Each city in the Tidewater area has its own personality and Portsmouth is no different. The best part of the Portsmouth restaurant scene is its diverse choices, which are accompanied by a devoted local following reflective of its historical, military and medical culture.
The addition of close to 800 new apartments in town, move-in ready or soon to be ready, increase the appetite for authentic, enjoyable dining experiences.
image | Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas
Steering clear of the typical Top 10 list, we made the shift to restaurants not to miss that will absolutely make your mouth water, and a few worth a mention… in alpha order.
- Bier Garden – 438 High St., Olde Towne. Portsmouth. Owned and operated by Osfolk family for almost two decades, this restaurant and beer garden has a loyal following for its genuine Bavarian fare, a gregarious Portsmouth atmosphere and over 400 bottles and taps from beers from around the world, not to mention some great cordials and schnapps.
- Café Europa – 319 High St., Olde Towne Portsmouth. There aren’t too many places in Hampton Roads where you will find modern, yet elegant European cuisine with an emphasis on the Mediterrean region and great wine list as well. Chef Mike Simko and his wife Veronique have given the café its staying power to keep it intact as a long-time Portsmouth favorite.
- Dock of the Bay – 103 Constitution Ave, Shea Terrace on Scott Creek section of Portsmouth. Some may remember this location on Scott Creek as the former Flagship. This cozy venue, replete with portholes and a perfect view of the water, is now owned and operated by Sean and Yolanda Duffee, a husband and wife team quickly building a reputation for great service, and a strong menu with emphasis on seafood. Come by boat or wheels.
- Gosport Tavern – 702 High St., Olde Towne Portsmouth. Owned and managed by the crew who brought BARDO Edibles & Elixirs, Public House Victuals and Libations, Supper Southern Morsels and STILL Worldly Eclectic Tapas to Tidewater. Harkening to the original name of Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Gosport Tavern is a warm, welcoming, yet classic neighborhood tavern with a wide bar selection and delicious menu. You can even find brunch there not just on Sundays, but Saturdays, too. Bonus.
- HomeGrown – 455 Court St., Olde Towne Portsmouth. Another husband and wife team — Nic Hagen and Hope Dennis deliver this eatery which features items like made from scratch pastas, and pizza made with local produce from across the street meaning, Saturday’s Olde Towne Farmers Market.
- JoJack’s Espresso Bar & Café – 5700 Churchland Blvd. Suite 39, Churchland section of Portsmouth. It’s worth popping into this neighborhood coffee option owned and operated by husband and wife duo, Dan and Renae McDonnell, which has fast become an institution and a gathering spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner for locals and visitors.
- Mannino’s Italian Ristorante – 606 High St., Olde Towne Portsmouth. The search is over for genuine Italian fare. Their first location was in Virginia Beach, but the father / son chef team of John Rosario & John Matthew Mannino have brought true cuisine of Italia to Portsmouth. Wielding a sommelier certification and deep knowledge of spirits, their triumvirate was perfected with partner Daris Gavin. All hail Mannino’s.
- Mario’s Restaurant – 611 Airline Blvd. Midtown section of Portsmouth. – Generous in their portions and generous to those in need, Mario’s has been a locals’ fave since the 1950’s. With plenty of room to dine and catch the rotating entertainment schedule, there are plenty of reasons to make time for this iconic Italian restaurant.
- Roger Brown’s Sports Bar & Restaurant – 316 High St., Olde Towne Portsmouth. If you’re looking to grab a bite from a varied menu, watch the game with friends, have a large choice of libations, stop here. Co-owned by Curtis Lyons and Roger Brown, one of the NFL’s Fearsome Foursome, it has become a staple of the Portsmouth dining and entertainment scene.
- Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas – 450 Court St. Olde Towne Portsmouth. Executive Chef/ Co-Owner, Mike Farrell leads his crew with delectable locally, regionally and sustainably-sourced culinary originals that keep ‘em coming back. Names of courses come from the distilling process –Foreshots, Middle Cuts, Feints, Angels Share. Quite apt as the bar in STILL was recently extended to support one of the most extensive whisky(ey) and spirits lists in Virginia. No surprise there as it’s another of the innovative venues from the team which brought us BARDO Edibles & Elixirs, Public House Victuals and Libations, Supper Southern Morsels and Gosport Tavern.
- STOVE: The Restaurant – 2622 Detroit Street, Port Norfolk section of Portsmouth. In the PoNo section of Portsmouth (Chef/owner Sydney Meers’ coined phrase for Port Norfolk), produce, meat, poultry from all over the Old Dominion as well as sustainable seafood is used with a Southern flair and some classical cuisine stylin’s mixed in by the venerable, yet incorrigible Sydney Meers – The creator of the newest slathering tool, Syd’s D’Lish Sauce. Enjoy the fare and cocktails from his Cougar Lounge.
- Worth an absolute mention and a visit, too…, Green Bean Café inside Bowman’s Garden Center – Olde Towne, Hometown Diner – Midtown, The Coffee Shoppe including Bagel Nutz from Brutti’s Catering and a rotating art gallery, and the Pizza Box – Port Norfolk.
This just in – Olde Towne’s craft baked goods haven, Artisan’s Bakery and Café, has morphed and reopened this month into a delectable wine and small plates bistro in the same Washington St. location, renamed Artisan’s Cellar.
Portsmouth’s burgeoning culinary scene is not to be missed. If you haven’t been over to try these gems, break out of your comfort zone, enjoy the ride and tantalize those taste buds. You will not be disappointed.