Global Eats Part II

(page 2 of 2)



Mesob Café

This intimate café hidden in a no-frontage outparcel is worth seeking for its irresistible Ethiopian-Eritrean cuisine scratch-made by Znab Teklit. Born in Eritrea to an Ethiopian mother and an Eritrean father, she came to Virginia as a child. She speaks Italian and brews strong coffee, reflecting her native land’s history, and she sets tables with glass-topped white cloths, a good idea as scooping doro wot (chicken stew) and kik alicha (garlicky yellow split peas) with torn bits of shared injera (sourdough flatbread) can be messy. But it’s always delicious. 404 S. Parliament Dr., Virginia Beach, 757-965-2008,


Kente's Afrikan American Cafe, Hampton, African restaurants
Kente's Afrikan American Cafe

Kente’s Afrikan American Cafe

Nestled inside a little white building on the corner of North Back River Road and Union Street, Kente’s looks like it could be just another house on the street. But unless your neighbors are serving Kongo Balls (zesty meatballs in special sauce) or Dun Dun (fried yams), that’s where the similarities end. However, stepping inside is like making a visit to your favorite aunt’s house, with a welcoming staff, warm surroundings and, of course, the smell of delicious foods wafting in from the kitchen. 301 N. Back River Rd., Hampton, 757-722-1471


Omar’s Carriage House

Two decades ago, Omar Boukhriss wanted to share the specialties of his homeland but wasn’t sure the exotic flavors would fly at his continental cuisine-leaning Carriage House (a historic, picturesque, boxy brick building so cozy you feel you’re at a dinner party), so he decided to serve them just one night a week. Today, alliterative Moroccan Mondays are an institution. Headily-spiced tagines and bastilla (cinnamon and sugar-dusted phyllo stuffed with chicken, almonds and eggs) have become so popular that a few have migrated to Omar’s standard lunch, dinner and brunch menus. 313 W. Bute St., Norfolk, 757-622-4990,


Lilly’s Corner

With so many dining options available on the Southside, it’s refreshing to have something available that’s a little out of the ordinary. In fact, since Lilly’s Corner prepares everything from scratch and uses the finest ingredients available to create authentic African cuisine, you could say your dining experience will be extraordinary. Open for lunch and dinner, menu options range from lamb, chicken and beef with skewered vegetables, to incredible marinated fish dishes. Save room for dessert, and try the Thiakry (fine couscous mixed with sour cream, pure vanilla extract and topped with fresh fruit). 930 Briar Hills Rd., Unit B, Norfolk, 757-368-7878,




Orapax, Greek restaurants, Norfolk


With whitewashed walls mimicking those of exotic towns on the sunbathed cliffs upon the Aegean Sea, flowering eucalyptus décor reaching up to wooden planked ceilings and a polished marble bar idyllic for libations, the setting alone at Orapax is enough to make you feel as though you’re being whisked away to Greece. For over 50 years, the family-run restaurant homed on the corner of Orapax Street and Redgate Avenue has pleased diners to dainty dishes with traditional tastes, including souvlaki (charbroiled meat skewered with vegetables), kotopita (baked phyllo stuffed with chicken, vegetables and herbs) and wrapped gyros served with a platter of vegetables, pita triangles, feta cheese and tzatziki. 1300 Redgate Ave., Norfolk, 757-627-8041,


The Grecian Plate

The Grecian Plate feels more like an odyssey than a restaurant, as the food is exactly what one expects to find in the ancient Mediterranean land. Owners George and Roula Komianos are an affable Grecian couple who treat patrons as though they have stopped by their home, even though the small eatery sits in a nondescript Williamsburg strip mall surrounded by big, chain retailers. Diners will find the restaurant to be a hidden gem, especially after savoring authentic Greek dishes, including gyros, spanakopita and baklava. 4920 Monticello Ave., Williamsburg, 757-565-2888,



If you’re looking for spot serving all of your Greek favorites, you'll want to shout opa! when opening the menu at Ammos. Dolmades, moussaka, gyros, kabobs, tzatziki with warm pitas and more—it's all here and executed well. If you seek something a bit simpler, don't overlook the Fish Agora, grilled and seasoned fresh catch with a choice of three preparations. We always pick Ikaria Style, topped with spinach, sundried tomatoes and garlic cream sauce. In the mood for a show with your spanakopita? Come Saturday evenings for a classic belly dancing performance. 324 N. Great Neck Rd., Virginia Beach, 757-340-4343,


Papa’s Greek Restaurant & Pizzeria

You’ll find Papa’s in a drab shopping center casually propped between nondescript shops. But the food here is nothing like the amorphous strip-mall fare you might expect from its location. Order a favorite like the gyro (thin shavings of spicy roasted lamb, shredded lettuce and cool, white tzatziki), the parsley-packed “green” hummus with warm pita or one of the less-traditional but equally tempting pizzas. A breezy lack of ceremony encourages family style sharing of the amply-portioned appetizers and meals. Too full for dessert? Order baklava to go. Trust us. 5386 Kemps River Dr., Virginia Beach, 757-361-0123,


Yannas’ Taverna

Unless the Newport News Greek Festival is happening, it’s difficult to find good souvlaki or spanakopita on the Peninsula. But if you can locate Yannas’ Taverna in a small strip mall off Warwick Boulevard, you’re in for a treat. The menu provides plenty of delicious choices, so you’ll probably want to go back several times to try it all. They even have a kids’ menu with options to let your young ones stretch their palates, along with traditional favorites such as chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers, just in case. 12715 Warwick Blvd., Suite A, Newport News, 757-930-3382,




Masala Bites, Indian restaurants Virginia Beach
Masala Bites

Masala Bites

In this elegant yet easygoing Red Mill Commons site, executive chef Virsa Gill celebrates his Punjabi birthright primarily with northern Indian cuisine: a tad more piquant, more garlicky, more ginger and onion-based than the subcontinent’s south. Tandoori dishes, garlic peppercorn salmon and a myriad of gluten-free and vegan options are popular while soup of the day, kebab of the day and street food of the day always delight. Emphasizing a commitment to wine (and Wine Spectator awards multiple years running), wine pairing dinners are in the offing. 2133 Upton Dr. #128, Virginia Beach, 757-563-2828,



Located where Frank Beamer’s restaurant was originally established at Peninsula Town Center, Monsoon provides diners with an exceptional experience that delivers a cornucopia of savory options. Considering there are more than 1,000 different kinds of spices in the world to choose from, Monsoon manages to mix the perfect combinations of traditional Indian flavors in everything they serve—from lasooni gobi (crispy cauliflower florets with chili flakes and garlic-tomato chutney) to mulligatawny soup and tandoori chicken. Don’t forget, no Indian meal is complete without fresh-baked, tandoori (clay oven) breads. 2150 Allainby Way, Hampton, 757-224-1633,



International street food has traveled from barrios and provinces to haute restaurants, becoming anything but pedestrian. Bhupendra and Charu Patel keep it real, offering chaat (Indian snacks) in a bright storefront where you order at the counter and watch Bollywood flicks or cricket on TV until your samosa, dosa (rice/lentil crepe), gobi manchurian (fried cauliflower) or halal chicken curry is hustled out on disposable ware. Charu learned to cook growing up in Gujurat in western India, and her deftness with cilantro, cumin and, yes, tamarind, should be shouted about in the streets. 415 N. Military Hwy., Norfolk, 757-942-5611,


Nawab Indian Cuisine

If you’re new to Indian cuisine, or if you prefer a myriad of flavorful bites versus one main dish, or if you’re just really hungry, Nawab is the place for you—especially if you’re helping yourself to their lunch buffet. On their regular menu, too, you’ll find a versatile selection, from delicate naan to fiery dishes that leave you gulping water, but then immediately diving back in for more because it’s just that good. Conclude your meal with a bowl of kheer (traditional Indian rice pudding with nuts, rosewater and cardamom) to cool your senses and satiate your sweet tooth in a not-too-sweet sort of way. Nawab has locations in Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.


Nanking of Virginia

Self-touted as the most exotic restaurant in Virginia Beach, Nanking combines Indian, Chinese and Thai delicacies into a flavor infusion that’s out of this world. On their regular menu you’ll find the traditional fare—samosas, chaat, tandoori dishes and naan—and there’s also a buffet option (lunch served Tuesday to Friday and special brunch on Saturday and Sunday). Visit on the weekend when the restaurant has their pani puri station on the buffet. Poke a hole in one of these crispy orbs, and stuff it with diced potatoes, chickpeas, cilantro and other tasteful tidbits, then spoon in a dribble of tamarind or mint water, and quickly cram the whole thing in your mouth before it falls apart. No regrets. 501 N. Birdneck Rd., Virginia Beach, 757-233-6779,


Saffron Indian Bistro

Representing the various regional flavors of the subcontinent through its cooking, Saffron Indian Bistro creates its courses with a complexity of spices and herbs, each of which are sourced from the homeland. Start your meal with garnished garlic naan, made in their tandoor oven, before trying their tikka masala curry, with a choice of protein served in a creamy orange curry sauce with fenugreek, peppers and tomatoes. 4532 Columbus St., Virginia Beach, 757-644-6904, 420 Monticello Ave. #170, Norfolk, 757-321-7005,


Rajput Indian Cuisine

Classic curries, korma, basmati rice and naan are perennially popular at Rajput. But enjoy a world of fragrant spices and tantalizing tastes by venturing a little farther afield. A Norfolk institution since 1999, Rajput’s lunch buffet and wildly popular—even among omnivores—*bi-monthly vegan and vegetarian evening buffet (first and third Wednesdays in Norfolk) will envelop you in intoxicating aromas, silky textures and bursts of fanciful flavors from nearly 20 items like Soya Seekh Kebab Tandoori or Mushroom Manchurian. Even if the cuisine wasn’t irresistible, Rajput’s unique and authentic serving pieces and copper water vessels would likely beckon you back. Hurry and join the Curry Club for special pampering. 742 W. 21st St., Norfolk, 757-625-4634. 5860 Harbour View Blvd. Suite A1, Suffolk, 757-484-4444,




Cilantro, Bangladeshi restaurants Norfolk
Cilantro Bangladeshi Bistro

Cilantro Bangladeshi Bistro

Like a trip to Bangladesh, Cilantro Bistro is a little out of the way but well worth the journey if you’re looking for authentic Bangladeshi dishes. A family-owned and operated business, the menu boasts recipes passed down through generations, producing savory meals that are slow-cooked and expertly seasoned. Vegetarians and omnivores alike can delight from a menu full of comfort foods such as Veggie Mishali, Shahi Chicken, Jhaal Beef and Shrimp Malaikari. No matter what you order, be sure to wash it all down with their Fresh Squeezed Limeade. 1011 Kempsville Rd., Norfolk, 757-962-1004,


Explore more Global Eats in Part I and Part III.

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