My N.'s Pick: Granby Street Food Tour

Award-winning she-crab soup from Freemason Abbey

My Nguyen

Back in April, I was invited by the good people of Visit Norfolk to attend a culinary food tour of the city. Being a Hampton Roads transplant (I’m coming up on my first full-year as a Virginia Beach resident at the end of August), I leapt at the opportunity to familiarize myself with the city’s culinary scene.

Developed by the Food Tour Corporation, the Granby Street Food Tour meets Saturdays between 4:00 and 7:30 p.m.  At $65 per adult ticket and all food and beverages included, the tour lasts about 3.5 hours and, in my opinion, is worth every dollar.

As far as food goes, you can expect:

  • Award-winning chefs' signature dishes
  • Award-winning she crab soup
  • Eclectic tapas created with locally sourced ingredients
  • Authentic Moroccan cuisine 
  • Locally-brewed beers.

On my particular tour, we visited Freemason Abbey, Omar’s Carriage House, Todd Jurich’s Bistro and Trilogy Bistro Restaurant. Along the way, our guide provided us with historical information about the area and thoughtfully led us through scenic paths, such as the Norfolk Pagoda Garden Tea House, the USS Wisconsin and the beautiful waterfront at Town Point Park.

Of all the dishes we had that night, the chicken bastilla at Omar’s Carriage House was my favorite. As we were seated, Omar Boukhriss warmly greeted us and explained that in Morocco, it is tradition to cook bastilla only for someone that you love, as the recipe is rather time-consuming. His wife actually makes the bastilla for the restaurant at their home, rather than in the restaurant kitchen. Made of phyllo dough, chicken, eggs, almond and a garnish of powdered sugar and cinnamon, the dish is both savory and sweet, with every bite being more interesting than the last.

Dishes like the chicken bastilla at Omar’s exhibit what makes Norfolk such a diverse, vibrant and ever-evolving city. With a culinary scene fueled by eager, talented chefs and restaurateurs, it’s no wonder that the Food Tour Corporation developed a food tour to highlight its distinctive and attractive neighborhoods. I'm glad I was invited along for the stroll.

You might wonder what the draw of a food tour is, especially if you're a local, and that is valid. I would recommend the food tour when you have visiting family or friends in town. However, as someone still slightly unfamiliar with the area, the Granby Street Food Tour was a one-stop shop for eating well at places I might not venture out to on my own. 

All age groups and fitness levels are encouraged to attend the food tour. I recommended wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, as you will cover a good bit of ground. I also recommended having a small lunch, as you will definitely be sent home satisfied and with a better appreciation for Norfolk's revitalized downtown.

Click here for more information about the Granby Street Food Tour and other coastal food tours.

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