Norfolk, VA area restaurants? (& VA beach?)
My son wants to vacation in Norfolk in August- I'm interested in GOOD quality, Not-from-China seafood, also Asian fusion, sushi, ethnic restaurants in that area as well as Virginia Beach. We don't go for steak-houses, etc- our family goes for good veggie, chicken and fish choices...any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
My boyfriend and I make a few quick little trips to the VA beach area each summer and often struggle with dining choices. There are a ton of crappy seafood joints and overpriced theme-y bars, but nothing beats the Baja Cantina/Mai Bar on 23rd and Pacific for after-the-beach snacks. It's mainly a local surfer-y kind of hangout, but don't be deterred by the dingy, dark bar atmosphere. They have the best fish tacos I have ever had, full of locally caught seafood and fresh shredded cabbage. They even make their own hot sauces (although I can't take much beyond the medium). After dealing with the touristy masses at the beach, relaxation is truly a blackened wahoo premium fish taco and an ice cold tecate.
Big Sam's (I've had the grilled tuna sandwich , steamed shrimp, crab soup) or Rockefeller's (tuna steak with lump crab meat on top) in Rudee Inlet have fabulous fresh seafood. Also, 501 City Grill just off of 264 on Birdneck Road is stellar. All three were recommended to me by family members who are VA Beach locals.
By pure coincidence, I just typed up a really long list of these for a friend who's taking a business trip. Here are some particular highlights:
430 W 21st St
Norfolk, VA 23517
Asian fusion food served tapas style, the chefs are usually willing to try out wacky flavor combinations that work more often than they fail (I had some sort of Japanese fusion Oysters Rockeafeller dish that was much better than it had any right to be), and even at their rare worst everything is done at least adequately. There's a donuts-with-chocolate-chopsticks-and-dipping-sauces dessert that would be worth the trip alone, and their drink menu is vast, top-flight, and interesting. Order the martini flight, three small fancy martinis for one price. Also, they serve food and booze really late, which is nice.
821 West 21st street
Norfolk, VA 23517
Americanized (in a good way) tapas and martinis. Good, but not always great. I always liked this place, aside from the occasional overriding sense of hipster smugness from the patrons (although not the friendly staff), and I think they're also open late.
Winehouse Bar & Bistro
626 W. Olney Rd.
Norfolk, VA 23507
This place had just opened when we lived there, and we adored it. The food was terrific, although the menu was more limited then than it is now. Good for wine (obviously) and excellent fresh food. Erika loved the beet salad; I loved the wine recommendations and wish I had bothered to write some of them down. I think they have some sort of really good deal on Sundays.
Momo Sushi & Noodle Bar
1385 Fordham Drive
Virginia Beach, VA
This place is a bit odd, located in a poorly designed and somewhat rundown strip mall (you'll see a lot of those in VB), but it was near the hotel I was stuck at last time I was in town. I stumbled in once, and wound up going back a second time. The sushi is good -- fresh fish, some imaginative rolls, the usual -- and the noodle dishes I tried ranged from strange-but-tasty to genuinely good. Service is helpful and friendly and very well-intentioned, although the language barrier is worse with some servers than with others. Go on a Sunday night for their all-you-can-eat, which is NOT a buffet -- it's all-you-can-eat on a make-to-order basis, including everything on the menu, from sushi to sashimi to soups to noodles.
Good luck -- there are gems, but there's plenty of terrible stuff also.
If your desire is strictly Asian...Read no more...Mizuno @ La Promenade in Virginia Beach, VA OR Kyushu, which is literally on the Norfolk/Virginia Beach line.
Mizuno's experience will be more of a fine dining setting with unsurpassed quality & elegance & Kyushu is more authentic "Japenese everything" & it's where my local Asian friends will not patronize anywhere else for true Asian cusine...
If your wanting a fun ethnic (with an Asian Fusion offering) experience, I highly recommend any of Omar's Norfolk eateries:
The oldest & probably my personal favorite is Omar's Carriage House, which offers a Moroccan accent; however, the menu is diversified & is especially nice for Sunday brunch - the seafood benedict is extraordinary! It's located in downtown Norfolk's Freemason district across from the Y (along with the 2 sister spots as well). It was easier for me to walk there from my townhouse than drive to the market & prepare a meal - Omar & his family (staff) are warm & hospitable!
Equally as good, but a bit more elegant is around the corner, Voila - Omar's french bistro, which is tiny & terrific! If they're featuring a lamb special - treat yourself & impress your palate. As you can imagine, the wine list is wonderfully harmonized with the seasonal menu.
For an aesthetically enriched atmosphere, Omar offers The Pagoda, which is next door to the USS Wisconsin & walking distance to MacArthur Mall - the view of the working harbor is fun & the Pagoda with its Asian gardens is beauty in itself - the structure was a gift to Norfolk & was presented by the government of Taiwan - it's beautiful! The menu is most casual & fun for children.
Try Bobbywood in Downtown Norfolk (Near the McAurther Center). Bobby Hubbard (sp?) the chef, is a bit of a local legend and the food is awesome! I esp like the onion encrusted salmon. They also have a website so you can checkout the menu before deciding to go there. For the best crabcakes in town, go to Surfrider (I go to the one on Shore Dr. in Norfolk) and I also suspect that they have a website. This is NOT a fancy restaurant, just good food and decent prices, but their crabcakes are the best I have ever had! I second Kyushu, it's my fav place to go for sushi and Omars is also a wonderful local restaurant. Hope these tips help.