Last Updated on October 10, 2022 by Wandering our World

Norfolk, Virginia is a true mélange of cultures and people. Located on the water with a walkable waterfront downtown, historic neighborhoods, art and music districts along with several restaurants and bars, it’s an ideal getaway no matter where your interests lie.

So, whether you’re chilling on one of the beaches, window shopping downtown, taking a tour of Norfolk’s murals or just looking for a place to unwind, there’s always something to do!

To maintain that energy and keep those spirits up, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite bars in Norfolk, VA.

Let’s check them out!

CONTENTS:

  1. The Two Best Cocktail Bars
  2. The Three Best Bars For Craft Beers
  3. The Best Irish Pub
  4. The Two Best Bars For Activities
  5. The Two Best Wine Bars
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/iMaximFesenko

Our Favorite Cocktail Bars In Norfolk, VA

1. Gershwin’s

Cocktails and upscale food in a swanky piano bar with live music.

You’ll be transported straight to a speakeasy that won’t be out of place in Manhattan the moment you enter Gershwin’s.

Glowing chandeliers, cloth covered tables, candles and a bright mirror and glass display bar greet you inside, though your attention will probably be drawn to the grand piano right next to the door. Its classy and stylish and even the waiters are dressed in period costume, making this is a fun lively place to bring that next date!

The cocktail menu is extensive here and features house specials, and classic cocktails which are split into various decades when they were invented. The French 75 from the 20s section of the menu is an absolute delight and features gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne.

But for something a bit more modern, go for the ‘Paper Plane’ that contains bourbon, aperol, Averna Amaro and lemon juice – it’s even decorated with a tiny origami plane!

If you’re not sure what to order, and you might be, as the choices are numerous, the people behind the bar are more than happy to assist and make suggestions. The food menu is eclectic too and offers a mix of classic and modern dishes if you fancy a bite to eat.

Service here is great and the bartenders clearly know what they are doing. Drop by when they have live music on to truly complete the evening. The place is cozy and tends to get busy, so call ahead and enquire before dropping by, or make a reservation.

Hours of operation are from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday with closing hours extending to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Address – 332 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Deagreez

2. Cracker’s Little Bar Bistro

Trendy joint that serves tapas and cocktails.

What goes better with a nice cold martini than a varying spread of small delicacies? Cracker’s Little Bar Bistro serves up inspired small plates with an interesting cocktail menu. The interiors are warm with subtle mood lighting and simple décor. You can choose a table or sit by the bar and the wicker furniture adds a bit of old school charm to the place.

Cracker’s Little Bar is a great place to bring your friends or family and enjoy some cocktails, and is a great place to bring that special someone too. Tapas, after all, is meant to be shared!

The cocktail menu features classics with everything from the Negroni to the Sidecar. With the wonderful things we’ve heard about the cocktails, we know the people behind the bar know what they’re doing as everything is executed with precision and care. You can really have a lot of fun sampling from the food menu and pairing it with a specialty drink here.

Service here is great too, and you will rarely want for anything. Cracker’s Little Bar Bistro is open from 5:00 p.m. to midnight all days except Sunday and Monday when it is closed. For one of the best cocktail bars in Norfolk, VA, head to Cracker’s!

Address – 4226 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23504

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/MaximFesenko

Our Favorite Bars In Norfolk, VA, for Craft Beer

1. Brick Anchor Brew House

Bright, spacious ale house serving a large selection of craft beers.

Brick Anchor Brew House’s interiors bear an industrial motif with clean crisp lines and gears and cogs serving as decoration. The high ceiling gives a sense of space, the large windows make the place feel more open and airier, and the modern light fixtures bathe the place in a warm hue. The bar as well is a sight to behold, adding a rustic touch to the otherwise modern feel of the place. There’s plenty of comfortable seating on offer along with stools that can be pulled up at the bar.

But the real draw of this place is the fact Brick Anchor boasts a selection of 60 craft beers on tap and has won Veer Magazine’s Hampton Roads Golden Tap award several years in a row!

Apart from that fantastic selection, the brew house also serves 40 beers by the bottle along with a select few classic cocktails and wines. As with most breweries, if you can’t decide what craft to order, you can always ask the server for suggestions or order a sampler flight.

The food here is good too and features classic pub fare and finger foods, with a particular highlight being the multiple vegetarian and vegan options they serve.

Service here is quick and the people behind the bar are very knowledgeable, making sure you’re well taken care of when you visit. The place recommends calling ahead and making a reservation if you’re planning on visiting with a large party.

Hours of operation are from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday with closing hours extending to midnight on Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Monday.

Address – 241 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Christopher Zagyi

2. Grain

Norfolk’s only rooftop beer garden with amazing views, several great beers on tap, and regular live music.

Grain is known for two things – its brews and its views. It is also committed to showcasing the Norfolk and Hampton Roads beer community which stretches back 400 years!

The interiors are trendy and chic with plenty of wooden accents working with metal piping to give this place an industrial vibe. Yet while the inside is beautifully done up, you’ll probably have your eye set on sitting on the rooftop garden which has plenty of covered seating, a firepit and offers panoramic views of the Elizabeth River. Both the interior and the patio have plenty of greenery to, that works well to balance the modern theme.

This brew house has an astonishing collection of over 100 beers on tap! The menus are very convenient to read too as the beers are split into their flavor profiles, so you can choose one according to your preferences. They also have a decent selection of bottled and canned beers along with a modest selection of wines and spirits.

Another reason to visit apart from the beer and views is the live music they host Wednesday through Sunday – just check their socials for details. Grain also does happy hour Monday through Friday and a Weekend brunch.

Grain does get busy as it’s one of the most popular bars in Norfolk, VA, especially depending on when you visit, but you can always park yourself by their gazebo bar – the bartenders are very attentive and friendly.

The place is open from noon to midnight Monday through Thursday, noon to 2:00 a.m. Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to midnight Sunday.

Address – 100 E Main St, Norfolk, VA 23510

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/DisobeyArt

3. The Birch

Craft beer bar with cheese & charcuterie boards and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Housed in a former industrial building, The Birch is Norfolk’s first craft beer bar, having been established in January of 2011.

Featuring simple, sleek interiors that showcase the building’s former roots, the place has a cozy feel, thanks also in part to the dim lighting employed and a smattering of greenery. A highlight you’ll notice is the cooler that proudly displays all the bottled and canned beer they have on offer. Seating is available on molded chairs with options of tables or by the bar.

The Birch offers 21 craft beer drafts and 5 cider and mead taps along with more than 100 beers in bottles or cans. Unsure of what to order? Worry not! Just answer three simple questions put forth by the beertenders and they’ll find the perfect beer for you.

A particular highlight of the place is also the cheese & charcuterie boards they have on offer which pair really well with the beers. You can select from a curated board or build your own – there are several options to choose from. Round off the experience with one of their signature beer inspired grilled cheese sandwiches. The place also hosts mini week-long festivals where the drafts and bottles adhere to a particular theme.

The bartenders here are great and knowledgeable in their craft, though previous customers have said service may be a bit slow at times for the food – it is one of the most popular bars in Norfolk, VA after all.

The Birch is open from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Friday, 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday and 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Address – 1231 W Olney Rd, Norfolk, VA 23507

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/netrun78

Our Favorite Irish Pub

1. Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub & Restaurant

Plenty of beer, Guinness and live music in a classic Irish tavern setting.

Locally owned and family run, Grace O’Malley’s will transport you straight to Ireland with its charming interiors and rustic pub appeal.

Most of the bar and restaurant was handcrafted in Ireland with the display bar being a particular highlight – it’s sure to catch your eye with its carved wooden accents mahogany colors. You’ll have your choice of tables or booths here and the chairs are all comfortable and upholstered. Visit with a bunch of your mates and enjoy the classy yet fun atmosphere of this place!

Being an Irish pub, there is an extensive menu of scotch, bourbon and Irish Whiskey along with Irish coffees, seasonal drafts and domestic, imported and craft beer. That being said, you have to try one of their signature ‘crushes’ which are cocktails served in specialty ‘Grace O’Malley’s’ crush cups, which you can even purchase as a little memento.

The food menu here features several Irish and American classics including starters, salads, sandwiches and entrees. Drop by in the evening as there’s almost always live music happening – just check their socials for when!

Service here is warm and friendly but there may be a bit of a wait for food, but that just gives you more time to take in the charming interiors.

Grace O’Malley’s is open from 11:00 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and Sunday, with closing hours extending to 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Address – 211 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/jdwfoto

Our Favorite Bars In Norfolk, VA, For Activities

1. Pixels Pints & Bytes

Arcade bar spread across two floors.

Pixels, Pints & Bytes offers just that – plenty of retro arcade games, cold beers and mixed drinks and classic pub fare.

The brick walls of this bar provide an interesting aesthetic with the bright neon lights of the arcade machines playing off them wonderfully. The bar is spread across two floors with the second floor featuring a covered and uncovered patio. You can choose to sit by a high or low table or pull up a stool by the bar (where you can indulge in a game or two on the flatscreens)

What really draws people here are the games of course, and there are plenty of them, from retro arcade games to air hockey, to console games played on projectors. Games can be played by purchasing tokens from the bartender or using the token machine. The bar also serves their own in-house specialty cocktails and has a good selection of draft, seasonal and bottled beer.

The bartenders here are fun and accommodating and this is a fun place to hang with some friends and play video games. It can even be a fun offbeat destination for a date. One thing to note is that it is primarily an adult only venue and its 21+ after 9:00 p.m. whilst people under 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Pixels, Pints & Bytes is open from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 2:00 a.m. Saturday and noon to 11:00 p.m. Sunday.

Address – 2117 Colonial Ave, Norfolk, VA 23517

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Suntharin Permpoon

2. The Taphouse Grill

Low key pub that provides beer, food and entertainment.

The Taphouse Grill has been operating in Norfolk for 25 years, making it a quintessential local bar. The interiors are simple and unpretentious making it a great gathering point for you and a group of friends.

Stickers, knick-knacks, number plates and beer pulls adorn the walls, providing liveliness. But what’ll really catch your eye is the checkered stage where events are hosted and bands perform.

Taphouse has a great beer selection with a good mix of drafts and bottles along with a full bar. What it is best known for, however is being one of the best bars in Norfolk, VA for live music and activities.

Mondays are comedy open mic nights, Thursdays they do karaoke and if that’s not enough, they have bands playing weekly throughout the month – just check their socials for details!

The food here is also great and we’ve heard some wonderful things about the fries. On top of that, what sets this place apart is the large number of vegetarian options on the menu.

Service here is quick and though the place does get crowded, its managed efficiently. Hours of operation are from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. al days.

Address – 931 W 21st St, Norfolk, VA 23517

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Pro2sound

Our Favorite Wine Bars In Norfolk, VA

1. Cork & Company Wine & Martini Bar

Intimate wine and martini bar in the heart of downtown Norfolk.

Bright, airy and vibrant, Cork & Company brings something new to the bar scene of Norfolk. Having been in operation since 2018 and offering a relaxed casual atmosphere, this bar is a great place to host a corporate get together or a simple yet classy business lunch.

Wine racks adorn the walls, so you know that they mean business when it comes to vino, and seating is casual with leather sofas and upholstered chairs. Outdoor seating is available as well.

Cork & Company Wine & Martini Bar, as the name suggests pairs eclectic wines martinis with complimentary dishes. Whether you’re new to the art of wine tasting or a seasoned oenophile, the sommeliers here will have something for you.

The people here are more than happy to guide you through the process of pairing the wine with what you’ve ordered to eat – and the food menu itself is wonderful, featuring comfort food and American Classics.

If wine is not your thing, don’t worry as they have special martinis and mimosas on offer – the pear martini and pomegranate mimosas have been a particular hit with the locals! Apart from all this they also do a daily brunch which runs from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends.

The service here is great and servers will often go out of their way to make your occasion special. It does tend to get busy, being a cozy place, so best call ahead!

Cork & Company is open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Monday.

Address – 244 Granby St Suite A, Norfolk, VA 23510

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/santypan

2. Press 626 Wine Bar

Casual, local wine bar and restaurant.

Launched with a commitment to only provide fresh, local, from scratch meals and pair them with wines from a carefully curated list, Press 626 Wine Bar is a breath of fresh air. This is reflected in their interiors which are comfy and intimate while still being classy. Brick accents on the walls work with Edison bulbs and glass lanterns to provide a nice rustic feel. While you can choose to wine and dine inside on the multitude of tables, there is also a large outdoor patio set up with umbrellas and wicker chairs.

Headed by a dedicated sommelier, the bar here has a wonderfully put together wine list and the people behind it will assist you in your wine selection at any time.

Apart from wine, the place also has a modest cocktail section along with a selection of beers, ciders and seltzers. The food here deserves a shout out too, with the emphasis on seasonal flavors and local purchase. Elegant and relaxed you simply must make this the location for your next date night!

Service is fantastic and you’ll never have to ask for refills as the owners themselves often make the rounds making sure everything is taken care of.

Press 626 is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday with closing hours extending to 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Sunday.

Address – 626 W Olney Rd, Norfolk, VA 23507

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Oleh Veres