5 Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Norfolk, Virginia

by Culinary Spelunker / Aug 24, 2015 /
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A gateway to Washington D.C. to the north, Virginia Beach to the east, and touching the James and Elizabeth Rivers, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean, Norfolk draws visitors and residents from around the country – and the world. The culinary scene is equally eclectic. While you can catch the occasional chain, more often street corners are home to mom and pop diners, chef-driven hotspots, and unique food finds from Turkish to Creole, Jamaican to European.
 
Whether you’re visiting Norfolk for a vacation or just passing through, there are several family-friendly restaurants that are worth a detour.
 
Handsome Biscuit

Normally, I’m not much of a biscuit fan – they’re just too dense and heavy to hold much appeal. I had neither issues with the biscuits here. Tucked on a street corner in an otherwise unassuming part of town, Handsome Biscuit opens for breakfast and lunch (except Fridays and Saturdays when they keep serving ‘til 9 p.m.). We asked at the counter what they recommended and were served up the A.C. Slater. The orange-hued, airy biscuits made with sweet potato are split open and filled with a scoop of pulled pork that’s been lightly tossed with twangy BBQ sauce, topped with apple coleslaw, and what they call Lupo hot sauce. I wasn’t particularly hungry when I went in so I split one with my husband and quickly wished I had my own. From the fresh ingredients to the quick service, Handsome Biscuit was an unexpected hit with my kids. Sandwiches range from $3.50 to $6.50; the eating area is fairly small and it’s self-serve. I’d highly recommend not leaving until you get one of the Double Chocolate Sea Salt Pecan Cookies for the road.

http://www.handsomebiscuit.com/

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Handsome Biscuit. From 5 Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Norfolk, Virginia

Handsome Biscuit. From 5 Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Norfolk, Virginia

 

Island Krave Caribbean Smokehouse

The spicy yet homey combination of habanero, thyme, and anise - the trifecta of Jerk sauce - is a favorite of mine. So when I find a restaurant that serves up jerk, I’m there. Seeing us salivate over the lunch menu, our waitress was quick to offer to bring out samples of each of the barbecue choices jerk chicken, jerk pork, curry chicken, and brown stew chicken. She also made a suggestion – get the coco bread as an appetizer and as a sandwich. We followed her advice and shared a coco bread appetizer – the slightly sweet, crisped bread had hints of coconut and glistened of a fresh basting of butter. After trying to divide the portions equally, my kids fought over the last piece (thankfully, I was able to step in and resolve their argument by eating it myself). I opted for the jerk chicken platter with fried plantains. Among my kids, the Cocojerk was that standout – it’s your choice of chicken or pork jerk on cocobread. Kids meals are available, prices range from $6.99 to $10.99 for a meal.

http://www.islandkrave.com/

 

Island Krave Caribbean Smokehouse. From 5 Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Norfolk, Virginia

Island Krave Caribbean Smokehouse. From 5 Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Norfolk, Virginia

 

Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue

Open since 1904, Doumar’s channels their retro vibe in everything from their curbside service to their food and their reasonable prices. The hamburgers are simply seasoned and wrapped in waxed paper packets so they’re easy to hold as you down them in your car (there is space in the restaurant but we found it was packed the day we visited). Besides burgers you can get pork barbecue or steak sandwiches, hot dogs, fried ham, tuna fish, grilled cheese, and even a BLT. But what Doumar’s is most famous for is their ice cream cones. Their namesake, Abe Doumar, invented the first ice cream cone for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition and your waitress is likely to tell you they’ve been making them like that ever since. So, skip the shake (or order it as a side) and make sure you get an ice cream or two. Hamburgers start at $2.30 a piece ($2.70 for a cheeseburger), ice cream cones cost $2.20 for one scoop

http://www.doumars.com/

 

Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue. From 5 Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Norfolk, Virginia

Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue. From 5 Family-Friendly Places to Eat in Norfolk, Virginia

 

The Grilled Cheese Bistro

This humble kid comfort food gets reinvented at The Grilled Cheese Bistro. For less adventurous eaters, try the Gooey sandwich that includes fontina, cheddar, and mozzarella. I’m more of a fan of the Caprese, which includes fresh mozzarella, tomato slices, and basil leaves. For something awe-inducing, you might want to order The Big “O,” which packs peanut butter, Nutella, banana slices, Applewood bacon (yes, bacon!), and marscarpone between two slices of French toast. There are salads, too. Prices range from $8 to $10.

http://www.thegrilledcheesebistro.com/

 

 

No Frill Bar and Grill

For a menu full of options, the No Frill Bar and Grill is the way to go. This is where you can order your Crab Cake platter and the kids can get the chicken finger meal. Expect large portions – many of the appetizers like the Chicken Nachos or Loaded Pierogies are enough for a meal. The Buffalo Shrimp seemed to be a popular item – you can get it as an appetizer or a sandwich. The butterflied shrimp are fried and then tossed in a spicy sauce. Kids’ meals start at $3.99, burgers begin at $7.99, while platters are pricier. 

http://nofrillgrill.com/

 

 

 

Kristen J. Gough is the Global Cuisines & Kids Editor for Wandering Educators. She shares her family's adventurous food experiences--and recipes--at MyKidsEatSquid.com.

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Kristen J. Gough