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Curated by Patrick Evans-HyltonThree days of dining and drinking experiences at breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and after hours.Eats and drinks recommendations for singles, couples, and families.
It was 1976, America’s bicentennial year.
Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia, was president. Disco songs like “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees topped the charts. Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, andCharlie’s Angels were on everyone’s boob tube. And folks gathered along the Downtown Norfolk waterfront for the first time to celebrate the region’s richness with Harborfest.
Norfolk Harborfest, now in its 43rd year, is America’s largest, longest-running, free maritime festival. It takes place Friday – Sunday, June 7 – 9, 2019. And this year, a multitude of events, theatre, dance, music, tours and more come together on this same weekend for a truly EPIC WEEKEND!
In addition to the great dining and drinking experiences described below that are available all year round, Norfolk Harborfest also offers a wide assortment of unique open air vendors with artisan foods and beverages offered on this special festival weekend.
Come celebrate the EPIC WEEKEND, come celebrate Norfolk. Come early, stay late. Stay overnight. Since 1682 Norfolk has been the shining star in the regional constellation of Coastal Virginia, and has emerged as a place fit for foodies.
VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com’s publisher, noted chef and food journalist Patrick Evans-Hylton, has spent three decades here, raising a fork and a glass to the good eats and good eats of Norfolk through broadcast, print, and social media. Patrick is also Festevent’s culinary advisor, and his advice to everyone is to make this the tastiest Epic Weekend ever by exploring the great restaurants and watering holes in-and-around Downtown Norfolk. Here are his recommendations:
Each day of the EPIC WEEKEND is organized with recommendations for Singles, Couples and Families. You are invited to review ALL these amazing culinary destinations and choose your favorites. Plus, “Pair” your culinary experiences with the venues, events and attractions that are in close proximity to your destinations!
SINGLESFolks going it alone or maybe with a BFF during the EPIC WEEKEND have plenty to eat, drink, and do in Downtown Norfolk.
COUPLESThe EPIC WEEKEND is for lovers, and there are plenty of eats, drinks, and dos in Downtown Norfolk for you and your significant other.
FAMILIESDowntown Norfolk is a great place for families with something at every turn to eat, drink, or do for dad, mom, and kids.
Festevents’ culinary advisor, Chef Patrick Evans-Hylton of VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com, has curated a list of favorites to please your palate:
HAIR OF THE DOG EATERY (Great for Singles) www.HairOfTheDogVa.com 250 Granby Street757-500-7435
This fun, locally-owned and operated eatery focuses on breakfast and lunch offerings with a decided comfort food twist.
Must Eat:Start the day with the Southern Grit Bowl, a generous serving of stone-ground grits mixed with gouda cheese and baby kale, seasoned with Old Bay then topped with shrimp, lump crabmeat, and a sunnyside-up egg
Must Drink:The Ricky Boby bloody mary is always a treat: a heady mix of moonshine and A-1 steak sauce is poured into a glass with a ranch powder rim and garnished with a Slim Jim.
Nearby:MacArthur Center, MacArthur Memorial, Selden Market, USS Wisconsin
ZEKE’S BEANS & BOWLS (Great for Couples) www.facebook.com/ZekesNFKIn the Neon District, 800 Granby Street757-963-5220
This fun and quirky coffeehouse (hence the “beans” in the name, also serves up solid “bowls” of eats and other dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Must Eat:The PB&J Bowl is where it’s at: acai smoothie blended with peanut butter is topped with granola, banana, strawberry, coconut, almonds, and raisins. Another awesome option is the Southern Loco Moco, a bowl of white rice smothered in sausage gravy and chorizo and topped with two sunny-side eggs.
Must Drink:Grab a pour over, single origin Intelligentsia coffee, roasted weekly, or Carrot Ginger cold-pressed juice. In the brilliantly hued glass is carrot, pineapple, ginger, and lemon.
Nearby:Chrysler Hall, Chrysler Museum, Neon District
D’EGG DINER(Great for Families)www.DEggNorfolk.comAt Selden Market, 204 E. Main Street757-626-3447
A locally owned diner with breakfast offerings that always please.
Must Eats for adults:The Norfolk Benedict showcases poached eggs served on English muffin and topped with house-made hollandaise sauce. From the side dishes, we can’t pass up grits.
Must Eats for kids:Kids will love the colorful, confetti-esque Fruitty Pebble Pancakes.
Nearby:MacArthur Center, MacArthur Memorial, Selden Market, Slover Library, Town Point Park, USS Wisconsin, Waterside District
TODD JURICH’S BISTROwww.ToddJurichsBistro.com 150 West Main Street757-622-3210
We’ve long loved Todd Jurich’s Bistro, a sleek, cosmopolitan restaurant that was a pioneer in Downtown Norfolk dining. It’s always a sure bet at dinner, but we love to come for a nice, leisurely lunch.
Must eat:Many of the same delicious dishes from dinner show up on the weekday lunch menu too,, so lucky us. Consider the rich Hereford Filet Mignon, cooked to order and served with crispy polenta, creamed spinach, and bistro steak sauce. But also consider another of our favorites, the Local Jumbo Flounder & Lump Crab Norfolk, served with lemon butter. Both are best bites, but then again, the menu is full of deliciousness.
Must drink:One of the lovely things about lunch at Todd Jurich’s Bistro is the option of adding a glass of wine with your meal for just $6. We always appreciate the thoughtful selections offered.
Nearby:MacArthur Center, MacArthur Memorial, Selden Arcade, USS Wisconsin
THE STOCKPOT (Great for Couples)www.StockpotSoups.comAt Selden Market, 215 E. Plume Street757-227-3337
With a focus on soup, that’s always a great bet at Chef Anne Galante’s The Stockpot, but there are other great items to explore too at this charming, two level bistro.
Must Eat:Don’t tell mom but there is no way her Chicken Noodle Soup is better here. We’re bowled over (see what we did there?) with this offering of chicken broth filled with chicken breast, tamari, ginger, green onion, kimchi, and cilantro over soba noodles. Splurge and add a poached egg. Also a sure bet is the Zucchini Noodle Greek Salad, an offering of spiraled zucchini noodles topped with red onion, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, garbanzo beans, olives, and pepperoncini then drizzled with a citrus vinaigrette.
Must Drink:Sure it’s midday, but treat yourself with a Whiskey Sour, offered on draft, or perhaps a Bold Rock Virginia apple cider.
GRANBY STREET PIZZA(Great for Families) www.GranbyStreetPizza.com235 Granby Street757-622-5084
A locally-owned, classic pizzeria with traditional Italian offerings to sate adults and kids.
Must Eats:Start with an order of garlic knots, served with marinara sauce, and share the Chicken Ranch white pizza, a 14- or 18-inch pie topped with grilled chicken, ranch, tomato, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and bacon.
Must Drinks:For the adults, local brewery O’Connor’s El Guapo beer is available.
BYRD & BALDWIN BROS. STEAKHOUSE(Great for Singles)www.ByrdBaldwin.com 116 Brooke Avenue757-222-9191
Get to the lounge when this stunning, upscale steakhouse opens at 4 p.m. The varied wine list is extensive with something for every palate.
GRAIN ROOF GARDEN & LOUNGE(Great for Everyone) www.GrainNorfolk.comInside Hilton Norfolk The Main, 100 E. Main Street757-763-6279
You may not want to stay out too late with the kiddies, but do stop by Grain, a rooftop beer-centric eatery at Hilton Norfolk The Main. The whole family can sit outside in the garden area while the folks enjoy one of the quality craft brews on tap.
CHARTREUSE BISTRO(Great for Couples)www.ChartreuseBistro.us205 E. City Hall Avenue757-965-2137
Step in off the street and get lost for a bit during Happy Hour at Chartreuse Bistro. Entering Chartreuse, it is easy to imagine you are in a quaint cafe someplace in one of those Scandinavian countries where everything is beautiful, from the food to the furniture design. Tall, floor-to-ceiling windows afford views of the tree-lined Main Street in downtown Norfolk, just across from the federal building. The light rail rumbles by, and sun light floods in, filling the succinct space, which is decorated like something out of a Martha Stewart-meets-Ikea catalog.
The feel and the food come from Norway-born Executive Chef Christopher Corrie, who owns and operates the eatery with his wife, Karine Varga; inspiration for Chartreuse Bistro came from their 2009 honeymoon. Cocktails and Crudo is offered weekdays during a short window from 5-6 p.m.
S’MORES AMORE(Great for Families) www.SmoresAmore.comInside Selden Market, 208 E. Main Street757-386-0303
Chef/owner Duane Dinio offers an upscale take on the classic treat for a very happy hour for one and all. Flavor varieties vary, but the Original is always available. Get gooey with vanilla marshmallow made-from-scratch atop a graham cracker and chocolate brownie crust. The marshmallow is toasted in front of you with a chef torch for a snack and a show.
LUCE (Great for Singles)www.LuceNorfolk.com 245 Granby Street757-502-7260
This cute-as-a-button tiny eatery offers big Italian flavors from chef/owner Antonio Caruana. The food is honest and straight-forward and highly sought after; make early dinner plans.
Must eat:Start with the ethereal Mushroom Toast, an offering of portobello, white, and cremini mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, truffle oil, porcini dust, and Madera. The Pollo Al Limone is a delight with a pounded chicken breast topped with bright flavors from capers, tomato, white wine, and lemon.
Must drink:Who loves bubbles? We do, especially in the Fizzy Lift, a cocktail of vodka, grapefruit, simple syrup, prosecco, and orange bitters.
OMAR’S CARRIAGE HOUSE(Great for Couples)www.OmarsCarriageHouse.com313 W. Bute Street
Omar’s Carriage House has been pleasing palates for more than two decades in this charming building, which was a carriage house in the early 1840s. Look for classic offerings at dinner (and at lunch weekdays and Sunday brunch) with a hint of French cuisine and a touch of Morocco, a nod to owner Omar Boukhriss’ heritage.
Must Eats:Start by sharing the Brie en Croute, and Old School dish of phyllo-wrapped brie topped with rosemary caramel and walnuts, then baked until the cheese inside becomes ooey and gooey then served with sliced apple and toast points. The stalwart Steak au Poivre never disappoints: a grass-fed angus strip steak is crusted with coarsely cracked peppercorns and cooked to order, creating a delightful crust on the beef. It is served with truffled fries. Another must-bite is the Moroccan Chicken, a fragrant, seasoned bird offered with pickled lemons, olives, and saffron rice.
Must Drink: Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, perhaps a pinot grigio with the brie, a cabernet sauvignon or merlot with the steak, and a pinot noir with the chicken.
Nearby:Chrysler Museum, Neon District
LAMIA’S CREPES(Great for Families)www.LamiasCrepes.com401 Granby Street757-961-1181
Crepes are cool and crepes are fun, and at Lamia’s these thin French pancakes are filled with a number of savory and sweet ingredients that please the whole family.
Must Eats:For dads and moms, try the Poulet, a crepe filled with roasted chicken breast, spinach, mushrooms, swiss cheese, and house-made bechamel sauce, or the Rosbif, a stuffed crepe with roast beef, tomatoes, red onions, swiss cheese, and house made horseradish sauce.
Kids will enjoy the Parisian, basically a dream-come-true grilled cheese, with swiss cheese and butter inside the crepe.
Sweet teeth of all ages will love the Classic, a crepe simply prepared with Nutella spread and chocolate sauce then topped with powdered sugar.
Nearby:Chrysler Hall, MacArthur Center
CULTURE LOUNGE & RESTAURANT(Great for Singles)https://www.facebook.com/culturelounge757/ 814 Granby Street757-655-1433
This eclectic, energetic lounge seems to personify the very essence of the Neon District with its artsy surroundings and artistic tapas and specialty cocktails. Look for the signature fishbowl cocktails, a shareable, ginormous blend of vodka, coconut rum, blue curacao, sour. mix, pineapple juice, and lemon-lime soda.
THE BARREL ROOM(Great for Couples)www.TheBarrelRoomVa.com437 Granby Street757-625-2337
Live music from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. and eats and drinks specials are highlights to this lively neighborhood hangout. Check out the selection of 50 craft beers, artisanal wine and premium spirits including more than 30 bourbons and other whiskeys
COMMUNE(Great for Singles)www.CommuneVB.com759 Granby Street757-962-2992
Their own farm and bakehouse supply the trendy sustainable eatery, located in the Neon District. An airy and inviting dining space and chef curated farm-to-table comfort foods are a great way to start the day.
Must eat:The Cornmeal Waffles are always a delight: fluffy flat cakes made from heirloom cornmeal are topped with a choice of pasture-raised fried chicken thigh or house made pork breakfast sausage. A sunny side-up egg, chamomile butter, and hickory syrup round out the dish. Get a side of cheddar grits.
Must drink:The coffee is blue ribbon worthy, especially with the addition of lavender syrup, but hey, it’s Saturday, so why not try the Sorbet Mimosa, a glass of Virginia sparkling wine topped with a choice of house made sorbet.
CAFE STELLA(Great for Couples)www.CafeStellaRoasters.com116 Granby Street757-625-0461
We’ve long loved Cafe Stella since opening their first location in Norfolk’s Ghent. The Downtown Norfolk store is just as charming; multilevels of seating and interesting decor gives you something to feed your mind while you do your body.
Must Eat:Anything that comes from chef/owner Stella Pomianek’s kitchen both savory and sweet, are prepared and presented with true finesse. Grab a paczki, a Polish jelly-filled donut, if they are available. Otherwise, the shakshuka, a Mediterranean-inspired dish of eggs poached in tomatoes and spices such as cumin, paprika, and nutmeg. The avocado toast is sublime.
Must Drink:There’s a lot to love about the lattes at Cafe Stella. Coffee here is amazing, and roasted fresh from Stella’s husband, Mariusz, also an owner. The latte builds on that bold shot of java with rich cream and just the right attention to detail.
CUISINE AT SLOVER(Great for Families) www.SloverLibrary.com/Cuisine-At-Slover Inside the Slover Library, 235 E. Plume Street757-431-7497
Start the day in a bookish way at Cuisine at Slover, an offering from Cuisine & Company inside the Slover Library. The stylish setting and fresh menu feeds the stomach; afterwards check out a book and feed the mind.
A succinct menu focuses on bagels, croissants, and pastries. A Bagel with Egg, Cheese & Bacon is always a favorite, while a cinnamon roll or chocolate croissant is a true treat.
LA HACIENDA FRESH MEXICAN GRILL (Great for Singles) www.facebook.com/HaciendaGrill Inside MacArthur Center, 300 Monticello Ave.757-271-8027
While dashing about and perhaps picking up a new hat or sunglasses to wear to Harborfest, visit this yum-azing California-style taqueria located inside MacArthur Center for a quick, quality bite.
Must eat:Try some a couple or three of La Hacienda’s authentic Mexican street tacos, such as the barbacoa, carne asada, or carnitas.
Must drink:Grab an iced tea, or a smoothie from an adjacent eatery in the mall’s food court.
Nearby:Chrysler Hall, MacArthur Center, MacArthur Memorial, Selden Market, USS Wisconsin
STRIPERS WATERSIDE(Great for Couples)www.StripersWaterside.comInside Waterside District, 333 Waterside Drive757-837-4100
Located in the dynamic Waterside District, Stripers Waterside offers stunning views of the Elizabeth River and Downtown Norfolk waterfront paired with a seafood-centric menu.
Must eat:Share the Bacon Wrapped Scallops to start, a nice serving of four scallops wrapped in bacon, pan-sautéed, and presented with sweet chili sauce over a bed of greens with a cucumber salad.
The Flounder Reuben is a standout: fried flounder on toasted ciabatta bread with Thousand Island dressing, slaw, and Swiss cheese with a choice of potato salad or french fries. Fish Tacos please too with fried mahi-mahi stuffed in corn tortillas along with lettuce, salsa, and queso fresco then drizzled with cilantro-lime aioli. Fish tacos are served with a side of fiesta rice.
Must drink: Bloody Marys aren’t just for breakfast any more. Try the Striper’s Traditional Bloody with vodka and mix served in a spice-rimmed glass with lemon, lime, olives and celery garnishes. The Mermaid Water is another must drink: spiced rum and coconut rum are mixed with blue curacao and pineapple juice for a tropical treat.
Nearby:Selden Market, Slover Library, Town Point Park, Waterside District
WISTERIA CAFÉ(Great for Families) www.Chrysler.orgInside The Chrysler Museum of Art, One Memorial Place757-333-6291
Enjoy a stroll through The Chrysler Museum and take a midday respite at Wisteria Cafe, managed by Cuisine & Company.
Must Eats:The family may want to start by sharing the Southern Sampler, a plate of pimento cheese, bacon jam, house made bread & butter pickles, country ham dip, and pickled peppers along with crostini.
Mom and dad will enjoy the Chesapeake Bay Crab Cake Sandwich offered with leaf lettuce on potato roll with citrus aioli, or the Lunch Trio, tasting portions of wild rice and spinach salad, chunky chicken salad, and sweet potato biscuit with Virginia country ham.
There is a kids menu with a peanut butter & Jelly sandwich, chicken fingers, or grilled cheese, but they would also love the grassfed hamburger of locally-raised grassfed beef on brioche roll with lettuce and tomato. Optional cheeses are havarti, provolone, or white cheddar.
TAP IT LOCAL(Great for Singles) www.TapItLocalCraftBeer.com 244 Granby Street757-533-9079
We love this charming tap room which not only offers great beers and other imbibes, but foods as well (try the wings!) in case you are feeling a bit peckish before dinner.
Beer’s what’s here. A wide assortment of local craft beers and brews from beyond the Chesapeake Bay are served up in cans, bottles (about 45), and from 20 drafts. The owners, Ashley and Chris McGrath, have forged great partnerships with some of Virginia’s top breweries, so trust us when we say you won’t be disappointed with whatever ends up in your glass.
SALTINE (Great for Couples)www.SaltineNorfolk.com Inside Hilton Norfolk The Main, 100 E. Main Street757-763-6280
There are few finer places to belly up to the bar and grab a skillfully crafted cocktail from chief mixologist Mark David Beyer and his crew. Cap off your experience at another bar, the raw bar, which highlights the finest clams, oysters, and shrimp from the waters of Coastal Virginia.
Must eat:During Happy Hour, peel-and-eat shrimp is priced at just $1 each, and James River oysters cost just 50 cents apiece. Not on special but worth a shot are Little Neck Clams, presented steamed and in-shell garlic and butter, or on the half-shell with sweet Thai chili mignonette.
Must drink:Five dollar cocktails during Happy Hour are a fresh daiquiri, Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, and Tom Collins. There are also deals on sommelier selected wines, and on draft beers.
HUMMINGBIRD MACARONS & DESSERTS(Great for Families) www.HummingbirdMacarons.com 265 W. Tazewell Street757-622-0506
Located in the stunning Pagoda, a gift from Taiwan during a good will trade mission in 1983, some of the most exquisite macarons this side of Paris can be found, along with an assortment of other sweet treats.
Take time in the afternoon to explore this area of the Freemason District and stroll through the Oriental gardens before grabbing one of these ethereal ganache or buttercream-filled meringue cookies at Hummingbird, located inside the Pagoda. Chef/owner Kisha Frazier offers an ever-changing assortment of macaron flavors, including stalwarts such as Nutella, rosewater, salted caramel, and vanilla birthday cake.
Nearby:Chrysler Museum, Historic Freemason District, Town Point Park, USS Wisconsin
CHOCOLLAGE(Great for Families)www.Chocollage.com201 College Place757-533-5335
Double your pleasure, double your fun with two sweet treats during Happy Hour. After grabbing a marvelous macaron, feed your inner chocoholic at Chocollage. But wait, there’s more than chocolate here: grab one of the more than a half-dozen cookies (shout out to peanut butter!), or a New York-style black and white cookie. We’ve also loved the brownies, cupcakes, and eclairs. Of note: Chocollage also offers
HELL’S KITCHEN(Great for Singles) www.HKNorfolk.com124 Granby Street757-624-1906
This vibrant Downtown Norfolk eatery has been pleasing palates for going on 20 years with straight-forward pub-grubby eats and drinks.
Must eat:Move over boring surfs and turfs, here’s the Steak and Cake. A hand-cut 6-ounce filet is cooked-to-order and served up with a jumbo lump crabcake and choice of two sides. Get the cut fries and garlic green beans. Of note: a succinct but nicely done menu of vegan options, such as BBQ Grilled Burrito and Stuffed Green Peppers.
Must drink:Enjoy a glass of merlot from the approachable wine list to pair perfectly with your steak and crabcake dinner.
VOILA CUISINE INTERNATIONALE(Great for Couples)www.VoilaCuisine.com609 Botetourt Street757-640-0343
This local gem is tucked away in the historic Freemason District. Make your way down cobblestone streets to Voila, a brilliantly-hued, shoebox-sized eatery. From restaurateurs John and Maggie Tsouris comes a menu to please every globe-trotting palate, including French and Greek dishes.
Must eat:A proper Greek Salad is the way to start, with a generous bowl filled with mixed greens and topped with feta cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and kalamata olives. Share the escargot, a dish of tender snails gently sautéed in butter and white wine with onions, garlic, and fresh basil.
Duck a l’Orange is our pick for entree: peppercorn dusted pan-roasted duck breast served with root vegetable sarladaise, orange gastrique, shaved fennel, and toasted pistachios. Another must-bite is the bouillabaisse, a wonderful organization of shrimp, clams, mussels, and fresh fish simmered in a rich saffron broth.
Must drink:An impressive two dozen hand-crafted cocktails are on the menu. We never turn down a Mai Tai, a boozy imbibe harkening back to the 1930s with aged rum, Cointreau, Orgeat, and fresh lime juice. Have a liquid dessert with the Espressotini, a mixture of premium roast Italian espresso, vodka, and Tia Maria.
Nearby:Chrysler Museum, Freemason Historic District, Neon District, USS Wisconsin
GRACE O’MALLEY’S IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT (Great for Families) www.IrishPubNorfolk.com211 Granby Street757-333-3330
Grace O’Malley’s offers a fun, family-friendly pub atmosphere with an extensive and varied menu.
Must Eats:Start the family meal out by sharing an order of Irish Nachos, a generous serving of french fries (or chips, as they say in the Old Country), topped with melted beer cheese, applewood smoked bacon, jalapenos, tomatoes, and scallions before being drizzled with a ranch creme fraiche.
Traditional fare includes Bangers and Chips, Shepherd’s Pie, and Corned Beef and Cabbage. We love breakfast for dinner, so the Irish Breakfast Stack is our choice for supper: a poached egg, Irish sausage, rasher (Irish bacon), and tomato are stacked atop an Irish potato pancake (boxty) and topped with hollandaise sauce.
There is a kid’s menu with such classic offerings as Bangers & Mash and Fish & Chips.
Must Drinks:The Paddy Palmer cocktail doesn’t disappoint with its delish mix of Paddy Old Irish Whiskey, triple sec, iced team, lemonade and mint; it’s served in a complimentary Grace O’Malley’s crush cup.
POURHOUSE OF NORFOLK(Great for Singles) www.facebook.com/PourhouseOfNorfolk 257 Granby Street757-233-9273
Billing themselves as Norfolk’s “la fin du monde,” literally “the end of the world” this edgy dark dive bar is open until 1:30 a.m. every day with bar food, cocktails, and music. Try one of the trendy cocktails while chilling for the evening.
BLUE MOON TAPHOUSE(Great for Everyone) www.BlueMoonTapHouse.com Inside Waterside District, 333 Waterside Drive757-426-7433
With three dining and entertainment sections, a tavern area, and outdoor patio, Blue Moon TapHouse at Waterside District offers a lot of options for mom and dad to grab a brew or two . We recommend the extensive patio, which has a stage, overlooks the Elizabeth River, and gives a grand view of Harborfest fireworks. At the taphouse, enjoy Blue Moon’s classic Belgian White, along with seasonal favorites like the Koslch, Mango Wheat, Iced Coffee Blonde and other varietals.
GERSHWIN’S(Great for Couples)www.GershwinsNorfolk.net332 Granby Street757-226-0814
Gershwin’s is a fun and classy way to cap off the evening. This 1930s-themed bar and bistro features live entertainment (think Cole Porter), classic cocktails, tasty bites, and a thriving scene until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
So think, WWGD? We’ll tell you What Would Grandmother Drink, at least back in the day: Manhattans, martinis, sidecars, drinks from a by-gone era shaken and stirred for the modern palate.
LA BRIOCHE (Great for Singles) www.facebook.com/LaBriocheNorfolk In the Neon District, 765 Granby Street757-226-9745
La Brioche, a charming French bakery, is one of the newest additions to the Neon District, serving up pastries and other treats.
Must eat:The menu changes, but venerable choices include croissants, pain au chocolat, and quiche. A recent quiche lorraine honored the classic breakfast and brunch dish with lots of creamy, cheesy goodness.
Must drink:Nous aurons un café noir, s’il vous plaît
FREEMASON ABBEY RESTAURANT AND TAVERN(Great for Couples)www.FreemasonAbbey.com209 W. Freemason Street757-622-3966
Elegant but casual, Freemason Abbey is set in a former church built in 1873. A soaring ceiling, wooden accents, and friendly service compliment a comfort food-centric breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu.
Must eat: The Wild West Western Skillet is a hearty way to start the day. Sliced wild boar sausage, sautéed onions, and sautéed peppers are served over brunch potatoes and scrambled eggs before being topped with melting cheddar cheese. You can add gravy for a small upcharge; why not? Also consider the Crab Bennie, and English muffin topped with seasoned crabmeat, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. Don’t leave without sharing the housemade Brandy Bread Pudding.
To drink:It’s brunch, which means that drinking alcoholic beverages before 5 p.m. is not only acceptable, but encourage. Mission accepted. Try one of the $4 cocktails on the menu: bloody marys, champagne, mimosas, or screwdrivers. For two bucks more, try the Manmosa, a beefed up version of the brunch classic cocktail with vodka, champagne, and orange juice.
Nearby:Chrysler Hall, Chrysler Museum, MacArthur Center, Neon District
SANCTUARY (Great for Families) www.HannahBranding.com/Sanctuary In the Neon District, 109 Addison Street757-583-8755
Tacos are a new American classic, and they aren’t just for lunch and dinner anymore. At Sanctuary you can get your taco fix at brunch, too.
Start with selecting a shell: hard or soft, or have your taco fillings on a pancake or in a bowl. Filling options include scrambled egg, ground beef or sausage, chicken, pork barbecue, or black beans. Lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese, sour cream and other usual suspect of toppings are augmented with jalapenos, cilantro, microgreens, avocado, and more.
THE GREEN HOUSE KITCHEN(Great for Singles) www.facebook.com/TheGreenHouseKitchen 345 Granby Street757-452-5889
This quaint Downtown Norfolk eatery focuses on salads and other healthier options. The feel is open and airy, and garden accents bring the outdoors inside.
Must eat:The Radiant is just that, a large salad showcasing thyme pan-seared boneless and skinless chicken thigh, lemon thyme couscous, fetta cheese, watermelon radish, grilled pineapple, orange segments, pickled garlic, and Italian parsley over fresh greens then drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.
Not seeking a salad? The Fish Board is fun: smoked salmon and smoked trout is served with such accoutrements as cream cheese, artichoke and arugula spread, pickled red cabbage, pickled garlic, boiled egg, red onion, cucumbers, capers, and tomato with fresh bread.
Must drink:Horchata, please. This dairy-free iced drink is simply assembled with rice milk, vanilla bean, and cinnamon.
CURE COFFEEHOUSE(Great for Couples)www.CureCoffeeHouse.com 503 Botetourt Street757-321-0044
Located in a historic building along the cobblestone streets of the Freemason District, Cure Coffeehouse is a cozy, comfortable place for eats and drinks.
Must eat:Share the Hummus & Pita, house-roasted red pepper hummus topped with smoked paprika and herbed olive oil then served with toasted pita points. For a bigger bite, don’t share the Brie LT. Between toasted baguette is a generous amount of melting brie cheese along with roma tomato, mixed greens, and a housemade vegan cracked pepper aioli. Another foodie find is the Turkey and Fig sandwich with roasted turkey, avocado, housemade fig jam, arugula, honey-dijon vinaigrette, goat cheese on toasted wheat bread.
Must drink:Grab a great cup of joe or another brew: Cure has a good selection of craft beers including four tap options.
Nearby:Chrysler Museum, Neon District, USS Wisconsin
THE GRILLED CHEESE BISTRO(Great for Families) www.TheGrilledCheeseBistro.com345 Granby Street757-233-2512
In what sounds like a restaurant you’d find in heaven, The Grilled Cheese Bistro is just that: a quaint downtown eatery specializing a variety of the always-favorite grilled cheese sandwich
Must Eats:For dad and mom, check out the Don Quixote, which won the best grilled cheese in Virginia. It’s a mouthful with fontina and parmesan cheeses, caramelized onion, oyster mushrooms, roasted red pepper, and olive tapenade.
Kids will love the Johnny Appleseed, a combination of sliced apple, applewood bacon, and melting cheddar cheese or the Gooey, a simple mix up of fontina, cheddar, and mozzarella cheeses.
Of note: gluten-free bread and vegan cheese is available upon request.
Must Drink:For a sweet treat, try the Draft Root Beer Float, a generous serving of coffee ice cream bathed in a glass of naturally-sweetened root beer.
NORFOLK TAP ROOM(Great for Singles) www.NorfolkTapRoom.com 101 Granby Street757-399-4010
In stunning surroundings in what was a bank in the early-to-mid 20th century, Norfolk Tap Room is a great place to sit and enjoy a couple of beers. There are 24 brews on tap, and hundreds more by the bottle; during Happy Hour, a dollar is taken off the price of each pint. If you skipped lunch or aren’t eating dinner until later, grab one of the gourmet burgers from Executive Chef Todd Leutner.
Nearby:MacArthur Center, MacArthur Memorial, Selden Market, Slover Library, Town Point Park, USS Wisconsin, Waterside District
BRICK ANCHOR BREW HOUSE(Great for Couples)www.BrickAnchor.com241 Granby Street757-431-7063
In a historic-rich building in Downtown Norfolk, Brick Anchor Brew House, a multi-level bar and bistro, offers a vibrant scene and quality eats and drinks.
Must eat:The wings, priced at $6 per half-dozen, are always great, especially the classic variety crafted with Frank’s Hot Sauce. The Mac-N-Cheeze Balls are another fave pub grub. Here house-made macaroni and cheese is scooped, rolled in parmesan-pinko crumbs, and deep fried, then served over queso; the cost $5.
Must drink:All well drinks, 50 percent off, $1.50 off Virginia draft beer, and other deals on wine and specialty cocktails. We love the Granby Peach, priced at just $4 and consisting of vodka, lemon juice, peach schnapps, and black raspberry soda.
FRUITIVE (Great for Families) www.Fruitive.comInside Hilton Norfolk The Main, 100 E. Main Street757-500-7946
Take a mid-day chill with a healthy offering at this plant-based, organic restaurant. Our favorites include Cacao Pow (cashew milk, banana, peanut butter, raw cacao, and maple syrup), Coconut Colada (coconut milk, pineapple, banana), and Peaches & Greens (almond milk, orange juice, peaches, spinach, kale, banana).
BIG EASY OYSTER BAR(Great for Singles) www.NorfolkSeafoodCo.com 111 West Tazewell Street757-227-6222
Adjacent to the Norfolk Seafood Company, Big Easy Oyster Bar serves up the flavor of the region with an extensive raw bar offering and other delights from the sea.
Must eat:Start with a Crab & Avocado salad, a fresh offering of crab, avocado, tomatoes, and peppers over mixed greens and drizzled with a bright lemon vinaigrette. Enjoy a cup of creamy She Crab Bisque, filled with jumbo lump crab and a served with a touch of marsala atop, then dive into some raw bar offerings: there’s oysters and clams served raw or steamed, and Carolina peel and eat shrimp too. A side of roasted potatoes never did hurt anyone.
Must drink:Akin to other great Downtown Norfolk restaurants such as sister eatery Byrd & Baldwin Bros. Steakhouse, a nice wine list provides many opportunities for sunshine in a glass, even if it is nighttime. Our suggested menu begs to be paired with a sparkling.
VARIA(Great for Couples)www.VariaNorfolk.com Inside Hilton Norfolk The Main, 100 E. Main Street757-763-6281
Varia is a richly appointed trattoria-style Italian eatery tucked in a cozy corner of Hilton Norfolk The Main. A well-appointed dining room, charming bar area, and piano lounge space showcase the upscale-but-approachable menus. Gather a group and enjoy one of the two hidden speakeasy-inspired private dining rooms.
Must eat: Where to start on the yum-azing menu from Executive Chef Fabio Capparelli? At the beginning, of course. Start by sharing an appetizer of Stuffed Figs; gorgonzola cheese, prosciutto, and barolo glaze bring the fruit to life. Also consider a pizza; we love the Pera, which tops a housemade crust, made with heirloom flour and organic honey risen 23 hours with lots of good things. Among those: roasted pears, sweet onions, gorgonzola, hazelnuts, and arugula.
With no doubt, the Pork Chop Calebrese is the star of the main courses. This Fred Flinstone-sized chop is adorned with peppadew and pepperoncini peppers, and demi oregano sauce. And while size matters, so does taste, and this tastes amazing. Another good bet: Wagon Wheel Bolognese, where wagon wheel-shaped pasta is tossed in a rich sauce of veal, beef, pork, cream, peas, and other vegetables.
Must drink: Ask sommelier Matthew Emborski to pair your dinner with one of the quality wines at The Main; you won’t be sorry.
GUY FIERI’S SMOKEHOUSE(Great for Families) www.GuyFieriSmokehouse.com Inside Waterside District, 333 Waterside Drive757-426-7433
Wrap things up Harborfest weekend at this rambunctious restaurant which is as full of flavor as it’s namesake celebrity chef.
Must Eat:Start by sharing the Trash Can Nachos, a beyond-huge offering of brisket ends, pit-baked beans, bourbon brown sugar barbecue sauce, cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, jalapenos, red onions, and cilantro over tortilla chips.
Dad will like the Big Bite BBQ Platter with dry-rubbed hardwood smoked spare ribs, 18 hour sliced brisket, smoked pulled pork, smoked andouille sausage, fry trip and white bread. Mom will enjoy the Apricot-Jalapeno Glazed Salmon, showcasing a cedar-roasted salmon filet with smoked sweet potatoes and crispy parmesan bacon brussels sprouts.
Kids will love one of the four burger offerings, or the Mac N Cheese Grilled Cheese. Yes, you read that correct. It’s six cheese mac-n-cheese, pimento cheese, cheddar and smoked gouda cheeses, and house pickles on triple stacked garlic-buttered toast.
Must Drink:A number of crafted, whiskey-based cocktails will help dad and mom chill.
Nearby:Selden Market, Slover Library, Town Point Park, Waterside District
AT NORFOLK HARBORFEST bit.ly/Harborfest19Town Point Park
While at Harborfest, enjoy a wide variety of artisan foods and beverages. There are lots of good eats and drinks in Town Point Park, at Main and Boush Streets near the USS Wisconsin, the Waterside District and two blocks of Granby Street just off Main Street.
It’s always a good time to dine out on the water. Check cruise dates, times, and delish details on eats and drinks served at these venues:
Two hour narrated harbor and sunset cruises depart from Waterside Marina aboard the schooner American Rover. After setting said grab some eats and drinks from the ship store or bar. Individuals may bring food and non-alcoholic drinks aboard, so grab some lunch or dinner from one of the Harborfest food vendors or one of the restaurants inside Waterside District. Private charters afford catered celebration opportunities.
Cruise along the Coastal Virginia waterways on an authentic replica of a 19th century paddlewheeler. Private charters offer opportunities for catered celebrations.
SPIRIT OF NORFOLKwww.SpiritCruises.com/Norfolk
An excursion along the Elizabeth River waterfront with spectacular skyline views and views of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. Cruises serving brunch, lunch, and dinner depart from the Otter Berth near Town Point Park in Downtown Norfolk. Also offered, cruises on the Virginia Elite, a private yacht, offering meals aboard ship as well.
Another water adventure to check out before or after a meal in Downtown Norfolk is this two-hour narrated naval base cruises from Nauticus. No food or beverage service onboard
Looking for a good eat to grab-and-go quickly to the festival or to enjoy on the way home? Many of the restaurants recommended throughout offer dishes to dash with, but here’s a few other ideas:
BENNY DAMATO’Swww.BennysVa.com131 Granby Street757-395-4696
Ever needed two hands to hold one slice of pizza? You will here. Golden brown crusts are the platform for delish ingredients, with the ginormous pies cut into ginormous slices. We like to keep it simple and enjoy the time-honored pepperoni, served up all marvelous and melty.
FAMOUS UNCLE AL’Swww.FamousAls.com151 Granby Street757-625-8319
Famous Uncle Al and his hot dogs have been a part of Norfolk and the region as a whole for going on four decades, and there’s a reason. Great dogs, great price, and friendly and quick service keeps you coming back. You can’t beat the original (we love the footlong!) served simply with choice of ketchup, mustard, relish and/or onions. The chili dog and slaw dog are always good bites, too. Look for other dishes to grab-and-go as well, including a variety of sandwiches.
GRANBY BISTRO AND DELIwww.GranbyBistroDelicatessen.com225 Granby Street757-622-7003
This family-owned bistro and deli offers a number of sandwiches including the classic chicken salad, egg salad, and tuna salad and specialty sandwiches such as a gyro, rueben, The Sailor (with knackwurst and pastrami), and veggie wrap. Also offered are several subs, including Combo (with ham and turkey), Italian, and Turkey. There’s also a Philly Steak Sub, a third-pound cheeseburger, and a half-pound cheeseburger.
JACK BROWN’S BEER & BURGER JOINTwww.JackBrownsJoint.com131 Granby Street757-961-7486
This low-key burger joint is a great place to sit for a while if you have the time, or just grab something and go. As the name implies, burgers are the name of the game. All are made with 100 percent all natural wagyu beef and other quality ingredients. Straight-forward hamburgers and cheeseburgers are on the menu, and so are specialty offerings too including the Elvis, a burger topped with peanut butter, mayo, applewood smoked bacon, and American cheddar cheese.
Patrick Evans-Hylton is a trained chef, beer, spirits and wine expert, and award-winning food journalist. He has reported on tasty trends in broadcast, print and social media since 1995. Patrick is publisher of VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com