Virginia is for lovers of all kinds—from adventurers to activists, history buffs to birdwatchers, and patriots to party animals—and Norfolk and the surrounding Hampton Roads area truly has it all. The southeastern Virginia waterfront city is the perfect place for PETA’s headquarters: As the second-largest city in the state, Norfolk offers lovely tree-lined neighborhoods, historic charm, and all the other treasured amenities of East Coast living. Plus, the vegan food options are on point.
This metropolis is surrounded by many other unique and vibrant communities, including Virginia Beach, a fun-loving beach town with miles and miles of pristine shoreline, and Williamsburg, a quaint and cozy village steeped in 400 years of history.
Discover why staffers love PETA’s Virginia hometown!
Where to Find Vegan Food in Norfolk, Virginia
It makes perfect sense that PETA’s hometown is truly a vegan’s paradise. Here are a few of our favorite vegan options in Norfolk:
What’s Vegan at Orapax?
If you like Greek food, you’ll love Orapax. Known in Norfolk as “The Place to Eat,” the family-owned restaurant offers a vegan menu. We’re talking appetizers like stuffed vegan dolmas (grape leaves), a pasta bowl offering meat-free meatballs and vegan Parmesan cheese, and the best dang plant-based gyro this side of the Mississippi. Plus, the Thursday night special is 10% off all vegan food. Pro tip: Don’t sleep on the vegan Greek salad, and add some vegan Karpathos chicken—you’re welcome.
How to Order Vegan at Yorgo’s Bageldashery
No visit to PETA’s hometown would be complete without stopping at vegan haven Yorgo’s. A favorite among staffers, this bagel shop offers dairy-free cream cheese options as well as a whole vegan menu section featuring choices like a vegan Philly cheesesteak hoagie, a vegan Buffalo chicken sandwich, and a vegan chicken salad that’ll have you coming back for more. If you’re uncertain what to order, try The Peterman: This tofu scramble with hash browns, house-made vegan sausage, vegan cheese, and red onions—all on your choice of tortilla or bagel—is sure to satisfy. The upstairs bar is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and the vegan bloody Mary (called the Topside) is delish!
Vegan Sushi in Norfolk?
Tucked away in Norfolk’s historic Ghent neighborhood is Kotobuki, a Japanese restaurant and sushi bar that serves some seriously mouthwatering vegan options. We admit that we may be biased, but with seaweed salad and inari fried tofu, the PETA roll is one of Kotobuki’s best sushi selections. If you like mushrooms, try the Buddha roll, too. For nonsushi options, the vegan sesame chicken is a must-try, as is the vegan Tempura-Fried Cheesecake.
Where to Find Vegan Burritos in Norfolk
For some of the best vegan burritos in Norfolk, check out Pelon’s Baja Grill in Ghent (or in Virginia Beach). The huge vegan menu includes options like the vegan Hawaiian Pipeline burrito (mixed greens, Baja rice, black beans, vegan cheese, pineapple chunks, habanero pineapple sauce, and vegan sour cream), the vegan Big Kahuna burrito (1/2 pound of vegan meat—steak or chicken—with lots of chunky guacamole, mild verde sauce, cilantro, and onion), or the vegan Curl burrito (Cajun fried tofu, refried beans, shredded green cabbage, spicy vegan cream sauce, and salsa fresca). Regardless of which you order, add vegan Baja sauce—you won’t regret it.
For another option, head over to Luna Maya, where the clearly labeled vegan burrito comes with caramelized onions, roasted poblano peppers, rice, borracho beans, roasted salsa, and your choice of spicy or cilantro-lime potatoes.
Norfolk’s Cafe Stella: Something to Write Home About
Part coffee shop, part restaurant, and part bar, Ghent’s Cafe Stella is a hidden vegan-friendly gem. One of our menu favorites is the black bean burger—we know, it’s not the ’90s, but hear us out: With a thick patty made of brown rice, broccoli, and carrot and piled high with red onion, avocado, kale, and sambal vegan mayo, all on a Kaiser bun, this burger will have you feeling nostalgic. The avocado toast and steel-cut oatmeal bowl are vegan, too, and you can order the quinoa fruit bowl (almond milk, kiwi, pear, blueberries, peanut butter, flaxseeds, and chia seeds) without honey. The café offers oat, almond, and soy milk as well as cold-pressed juices, and the bar serves vegan beers and wines.
Norfolk’s Oldest Independent Coffee Shop Is Vegan-Friendly, Too!
At the intersection of Colley and Baldwin avenues sits Elliot’s Fair Grounds, a family-owned coffee shop slinging some seriously delicious dairy-free lattes, cappuccinos, and more. Offering oat milk and other vegan milk options, vegan pastries, hummus and pita chips, and a five-star veggie burger, Fair Grounds is the perfect place to hunker down with a good book or your laptop and an appetite.
10 Other Things to Do in Norfolk, Virginia (and Near It)
From the bogs to the bays, you’re never far from nature here. Whether you’re keen on beautiful beaches, forests, marshland, or mountains, Hampton Roads has something for everyone:
1. Check out one of Virginia’s nearly 75 state and national parks.
From the trails of nearby First Landing State Park to the mysterious and magical marshes of the Great Dismal Swamp and the forested slopes of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia’s parks are perfect for camping, hiking, biking, boating, and birdwatching.
2. Stop and smell the flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.
An oasis of nature nestled in the city, the garden offers a lush landscape of colorful flowers, including one the largest collections of camellias, roses, azaleas, and rhododendrons on the East Coast.
3. Rev Things Up at Kings Dominion and Motor World
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can get your fix of fast-paced fun riding roller coasters at Kings Dominion or burning rubber on Motor World’s go-kart track.
4. Cool Down at Ocean Breeze Waterpark
For a cool way to beat the heat, cruise on over to nearby Ocean Breeze Waterpark.
5. Sweat It Out at Hot House Yoga
If you’re looking for something a little more on the mild side, strike a pose at Hot House Yoga, which has locations in both Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
6. Bowl a Few Frames at AMF Norfolk Lanes
If it’s casual fun you’re after, AMF will be right up your alley.
7. Visit Bea Arthur Dog Park
PETA’s spacious waterside dog park features a water station, a toy bin, and a shaded picnic area.
8. Go Back in Time
Virginia is home to many historical landmarks, including presidential birthplaces and estates, churches, cemeteries, settlement sites, battlefields, and monuments.
9. Get in Touch With Your Inner Artist at the Chrysler Museum of Art
The Chrysler Museum of Art is free to the public and once hosted a glass studio exhibit that showcased photos of “backyard dogs” taken by PETA fieldworkers in Hampton Roads and the surrounding area.
10. Don’t Miss All That the Neptune Festival Has to Offer
From a wine festival in May to a volleyball tournament in October, the folks who organize the Neptune Festival know how to throw a party. If you’re here in the fall, check out the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk Weekend—it’s the place to be to enjoy music, libations, and interesting events, such as the North American Sand Sculpting Championship.
We hope you’re convinced that Norfolk is the place to be. All that’s left is to apply to work for PETA!
PETA and the PETA Foundation are looking for smart, compassionate, hardworking people to join our teams, including those that work out of our Norfolk headquarters, and you might be a great match. Click below to take a look at our open positions and see whether you have what it takes to help us protect animals and help them win respect:
And check us out on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to learn more about what it’s really like to save animals like it’s your job.