie's Donuts in Glenn's original hometown of North Kingstown, RI.   Overall, they were better than KK's, but not quite as good as Allie's.   
                    Great atmosphere at the Do-Nut Dinette with about 8-10 stools, and a few tables, including some on the sidewalk/patio.  Service was fast and friendly.   
                    For lunch on Saturday, we went to Smitty's Better Burger in Hampton, VA.    Loved the 1950s-era  car-hop style building and service.   The burgers themselves were nothing special, and the bun was much bigger around than the burgers.  They need smaller buns.  We loved the "twirly dog" and the hand battered and crisp onion rings.  Never had anything like the twirly dog before.  It was scored/sliced multiple times, and formed an accordian-like pattern...arranged in a circular pattern on a hamburger bun.  Delicious!    The onion rings were hot, fresh, crisp, and tasty!  What more can you ask?  The service was friendly, and the carhop also recommended their fresh made fried chicken (which takes an extra 20 minutes).  We'll try it next time.   We'll go back to Smitt'y Better Burger... but not for their burgers. 
                    On Saturday night we stayed in Williamsburg, .... our old college town where we met and spent 4 years at William and Mary.  Late on Saturday night, we went o one of our old collge hangouts, ....Paul's Deli.  ..... Basically a good place for pitchers of beer, sandwiches, and baskets of hot fries.  We also learned that Paul's Deli bought "The College Delly" (yes they spell "Delly" that way).  That's good news, as The College Delly was on the verge of closing up, and at one point was going to be converted to a Starbucks.  (boooo).    So, Paul's owns it and runs it,  but has retained the old name of "The College Delly".   They also did some remodeling and set up an outdoor bar on the patio under the big awning.    
                    Not sure if either Paul's Deli or College Delly count as "roadfood", but we find them enjoyable.
                    On Sunday, we decided to skip Pierce's Pitt BBQ (yes, 2 "t's" in "Pitt" there), as we have been there numerous times before, and were trying to keep this trip mostly to new things for us (with the exception of Paul's Deli, College Delly, and later ... Carl's).
                    We decided to try Buz and Ned's BBQ in Richmond, VA.   WOW!  Glad we did!   We each started with a pulled BBQ sandwich.  Very good.   Similar to Pierce's with a red sauce and a  smoky zing.  Buz and Ned's was a little more smoky.   Pierce's has a little more zing/slight kick.   Both are great.   As an afterthought, we decided to get a half-slab of baby back ribs to go.   Glad we had that afterthought.   Whoa!  The best ribs we've had in years!  Lean, yet tender, ...slightly smoky, and had a sweet, crusted, "baked on" glaze.   These were the BEST "wet ribs" we've ever had.   Though, wet might not be the right term, as the glaze was fairly baked on and not actually "wet".   But they, weren't dry-rub only, so I classify them as "wet".   Anyway, in the "wet or glazed" category, they were the best ever.  The only better ribs we've had were the dry-rubbed ribs from Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous in Memphis.   Wow, we'll be back to Buz and Ned's soon.  It's only about 100 miles south of us.   
                    Just up the street from Buz and Ned's, we went to "Sweet 95", an ice cream window next door to "Kitchen 64", which owns "Sweet 95". 
                    We tried 3 flavors at Sweet 95.....  Orange cream, blueberry, and peach.  The ice cream was high quality, and very creamy.  We were a little disappointed with the flavor.  We thought they were a little weak.  The peach was decent, but the blueberry can't compete with the blueberry ice cream Glenn grew up with in several of the New England ice cream parlors.   The orange cream was okay, but again, needed stronger flavor.   The place has great potential, and maybe other flavors are better/stronger.  We'd give it another try with other flavors.  In case you're wondering, the names of Sweet 95 and Kitchen 64 are derived from the fact that these places are near the intersection of I-95 and I-64. 
                    Our final stop was for soft-serve cones at Carl's in Fredericksburg, VA.  We've been there before, but love to go to this classic place.  The building is on the Historic Register.  They use the original 1940's-era Electro-Freeze machines to make vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  The ice cream slowly falls down a metal chute of the machine into a container below.   The ice cream is spooned into/onto your cone, and they even form a "twist" at the top.   Don't expect premium high fat cream ice cream here as you would with some hard ice cream at a top parlor.   But, these are very tasty treats, and the nostalgic atmosphere alone makes us smile.   
                    Thanks again for the suggestions!
                      Glenn and Janet

                      • Total Posts: 2500
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                      • Location: Sin City, VA
                      Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Tue, 08/23/11 7:48 AM (permalink)
                      Great write-up, Glenn1234. You did Maryland and Virginia well!

                        • Total Posts: 395
                        • Joined: 5/26/2005
                        • Location: Williamsburg, VA
                        Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Wed, 08/24/11 10:30 AM (permalink)
                         Yeah! Great trip report. In fact, you might want to copy & paste it into another post in the "Trip Reports" forum. More people might see it.
                        I'm sorry you had a few disappointments  at the places I recommened. See my above post about "swelling toad" - since I know you're wondering - they are the cheeks of a puffer fish. They look and are prepare like fried shrimp but are white fish. Firmer than flounder and lighter than rockfish. My husband had a crab cake, which while v. good was very different than the fat balls of lump crab in MD. This was very thin and used, I suspect, all the crab. Very fine flakes. And very cripsy. We had a chocolate shake and remember the flavor being fine. You obviously like v. strong flavors from you comments about the ice cream later.
                        Sting Ray's bicuits (*any* biscuit, really) are better when hot.
                        I'm glad you like Smitty's. I kind of think of it as Hampton's Doumar's without the ice cream! I love the twirlly dogs, just for their novelty. I really want to watch them make them, but I never get the courage to ask. And I'm convienced they buy one size of bun and use it for *everything*. I've heard the chicken is v. good, too.
                        If you come back this way, even for Buz & Ned's. LMK and maybe we can have a meet-up!

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                          • Location: Florence, SC
                          Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Wed, 08/24/11 3:54 PM (permalink)
                          Great Trip report, that's one of my favorite areas to visit.

                            • Total Posts: 510
                            • Joined: 3/24/2009
                            • Location: Northern VA (the nasty Washington D.C. 'burbs part
                            Re:Cambridge MD to Norfolk / Tidewater area? Fri, 08/26/11 2:46 PM (permalink)
                            Thanks i95, Williamsburger, and DirtDude.  
                            We had a great time, overall.    Williamsburger - Regarding liking the strong flavors, that applies mostly to things like ice cream...especailly vanilla, which tends to be weak and underflavored at many places.   For many other things, such as  fish, the weaker the flavor the better as far as we are concerned.  :)
                            We definitely need to re-visit Buz and Ned's.  A meet-up would be fun.
                            i95 -  Where/what is "Sin City", VA that is listed as your location?    
                            Janet and Glenn
                            <message edited by Glenn1234 on Fri, 08/26/11 2:52 PM>
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