Updated: Oct 1, 2019
Calling ourselves Good Bites & Glass Pints, we knew we'd be visiting a good deal of breweries. We're about halfway down the east coast right now and I got to say, there's a TON of breweries out there. Like Woah. And don't get me wrong, we love beer (Good Bites & Glass Pints, remember?) But honestly, there's only so many pictures you can take of a glass of beer. I needed something new, something inspiring, something different. I needed......honestly I needed some eggs, I'm hungry. WE SHOULD FIND A BRUNCH PLACE!! And I’m so happy we did because what we found was a goldmine. At Doc Taylor’s on Virginia Beach, everything from the service to the names of the menu items themselves, created an environment that felt warm & welcoming, as if you’d been dining there for your whole life. We can’t wait to go back, because this brunch spot is ...just what the doctor ordered (I couldn’t help it).
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Virginia Beach. The sun was shining, big puffy clouds hung in the air, and the ocean breeze was invigorating. Just around noon, we rolled up with our bus at Doc Taylor’s. Or rather, I think this is Doc Taylor’s...it looks like someone’s house, not even a sign outside. Well, as it turns out, Doc Taylor’s is a Virginia Beach institution. They’ve been serving the local community for so long, they don’t even need a sign at this point. Word of mouth is all you need when you make food that good.
Walking in, we were greeted by a cheerful host (Justin) standing at a podium. He informed us there would be a 20-30 minute wait—considering how full the place was—not too bad at all. While we waited we thought we’d get the lay of the land, and poke our heads into the various dining areas. It definitely had the ‘feel’ of a home office, the arch of the doorways, the old fireplace, and mantle. If you could see past the tables and chairs, and imagine the room filled with big velvet curtains, bookshelves full of medical texts, and a couple of leather armchairs—it felt like Doctor Taylor never left. To aid in the illusion, they even had a couple of framed photographs of the good doctor with his patients, some of his prescriptions, even a copy of his medical doctorate! Along with the doctor’s medical memorabilia, Doc Taylor’s walls were decorated with a classic assortment of diner decor from old retired kitchen utensils, antiques, old boxing posters, and even some long-forgotten board games. The main dining room (with the fireplace) had about a dozen tables, give or take. On the other side of the host stand, you’ll find the bar area, with a small 6 seat bar, and a smattering of tables, plus a couple of counter seats that face the open kitchen. Through the bar area, there’s a screened-in porch off the front of the building, with another eight or so tables. Looking at all the plates on the tables, it was easy to understand why they didn’t need a sign. Just when we thought our stomachs were going to turn on us, two seats opened up at the bar and we prepared to feast.
If the counter seats are the front row to the culinary show, then sitting at the bar was like having box seats. We got to watch everything. Eggs being cracked open, bagels being toasted, hash being slung, cocktails being shaken, cooks weaving back and forth with one another—now this is good TV. The open kitchen plan, really reinforced that feeling like you’re having breakfast cooked at home. Everyone was talking to everyone, cooks talking to guests, servers talking cooks, guests talking to guests. And the cooks weren’t shy about making sure people got their food on their table in a timely manner. We were front and center on the expo station (where the plates get lined up to be served) and the chef was a culinary conductor, shouting orders to his line cooks, calling out for servers to run the food. It was a carefully orchestrated dance. This kitchen cared about their product, they made sure food wasn’t sitting in the window, so the guest experiences their meal in its best form, right off the griddle (also, I’m sure, they didn’t want the meal to get cold so they didn’t need to make it again…). It was nice to see the kitchen staff work so effortlessly & efficiently on such a busy brunch shift. If I thought I was hungry before, then by this point I felt like I was starving.
Luckily for me the hungrier I get, the more decisive I get. I got the Eggs Benedict without a second thought, and a side of corned beef hash (my first love). The eggs benedict was a classic, two poached eggs, served on crispy English muffins with Canadian bacon, a heavy pour of house-made hollandaise following down over the eggs like a buttery stream, and a side of shredded hash browns, which to me is the only way you should serve them. The corned beef hash was savory and moist, but with a sweet crispy exterior with just the right amount of saltiness that melted on your tongue. I will always get a side of hash whenever possible for brunch, it always makes the meal better, and Doc Taylor’s hash is no exception.
Chris had been itching for some southern food and jumped at the chance to try their Catfish Po’boy. Lightly fried catfish fillets, on a sub roll, with lettuce, tomato, and their own handmade green apple tartar sauce. Oh boy, was this po’boy good. The fish was light & flaky with such a great satisfying crunch. And that green apple tartar sauce? It was sweet, it was tangy, it was the best thing they could have put on that roll. We’re so glad we didn’t have to wait too long, but now we know, this is definitely worth waiting for.
Although Doc Taylor’s is a breakfast & lunch operation, their bar doesn’t care. Their fully stocked bar aims to serve Virginia Beach their preferred medicine, whether it be local craft beer, wine, or one of Doc Taylor’s signature cocktails. Their Bloody Mary’s are renowned, like, people can’t stop talking about them. And at only $2.75 a pop, why wouldn’t you get one? (Chris’ excuse is that he gets heartburn, but I’ve just never really come to terms with tomato juice as a mixer...) So, we had to sample the local beer (We’re Good Bites AND Glass Pints, how do you keep forgetting?). We went with Back Bay Brewing Co.’s Steel Pier Boho Lager and Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co.’s Vienna Lager. The Boho Lager was light and crisp, the perfect beer for drinking before five o’clock. And the Vienna Lager was smooth with toasted caramel notes, an all-around easy drinking malty beer (Chris actually went out and got a six-pack the next day!).
Everyone, customers & staff alike were living it up in this bustling brunch spot. I remember those crazy busy shifts rather fondly actually. When you’re right in the thick of it, just a blur of plates, order pads, and silverware—I was in the weeds—but I knew the busier I was, the more cash I had in my pocket. And that's all I needed to push me through it, with a genuine smile on my face. This is a landmark in the midst of Virginia Beach, that thrives in the weeds (if they get in them at all). The cooks, servers, hosts, bartenders, they work together flawlessly, as one well-oiled machine to serve the many hungry. They kept the spirit of Doc Taylor alive, not just in the name, but with the feel of the space and with an attention to detail in caring for the needs of their “patients”. The quality of their food & drinks is second only to the people that make it happen. Don’t worry if you don’t find Doc Taylor’s on your first try (we know we didn’t), but once you walk through their door, you couldn’t forget about them if you tried.
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