The Best Places to Eat in Norfolk: A Culinary Journey

restaurant in Norfolk

Norfolk, Virginia, is known for many things: its rich maritime history, vibrant arts scene, and charming historic districts. But one facet of this coastal city that truly sets it apart is its diverse culinary landscape. The city’s dining scene offers a remarkable blend of traditional flavors and innovative cuisine. From locally sourced seafood and southern comfort food to upscale eateries and global flavors, Norfolk has something to tantalize every palate. Let’s embark on a gastronomic tour of the top five dining destinations in Norfolk.

Key Takeaways

  • Norfolk’s culinary scene provides a vivid portrait of the city’s unique personality and extensive cultural history.
  • Each restaurant brings something special, making every meal an unforgettable experience.
  • Whether you prefer casual dining or upscale eateries, Norfolk has a variety of options to delight your taste buds.
  • Discovering Norfolk’s food scene includes exploring secret eateries, food festivals, and dishes crafted by skilled chefs.
  • Norfolk is a paradise for food lovers, offering a rich mix of local and international flavors.

Freemason Abbey Restaurant

historic restaurant in Norfolk

A Historic Setting

Freemason Abbey Restaurant is located in a renovated historic church in downtown Norfolk. The building has been a part of Norfolk’s history since the 19th century, originally serving as a Second Presbyterian Church since its inception in 1873. In the late 80s, the old church building was renovated, a second floor was added, and Freemason Abbey became the elegant yet casual restaurant we all know and love today.

Menu Highlights

Freemason Abbey is famous for its She Crab Soup and nightly specials like Friday’s "Wild Game Night." They also offer a Prix Fixe Menu on Mondays, which includes an entrée with an appetizer or dessert for $27, or with both for $33. Don’t miss out on their daily specials!

Hours of Operation

  • Monday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Tuesday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Thursday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Friday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Saturday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Sunday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Make a Reservation

I highly recommend making a reservation, especially if you plan to visit on a weekend. This spot is in high demand, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on this unique dining experience.

Freemason Abbey offers a pathway to the past and cultural heritage, making it a must-visit spot in Norfolk.


gourmet seafood restaurant in Norfolk

Saltine is one of the best restaurants in downtown Norfolk, located at 100 E Main St. This local culinary destination is renowned for its seafood, with everything being locally sourced. The philosophy here is “sea to table,” ensuring that freshness is everything when it comes to seafood. The restaurant offers a truly exceptional seafood dining experience, highly praised by patrons for its tasteful ambiance, impeccable service, and superb seafood.

Menu Highlights

Customers consistently commend the diversity and refinement of the menu, highlighting the freshness and perfect preparation of the fish. A popular choice is the side-cut fries with Smoked Sea Salt and Chipotle Aioli.


Saltine’s outdoor tables and relaxing atmosphere create an inviting environment for appreciating its culinary masterpieces. Whether you are a local or just visiting Norfolk, Saltine is a seafood gem that should not be missed.


The staff is lauded for being responsive, speedy, and courteous, enhancing the overall dining experience. This level of service makes navigating Norfolk’s dining scene a pleasure.

Saltine offers “absolutely outstanding some of the best seafood I have ever eaten.”

Contact Information

  • Address: 100 E Main St, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Phone: 757-763-6280
  • Price Range: Moderate
  • Cuisine: American
  • Booking: Booked 17 times today
  • Website: Visit Website

No Frill Bar and Grill

cozy bar and grill in Norfolk

Located at 806 Spotswood Ave, Norfolk, VA 23517, No Frill Bar and Grill is a local favorite that offers a casual atmosphere with classic American food. If you’re looking for a simple but taste bud-tingling lunch or dinner, give this local fixture a try. The restaurant is conveniently situated at the corner of Spotswood and Colley Avenue, close to the well-known Naro Theater.

Some of the frequently ordered dishes include the Crab Cake Sandwich, Funky Chicken Sandwich, Baked French Onion Soup, and Smoked Salmon B.L.T. As an unabashed smoked salmon fan, I went with this latter option for lunch one day, and it was outstanding.

The Grilled Cheese Bistro

gourmet grilled cheese sandwich in a cozy Norfolk bistro


Located at 345 Granby St, Norfolk, VA, The Grilled Cheese Bistro is a must-visit for sandwich lovers. This eatery boasts a 4.4-star rating from over 1,300 reviews, making it a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. The bistro offers a cozy atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating options, perfect for any dining preference.

Menu Highlights

One of the unique features of The Grilled Cheese Bistro is its exciting range of sandwiches, all interpretations of the classic grilled cheese. Whether you’re a meat lover or prefer vegan options, there’s something for everyone. The Meathead sandwich, for instance, is a carnivore’s dream, featuring applewood bacon, smoked turkey, cheddar, avocado, and cheddar on sourdough bread.

Dietary Options

If you need gluten-free bread, you’re all set here. You can also get vegan cheese on request, making it a versatile spot for those with dietary restrictions.

Customer Experience

The service at The Grilled Cheese Bistro is known for being fast and friendly. Many reviews highlight the efficient and welcoming staff, adding to the overall fantastic dining experience.

"We’ve been meaning to come to the Bistro for a long time, and it was nothing short of fantastic. The service was amazingly fast and friendly as could be."

Contact Information

  • Address: 345 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510
  • Phone: 757-233-2512
  • Website: Visit Website

Additional Features

  • Outdoor seating
  • Delivery options available

Make sure to explore the menu and order your favorite grilled cheese creation. Whether you’re dining in or taking out, The Grilled Cheese Bistro promises a delightful culinary experience.


gourmet restaurant in Norfolk

When it comes to Italian cuisine, Luce is a must-visit culinary destination in Norfolk. It has a convenient downtown location, so give it a try during your adventures.

Luce provides an immersive experience. Its menu includes dishes from all over Italy. I appreciated the welcoming and comfortable atmosphere here.

For my appetizer, I ordered the Mushroom Toast, which boasts truffle oil, mozzarella, portobello mushroom, and more.

When it comes to entrees, I recommend my selection, the Smoked Salmon Arrabbiata. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big smoked salmon fan. And this dish has it in plenty.

Some of Luce’s most popular menu options are Mushroom Toast, Rig and Goose, Wild Boar Ragu, Seafood Cioppino, and Pollo Con Strati.

Make a Reservation

Chartreuse Bistro

gourmet restaurant in Norfolk

In the heart of Norfolk lies Chartreuse Bistro, a family-owned eatery that pairs Virginia’s farm-fresh ingredients with classic French cooking techniques. With a rotating menu of seasonal dishes, this upscale bistro champions the farm-to-table movement, prioritizing organic and locally sourced produce. Their dedication to sustainable dining practices and their cozy, intimate setting make Chartreuse Bistro an unforgettable dining destination.

Handsome Biscuit

gourmet biscuits in a cozy Norfolk restaurant

Handsome Biscuit is a haven of southern comfort food with a unique twist. Known for its sweet potato biscuits filled with an array of enticing ingredients, this place is a crowd favorite. Whether you choose the decadent “Hella Fitzgerald” or the intriguing “Bleu Blazer”, Handsome Biscuit offers a delightful blend of flavors that reflect the city’s culinary diversity and southern roots.

Find Handsome Biscuit on Colonial Avenue, near West 26th Street. The menu offers a range of sweet potato biscuit sandwiches to suit every taste and mood. Handsome Biscuit is a local institution, and it’s been talked about in publications like Southern Living and USA Today. I was eager to try the legendary fried chicken here, so I ordered the Chicken Classic.

The Green Onion

restaurant in Norfolk with green onion theme


Nestled in the heart of Norfolk, The Green Onion is a beloved spot for both locals and visitors. This charming bistro offers a cozy atmosphere and a menu that celebrates fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty brunch or a romantic dinner, The Green Onion has something to satisfy every palate.

Must-Try Dishes

One of the standout dishes at The Green Onion is the Duck a l’Orange. This entree features pan-roasted duck breast dusted with peppercorns, toasted pistachio nuts, and shaved fennel. It’s a dish that perfectly balances savory and sweet flavors. For a starter, consider trying the Escargot, which is full of creamy, buttery flavor.

Sides and Extras

Don’t forget to order a side dish to complement your meal. A popular choice is the side-cut fries, which come with a variety of sauces. The Smoked Sea Salt with Chipotle Aioli is particularly tasty. Another favorite is the collard greens, cooked long until fork tender and infused with salty, smoky pork.

Atmosphere and Experience

The Green Onion offers a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for any occasion. The staff is friendly and attentive, ensuring that your dining experience is nothing short of exceptional. While you’re in the historic neighborhood, take your time checking out some of the fascinating attractions nearby.

The Green Onion is a must-visit on any culinary tour of Norfolk. From morning cafes to evening dining, this bistro offers a diverse food scene that invites you to savor local favorites and engage in culinary adventures.

LeGrand Kitchen

gourmet restaurant in Norfolk


LeGrand Kitchen is a cozy, chef-owned eatery that offers a unique and intimate dining experience. Located in the heart of Norfolk, this restaurant is known for its creative dishes and warm atmosphere. The chef’s passion for fresh, locally sourced ingredients is evident in every bite.

Menu Highlights

The menu at LeGrand Kitchen changes frequently to reflect the seasons and the availability of local produce. Some standout dishes include:

  • Seared Scallops with a citrus glaze
  • Truffle Mac and Cheese
  • Braised Short Ribs with a red wine reduction


The ambiance at LeGrand Kitchen is both relaxed and refined. The small dining room is tastefully decorated, creating a cozy yet elegant setting perfect for a romantic dinner or a special celebration.

Insider Tips

  • Reservations are highly recommended due to the limited seating.
  • Don’t miss the chef’s special tasting menu, which offers a curated selection of the best dishes.
  • The wine list is carefully curated to complement the menu, so be sure to ask for pairing recommendations.

LeGrand Kitchen is a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy a memorable meal in Norfolk. The combination of exceptional food, intimate setting, and attentive service makes it a standout choice.

Omar’s Carriage House

restaurant in Norfolk with historic charm

Omar’s Carriage House is a true gem in Norfolk’s historic Freemason neighborhood. The building itself is a Norfolk historic site, originally constructed in the early 1840s as a literal carriage house. It housed carriages, horses, and riding equipment before being converted into a tea room in the 1940s. Owner Omar Boukhriss opened the Omar’s Carriage House that we love today over 23 years ago, offering a delightful mix of European, American, and Moroccan cuisine. The eclectic decor and beautiful outdoor patio make it a perfect spot for any occasion. They are also well known for their full-service catering, specializing in weddings.


Finally, Norfolk’s culinary scene provides a vivid portrait of the city’s unique personality and extensive cultural history. The top five eateries we’ve looked at today give you a taste of Norfolk’s culinary skills, but there are many more places to sate your appetite throughout the city. Every eatery in Norfolk has a special tale to tell, one mouthwatering dish at a time. These are just some highlights of what Norfolk’s dining scene has to offer. Each restaurant brings something special, making each meal an experience to remember.

Start your food journey in Norfolk and explore what makes this city a paradise for food lovers. Whether you want something casual or fancy, Norfolk’s best restaurants are waiting to delight your taste buds and make your visit unforgettable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Norfolk’s culinary scene unique?

Norfolk’s culinary scene is a vivid portrait of the city’s unique personality and extensive cultural history. It offers a remarkable blend of traditional flavors and innovative cuisine, featuring locally sourced seafood, southern comfort food, upscale eateries, and global flavors.

Are there food tours available in Norfolk?

Yes, Norfolk food tours are a great way to dive into the local food scene. They allow you to discover the city’s secret spots, from cozy cafes to busy markets and fancy restaurants.

What type of cuisine can I expect in Norfolk?

In Norfolk, you can find a rich mix of local and international food. From fresh seafood and southern cooking to upscale dining and global flavors, there’s something to tantalize every palate.

Is Norfolk a good destination for food lovers?

Absolutely! Norfolk is a culinary dream, perfect for food lovers. The city offers tons of food experiences, from food tours and diverse meals to interactive workshops, making it a paradise for anyone who loves to eat.

What are some must-visit restaurants in Norfolk?

Some must-visit restaurants in Norfolk include Freemason Abbey Restaurant, Saltine, No Frill Bar and Grill, The Grilled Cheese Bistro, Luce, Chartreuse Bistro, Handsome Biscuit, The Green Onion, LeGrand Kitchen, and Omar’s Carriage House.

Can I find both casual and fancy dining options in Norfolk?

Yes, Norfolk’s dining scene has something for everyone. Whether you want something casual or fancy, the city’s best restaurants are ready to delight your taste buds and make your visit unforgettable.

Are there any food festivals in Norfolk?

Yes, Norfolk hosts various food festivals that celebrate the city’s diverse culinary landscape. These events are great opportunities to try local dishes and discover new flavors.

What should I expect from Norfolk’s food scene?

Expect a journey filled with tasty discoveries. Norfolk’s food scene is lively and diverse, offering amazing food experiences that will leave you with lasting memories of your food trip.

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