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On our last business trip to Virginia, my husband and I took off a day early as to adventure a little more throughout the Norfolk, Virginia. It wasn’t our first trip to the area but we had never really taken the time to put on our walking shoes and enjoy the warm weather and small “mom & pop” stores around the area. We aren’t big for neither large department stores nor large chain restaurants. So we took advantage of our new iphone 4’s and the map option to find vegan places to entertain our appetites. I’m addicted to HappyCow.net so I’m always going to the site to check out local area shops that kindly cater to vegans.

We found a restaurant that was 100% vegan and within two miles of walking. The weather was nice and we had plenty of time so we went ahead and parked in the parking ramp near the waterfront and walked to the restaurant, closely following the map app that comes with the iPhone. It comes free, it’s so amazing! But anyways, we got to the restaurant but weren’t thrilled to find that it was completely empty and no longer in business. We were bummed so we started walking back to our car to find another place to go for lunch. Thankfully, as it usually does, we walked right past a restaurant that actually had lunch specials and vegetarian options. Being in the south that is a big thing to come across right under our noses… Technology is great but sometimes you just have to go with the flow and open your eyes. Ha-ha

It turned out that the Freemason Abbey Restaurant and Tavern was just what we were looking for – vegan options and totally different from the norm. It is a true hidden gem! Our waitress was more than willing to help us with our specific diet requests and helped us to order just the right menu items. Most of the menu items are just for vegetarians but you can make a few of them into vegan options.

Vegan Options Include:
Corn and Edamame Lettuce wrap
Spinach Salad (minus the cheese)
Autumn Greens (minus the cheese)
Abbey Garden Salad (minus the cheese) – we ordered this
Garden Burger (minus the cheese) – we ordered this
Vegetable Fajita Wrap
Vegetable Fettuccine (Marinara Sauce only) – we ordered this

When ordering, make sure you mention that you can have no dairy products and the chefs will make your order especially for you. Yum! We found that ordering at the restaurant was not only easy but it felt like the waitress really did care about serving us just what we wanted – something that is rarely found when ordering very specific items. Let’s just say we left a very nice tip and have told just about everyone about the lovely experience.

Thanks to our wonderful waitress, we ended up with just what we ordered and were assured there was no meat or dairy in either of the entrees we ordered. In less than an hour we had ordered, eaten and even chatted with our waitress about the abbey that the restaurant used to be. Yep, it really was an old abbey that was purchased and turned into a tavern, so funny! How many places can say they had that chance? The cost was good, staff eager to help and cheerful which turned our day off into an overall relaxing dining experience success. We both highly suggest going there if you are a vegan or non-vegan.

Read about the history of the restaurant or find out how you can dine there on their website.

209 W. Freemason Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
Telephone: 757-622-3966