Norfolk, Virginia’s second largest city behind it’s neighboring city Virginia Beach, is the commonwealth’s commercial capital and center for many things in the realm of entertainment. With rich history and a firm grip on the future, Norfolk is a city for those of nostalgia and new comings.
There are many hotspots in Norfolk for satisfying one’s forte. Downtown Norfolk and Ghent are attractive locations for cuisine, libations and entertainment.
MacArthur Center is smack dab in the middle of the bustling called Norfolk. Anchored by two major department stores, Dillard’s and Nordstrom, the shopping center has more than 140 stores with 400,000 square feet of mall tenant shops and 100,000 square feet of food and entertainment offerings, including the Regal MacArthur 18 movie theatre. Student’s can enjoy a discount on tickets when visiting. The center also operates a 7,2000 square foot ice skating rink on the property during the winter.
The NorVa, located directly across the street from MacArthur Center, is Norfolk’s go-to music venue. Many know it for it’s rustic charm and intimate setting, with a capacity of only 1500. The stage area features extensive utilities and lighting for special effects Named on of the top five rock venues by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2008, the NorVa hosts some of entertainments biggest attractions. In 2001, Prince sold out in five minutes. Upcoming acts include Marilyn Manson, Mastodon, Less Than Jake, We The Kings and Matisyahu.
Nauticus is the place for history buffs. Just down the street from MacArthur Center, this maritime-themed science center and museum features the retired USS Wisconsin, one of the largest battleships ever built. It was built from 1941 until 1943 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and commissioned in 1944. She served in World War II, the Korean War and during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Visitors can board and tour the ship for a fee.
The Naro is one of Norfolk’s oldest and most cherished theaters. Opened by William S. Wilder in 1936 as The Colley theater, it sat 500 guests and feat
ured the latest, most modern amenities. In 1946 Wilder died of a heart attack, but the theater continued operations by the hands of his wife Myde Wilder. The theater changed owners in the sixties and was renamed The Naro. Following some financial foibles, the theater spent some time as a playhouse in the mid seventies. In 1977, Tench Phillips and Thom Vourlas took over the lease and decided The Naro would showcase only independent films, taking on the formidable competition with big chain theaters. The Naro continues to bring independent films and good times to the people of Ghent, Norfolk.
Where to grab a bite? Ghent has the goods.
Doumar’s Cones and Barbeque is Norfolk’s historic drive-in dinner. You may recognize it from the Food Network as the place that invented the infamous waffle-cone. They still have the original cone-making machine! You can find this hotspot at 1919 Monticello Ave.
Tortilla West is Tex-Mex at it’s best. It features an extensive food menu as well as beverage menu, offering patrons near 40 different selections of tequila. Its busiest nights are Monday’s and Tuesday’s when the restaurant offers 75-cent tacos. This should be any college student’s destination for cheap food and good times. You can find this hotspot at 508 Orapax St.
Orapax is the stuff of legends. Or, at least, the cuisine is of a country that makes legends. Ghent’s greatest Greek restaurant is tucked off the beaten path, just like it’s neighbor, Tortilla West. Offering authentic Greek dishes like moussaka, dolmades, pastitsio, spanakopita and kebabs, Orapax has Greek cuisine on lock. You can find this hotspot at 1300 Redgate Ave.
Cogan’s Pizza is one of Ghent’s most favorite places to grab a slice since the 1970’s. With 30 different types of beer on draft, there should be no problem finding something to wash down your pie. You can find this hotspot at 1901 Colonial Ave.
The Ten Top is everyone’s favorite café in Ghent. It’s small, but the portions aren’t. The owners and operators strive to have the freshest ingredients in their dishes, and the food never speaks to the contrary. Offering numerous wraps, sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and other excellent specialty dishes, the Ten Top is the hotspot for great food and friendly service. You can find this hotspot at 748 Shirley Ave.
By Derek Page