Great Food & Craft Beer. Oh Yea, We’ve Got That

Some days just call for naughty splurge, don’t they? (Diet? What diet?) Fortunately, Staunton has several places dedicated to delivering just that. Sink your teeth into these filling options and ask for a frosty mug of something local.

BAJA BEAN CO. | 9 West Beverley

“Southern California-style Mexican” is the menu at Baja, but locals know, it is also the go-to place in Staunton for craft beer. Their 12 taps are carefully curated on a weekly basis. Want help pairing your Big Burrito with a beer? The staff at Baja Bean Co. dedicates quite a bit of time choosing the worthy, and will gladly assist you in making a wise choice.

SHENANDOAH PIZZA & TAP HOUSE | 19 East Beverley

Get comfortable and order The Statler (fennel sausage, smoked bacon, red onions, and fresh mozzarella) with a Devils Backbone “Eight Point IPA” or a Blue Mountain “Full Nelson.” There’s just not much that beats pizza and beer, am I right?

GEORGE BOWERS GROCERY | 219 W. Beverley

Choose from a wide range of “well cultivated” bottled and canned craft beer at this legit craft shop loaded with local, artisanal wares and made-to-order delights. Try the Classic Reuben, their signature sandwich featuring Farmstead Ferments sauerkraut from Charlottesville and handmade Russian dressing. It pairs well with Brothers Craft Brewing’s “Drift” session ale, according to Matthew Miller of Craft Beer Nation.

BYERS STREET BISTRO | 18 Byers Street

Southern comfort food rises to the top at Byers Street Bistro. Start with fried green tomatoes, then move on to shrimp and grits or meatloaf. Skip dessert in favor of something tasty like the latest release from Pale Fire or Starr Hill.

CLOCKTOWER RESTAURANT & BAR | 27 W. Beverley

When you know that quality is the cornerstone priority of a restaurant, you can trust great food and great service await. Clocktower embraces that responsibility, delivering scratch-made entrees to each guest. With that in mind, savor the wait with a choice of several Virginia craft beers like State Street, Champion, and Port City found among the 16 taps.

Which Staunton establishment boasts the best selection of Virginia craft beer AND serves your favorite dish? Tell us all about by leaving a comment!

Breweries, Beer Gardens & Tap Rooms of Staunton

It’s no secret that craft beer has been on the rise in Virginia, and Staunton is fortunate to have three breweries concocting flavor-filled suds. A trip to any of their tasting rooms yields not only a flight of whatever is on tap, but an education about the process of creating great beer. The breweries aren’t the only places to immerse yourself in this small craft culture, however. Read on.

THE BREWERIES

When Queen City Brewing opened in 2003, it became Staunton’s first post-Prohibition brewery. A visit to Queen will offer more than you expect with 22 beers on tap and the opportunity to craft your own beer or soda. There’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the indoors or the out at Redbeard Brewing Company, and you’ll love their small batch/high demand brews. In warm weather, a food truck or two is known to pop up for belly fill-ups. Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company shares their home-brewing knowledge, making them an undeniable destination for aspiring brew masters. Stop by to curate your own flight, fill a growler, or scoop up the stuff needed to pull off DIY craft beer. *Recipes*  

BEER GARDENS & TAP ROOMS

The By & By has grown from a coffee shop on the corner to a Staunton beverage mecca. The menu includes a rotating stock of craft beer and wine, gourmet espressos, loose leaf teas, and Italian sodas to enjoy with paninis, pastries, and pies. To sweeten the stop, the beer garden is a cool place to chill from May to October. Newtown Baking probably wouldn’t be on your radar when seeking craft beer, would it? Oh, but it should be. Order a wood-fired pizza (Thursday-Sunday, 5-9 p.m.) and enjoy it out back in the garden with a frosty brew; there’s a picnic table waiting. 

TO TAKE HOME

Shenandoah Hops is your go-to for mix-and-match six packs of bottled craft beer as well growler refills. Stop by Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. for beer tastings, often poured by the brew masters themselves. The Wine Cellar is a misnomer for our purposes, as they do indeed stock a healthy selection of craft beer from around the world. You can also mix up your own six pack of singles here, and doing so will earn you 10% off. It pays to try something new! You can’t visit the Cellar without taking home a box of their handmade chocolate truffles.

Scenic Drives to Staunton

The first day of spring is March 20, which means early buds and blooms will be sprouting everywhere. Spring days are perfect for a scenic drive to Staunton, the home of great food and vibrant culture. Check out the map below to choose your route.

 

Skyline Drive to Staunton

104 miles • 3 hours

Travelers day-trippin’ from Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. will undoubtedly enjoy a leisurely ride along Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. A fee of $20 will grant you access, but savvy travelers know that select dates are “fee free” at National Parks. Stroll along on one of those days to avoid the fee. Better yet, purchase an annual pass for $40 to enjoy it again and again.

Access Skyline Drive from Front Royal, Thornton Gap, Swift Run Gap, and Rockfish Gap. Rockfish is where you’ll exit Skyline Drive to descend into Staunton. Pick up Route 250 to wind your way through Waynesboro and Fishersville before reaching the Queen City.

Points of Interest Along the Way:

  • Try the blackberry pie at Skyland Resort Dining Room in Shenandoah National Park.
  • Sample Virginia craft beer at Seven Arrows Brewing Company in Waynesboro.
  • Sip the fruit of the vine at Barren Ridge Vineyards in Fishersville.
Barrenridge
The view from Barrenridge Vineyards

 

Elkins, WV to Staunton

106 miles • 2 hours 20 minutes

From the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia, head east to Staunton, taking in the beautiful views of the Monongahela National Forest as you ride along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. When you enter Virginia, you’re treated to sweet switchbacks and turns. Perhaps a motorcycle is the most thrilling mode of transportation for this fun scenic drive.

Points of Interest Along the Way:

  • Monterey is the home of the Highland Maple Festival. Grab a bottle of syrup!
  • Stretch your legs at the Confederate Breastworks Interpretive Trail in McDowell.

 

Farmville to Staunton

98 miles •  2 hours 20 minutes

If you’re traveling from the furniture and décor hot spot of Farmville to the farm-to-table cultural center of Staunton, Route 56 is the way to go. You’ll cross the scenic James River as you approach the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a destination unto themselves. Bring the camera for all the beauty this drive affords.

Points of Interest Along the Way:

  • Crabtree Falls is a just off Route 56 in Tyro. A paved trail takes you to the lower falls if you don’t have time to hike farther up.

 

Covington to Staunton

76 miles • 1 hour 45 minutes

Driving through the beautiful mountains of western Virginia via Route 220 satisfies the soul on many levels, but when such a drive includes beautiful points of interest, well, you may want to take it again and again and again.

waterfall flickr
vamedia on Flickr

Points of Interest Along the Way:

  • Falling Springs waterfall is an 80′ cascade that can be seen from the road.
  • Southern gem, The Homestead Resort, is a beautiful photo op you can’t pass up.
  • Jefferson Pools in Warm Springs is a natural hot spring frequented by Thomas Jefferson.

 

Once You’re in Staunton

First, WELCOME! Second, let’s eat!

What else is there to do and see?

Tell us all about your Staunton experiences by leaving a comment.

Five Staunton Destinations to Enjoy with Kids

This is part of a series of three articles which will highlight the best of downtown Staunton, per traveler reviews.

Family travel is not for the faint of heart. I know. I’m a mom of three and a bargain hunter to boot. Research shows that moms typically make the travel plans, so with you kindred weary spirits in mind, here are the top five things to do with your children in Staunton (and on the cheap).

Blackfriars Playhouse The Taming of the Shrew AMERICAN SHAKESPEARE CENTER – 5 stars – Thursday-Sunday Show

The Bard’s original English Blackfriars Playhouse is recreated in Staunton (the only one in the world), delivering the most authentic William Shakespeare experience in America. What you see is what would have been – no sets, no lighting effects, no microphones. It’s a rare opportunity for aspiring actors and actresses ages 7 and older to see passion and dedication up close (some guests sit on stage!).

Can’t make it to a show? Playhouse Tours are available for $7 per person. Each tour is guided and delivered as a mix of entertainment and education. Photography is allowed on the tour but not during performances.

>> PRO TIP: The first few performances of each production offer a unique opportunity for those without reserved seats to “pay what you will.” Check the calendar for specific dates. Otherwise, ticket prices vary by performance and seat preference (generally $18-$59).

“Go on with an open mind and get ready to smile. It is simply a great way to spend an evening (or afternoon). My two teenagers laughed like it was a teen movie and my wife and I loved it. Quirky and fun!” -BaldAndHappy, Washington, DC


 

Sunspots ornaments SUNSPOTS STUDIO – 4.5 stars – Open Daily – Free Demonstrations

This glass studio will leave your kids in awe. Warn them of the “look but don’t touch” rule while in the gift shop, and then check out the glassblowing in action. If you’re visiting between Wednesday and Sunday, blow your own family ornament (ages 7 to adult; $40-45 each). Should you choose not to, at least find a bauble to take home as a souvenir.

“It was very interesting and even my 7 yo enjoyed it. There are seats, so that it’s a comfortable place … Definitely worth checking out!” -NCtraveler73, Raleigh, NC (TripAdvisor)


 

CWP--FCM_MayDay_05-04-13_22 (2)

 FRONTIER CULTURE MUSEUM – 4.5 stars – Open Daily

Perhaps one of the most underrated experiences in Virginia, the Frontier Culture Museum tells the story of westward migration by those who forged the way. The great pioneers were English, Irish, German, and West African. See working homestead farms representative of the 1600 and 1700s, as well as early American dwellings and a Native American dwelling that would have been customary for the Blue Ridge around 1730.

>> PRO TIP: Sunday is “pay what you will” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the tour is self-guided. Otherwise, rates are free to $10 depending on age.

“Kids had a great time trying the different frontier activities. Definitely worth going.” -Kevin L. (TripAdvisor)


WOODROW WILSON BIRTHPLACE, PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY, AND MUSEUM – 4.5 stars – Seasonal Hours
Did you know Woodrow Wilson is the only President of the United States to hold an earned doctoral degree? Or that he went by “Tommy” through childhood and into his years at College of New Jersey (now Princeton University)? How about that his face is on the $100,000 bill? It’s not surprising if you missed that question. Those were never publicly circulated, only 42,000 were created, and it’s illegal to own one. Learn what else you don’t know about President Wilson when you visit. Rates are free to $14 depending on age.

>> PRO TIP: Traditionally Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library is free to active duty military, National Guard, Reservists, and their families Memorial Day through Labor Day thanks to the Blue Star Museum Program.

“Good displays portraying Wilson’s life. Informative, interesting, well done. Even a craft/activity room for kids. Especially enjoyed learning about his car!” – Lydspot, Staunton, VA


STAUNTON FIRE & RESCUE – 4 stars* – Open Daily – Free
It’s doubtful that this would be on your “must do when we’re in Staunton” list, but it should be if you’re traveling with kids. Actually, grandpas, dads, and uncles will probably enjoy this visit, too, as it’s the oldest volunteer fire station in Virginia (1790; paid as of 1893) and home to one of maybe two remaining 1911 Robinson Fire Engines.
*Rating via Trekaroo

Where do you love to roam around Staunton with kids in tow? My personal favorite is Pufferbellies, a fun toy store that’s actually a great deal more. Not only will you find specialty toys for STEM learning, but they also have a great selection of books, arts and crafts, and even an adult coloring section.

Leave a comment or go share your experience with a TripAdvisor review.

Downtown Staunton’s Five Best Places for Nightlife

This is a series of three articles which will highlight the best of downtown Staunton, per traveler reviews.

When you’re visiting Staunton and seeking a nightcap with a side of city vibe, these are the places to check out. You’ll mix with locals and other travelers – business, leisure, alumni – and you’ll soon understand why this city is one of Virginia’s most beloved. Cheers to good times, new friends, and Staunton.

Brick’s Restaurant and Pub – 4 stars – Pizza, Bar, Italian
Open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Brick’s is a good place to unwind. As Rod O. from Charlottesville wrote in his Yelp review, “Is it a sports bar? It could be, maybe, though it seems like a comfortable place to relax! I could give this pizza no less than 4 1/2 stars!” Local Chris H. recommends Brick’s calling it a “great local hangout … the pizza is addictive!” Claudia H. from nearby Verona dubbed it a “pizza dive bar,” which is not a negative comment by any means, as she went on to write that it’s “a great new addition to downtown Staunton.” Come as you are, shoot pool, get a homemade pizza, cheese fries, calzone, or wings, and wash it down with a Devils Backbone Vienna Lager or Pabst Blue Ribbon, whichever way your taste leads.

The Pompei Lounge – 3 stars – Lounge, Italian
Located within and above Emilio’s Italian Restaurant, Pompei is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Head upstairs after an excellent meal at Emilio’s and enjoy a Lemon Drop Martini (Yelp reviewers recommend it) with live tunes. When it’s warm, you’ll love the view from the rooftop terrace. There’s always something going on at The Pompei Lounge.
“… a great local place that felt as much like a house party as a bar, with plenty of little nooks, crannies, rooms and terraces (seriously, it felt as though this place went on forever!) to make a night of it with a good group of friends …” -Maki P., Seattle, WA
“Holy crap, this place rocks! Excellent atmosphere, attentive staff, kickass bartenders!” -a love note from Vinyl Rob on The Pompei Lounge Facebook page

ALSO SEE: Downtown Staunton’s 10 Best Places to Dine

Yelping Dog Wine – 4 stars – Wine Bar, Sandwiches
A wine and cheese shop open until 9 p.m. (10 on Fridays and Saturdays), Yelping Dog is decidedly low-key and chill with live music from time to time. Order a cheese plate or gourmet grilled cheese and ask for the perfect wine pairing.
“Hands down my favorite place to spend a relaxing afternoon or evening!” -Erin M., Fort Defiance, VA

Byers Street Bistro – 4 stars – Music Venue, American (New)
Count on a lively band every Saturday night at Byers Street Bistro. Open until midnight, you can sample a range of draught Virginia craft beers with appetizers like fried green tomatoes, smoked bacon and corn hushpuppies, and Chesapeake crab cakes.
“The restaurant has a nice atmosphere both upstairs and down in the pub area.  Fun place to catch live music on the weekends too.  This has been my go to spot, if I’m in the area, for the past ten years.” -Jesse V., Winchester, VA

What is your favorite fine dining, nightlife, dive, or café in Staunton? Head to Yelp and leave a review, plus fill in the missing details for each: hours, outdoor seating, etc. Share your knowledge and #LOVEStaunton.

Downtown Staunton’s 10 Best Places to Dine

This is a series of three articles which will highlight the best of downtown Staunton, per traveler reviews.

Staunton’s culinary scene is diverse and delicious, according to diner feedback on Yelp. Dishes from the most highly rated restaurants span the globe, but “fresh and local” is the primary theme of what you’ll find in Staunton.

Sera_Petras_Photography_Zynodoa-51Zynodoa – 4.5 stars – New American
This gem has risen to the top because of the constantly changing menu. Entrée options rely on local farmers and purveyors, so you may not experience the same meal twice, or at least, not for a while. A new reason to go? Taste what chef Ryan Zale is up to since his appearance on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.”
“Small town dining that gives big cities a run for the money!” -Chris S., San Francisco, CA

Mill Street Grill – 4 stars – New American
 It may be the on-the-house peppermint ice cream that seals the deal for many diners, but others do rave about specific menu items like the ribs, which are a Mill Street staple. Dining at MSG has become a tradition for many traveling through or visiting the area.
“The ribs are done KC style and done perfectly – the meat just fell right off the bone.” -Tiffany L., Fremont, CA

Byers Street Bistro – 4 stars – New American
People love the patio at BSB, and they love that their dogs are welcome there, too. The menu features fresh new spins on southern favorites, and varying genres of bands keep things hopping on Friday and Saturday nights.
“I especially love their creative takes on classic southern dishes (chicken and waffles with an orange chile syrup, yes please!).” -Amanda M., Baltimore, MD

Nu-Beginning Farm Store – 4.5 stars – Café
Don’t be fooled by the name or the façade. Nu-Beginning Farm Store (The Store) is a café Yelpers love to yelp about. Local producers are listed on the chalkboard so that visitors know exactly where their meal is sourced.
“… the place that makes the hummus I crave …” -D’oh D., Washington, DC

AioliAioli – 4.5 stars – Mediterranean
Aioli is a beautiful restaurant with beautifully presented, flavorful food. France, Italy, and Spain are represented in Chef Said Rahfiri’s menu, as well as on his beverage list.
“The crab cake ‘killed’ … this is not just food.  This is artistry.” -Ranzo T., St. Petersburg, FL

The Shack – 4.5 stars – New American
James Beard nominated chef and owner Ian Boden is all about food and perhaps less about venue. Simple, it feels like going to grandma’s house with love-worn place settings and family photos on the wall. Why so simple? Perhaps it’s to direct your undivided attention to your meal. Make reservations for this 26 seater; it’s popular for food critics and those of us who want something good to eat.
“Had a killer brunch – biscuits with rabbit gravy and a softshell crab po’boy that made me swoon.” -Corey A., Louisville, KY

The Depot Grille – 4 stars – Traditional American
The Depot is located in a 1902 train station (fitting, huh?). You’ll love the old details of the place – the original floors, reclaimed wooden church pews for booths, and a deliciously intricate bar from the Ten Eyck Hotel (1918) in Albany, NY. You’ll definitely want a cocktail in a setting like this.
“The burger special with bourbon bacon jam (oh yes) and the prime rib sandwich with chipotle queso were excellent.” – Candi W., Midlothian, VA

Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant Inn – 4 stars – Thai
A most unique mash-up, Ubon Thai is located in a functioning Victorian Inn (yes, you can stay the night!). Choose from a generous menu and then dictate which level of heat your palate will withstand.
“We ordered spring rolls (fried) for appetizer, they were the best homemade ones I have ever tasted.” -Judy W., Little Rock, AR

Taste of India – 4 stars – Indian
The elegant presentation of Taste of India is perfectly complemented by the warm, attentive staff. Many people love the buffet, as it’s the best way to sample a little bit of everything this authentic Indian restaurant has to offer.
“My favorite dish was the goat curry.  I’ve traveled to India on many occasions … including Northern India as far as Dehradun, and A Taste of India knocks it out of the ball park for tasty and affordable Indian cuisine in Staunton, VA.” -Jerry C., Nellysford, VA

It’s your turn. Head over to Yelp to tell the world all about your favorite restaurants and their dishes.