The second most populous city in Virginia, Norfolk is big on culture and cuisine: one of the oldest cities in the state, it’s steeped in history, which is reflected in much of the architecture and style of its dining venues. Previously the feature of another Culture Trip article, here is an updated list of the 10 unmissable restaurants and eateries in Norfolk, VA.
Owned and run by a husband-and-wife team, Chartreuse Bistro exudes the influence of French cuisine in their menu and philosophy. The duo aims to promote farm-to-table cuisine, using only locally sourced produce and ingredients from organic, chemical-free and sustainable farms and gardens. This dedication to ingredients is manifested in the minimalist menu, which lets the flavours and quality of the ingredients take centre stage. The menu changes on a daily basis, meaning diners will always have a new experience when they visit this charming bistro. Visitors can look forward to dishes such as sausage and kidney-bean stew, pan-fried veal sweetbreads, root vegetable salad, homemade fettuccini and pan-seared rockfish. For a European taste and experience, Chartreuse is the place to try.
Housed within the walls of an 140-year-old church, Freemason Abbey Restaurant is located right in the heart of Norfolk. Originally built in 1873, the building has had many functions, with its current incarnation as a restaurant taking form in 1988. Nowadays, the premises has a casual, tavern vibe, which is warm and inviting, with the stained-glass windows, high vaulted ceilings, and large fresco painting giving a nod to its ecclesiastical past. Seafood is the main component of much of the menu, and popular favourites include the award-winning house she-crab soup, the broiled seafood platter, hand-cut steaks, and smoked Gouda tenderloin penne. There are also daily specials which come with seasonal accompaniments for an eclectic and memorable dining experience.
Although a recent addition to Norfolk’s culinary scene, Handsome Biscuit has quickly become the place to eat in the city, both for locals and visitors. Located on the edge of Norfolk’s famous Ghent neighbourhood, Handsome Biscuit is simply decorated, but with an eccentric twist, resulting in an atmospheric and exciting venue. However, what makes Handsome Biscuit so popular is its menu of sweet-potato biscuit sandwiches. An unusual-sounding delicacy, these sandwiches are a reworking of the tradition English breakfast muffin, and Handsome Biscuit create a flavourful medley of ingredients that are sandwiched between these two buns. Fillings include chicken salad with pecans and mixed berry compote, and roasted pork shoulder with sweet hot mustard and cucumber. With these innovative and inventive eats, this is definitely one to watch out for.
The name of this eatery gives it away – No Frill Bar and Grill specialises in simple and casual, but quality, food. Found in the Ghent neighbourhood, the venue is always a hive of activity. Its menu celebrates the taste of American cooking, with dishes such as the multi-layered Norfolk Hot Brown, which consists of grilled chicken and Surry ham drenched in Norfolk Canyon ale cream sauce, and cheddar Jack over sourdough toast. This venue is also conveniently located just a few steps away from the Naro Theater, so is the perfect place for pre-theatre dinner and drinks. Desserts such as homemade six-layer cake of coconut cream, red velvet and chocolate, and drinks such as cosmopolitans and martinis, finish off an exemplary evening at No Frill.
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