Hell has been portrayed many ways in literature. Most religious works depict it as a fiery pit deep below the surface of the earth. For Dante, it had nine levels, the worst and final depicted Lucifer waist deep in ice.
For me, it’s sitting in a restaurant, wishing I’d ordered the same dish as the person next me and not the flavorless gruel in front of me; each bite, unsatisfying and torturous; a constant reminder that once again I should’ve asked what “sorghum” meant and not arrogantly assumed my palate was sophisticated enough to appreciate anything.
Food envy can feel like the ultimate punishment. Yes, this is a first-world problem, but for the sake of humor can we let this one slide?
An honest shot was given to ground this article with research. The Pilot Research team even sent out a survey asking how many vegan and vegetarians lived in Hampton Roads. The only facts it uncovered are that we fall in line with the rest of the country with a 5 percent vegetarian population. And I’m pretty sure most of you don’t know what the word “vegan” means because .9 percent said they were, but almost half of those people also indicated they also eat meat every day.*
I want to be healthy and ethical in my mostly vegan diet, but more than anything I just want to eat a freaking good meal. I want it to taste good, I want it to be cool (so I can brag the next day) and I want it to not give me indigestion 30 minutes after I eat it.
Above all, what I don’t want is to feel tortured while I cut into iceberg lettuce and an apple while the person next to me is ravaging a perfect ombre red, albeit heart-attack-inducing, piece of steak.
So if you’re like me, residing somewhere between having morals and hedonism, you may enjoy this list of delicious vegetarian and vegan meals across Hampton Roads. Food guaranteed to be so delicious you won’t care what the person sitting next to you is eating.
9. Vegan Pizza – The Bakehouse at Chelsea
Unlike a few other vegan pizza options found throughout Norfolk, The Bakehouse at Chelsea does not bother with fake cheese and it certainly does not need to. They make a damn good pizza without it. Just the basics, tomato sauce, kale, garlic and mushrooms. This pizza is packed with flavor, very light and very affordable at $8 for the personal size.
1233 W. Olney Rd., Norfolk. 757.644.6939.
8. Acai Bowls – Zeke’s Beans and Bowls
Known for Poke bowls made with raw tuna, it can be easy to forget this local chain has quite a selection of vegan options; a fact that has only increased exponentially with the addition of tofu. But if you’re not a tofu fan, Zeke’s does a fantastic job with its acai bowls. Each of the five options is made with frozen acai and granola. These bowls are perfect for breakfast or a much healthier option than an afternoon ice cream/gelato break. The price is especially nice at $5 for the small.
616 Norfolk Ave., Virginia Beach. 757.963.5155. & 800 Granby St., Norfolk. 757.963.5220.
This was a great little place tucked away on restaurant row in downtown Hampton. I took a meat-loving friend here and we were extremely happy with our Greek wrap and white pizza. I don’t remember much about the meal other than it was mighty tasty and that she didn’t give me the stink eye while eating it. All in all, I consider that a win. Greek wrap and white pizza, $9 each.
9 E Queens Way, Hampton. 757.325.8868.
6. Miso Vegetarian Bowl – Alkaline
If you haven’t heard of Alkaline, the pop up ramen restaurant at Pendulum, you’re missing out. It makes a mean bowl of ramen and the vegetarian bowl packs the same punch as the rest of the menu. It does have a poached egg, so it’s not vegan, but it is $12 and very filling.
820 Shirley Ave., Norfolk. 757.995.4834.
5. Hummus, Kale & Black Bean Wrap – Pasha Mezze
This place has a ton of vegan options: maiden cakes, quinoa cakes, lentil soup – the list goes on and it’s all delicious. Pasha’s hummus and black bean wrap is warm, filling, flavorful and $8.
350 W 22nd St., Norfolk. 757.627.1318.
4. Sugar & Spice Salad (with a Tofu substitute) – Green House Kitchen
The Sugar & Spice salad is listed with chicken thigh, but when you substitute tofu it quickly becomes a darn good vegan dish. The perfect ratio of sweet and spicy, this salad made me a fan of tofu by grilling it and giving it a better overall flavor and texture. The single serving is $14.
345 Granby St., Norfolk. 757.452.5889.
I’m no fan of vegan food pretending to be meat, but if you’re craving a familiar dish and trying to abstain from meat or dairy then Yorgo’s is absolutely the place for you. They have a fantastic selection of vegan options. I’ve been through most of the menu and other than a basic bagel with vegan cream cheese, the best sandwich here is the vegan Buffalo Chick’n Wrap. A great spicy kick for $8.
2123 Colonial Ave., Norfolk. 757.623.6609.
2. Hummus and Roasted Veggie Wrap – Ten Top
This place has only one vegan item on its entire menu, which may sound suspicious. It seems as out of place as chicken nuggets at a Mexican restaurant (which I’ve actually seen), but Ten Top knocks it out of the park with this wrap. The veggies are grilled, bursting with flavor and the first bite proves why this place is known for its hummus. Warm and humongous, the wrap is a steal for only $8.
748 Shirley Ave., Norfolk. 757.622.5422.
1. Absolutely anything by LOVEnorfolk
Number one on the list is the husband-and-wife chef duo, pop-up restaurant LOVEnorfolk. Standing for Local Organic Vegetable Eatery, their food is sensational. I enjoyed the cooking at their last takeover at Dog-N-Burger Grille in Ghent this past April. I can’t tell you everything I ate — samosas, shawarma and jackfruit — but I know every bit of it was delicious. My favorite dish was BBQ Jackfruit Tacos. I can’t wait for these guys to open up their own brick-and-mortar. I urge you to catch their next restaurant takeover. Get tickets in advance, because they do sell out. Price changes with menu and venue.
*Sources: Pilot Research survey, May 2016. Onegreenplanet.org
Thank you to the generous sponsor of this post, Rose & Womble.
Rose & Womble Realty Co. was born and bred in Hampton Roads – our owners live and work here in the Seven Cities. We are a family-owned and operated business – with multiple generations working at all levels, from agents to managers.The leadership within the company is LOCAL – not out of state – but right here in Hampton Roads.