26 February 2024

Dining: Downtown Norfolk Restaurants 

Take a walk up Granby St. on any given night and you’ll think you’ve wandered into a trendy NYC borough complete with restaurants of every cuisine type and happy foodies enjoying dinner on sidewalks and in cozy parklets. From the cozy and casual to the upscale and on-trend, Norfolk downtown restaurants have a little bit of something for everyone.


Here are a few of our favorite restaurants in Downtown Norfolk.

Burgers, beer and fries at Grain, Norfolk Hilton The Main.
Grain, Norfolk Hilton The Main

American Cuisine

Choongman Chicken — Wings, tenders. 436 Granby St.

Hair of the Dog — Comfort food with a Southern twist. 250 Granby St. 

Grain — Elevated beer garden in the Hilton Norfolk The Main. 100 E. Main St. 

Todd Jurich’s Bistro — Upscale dining and fine wines. 150 W. Main St. 

Canvas Social Cuisine — Soul food, comfort food, Caribbean. 411 Granby St. 

Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse — Smoked meats, barbecue, more. 333 Waterside Dr.

The Stockpot — Soups, salads, pastries in Selden Market. 215 E. Plume St. 

219 Bistro — Fresh seafood, charcuterie, steaks, more. 219 Granby St. 

The Norfolk Grille — Fresh meals and snacks at the Nauticus. One Waterside Dr. 

The Grilled Cheese Bistro — The name says it all. Featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” 345 Granby St.  

Circuit Social — Video games, self-serve beer taps, food. 258 Granby St. 

Granby Bistro and Deli — American comfort foods and deli selections. 225 Granby St. 

Brothers Norfolk — Black-owned steakhouse and jazz club. 300 Monticello

Hell’s Kitchen — Wings, pizza, wraps and live music. 124 Granby St. 

Tap It Local — Burgers and craft beer. 244 Granby St. 

Codex — Upscale farm-to-table dining. 429 Granby St. 

The Bistro on Main —Urban bistro serving modern spins on Southern fare. 500 E. Main St.

Sweet Jam Cafe — Soul food. 1446 Church St. 

Famous Uncle Al’s — Breakfast, hot dogs and deli favorites. 151 Granby St. 

Tinto Wine and Cheese — Gourmet cheese, charcuterie, paninis. 999 Waterside Dr. 

Johnny Rockets — Classic American burgers, fries and shakes. 300 Monticello in MacArthur Mall. 

Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint —  Excellent burgers and craft beer. 131 Granby St. 

Baxter’s Sports Lounge — Burgers and brews in a sports bar. 500 Granby St. 

Gershwin’s — Upscale bistro with live music (American standards). 332 Granby St. 

D’egg Diner — Breakfast and lunch with traditional favorites. 204 E. Main St. 

Granby Waffle Shop — Chicken, waffles, good times. 235 E. Plume St. 

Gourmet Gang — Bistro offering healthy alternative to fast food. 482 E. Main St. 

Syd’s Fish Pig Cafe — Award-winning Southern regional food with a French twist. 210 E. Main St. 

Byrd and Baldwin Steakhouse —  Fine dining steak and chophouse. 116 Brooke Ave. 

Pokey on Granby St. @melissa_dabucon
Pokey on Granby St. @melissa_dabucon

Asian

Bonchon — Korean fried chicken. 273 Granby St. 

Ya-Ya Asian Gourmet House — Modern interpretation of classic Asian dishes. 109A College Pl. 

Dong Tay — Authentic Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. 435 Monticello Ave.  

Hokkaido Sushi Bar — Specialty rolls and Chinese cuisine. 233 Granby St. 

Pokey — Fresh poke and ramen. 215 Granby St. 

Sakura Elite Sushi Bar & Hibachi — Asian fusion and sushi. 300 Monticello Ave.  

Sushi King Monticello — Fresh sustainable sushi and hibachi. 420 Monticello Ave. #100

Rama Garden — Fresh Thai favorites. 441 Granby St. 

Restaurant inside the Glass Light Hotel on Granby St. in Downtown Norfolk, VA.
Glass Light Hotel on Granby St.

European 


Chartreuse Bistro — Organic, farm-to-table foods to the table using European techniques. 205 E. City Hall Ave.  

Monastery Restaurant — Tastes from across Europe with gourmet desserts. 443 Granby St. 

Mermaid Winery — Charcuterie boards, flatbreads and entrees to pair with local wines. 101 Granby St. 

Istanbul Gyro and Kebab — Tasty Turkish Mediterranean Cuisine. 723 Monticello Ave. 

Glass Light Restaurant — Art-themed upscale eatery in the Glass LIght Hotel. 201 Granby St. 

Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub and Restaurant — Irish pub fare and an excellent beer handle selection. 211 Granby St. 

Indian

Saffron Indian Bistro — Large selection of traditional Indian cuisine. 420 Monticello #170

Bartender pouring a glass of wine at Luce, Downtown Norfolk restaurant.
Luce Norfolk

Italian 

Capo Capo — Prime steaks, chops and seafood with an Italian-influenced menu. 235 E. Main St.

Luce — Traditional dishes like Osso Bucco, pasta, more. 245 Granby St. 

Varia — Italian trattoria with lush interior inside Norfolk Hilton The Main. 100 E. Main St. 

Leone’s Italian —  Authentic atmosphere, authentic ingredients. 455 Granby St. 

Mexican 


Plaza Azteca — Burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, more. 411 Granby St. 

Pizza


Chicho’s Backstage — Pizza, wings, salads, more. 320 Granby St. 

Benny Damato’s — Serving New York-style-inspired pizza to order, sliced from a 28-inch pie. 131 Granby St. 

Outdoor dining at Saltine in Downtown Norfolk.
Saltine, Norfolk

Seafood


456 Fish — Tuna, salmon, shrimp and other fresh fare from the sea. 456 Granby St. 

Stripers Waterside —  Seafood, pasta, steak, sandwiches and more. 333 Waterside Dr. 

Saltine — 100 E. Main St.

Norfolk Seafood Company and Big Easy Oyster Bar — Oysters, flounder, scallops, crab. 111 Tazewell St. 

Black Tuna Bar and Grille — Fresh seafood in the Wyndham Garden Norfolk Downtown hotel. 700 Monticello Ave. 

Waterside Seafood Company — Fresh catch dishes in the Sheraton Waterside. 777 Waterside Dr. 

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21 February 2024

Norfolk’s Sports Spring: Games Galore in March 

Officially, a sports equinox is a rare event. It’s when games from the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL all converge on a single day, usually in October. The term is also used loosely to describe times when there are a whole lot of sports happening within a relatively short time frame. 

Which brings us to Norfolk in March. While we may not play host to major league teams, we are the kind of place where you can catch the rising stars of hockey, football, basketball and baseball all in a short span if you’re paying attention. 

This March, the stars align for NCAA basketball, ECHL hockey and the MiLB’s International League as we see games from the MEAC tournament, the Norfolk Admirals, the Norfolk Tides and more! There’s even some rugby action to check out. Here’s a look. 

MEAC Tournament 

For the past 54 years, basketball teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities have come together to participate in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, or the MEAC, as it’s known best. Since 2013, the event has been held in Norfolk at the Scope Arena. 

This year’s event runs from March 13-16 and promises plenty of hoops action from these schools: 

  • Coppin State University
  • Delaware State University
  • Howard University
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • Morgan State University
  • Norfolk State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • South Carolina State University. 

See the schedule and get tickets here

Norfolk Admirals hockey

Norfolk Admirals

Norfolk’s own ECHL (formerly East Coast Hockey League) team is the Admirals, who call the Scope home for multiple homestands throughout their action-packed season. Serving as an affiliate for the Winnipeg Jets, the Admirals bring hard-hitting AA hockey matchups for thousands of local fans, and they’re in town for five games this March. Check out the schedule below and see their full slate here.  

March 1: Admirals vs. Maine Mariners at 7:05 p.m.

March 2: Admirals vs. Maine Mariners at 6:05 p.m.

March 9: Admirals vs. Reading Royals at 6:05 p.m.

March 29: Admirals vs. Atlanta Gladiators at 7:05 p.m.

March 30: Admirals vs. Atlanta Gladiators at 6:05 p.m.

Norfolk Tides night game.

Norfolk Tides

A Tides game is a serious treat for baseball fans. With sweeping Elizabeth River views, an old-school stadium feel complete with beer and hot dogs and plenty of action, it’s a can’t miss event for the family. 

The 2023 AAA National Championship Tides will mark their first-ever March home game with a three-game stand at Harbor Park in Downtown Norfolk this month. Facing the Durham Bulls, the Tides and big-time Orioles’ prospect Jackson Holliday will open their season Friday through Sunday, March 29-31. 

Check out the full 2024 schedule

Norfolk Blues Rugby

Didn’t know Norfolk had a rugby club? You do now. Often called “the hooligan’s sport played by gentlemen,” rugby is a hard-hitting and constantly-moving game that American football fans will find familiar. Norfolk’s own Blues are wrapping up their season, but there’s still one more chance to catch them on their home pitch March 23 against Raleigh. Games are played at either Lafayette Park (38th and Granby streets) or Captain Slade Cutter Park, depending on availability. See the schedule.  

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16 February 2024

Former Poet Laureate Reflects on Arts, Life in Norfolk

Before Norfolk’s 57-foot long “End of Massive Resistance” wall could be dedicated in April 2023, there was one crucial element missing: a poem to commemorate the day. For that, the city turned to the man arguably best suited for the honor, former Virginia Poet Laureate and longtime Norfolk resident Tim Seibles. 

Seibles, who taught at Old Dominion University until his 2019 retirement, worked with surviving members of the Norfolk 17 to craft the poem, “Seventeen Ways.” In it, he pays homage to the group of students who, in 1959, desegregated the city’s public schools after a protracted and painful battle that went as high as the state’s governor and was splashed across newspaper front pages throughout the nation. 

Getting to tell their story, Seibles says, was both cathartic and humbling, especially because he had grown up in the era of segregated schools and was among the first students to integrate into the Philadelphia city school system in the 1960s. For Seibles, the experience came as an elementary school student, which helped soften the transition.

Contrasting his experience with that of the Norfolk 17, Seibles says, “These kids faced much more animosity than we did in Philly. It was the 1950s and the South, so it was much rougher for them. At the high school level, you’re dealing with attitudes that are hardened.” 

In the poem, Seibles draws on conversations he had with the living members of the Norfolk 17 as well as their white classmates. Safe to say, each remembered the experience in dramatically different ways. 

This led Seibles to pen a standout line in the poem that reads,

Here, now, it’s easy to forget — easy /
to think “it wasn’t so bad.” 

Reflecting on this line, Seibles says, this sort of justification is often used by people as a way to cope with extremely difficult situations. He adds, “If you haven’t had direct experience with a thing, you can say, ‘it wasn’t that bad.’”


Read the entire poem, “Seventeen Ways.”

The "End of Massive Resistance" wall on Charlotte Street in Norfolk. @via_design_architects
The “End of Massive Resistance” wall on Charlotte Street in Norfolk. @via_design_architects

A Distinctive Honor

In conversation, Seibles can switch between levity and seriousness at the drop of a hat, but he never seriously considered that his nomination to be the 18th Poet Laureate of Virginia was more than a kind gesture from a friend. But lo and behold, there he was, on the phone with the governor’s office in July 2016, accepting the honor. 

The chance to share his love of poetry with young students across Virginia was the best part of the title, he says. 

“I think when you talk to middle school or high school students, they’re skeptical about poetry,” Seibles says. “But if you read them a poem and they understand it right away, they relax and become receptive quickly.” 

Seibles stresses that this is important on several levels. 

“I believe poetry in particular and art in general is good for a society and what daily pleasures or hardships shape our lives.”

Indeed, his own work touches on both the personal and the universal, covering topics as specific as being Black in America and as general as being young and in love. He’s chronicled his journey through verse in books such as “Fast Animal,” a 2012 National Book Award finalist, “One Turn Around the Sun” (2017) and “Voodoo Libretto: New & Selected Poems” (2022).

At the core of every poem he writes, Seibles tackles the timeless experiences all people share, regardless of race, age or cultural upbringing. He captures his hope for the future in a line from his poem, “Something Silver White,” that reads: 

After / so many years together / you might think / we would be kinder / because, no matter what / anybody says about / anybody else, we were all born / to this planet suddenly / blinking under the same star / and evening sky and that means the universe / is floating.

This hopefulness in the face of bleak circumstances is a thread that runs through much of Seibles’ work. 

“People get busy and the heart gets shoved into a little corner somewhere inside themselves,” Seibles says. “What I want with my work is to put the heart in the center of things. How we feel about life is how we live.”

A collection of Tim Sebiles' favorite books.
A collection of Tim Sebiels’ favorite books.

Why He Calls Norfolk Home

Seibles’ optimistic outlook extends to his adopted hometown of Norfolk, a place where the arts thrive and creativity is encouraged. 

“I like that because it’s a smaller city, you get to have a sharpened sense of community. I’m really happy about the arts here. Norfolk likes to encourage the idea that creativity and arts are a real contributing factor to the health of a society.” 

Poet Tim Seibles signs a copy of his book, "Voodoo Libretto" in Norfolk
Poet Tim Seibles signs a copy of his book, “Voodoo Libretto” in Norfolk

All of which is to say it makes perfect sense that Seibles would contribute his time and energy to a poem dedicated to the Norfolk 17. 

“The idea that the city funded this monument is amazing,” he says of the monument at 114 West Charlotte Street. “Not every city would do that and I really admire that.” 

Seibles continues to write poetry and even hinted at a collaboration with local musicians in the near future. In the meantime, he can be found spreading the good word about poetry at events across town. 

“I think of myself as an ambassador for poetry,” Seibles says. “I want people to know poetry can be good for their souls. Just sit and think about things for a minute. That is good for everybody.” 

Learn more at timseibles.com.

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12 February 2024

Late Night Norfolk: Bars Open Midnight & Beyond

Welcome to Norfolk, MEAC visitors!

It’s post-game and you’re ready to grab a cocktail to celebrate your team’s win (or commiserate over a tough loss). We’ve got your back. 

Just remember, Norfolk is an extremely walkable city with 12 blocks of bars, restaurants, shopping and historic attractions. The Norfolk Tide light rail system runs 7.5 miles in and out of Downtown, offering 11 convenient stops. Taxis and rideshare services abound for those looking to venture further. 

Here are the top bars open until at least midnight on weekends (and some open as late as 2 a.m.) 

Downtown

This action-packed area has everything you need for a night out on the town. Walkability is key here, with Granby St. serving as the heart of everything you’re looking for. 

Tap It Local

Home of the Tapped Out Burger and local craft beer. Open until 2 a.m. every day. 

Grace O’Malley’s 

Traditional Irish pub on Granby St. Open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; midnight during the week. 

Grain

Rooftop bar in the Hilton Downtown. Open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; midnight during the week. 

Blue Moon

Two-level pub and restaurant in the Waterside District. Open until midnight on Friday and Saturday; 11 p.m. weeknights. 

Chico’s Backstage

Concerts and cocktails Downtown. Open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; midnight during the week. 

Canvas Social Cuisine

Retro vibe for dinner and drinks. Open until midnight Thursday through Saturday; until 10 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Closed on Monday. 

Baxter’s Sports Lounge

Across from the Scope, this sports bar stays open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; until 11 p.m. Thursday and Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

PBR Norfolk

Country bar in the Waterside District. Open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Closed the rest of the week. 

Soiree Bistro

Cocktail bar in the NEON District. Open until midnight on Thursday-Saturday. 

Republic

Cocktails near the Scope open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. 

Saltine

Seafood, cocktails and beer in the Hilton. Open until midnight on Friday and Saturday; until 11 p.m. all other nights. 

Hell’s Kitchen

Food, cocktails and live music on weekends. Open until 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; until midnight all other nights. 

Luce

Italian food, beer, wine. Open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; until midnight Monday through Thursday. Closed Sunday. 

The NARO Theater in Ghent, Norfolk, VA.

Ghent

Hip, happening neighborhood with a long string of bars, shops and restaurants along popular Colley Ave. and surrounding streets. 

Cogan’s Pizza (Ghent)

Cozy pizzeria tucked along Colonial Ave. in Ghent. Open until 2 a.m. every day of the week 

Colley Cantina

Mexican fare and drinks, open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; midnight rest of week.  

The Public House

Pub-style bar with pool, excellent food and a whiskey-lover’s dream. Open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 p.m. rest of week. 

Taphouse 

Pub food and cocktails open until 2 a.m. every night except Monday when closed. 

Peck and Pour

Wings, wings and more wings (plus beer and cocktails). Open until midnight seven days a week. 

Torch Bistro in Norfolk, VA

Chelsea

On-the-rise neighborhood with an industrial-meets-maritime vibe a stone’s throw from Downtown. 

Torch Bistro

Fun atmosphere and casual outdoor dining. The perfect place to unwind with a cocktail, American food and live music. Open until 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; until midnight every other night of the week. 

Park Place/Railroad District

Fun neighborhood north of Ghent and near the Virginia Zoo. Cab or rideshare recommended from Downtown. 

Toast

Full bar and outdoor seating; food served during happy hour. Open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. 

Perro Blanco

Mexican food and tequila drinks in the back of Toast. Open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; until 11 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Closed Sunday and Monday. 

MJ's Tavern in Norfolk, VA

Riverview

Walkable district near the Lafayette River. Cab/rideshare recommended. 

MJ’s

LGBTQ+ friendly pub with multiple weekly events, food and drinks. Open until 2 a.m. every night of the week. 

ODU

College neighborhood near Old Dominion University with a youthful feel. 

The Edge

Food, dancing, cocktails open until 2 a.m. every night of the week. 

Mojo Bones

Live music, outdoor seating, full bar. Open until 2 a.m. every night except Sunday, when it closes at midnight. 

Ocean View Beach

Ocean View

Life near the beach doesn’t get better than this neighborhood at the north end of town that really comes alive in summer. 

East Beach Bar and Grill

Cozy fireside food and drinks near the beach. Open until 2 a.m. on Saturday; midnight every other night of the week. 

OV Beach Tavern

Classic food, beer and other drinks. Open until midnight every night of the week 

Other

Everywhere else in Norfolk. 

37th And Zen

A local favorite for live music, entertainment and DJs near Lambert’s Point. Open until 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday; until 12:30 a.m. Thursday and Sunday; until 11:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Azalea Inn and Time Out Sports Bar

Greek and Italian restaurant meets sports bar near Little Creek. Open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 p.m.all other nights of the week. 

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09 February 2024

Pure Lagos: Where Art Meets Healing

When Sia Alexander looks around her downtown art gallery, Pure Lagos, she doesn’t just see paintings. She sees a space where the healing journey takes flight. A sacred place where creativity serves as the taproot for a life well lived, where trauma is healed and cultures come to better understand each other. 

“We are primarily an art gallery,” Alexander says, holding court in her lavishly-decorated space in the Historic Freemason District. “But we believe art is dynamic and can be expressed beyond the visual paintings on the wall.” 

While the gallery is home to many paintings from African art legends such as Uche Okeke and Rufus Ogundele (along with many contemporary Nigerian painters), it’s also a space where local clothiers, booksellers, food vendors, chefs and other makers can display their wares in a welcoming environment. 

You could call Sia and her partner, Chike Joseph Nwagbogu, a real-life success story with origins as a humble pop-up in the Selden Market incubator. Transitioning into a full-fledged business on Bute Street in late 2020, Pure Lagos has blossomed into a gathering place for those interested in art, holistic healing and generally looking to learn about African culture. 

“We’re trying to use our formula for growth to be an incubator for others,” Nwagbogu says. Paying it forward, in other words.  

Pure Lagos owner Sia Alexander
Pure Lagos owner Sia Alexander

Among those small businesses displaying in the gallery include a vegan sushi chef, a vendor selling alkaline water, dressmakers, tea sellers and, of course, visual artists. According to Nwagbogu, this allows small creators to “focus on their business so they don’t have to worry about rent on a monthly basis.” 

The main gallery features larger paintings for the serious investor, while the cozy backroom has a Bohemian vibe and features smaller works for those looking to dip into the world of art investment. Or, as Alexander says, guests are free to sit on the couch, unwind with a cup of tea or read a book and escape the constant pressures of the outside world. 

 

Coming Full Circle With History

If a visit to Pure Lagos is a feast for the senses, Alexander’s own story is a treat for those who’ve dreamed of traveling the world and satisfying a wanderlust fueled by a desire to reconnect with their own heritage. 

Alexander, a former Ford model who graced the catwalks of New York, Paris and Cape Town, South Africa, comes from a long line of “passionate, driven and committed folks.” Her brother is the best-selling author and Emmy-winning television producer Kwame Alexander. He recently featured the artworks found in Pure Lagos in his hit Disney+ series, “The Crossover.” 

Alexander’s ancestor, Sgt. March Corprew, was a Black man who fought in the Civil War. After enslaved Africans were freed, Corprew bought land in Bells Mill, Chesapeake, where he built a school for local black children and helped family members acquire land of their own, she says.  

Pure Lagos books
Books for sale inside Pure Lagos.
Paintings on display at Pure Lagos in Norfolk, VA.
Paintings on display at Pure Lagos in Norfolk.

“We are renewing his commitment to the community and reviving the kind of passion for creative endeavors that empower and heal on a deep level, not just for members of the family, but for our neighbors,” Alexander says. 

After spending time in Lagos, Nigeria, Alexander says the idea came to her to reforge the ties between west Africa and Virginia that are fraught with so much trauma. 

“Our mission is to heal that legacy of the Transatlantic trade in human beings,” she says. “Through the sharing of art, we believe that this sort of recoloring of that link through bringing beautiful art over, voluntarily and with intention, we can shift that trauma and make it into something that’s healing, uplifting and inspiring.” 

Recent history also plays a part in the Pure Lagos story. In previous lives, the space was home to a tea shop, a wine cellar and a used bookstore. The building, Alexander says, “had many lives.” 

“We’ve been able to take a little of each of those businesses. The energies are still in the building.” 

Holistic Healing Arts

Equally important as the artworks on display in Pure Lagos is the idea of healing the mind, body and soul. Alexander, who holds degrees in therapeutic herbalism, child psychology, acupuncture and ayurveda, says she offers sound baths, flower remedies, love readings and life coaching for those looking to chart a new course in life. Art is essential to this journey, she says. 

Nwagbogu emphasizes this latter point. 

“When you’re engaged in artistic exploits, you’re usually meditating,” he says. “That practice is a form of therapy because you’re literally in a meditative state communing with that creative, universal self. It’s a form of healing that takes you away from the problems you’re having.” 

Sia Alexander, left, and partner Chike Joseph Nwagbogu inside Pure Lagos on Feb. 2, 2024.
Sia Alexander, left, and partner Chike Joseph Nwagbogu inside Pure Lagos on Feb. 2, 2024.

Pure Lagos, located at 251 W. Bute St. is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and, “if you don’t see us, we’re in the studio,” Alexander says. Text or call the number on the door and Alexander or Nwagbogu will happily show you around and pour you a cup of home-brewed roots tonic. Learn more at www.purelagos.com

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07 February 2024

Paul McCartney and Wings: A Beatles Food Tour of Norfolk

Peruse the Beatles’ expansive catalog and you’ll quickly find reference after reference to food in the Fab Four’s songs. To celebrate Paul McCartney’s first-in-the-nation photography exhibit, “Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm,” at Chrysler Museum of Art (now through April 7), we’re tipping our proverbial cap to the “cute” Beatle with a look at local restaurants serving foods mentioned in Beatles songs. 

Yes, McCartney is famously a vegetarian, but the early Beatles were clearly a hungry bunch if their lyrics tell us anything. From references to honey, marshmallow pies, fish and birthday cake, the group likely worked up quite an appetite hauling their own amplifiers from one club to another in places like Liverpool, England and Hamburg, Germany in the early ‘60s. 

Don’t miss these Norfolk eateries where you can get in the spirit of the McCartney exhibition while visiting Mermaid City. 

Honey 

The Beatles sang not once — but twice — about this sweet nectar in the songs, “Honey Pie” (1968) and “A Taste of Honey.” Grandiflora Wine Garden in Chelsea has been known to serve up a tasty side of bread and honey, while Crudo Nudo in Ghent crafts a Manchego and honey that exemplifies why these two flavors work so well together. Meanwhile, a sweet glass of mead (also known as honey wine) can be yours for the asking at The Birch in Chelsea. Codex in the Freemason District also creates a delicious prosciutto and onion tart with blue cheese and a dash of local honey.  

Pork Dishes

While the White Album track “Piggies” may be more of a commentary on rampant consumerism than actual pork, one can’t help but think of thick slabs of bacon and slow-roasted barbecue at its mention. Load up on pork chops, Boston butt roasts, bacon and sausage at Pendulum Fine Meats in Ghent, or dine in and enjoy the can’t-miss Cuban sandwich with smoked pork, Swiss cheese, red onions and pickles and mustard on a house-made flat bread. 

Or head to BAR-Q in Ocean View, where pitmaster Jayme Campbell makes daily magic using pork, wood, fire and smoke. Speaking of barbecue, Redwood Smoke Shack serves up Texas-style ‘cue on the regular – and the daily line out the door proves it’s worth the wait. 

No Norfolk food list would be complete without including chef Sydney Meers, legendary proprietor of Syd’s Fish Pig Cafe in Selden Market. Syd’s Pork-o-Rama pot pie is stuffed with house sausage, ham and pork belly. Other worthwhile pork dishes abound at Syd’s.  

Strawberries

John Lennon famously sang, “Let me take you down, ‘cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields…” and we couldn’t offer a better piece of advice, especially when Norfolk warms up between spring and fall. In this case, we suggest you beeline it up Colley Ave. to Strawberry Fields, where homemade gelato and fresh fruit smoothies are hand-crafted with care.

In fact, Strawberry Fields ticks two Beatles boxes by serving egg custard gelato for fans of “I Am the Walrus” (which references “yellow matter custard.”) And we promise it’s a lot more appetizing at Strawberry Fields than how Lennon described it in the song!

For fresh strawberries in the spring and summer, check out Norfolk’s top three farmers’ markets

Marshmallows

While there’s some debate about whether “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” is a thinly-veiled reference to illicit activities or an innocent tribute to Julian Lennon’s schoolmate Lucy O’Donnell, there’s no doubting that the song is packed with culinary imagery. In it, Wonka-eque tangerine trees meet marmalade skies while rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies. 

Take your own “Lucy” trip with the smores at S’mores Amore in Selden Market, where ridiculously delicious layers of graham cracker cookie crust combine with chocolate brownies topped with fired-right-in-front-of-you marshmallows. We’re not sure which is more fun – watching the staff make s’mores or eating them. 

Sub Sandwiches

Ringo sang “Yellow Submarine,” but Paul actually penned the lyrics. So, was this sea shanty about a footlong sandwich? Unlikely. Still, you can grab tasty subs and other sandwiches at Taste, Granby Street Pizza or Gourmet Gang

Fish

It wouldn’t be a trip to Norfolk without experiencing the Chesapeake Bay’s top seafood restaurants. Because Paul sang about fish pies in “Penny Lane,” we’ll steer you in the direction of Syd’s Fish Pig Cafe, or over to 456 Fish on Granby. Don’t miss savory seafood and fresh smoked meats at The Fishin’ Pig in Railroad District. Ghent is home to local’s-favorite A.W. Shucks, an unpretentious raw bar and grill featuring oysters, other locally-caught seafood, burgers, craft beer and weekly specials. 

Bonus: sushi reigns supreme in Norfolk. Simply use our search function and you’ll find two pages of poke, sashimi, nigiri and classic rolls to choose from!

Wine

The Fab Four reference wine in “Her Majesty,” “A Taste of Honey” and the brooding “Norwegian Wood,” so it’s appropriate that you check out Norfolk’s top wine bars such as Press 626 in Ghent, Mermaid Winery in downtown, Waters Edge Winery in Larchmont-Edgewater and Grandiflora Wine Garden in Chelsea. 

Cake

George Harrison sang, “All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece but not too much,” in the song “It’s All Too Much,” while Lennon reminisced of “eating chocolate cake in a bag” in “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” 

For cake, start at Pownd Cakes by Jen near Park Place, where miniature pound cakes come in flavors such as white chocolate raspberry, lemon, almond, butter and more. Just around the corner at May’s Parlor serves up every manner of pastry imaginable – and is well known for its wedding cakes that are just as beautiful as they are delicious. And while we’re talking delicious, La Brioche Bakery and Coffee in the NEON District, specializes in a variety of cakes, from the raspberry Framboisier to the hazelnut/chocolate mousse mashup known as Mondesir (a French portmanteau for “my desire.”)

 

Tea

As British citizens, the Beatles would have certainly known their way around a tea shop. In fact, they mention tea quite a few times, from “Lovely Rita” to “Good Morning, Good Morning” to “Cry Baby Cry” and “All Together Now.” 

Here in Norfolk, coffee tends to rule the day, but don’t worry – most coffee houses have a decent selection of black, white, green and tisane/herbal teas, and this seems to be improving with each passing year. Start with our guide to Best Coffee Shops in Norfolk blog, then go stock up on Specialty Teas from Norfolk Coffee and Tea Co. at 212 E. 18th St. If bubble tea is your thing, hit up one of Tealux’s two Norfolk locations

Rice

“Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been” may be one of Paul’s finest lyrical moments. To celebrate it, we’ll point you in the direction of several Norfolk places where rice is the star of the show. For Indian delicacies like tender basmati rice, hit up Ghent’s Rajput or Saffron Indian Bistro in Downtown Norfolk. Thai cuisine also features rice prominently, so a trip to Tida Thai on the north end of Downtown Norfolk or Bangkok Garden on 21st. For a Spanish twist on rice, head up to the Riverview neighborhood to Mi Hogar for authentic, no-fuss Mexican fare. 

Wings!

McCarrtney’s second most famous band was called Wings. While the group’s name was inspired by angels, not chickens, we can still employ a little poetic license, can’t we? For chicken wings in the Mermaid City, get your fill of naked or fully-coated platters at Peck & Pour on Colley Ave., or head further north to Hank’s Filling Station or the Dirty Buffalo, which are just a stone’s throw from one another. Paul would likely approve of the vegetarian-friendly cauliflower wings at Hank’s, while carnivores will appreciate the New York style hot wings at Dirty Buffalo. For a real twist, visit ramen shop Alkaline for mind-blowing Asian sticky wings. 

Vegetarian Fare

Were Sir Paul to visit Norfolk these days, he’d head straight to a vegetarian restaurant. For that, it’s hard to beat the menu at Yorgo’s Bagledashery, where vegan BLTs and chick’n salads peacefully coexist with their meat-based counterparts. 

CLTRE is a new face on the Norfolk food scene and it’s drawing veggie-hungry crowds to Selden Market regularly. The pop-up, which started off in Virginia Beach, recently branched out to Norfolk, offering fully vegan spelt and cinnamon raisin waffles and other refreshing departures from the usual meat-heavy breakfast fare found around town.

Other vegetarian options are found at The Ten Top (the potato salad is indescribably good) and Orapax, where you’ll pick up on Mediterranean village vibes as quickly as you can say vegan dolmades!


Want to share pics from your McCartney pilgrimage to Norfolk? Just tag us with #VisitNorfolkVA. 

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