Daytona Goes Foodie
An audio report by Traveling Chef Tom Leperi


Talking Travel's Traveling Chef Tom takes us to Daytona which has become a major culinary destination in Florida.


Daytona on Florida's Atalntic coast has progressed from being an inclusive vacation destination to include fine and upscale dining. Today it is more than Pizza and Tacos after a day at the beach.

As a travel and tourism destination it has many local permanent attractions such as:

  • The Beach — of course
  • Daytona International Speedway
  • Daytona USA – Official NASCAR and motorsports attractions
  • Museum of Arts and Sciences
  • Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet
  • Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
  • the De Leon Springs State Recreation Area.

Daytona also offers many recurring annual events:

  • numerous motorsports races
  • Bike week (Mardi Gras on wheels)
  • Fine Arts Shows, Fishing Tournaments
  • Biketoberfest
  • and Spring Breaks.

During a recent trip I stayed in a beautiful room at Perrys Ocean Edge Resort on the beach, enjoyed sunrise and sunset walks on the beach, attractions and other pleasures Daytona has to offer — especially the food.

A selection of where I dined


Perry’s Ocean Edge Resort

Complementary coffee and donuts are made fresh at the resort each morning.

Daytona Diner

A Harley Davidson classic where the local color is as good as the food. Standard breakfast fare served promptly with flair by courteous, lively staff. It is next door to the largest Harley Davidson dealer in the U.S.

Old Spanish Mill and Griddle House DeLeon Springs Recreation Area

Here you make your own pancakes or eggs on built-in griddles on each table. The menu includes local stone-ground whole grains, range-fed chicken eggs, and regular and vegetarian sausage.


The Dancing Avocado in downtown Daytona

A casual eatery, this restaurant has diverse flavors on the menu for both vegetarians and meat eaters. The Crab cake pasta and Gazpacho were excellent choices for a nutritious lunch.

Angel & Phelps Café and Chocolate Factory

The Café specializes in soup salads and sandwiches for lunch. The Ruben with coleslaw was excellent.

The Chocolate Factory

Established in 1925, this establishment adjoins the restaurant and offers free guided tours on a fascinating journey into the history and “how to” of the chocolate-making process. Visitors can watch more than 100 different candies being made by hand and boxed for shipment to chocolate lovers around the world as well as bringing home numerous delicacies.

Down the Hatch and Inlet Harbor Marina and Restaurant

These two rustic Florida seafood houses offer lunch and dinner on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway. Both serve excellent fresh seafood.

Down the Hatch presents a fine array of fresh local seafood excellently prepared with a pitcher of draft beer to accompany the delicacies of the deep. Fried Grouper Fingers served with tartar sauce were outstanding. The Grouper was caught the morning we had it for lunch. Smoked Fish Dip and Conch Fritters, two local favorites, makes “locals” of all visitors. The Shrimp — Steamed, Blackened, Fried — and Scampi were all outstanding. The broiled Sea Scallops were equally delicious.

DINNER (Fine Dining)

Frappe’s North in Ormond Beach

The restaurant offers a wonderful array of “Creative American Cuisine” and selection of fine wines. Frappe’s is an outstanding restaurant catering to local clientele. Its menu is varied and done with class. It also presents an excellent dinner and wine pairing. I especially liked the following:

Bar Harbor Lobster Bisque, dots of Roasted Aioli with Cambria Chardonnay; Watercress, Asian Pears, Fennel, Red Onion, Chèvre; Champagne Provençal Herb Emulsion with Chateau Ste Michelle Sauvignon Blanc “Horse Heaven”; Black Peppered Seared Ahi Tuna, Neapolitan Vinaigrette; Stone Free Micro Greens paired with La Crema, Pinot Noir; Tournedos of Filet Mignon, Gorgonzola, Aged Port Reduction; Applewood Bacon-Chive Yukon Gold Mashed with Big Horn, Cabernet Sauvignon; Espresso Crème Brûlée with Godiva Liqueur.

Le Crêpe en Haut

This landmark restaurant opened in 1979 as a quaint little French restaurant in the charming Fountain Square, and since has received the highest ratings for food, service and atmosphere from the Zagat Survey, and Florida Trend’s Top 200. Based on French Nouvelle Cuisine cooking methods, the menu has eclectic influences with a wide variety for every taste with fine wine selections from France, California, and Italy. I enjoyed the following:

House Salad and Bouillabaisse (shrimp, mussels, lobster, and assorted fish stew); The simple description belies the complexity of flavors, and declivitous taste and sheer volume of food. I am glad the waiter asked if I was hungry. A little more tomato and a little less saffron that I have had before but excellent. I had some as a snack the following day.


Stonewood Grill and Tavern

Launched in 1999 in Ormond Beach, the Stonewood restaurant concept has really taken off — entering markets in Orlando, Jacksonville, Naples, Gainesville and Fort Myers, as well as Cary and Raleigh, North Carolina. Stonewood is built on the tradition of excellent food, outstanding service, and simple enduring quality.

Stonewood has an excellent selection of Appetizers, Entrée Salads and Sandwich platters, meat from the oak grill, oak-grilled or blackened seafood, and a variety of the Chef’s Favorites.

On Martini Night you get specialty martinis for one dollar. I enjoyed the “Delicious Dirty Martini.”

Based on my dining experience and the reaction of the surrounding diners, Stonewood easily met and exceeded its tradition of excellent food, outstanding service, and simp0le enduring quality.

I started my meal with a sampling of three appetizers with Classic Bruschetta (vine ripened tomatoes, basil, olive oil and parmesan cheese over grilled garlic bread); Baked Brie (topped with fire roasted red peppers, fresh basil and infused olive oil) served with seedless grapes, and fresh baked baguette; and Seared Ahi Tuna (Sushi grade tuna seared rare and served with a fresh mixed greens and house sesame ginger dressing).

I continued with Herb Encrusted Lamb and a glass of Marryville “Starmont” Cabernet NAPA. (French cut, slow roasted rack of lamb, whole grain Mustgard mint sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and fresh steamed asparagus.

I might add that I passed on dessert.


Martini’s on the Bay for drinks. Signature Martinis and other tasty libations in a South Beach setting.

Taverna for appetizers. “Greek food with soul” on an upstairs balcony overlooking the streets of downtown.

The appetizers here could easily be a meal and very delicious:

Melitzanosalata (grilled eggplant, lemon and parsley)
Tzatziki (homemade yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill)
Scordalia (creamy garlic and potato spread)
Deftedes (fresh Ground beef, onion, kasseri cheese, and parsley served in a tomato cinnamon sauce)
Spanakopita (spinach, leeks and feta cheese wrapped with phyllo dough
Gigades Lima beans, fresh tomatoes, onion, Greek spices with a drizzle of olive oil, and love.

We then followed with salads and a tasting of main courses served as appetizers:

Horiatiki Salad (Greek country salad of tomato, cucumber, green pepper, onion, Kalamata olives, feta, spices, and olive oil & love)
Taverna Salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green pepper, onion, Kalamata olives, feta, spices, and olive oil & love.
grilled chicken, pork and lamb)

The above are served with warm country bread.

Song Mongolian Grill for dinner (You choose the food and the chef grills it to your liking on and exotic setting.)

The Cellar for dessert (A delicious end to a perfect evening. Last and definitely not least is the Cellar Restaurant located in the historic home of President Warring G. Harding built in 1907. He came here to escape from the cold Ohio winters. Chef Sam Moggio, is a graduate of the renowned Culinary Institute of America and has 21 years professional experience. Prior to Florida he worked in New York and Italy.

The menu, in Italian with English descriptions, contained very enticing appetizers, salads, pastas, meat, and fish dishes. To my dismay and disappointment, I only had room for dessert.

Tiramisu Fiorentino (home-made, classic, light version of coffee, Mascarpone cream, and lady fingers with Cappuccino)

I was also served a glass of Port (Ramos Pinto: Unfiltered Riserva Portugal) along with a tasting of:
Tort Di Cioccolata (an “almost flourless” dense, rich, semi-sweet chocolate tort baked with only a touch of flour, served slightly warmed)

Hazelnut gelatto