From the races at Daytona Speedway to the space launches in Cape Canaveral, with miles of beaches in between, Florida’s east coast has it all—and great restaurants, too.
“The culinary scene in Daytona Beach includes some unexpected and amazing options,” said Linda McMahon, director of group sales for the Daytona Beach area CVB.
“Award-winning waterfront grills serve the freshest locally sourced seafood,” McMahon continued. “Gourmet fine dining features artisan cocktails, and we have a growing number of vibrant and eclectic craft breweries, wine cafes and fabulous food trucks that literally burst with delicious possibilities.”
When groups come to town, McMahon likes to show off the diversity of dining options.
“We go to Mai Tai Bar across from our convention center, Ocean Center, with an indoor and outdoor lounge and its tiki torches outside,” she said. “It’s a very popular spot, unique to our destination and features really great food.”
The VIP section can seat up to 50, and events in the entire bar can accommodate up to 300. Meanwhile, nearby Ocean Center offers more than 205,000 square feet of meeting space.
Zappi’s Italian Garden also has indoor and outdoor seating for up to 50 outside.
“It’s on Beach Street, which is filled with quaint shops and cafes,” McMahon said.
Another group favorite is The Cellar Restaurant, located in the historic district of Daytona Beach. It was once home to President Warren G. Harding, who used it to escape cold Ohio winters. Now owned by Culinary Institute of America graduate chef Sam Moggio and his wife Lina, it serves upscale Italian fare such as gnocchi alla Bolognese and bucatini carbonara.
“We welcome groups of up to 40 in the restaurant,” Lina said.
McMahon recommends a few restaurants north of Daytona in Ormond Beach, as well. One is the 31 Supper Club, housed in a Victorian home and once part of Henry Flagler’s Ormond Hotel. Built in the 1800s, today it’s furnished with Art Deco period items, including a bar from a Chicago speakeasy.
“It’s very high end with a Frank Sinatra feel, wonderful steaks and seafood with live jazz and blues played on a grand piano,” McMahon said.
Next door, Rose Villa Southern Table and Bar boasts the “best Southern fried chicken anywhere” according to Joanna Voss, administrative manager. With two dining rooms, a gazebo and front porch, groups of up to 40 can be accommodated.
“We also have the Roosevelt Room, filled with Theodore Roosevelt memorabilia that seats up to 20,” Voss said.
In the midst of a top-to-bottom renovation at the 323-room Plaza Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach, a brand-new oceanfront restaurant will be unveiled in 2018.
“To enhance your dining experience, a new menu and extensive wine list will be introduced upon the opening of the new restaurant,” said Chris Capozzi, director of sales and marketing. “Resort guests and groups attending conferences will enjoy the new concept and ambience that it offers.”
As part of its recently completed $25 million renovation, Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort opened Don Ricos Fresh-Mex Grill. The restaurant’s private room seats up to 35 for such fare as Don Ricos crab-stuffed avocado, grilled pineapple and jalapeno guacamole and Baja fish tacos.
Opened this month, the 200-room beachfront Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach features the signature Sessions restaurant and bar and the Wave Terrace with local beer, craft cocktails and raw bar.
ONE DAYTONA, the sprawling and spectacular 300,000-square-foot mixed-use project across the street from Daytona International Speedway, is opening in stages and will introduce a few restaurants, including Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, offering craft beers, pub fare and Tex-Mex. It will offer a rooftop patio for 140, a private dining room for up to 40 and seating for groups of up to 500 that take over the entire restaurant. Another dining option will be BUILT Custom Burgers with seating for up to 131 outside.