Black City Guide: Eat, Shop And Unwind At these Black-Owned Businesses In Norfolk, Virginia
When you think of Virginia, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s Virginia Beach or the state’s capital, Richmond, or you may think of celebs who are VA proud out loud, like Missy Elliott, Pharrell or Pusha T. But hopefully Norfolk is your radar too. Or at least it should be. The city, which has an approximate 40 percent Black population and recently elected its first Black mayor, is full of must-visit gems that you honestly can’t miss when you’re in town. There’s tons of great food to enjoy, from sweet treats to down-home soul food and comfort vegan dishes, options are literally endless. And of course you can’t forget the cultural institutions that are sure to educate and inspire you.
Below are just a few of the Black-owned spots that you should hit up the next time you’re in Norfolk. Trust us, you’ll be into them.
SEE: Chrysler Museum of Art
For a bit of culture, swinging by the Chrysler Museum of Art is a must. With more than 30,000 pieces of work, the museum can feel overwhelming so take your time. Though they house the likes of Pollock, O’Keeffe and Lichtenstein, it's the exhibits by Black and African artists that are especially delightful. If you're fortunate enough, don't miss "Yaller Girl," the beaded sculpture by Joyce J. Scott, a recipient of the MacArthur genius award. Her work often addresses social issues like racism, sexism, lynchings and rape. And you'll for sure be stopped in your tracks when viewing a piece by another MacArthur fellow, Titus Kaphar, who paints a portrait of Thomas Jefferson which includes a beard made of shredded papers. Those papers? They contain the names and dates from the president's actual slave ledger!
EAT: Croaker's Spot
When it comes to eats, there's no shortage of amazing food in Norfolk. A stop on your itinerary should include Croaker's Spot. You'll find soul food favorites like cornbread, mac and cheese and collard greens and because you're in Norfolk, you know there's a long list of seafood options like salmon cakes, oysters and almost anything else you can find under the sea. But this place can get packed, so be prepared for a wait.
EXPERIENCE: Attucks Theater
What were you doing in your mid-20s? Well, architect Harvey Johnson was building the Attucks Theater. That was back in 1919. Besides having a Black architect, the institution was Black funded, catered to a Black audience and was center stage for amazing Black performers. It was even known as the Apollo of the South. In present day, the theater is celebrating its 100th anniversary and still has a full roster of performances. The name Attucks, as you’d suspect, is in honor of Crispus Attucks, the first person killed in the American Revolution.
SHOP: Stark & Legum
There's nothing more gratifying than having an elder look at your outfit and tell you you look sharp. That's the ultimate compliment. And if you need some fly gear that’s timeless, Stark & Legum, which has been a community staple since the 1920s, is worth checking out. Though it's technically a men's store, any fashionista can find pieces she'll happily add to her wardrobe, including their show stopping hats. Just make sure you leave enough room in your carry-on to bring your items home with you. Located on Granby Street, this store is one you'll most likely pass by while roaming downtown. Be on the lookout!
EAT: Senses Vegan
Another food option, but just a tad bit different is Senses Vegan. As the name suggests, the Killam Ave. restaurant serves up plant based cuisine. But don’t think this is a place only vegans will enjoy. Even meat lovers leave satisfied because every plate is packed with flavor. Options include a Philly cheesesteak (seasoned seitan) and chicken salad, made with chickpeas. You'll probably walk out thinking, "was all of that really vegan?" And the answer is yes.
EXPERIENCE: Spaces For Healing
Working out might be the last thing you want to do on vacation but Spaces for Healing is more than a workout. Classes are about an hour long and range from fundamental yoga for all ages to Stop, Drop, and Yoga for kids 1-10 years old. The safe space focuses on healing and building a sense of community. An intro class will only set you back by $10 and can be a great way to get your day flowing and even connect with locals who can dish about hidden gems in the city.
For a sweet treat, all roads lead straight to Hummingbird. While designers have fashion collections, every season owner Kisha Frazier has a new "collection" of macaron flavors that can range from rosewater to elderberry hibiscus to black pepper. Pair your dessert with a cup of tea, which Frazier says goes great with dessert. Even if you’re in a rush, take a sec to head to the upstairs area and take in the view as the dessert shop is housed right on the water in a beautiful pagoda that’s def a hidden gem of Norfolk. This place is straight Instagram heaven. And before you leave, grab a few vegan chocolate chip cookies for the road.