Discover why Staunton is a cultural and culinary destination! Biteseeing Staunton’s Queen City Sweep guided walking tour is a wonderful way to fill an early afternoon — and it’s far more interesting than lunch at Applebee’s. For a culinary journey and a tour of Staunton’s architecture and history, book your tour today.
Bridgett Beasley, owner-operator of Biteseeing Staunton, is a foodie who really loves food tours. After her move to Staunton a few years ago, she was delighted by both Staunton’s walkability and the depth of its food scene. The idea behind the Queen City Sweep is to get hungry people to move beyond chain restaurants and even Beverley Street to discover locally owned gems that are a little farther afield. This particular adventure lets food tourists experience both the Beverley and the Wharf Historic Districts and catch a peep into the Newtown District.
The tours run in all weather, but the day we toured was sunny and cool for August. We parked at the trolley hub and met Bridgett on the porch of Olde Staunton Inn. After a brief tour of the lovely public rooms of the Inn, we chatted and walked to our first destination. Restaurants on the tour may vary.
What I loved about the food tour:
- Bridgett was extremely personable and knowledgeable about the cuisine and backgrounds of the restaurateurs. She was a blast to hang out with, and I felt really comfortable with her.
- The tour operated efficiently and smoothly. At each stop our plates arrived as soon as we settled.
- The amount of food seemed appropriate for the tour. I’m a big eater and I felt satisfied, but not overstuffed.
- The tour included some exercise and some Staunton sights and history. Bridgett has modifications in mind for those who might struggle climbing steep hills.
- With advance notice, Biteseeing Staunton accommodates vegetarian and gluten-free diets. Just ask!
Gloria’s Pupuseria is a homey and welcoming place. We enjoyed a tasting plate of El Salvadoran fare and the amazing flavor and history of the pupusa, which people have been devouring for at least 1,500 years. Pupusas are cornmeal flatbreads stuffed with cheese and meat. People have been loving them so long that they’ve even been discovered in the ruins of Joya de Cerén, the “El Salvadoran Pompei.” Beer and wine are available for separate purchase.
Chicano Boy Taco
We sat inside at Chicano Boy Taco (but there’s also a patio) to devour delicious soft tacos made with handmade tortillas and three special sauces. You’re going to want to invest in a tortilla press after this meal. Beer is available for separate purchase. The walk from Chicano Boy to Beverley Street is full of history. We saw sites where sinkholes appeared in the early part of the 20th Century and the streets laid bare by “urban renewal” in the 60s. We also walked by two churches boasting original Tiffany windows.
Staunton Olive Oil Company
Staunton Olive Oil Company provides a fun way to rest between courses. We wandered the store sampling olive oils and balsamic vinegars and making important-seeming notes on clipboards. We learned the difference between fused and infused oils and got suggestions about good pairings. Oils and vinegars are available for purchase.
Yelping Dog Wine
The walk down Beverley Street takes you past a number of T.J. Collins-designed buildings. What’s cool is that for the 20 years Collins was active in Staunton around the turn of the century, he designed in a variety of styles, including Gothic, Beaux Arts, and Moorish Revival. He also had the means to import materials from far away. Consequently, downtown Staunton has an eclectic main street. We cozied up at a table in Yelping Dog Wine, talked about architecture and real estate, and gnoshed on a cheese and fruit plate. Wine is not included at this stop, but you can purchase it separately.
Réunion Bakery & Espresso
Réunion Bakery & Espresso makes one tray of canelé a day and I got to have one. They only make one tray a day because this tasty crusted custard, made first in French convents, is a ton of work and requires ages to season the mold with butter and beeswax. It was delicious, and Réunion is a terrific place to meet and chat with friends.
Wright’s Dairy Rite
By the time I walked to Wright’s Dairy Rite, I was hungry again. I enjoyed an egg salad slider and some of Wright’s famous hand-dipped, made-to-order onion rings. We sat outside and talked about the history of the Blackburn Inn property across the road, but we could have sat inside and delighted in the classic-Staunton diner ambiance.
Paris Cake Company
To get to the Paris Cake Company, we walked over Sears Hill and the pedestrian footbridge over the railroad tracks. The Wharf District has a fascinating history that includes train wrecks, fires, brothels and patent medicine scammers. We sat in the charming lobby of the Paris Cake Company, perused photo albums of wedding cake inspiration and savored a decadent deconstructed peanut butter mousse.
Ox-Eye Tasting Room
The final stop on the tour was the Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room. While the actual vineyard sits outside of town, the tasting room is located in a historic T.J. Collins structure, originally used to weigh railroad cargo. We tasted both white and red wines, and we learned how the grapes are grown and harvested. Additional wine is available by the glass or bottle for purchase.
Before you go
- The menus may vary as the restaurants showcase their best seasonal offerings.
- Tours run on Saturdays, May – October. Tours last about 3.5 hours and can accommodate up to 12 guests.
- Purchase advanced tickets at biteseeingstaunton.com.
- Tours occur rain or shine and involve walking. Wear weather-appropriate gear and comfortable shoes.