The port city of Norfolk offers more than meets the eye as a hotbed of local arts culture and a focal point for Virginia’s dynamic culinary scene. On the eve of Hampton Roads Pride, I set out to meet the city beyond the shore. There is the Ghent neighborhood, which thanks to a new wave of hip bars, restaurants, and independent art shops, has made Granby Street home to plenty of young bohemians. Downtown is equal parts old and new, where the lofty high rises stand side-by-side cornerstones of the antebellum era. Steeped in the city’s colonial history is the ever-charming West Freemason, a living portrait of Americana past and present, with grand old homes and winding cobblestone streets. I set up digs at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel (777 Waterside Dr., Tel: 757-622-6664. www.sheratonnorfolkwaterside.com), a 468-room low-rise hotel with a prime location in the heart of gay Norfolk proper. Amenities include a bona fide onsite business center and a large outdoor pool on the banks of the Elizabeth River, both of which are put to good use once I check in. My room is bright and airy, and comes complete with a small blue sofa and coffee table by the window. Free highspeed Wi-Fi sweetens the deal, too, as do the harbor views from my suite, all bright with lights against the night sky. I can’t wait to check out what the city’s culinary scene has to offer on my first night. Pendant lights hang high above the brick-and-rafter spaces of Luna Maya (2010 Colley Ave., Tel: 757-622-6986. www.lunamayarestaurant.com). This upscale Mexican restaurant has earned a high standing for serving some of the city’s best Mexican fare. At the top of my menu is the flank steak, topped with a tangy drizzle of chimichurri, and paired with a limemuddled mojito. House specialties like the slow-cooked sweet yellow corn tamales, and the roasted Poblano peppers, stuffed with spicy chicken chorizo and chipotle enchilada sauce, are standouts among a big assortment of tacos and quesadillas.
Image via City of Norfolk]]>