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There are a few things that are available in abundance in Daytona Beach- Sunshine, sand, water, and LOTS of good food! In Daytona Beach there are plenty of fantastic places to snag some delish seafood between beach sessions. I have included our family’s personal favorite places to eat when we are in Daytona on vacation. All of the restaurants below are the places that we eat at EVERY time we got to Daytona and we have been there ALOT. We have of course eaten at plenty of other places here but these are our “must do” Daytona Beach restaurants that you can not miss. If you want to read more about our new favorite place to stay in Daytona Beach make sure you check out this post too.
What is my absolute favorite Ormond Beach/Daytona must do? Riptides! I have recommended Riptides to SO many friends and I have never heard a bad review. Riptides is directly on the beach and the main drag in Daytona. We always make a trip to Riptides part of our trip. It has become a Daytona Beach tradition for our family as much as the beach. Every time we have been they always have live music on the generous sized porch. For me they get cool points just for that. I am a sucker for outdoor dining and live music.
As a mom I have figured out that live music provides lot of entrainment for small kids because they seem to enjoy it and it hides a multitude of behavioral sins including but not limited to meltdowns, tantrums, talking too loudly, inappropriate bodily noises and just generally anything you might be embarrassed by. Live music at meals is a mom’s friend plus I REALLY love live music.
Riptides of course offers a very nice indoor restaurant area for those who like to be in the AC however you will always find me on the porch. In addition to live music, there are fans and the porch is covered. The breeze feels fantastic out there at night and the music just makes it perfection. There is also a game area inside which is good if the little ones are not as impressed by the music as mom or dad or just generally restless.
Riptides is known for their all you can eat crab legs and that is what we usually get. I think runs around 49.99 per person which isn’t cheap but totally worth a splurge meal. There are tons of amazing choices besides the crab legs with all the usual seafood staples. The kids menu choices are varied and very reasonably priced with large portions.
Riptides also features a long list of draft beers and other adult beverages ( I like their orange pilsner).I recommended this place to an old friend of mine last week who was headed there with her small kids and looking for option and she just sent me a message and said, “we went to rip tides last night and it was awesome. That is somewhere we will go out to eat every year we are down there”. I rest my case.
Hull’s Seafood is a favorite that we always stop by. This is where the locals eat. You always want to find out where the locals eat because they have usually tried it all and know what is good! Hull’s is no exception to this fool proof notion. If you want amazing and super fresh seafood then you go to Hull’s seafood.
Hull’s is a low-key, no muss no fuss type of restaurant. You can get away with just about anything in terms of attire. Adjoining the restaurant is Hull’s seafood market where they offer any and every kind of fresh seafood and condiment you can think of for whipping up an amazing seafood meal if that is on your vacation agenda. And when I say fresh seafood what I mean is every time we have gone to eat there we have watched guys literally unload the boat and carry a cooler inside. Fresh as in, was swimming in the ocean that morning kind of fresh. Yes please!
I usually get the fried shrimp and they are some of the best I have had. The hushpuppies will make you cry and all of their sides are fresh and delicious. The line here is often out the front door so don’t be surprised if there is a wait but trust me it is 100% worth it.
We love to hit Hull’s on our way into or out of Daytona for lunch. We have also gone for dinner and it is just as good. This is such a great place when you want to keep it casual and just eat some really good food.
Another favorite on constant repeat with our family is Caribbean Jack’s. Caribbean Jack’s is a bit further from the main drag area but the food and view make the drive worth it! It is located at a marina and the view, especially at night, is gorgeous. Every time we have been there is always great live music and this time was also no exception. Are you seeing a trend yet? Their outdoor patio area is awesome. The tables rock just like a rocking chair so it is really fun for the kids. Caribbean Jack’s also offers indoor dining for those who prefer that but of course we opted for the freedom and relaxed environment that the outdoor dining offers, especially with littles in tow.
At Caribbean Jack’s you almost HAVE to get the fish or shrimp tacos. I had the mahi mahi fish tacos and my hubby had the shrimp tacos. They were mildly spicy, tangy, grilled, and just down right delicious. They served the tacos with rice and a fresh fruit mango salsa that is killer! The kids menu here was really good also. There were lots of good choices for the kids, large portions with the meal, and a great price. The kid’s meals also came with a free ice cream which I loved because it left the adult dessert to us.
The. Banana. Foster. PLEASE! Do yourself a favor. If you do nothing else in Daytona, go to Caribbean Jack’s and get the banana foster for real. It will literally change your life. I am not kidding. It is a mind blowing concoction of fresh bananas, ice cream, whip cream,a puff pastry, and a rum/praline like sauce. It is all that is right with the world friends. Caribbean Jack’s is the perfect way to wrap up any lovely day at the beach.
Charlie Horse is a Daytona Beach fixture. If you are a serious crab leg eater then you HAVE to go to Charlie Horse. This is what they are known for in my opinion. Sure there are other awesome things to eat here and I have tried other things on the menu but if you want the BEST thing on the menu then just go ahead and get the crab legs.
I still have not figured out what they do to their legs to make them so dang perfect but I venture to say they are the best I have ever had. I always end up ordering a pound or so and then have to upgrade my order because I just can’t get enough. I have no idea why their legs are so perfect but whatever it is they have it down to a science.
I love Charlie Horse because it is also on the main drag and smack dab in the middle of the “hotel district”. If you are staying near the beach then it is a breeze to get to. Also, this restaurant is a very casual dining experience so no need for getting all fancy here either which I love. What CH lacks in live music they make up for in fresh seafood and some cold beverages. Don’t be surprised if there is a healthy wait because this is another spot that is very popular with the locals.
Aunt Catfish’s on the River
I saved one of my all time favorites for last! Aunt Catfish is a Daytona Beach MUST. While Aunt Catfish is actually a bit down the road at Port Orange, Fl it is every single bit WORTH IT! Please understand that you will probably have to wait but it will 100% be worth it. This restaurant is located on the water and there is a ton to keep you occupied while you wait. There is usually live music outside, there is a playground for kids, you can stroll by the water and feed the fish, or grab some delicious beverages from the generous bar to sip on while you wait. I have never minded the wait but there is so much to keep you entertained in the meantime.
The food here is excellent. There is always a buffet in addition to items off of the menu. They have a fantastic salad bar that comes with meals and every person get the most amazing cinnamon roll after you eat that puts cinnabon to utter shame. The cinnamon rolls are to die for. Aunt Catfish has an awesome breakfast buffet that is super popular and I highly recommend it. One night we had AC for dinner and then went back for brunch because it is THAT good. The brunch has a waffle and omelet bar that was unbelievable. No matter what time of day you go to Aunt Catfish everyone in your group will be so glad you did and it will become a family tradition for you too.