Hog Heaven (37 N. Atlantic Ave., 386/257-1212, www.hogheavendaytona.com , 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., main courses from $7) is just a block from the Boardwalk and within walking distance to the bars of Main Street, so it shouldn’t even need to try to impress. But boy, Hog Heaven still dishes up a mighty fine plate of smoked meat. The usual suspects are on the menu—ribs, chicken, beef, and pulled pork. For a truly finger-licking experience, try the Sloppy Hawg, a sandwich stuffed with sauce-drenched beef, pork, and chicken; make sure to get a side of their deep-fried corn-on-the-cob and some pork-seasoned collards too. Your cardiologist may not approve, but your stomach will be pleased. The tiny dining room can’t accommodate too many people, so it’s best to drop in at nonpeak times.
Sapporo Japanese Steak House (501 Seabreeze Blvd., 904/257-4477, www.sapporofl.com , lunch 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Mon.–Fri., dinner 5–10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 5–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., main courses from $9) boasts a “sushi river” (kaitenzushi) serving system that will be familiar to people from the West Coast. Diners are seated around a circular bar-like table with a sushi chef in the middle. The chef prepares different rolls and sushi dishes, plops them onto color-coded plates, and then sets those plates afloat on little boats in a lazy river that flows in front of you; grab an appetizing-looking plate, and when you’re finished, stack up your empties so the waitstaff can tabulate your bill. There’s also a hibachi-style steakhouse and a full menu of traditional Japanese entrées.
Although it’s somewhat out of the way, and although there’s almost always a tremendous line, Pat’s Riverfront Cafe (3300 S. Peninsula Dr., 386/756-8070, 7 a.m.–2 p.m. daily, main courses from $5, cash only) is worth the effort in a town notably devoid of good breakfast spots. Massive pancakes, appropriately served one at a time, and overstuffed omelets are the marquee fare, but eggs-and-grits platters are done well and cheaply. Grab a free cup of coffee from the urn near the entrance and walk along the riverside marina for a while until it’s your turn to be seated; you won’t regret it.
There are only a couple of South Asian restaurants in the Daytona area, and Neelam Indian Cuisine (318 S. Atlantic Ave., 386/238-1022, www.neelamindianrestaurant.com , lunch 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., dinner 5–10 p.m., Tues.–Sun., main courses from $11) is not only the most convenient to the beach, it’s also the best. With a reasonably priced ($7.95) lunch buffet and a menu that adds a good number of south Indian seafood dishes to the expected array of north Indian curries and tandoor-cooked meats, Neelam is a welcome respite from the pizza and sub joints that clog Atlantic Avenue.
If you’re going to name your restaurant the Oyster Pub (555 Seabreeze Blvd., 385/255-6348, www.oysterpub.com , 11:30 a.m.–3 a.m. Mon.–Sat., 11:30 a.m.–midnight Sun., main courses from $8), you’d better have a place that serves up good oysters and good times. This mainstay of Daytona’s Party District has been around for almost 30 years, and though the interior is pretty utilitarian—basically a wide-open atmosphere-free space crammed with tables and TV’s—the staff is pleasant and the oysters are always of high quality; when local bivalves are out of season, the pub flies them in from where they’re fresh. They don’t go out of their way to provide high-end preparations, but the kitchen staff does a fantastic job with basic oyster plates (Rockefeller, Scampi, Casino). A standard selection of burgers, cold sandwiches, fried seafood, and bar grub rounds out the menu. When there’s a race or a big game on, be prepared to wait a while for a seat.
Cancun Lagoon (1735 W. International Speedway Blvd., 386/255-6500, www.cancunlagoon.com , 11 a.m.–1 a.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–midnight Sun., main courses from $10) offers a menu that’s ostensibly Tex-Mex but also includes a considerable number of grilled entrées like steak, ribs, chops, and chicken, along with a selection of seafood dishes. Still, it’s the fajitas, quesadillas, fish tacos, and tamales that are the main draw at this bar and grill. The ice-cold beer and comfortable outdoor patio don’t hurt either.
An upscale supper club may seem to be somewhat out of place in the bikes-and-beach atmosphere of Daytona Beach , and, Rain Supper Club (509 Seabreeze Blvd., 386/252-7246, happy hour 4–7 p.m., dinner 5 p.m.–late, main courses from $16) is indeed somewhat atypical among Daytona’s nightspots. Ostensibly a place to dance and be seen, Rain doesn’t skimp on the menu side. A substantial selection of steaks and seafood and even a veal and beef meatloaf are complemented by an equally large choice of appetizers—steamed dumplings, Caprese salad, Thai shrimp, seared scallops, and more—that are perhaps more manageable as the night wears on.
Located somewhat away from the bustle of the tourist strip, Martini’s Chophouse (1821 S. Ridgewood Ave., 386/763-1090, www.martinischophouse.com , 5–10 p.m. Tues.–Thurs., 5–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., main courses from $18) is a sedate and sumptuous respite from the buzzing beachside. With sophisticated and luxurious interiors providing a perfectly complementary atmosphere for the decadently sized slabs of meat served, Martini’s thrives as one of the few true high-end restaurants in Daytona. Though the menu items will be familiar—filet mignon, lamb, grilled salmon, pork osso bucco—they’re carefully prepared and perfectly plated. (Yucca fries with skirt steak? Oh, yes.) Despite the emphasis on providing a rich experience, menu items are reasonably priced, and the waitstaff are as friendly as they are attentive and knowledgeable.