More than Peanuts: An Insider’s Guide to Downtown Suffolk

They don’t call it “Surprising Suffolk” in jest.

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Downtown Suffolk, AKA the Suffolk Historic District, certainly fits the slogan and I’ve admittedly always had a little crush on the area. It has a small town vibe, but maintains an interesting and artistic culture.

Downtown Suffolk is home to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, unique shops and phenomenal restaurants. Main Street and Washington Street are lined with antique stores, historic architecture, and the most phenomenal renovated warehouses and lofts I’ve seen outside of major cities. While I recently moved to the Suffolk Historic District back in June, I’ve frequented the area for years.

So what exactly makes Downtown Suffolk so “surprisingly great”? I’ll list the top 5 reasons I moved here from Ghent without batting a lash:

1. Uncork’d

This is certainly a hidden gem for wine lovers and craft beer connoisseurs alike. They never cease to amaze with interesting and rare wines. They also offer paninis, gourmet cheeses, and a little bird told me they may begin to offer coffee!

2. Harper’s Table



If you’re a self-proclaimed “foodie” and you’ve never eaten there, you should immediately add this restaurant to the top of your bucket list. Fittingly described as a “stylish eatery offering high-end Southern fare & cocktails in industrial-chic surroundings,” Harper’s Table keeps me from missing the plethora of perfect places to dine in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Every first timer becomes a lover of Harper’s Table. The farm to table menu is ever changing, the wine selection is flawless, and their lovely barkeep is legitimately award-winning.

3. East Coast Taco Company

Who doesn’t love fish tacos? If you don’t we can never be friends. Fish tacos for President. Homemade salsa, fresh margaritas, cheese dip… shall I go on? I think everyone understands that when there’s amazing Mexican food, Taco Tuesday is everyday.

4. The Farmer’s Market

The most fragrant tomatoes I’ve ever eaten I bought late in the summer, from the farmer who grew them (that’s the hometown feel you want). He’ll give you some secret recipes if you’re nice to him. I’m nearly certain everyone grows everything within a mile from the dining room table around here.

5. Location, Location, Location

Suffolk is 25 minutes from everywhere you’d want to go in the region. While you may balk at 25 whole minutes, but you drive that far from Ghent to get to Whole Foods. You drive farther from Hampton to get to the Oceanfront. Heck, you drive that far from the Oceanfront to sip it up at Wine Festival in Town Point Park. Suffolk is not that far and it’s always worth the drive.

Do I miss Ghent? Only when I have to come home from Toast.

Now that I’ve put in my 52 cents, history will show that Downtown Suffolk is where the cool kids will end up. In 2010, CNN Money Magazine named Suffolk one of Americas 100 Best Small Cities to Live, and it’s continued to grow. Why? Suffolk “has unique and diverse offerings, from its historic downtown and rich farmland to its high-tech corridor and beautiful recreational offerings,” according to Mayor Linda Johnson.

Some of the other factors considered in the selection included job and housing markets, quality of education, crime rate and overall quality of life, including leisure and cultural activities. For example, the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts hosts countless performances, offers art classes, summer camps, glass blowing workshops, and stunning exhibitions. I can walk there. The Taste of Suffolk is a 5+ block street festival filled with all-day entertainment, savory tastes and sweet treats from the best citywide restaurants and eateries, specialty vendors, fun contests, varied childrens activities and more. I could walk to there too.

If you’re the outdoorsy type, there are more than four walking trails in the Downtown Suffolk area alone, and the newest kayak and canoe launch dock was installed at Constant’s Wharf. You can literally bike to a legit farmer’s market in the morning, kayak at brunch, dance in the street in the afternoon and sip the perfect cocktail in the evening. But is there a place to watch all the ESPN sports, eat nachos and drink beer? Yep, Baron’s Pub has front row seats and the food isn’t just the same old bar fried belly ache.

The Bloody Mary Bar at Baron’s.

There are countless reasons I never want to leave my little nook in Suffolk. The one thing we need is a coffee shop. Someone come open one so I can spend all of my money there!

Interested in living in Suffolk? Take a look at some listings in our featured neighborhoods.