#LOVEstaunton

Category: Dining

“Shop and Dine Out Downtown” Winds Down For the Season

We’ve become accustomed to the bustling atmosphere and walkable streetscape of Beverley Street each weekend. Born of pandemic necessity, but adopted because of its popularity, the Shop and Dine Out Downtown program has allowed restaurants and businesses to take advantage of Beverley Street when it closes for vehicular traffic each Friday afternoon to Monday morning. Tables, chairs, and tents fill the street, and those outdoor dining spaces are filled, in turn, with groups chatting, laughing, and loving the al fresco dining experience. But the cooler weather approaching means that you only have a few more weeks to take advantage of this Staunton experience before the restaurants return to indoor operations for the winter. Make plans to head downtown this weekend or next!

Retailers on Beverley Street

Beverley Street retailers are open during their regular hours, but some additionally offer an outdoor display of their products. Shop Beverley Street for art, fashion and jewelry, antiques and vintage, gifts, books, cigars, hobby supplies, gourmet olive oils and vinegar, chocolate, hemp and CBD supplies, and more!

Quick Bites on Beverley Street 

Grab breakfast or lunch at The Pampered Palate before a big day of exploring Staunton. Try the quiche breakfast platter or the buttered, seasoned, and topped pampered potato.

Check out Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. for 18 craft beers on tap, including pumpkin ale, butterscotch ale, and New England IPA. Yelping Dog Wine sells delicious wines by the glass as well as a huge selection of local and global wines. Feeling peckish? Order a cheese plate or a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. The Green Room also serves craft beer, wine, and other pre-dinner libations. Don’t skip their fancy tater tots and one of their tasty sandwiches stuffed with ingredients like chorizo, manchego, olive oil, and Spanish pickled peppers.

Family-Friendly

Baja Bean Co. and Shenandoah Pizza & Taphouse both serve a wide selection of craft beers, and the entire family will love the delicious food. Baja specializes in Tex-Mex cuisine like the marinated chicken, spinach, corn salsa, and rice Popeye burrito or the chorizo hash served over potatoes, peppers, and onions and topped with fried eggs and cheese. Shenandoah Pizza serves up big specialty slices and pies named for local landmarks and businesses. The Sherwood Avenue is topped with meatballs, ricotta, and red onion, and the Staunton Steam has a spicy alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, pineapple, and basil.

Dinner Favorites

If you’re celebrating a special occasion, sip a “drunken pumpkin” cocktail as you peruse the menu at BLU Point Seafood Co. You’ll find fresh seafood as well as a raw bar. Entrees include blackened catfish with black-eyed peas and rice and a cajun cream. You might also enjoy shrimp n’ grits prepared with local grits and sausage. BLU Point’s sister restaurant, Zynodoa, specializes in “inspired Southern cuisine” and focuses on local ingredients. You can’t go wrong with the Autumn Olive Farm grilled pork chop served with braised cabbage, Wade’s Mill rye spaetzle, and a sweet and sour glaze.

Family-owned Emilio’s Italian Restaurant has created classic Sicilian meals since 1994. Try the delightful crema di Funghi, a tasty fall soup made with sliced mushrooms and onions in a smooth cream sauce. For more creamy vegetarian joy, follow with butternut squash ravioli, which is flavored with a light sage, lemon and cream butter sauce, and pecorino cheese. While Emilio’s doesn’t have Beverley Street seating, it has private outdoor spaces on the building’s 2nd and 3rd floors. 

Savor Dessert

Clocktower Eats & Sweets serves a big menu of American favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’ll also tempt you with freshly prepared desserts and a selection of seasonal cocktails like pumpkin pie martinis and apple cider mimosas. Save room for house-made gelato for dessert from The Split Banana. Flavors suiting a fall day include toasted almond, chocolate hazelnut, cocoa ancho, sticky rice, pistachio, and more!

More Restaurants to Love

More restaurants that are steps away from Beverley Street include Aioli, Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery, Firkin Pie Company, Reunion Espresso & Bakery, Crumbl and The Shack

Along Central Avenue, you’ll find Chicano Boy Taco, D & L Donuts, Gloria’s Pupuseria, Gonzo’s Pollo, Jade China House Restaurant, and Nu-Beginning Farm. 

The Wharf Historic District’s restaurants are Byers Street Bistro, Ox-Eye Vineyards, Ciders from Mars, Redbeard Brewing, The Depot Grille, Taste of India, Serendipity Cafe and Mill Street Grill.

Crucible Coffee Roasters, Newtown Baking & Kitchen, Paris Cake Company, Table 44, and Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant Inn can all be found in the Newtown Historic District.

Something Sweet in Your Neighborhood: Staunton’s Dessert Round Up

Today is National Dessert Day. That means it’s the one day of the year besides your birthday when you can devour as much sweet, decadent goodness as you want and feel no guilt. And while we don’t recommend eating your weight in chocolate every day, it’s actually great for your wellbeing to enjoy a dessert now and then. It won’t even wreck your diet! So without further ado, here are all the places in Staunton you’ll want to visit to get your dessert on!

Réunion

We dare you to meet with friends for a cup of coffee at Réunion Bakery & Espresso and not walk away raving about the pastries. Try a cruffin, a chocolate croissant or an apple galette with maple pecan cream, maple flake & pecan praline. The menu changes weekly to reflect what’s seasonal. Hurry — everyone in town has a favorite treat, and they go quickly! You won’t want to leave without a loaf of fresh bread or a quiche for dinner. Réunion has been featured in Southern Living, Vogue, The Washington Post, and Garden&Gun.

Magdalena Bake

Have you been to Magdalena Bake’s new location on West Beverley yet? Why not stop in for Friday brunch? This store specializes in pastries, cookies, wedding, birthday, and custom cakes, as well as special-ordered items. The wide variety of cake flavors include lemon, mocha, coconut, and tres leches. Icings and creams offerings are extensive as well and you can select buttercream, fondant, mousse, ganache, and creams. Ask about vegan and gluten-free options. If you’re looking for something savory, Magdalena Bake makes the empanadas of your dreams.

Paris Cake Company

Paris Cake Companys dessert offerings are both delicious and almost too pretty to eat. Give in to your cravings, though, and celebrate sweater weather with something seasonal like pumpkin whoopie pies or cupcakes decorated like mums and other fall blooms. If you’re planning a big event like a birthday party or wedding, Paris Cake Company will be the star of the show with custom birthday, wedding, or special occasion cakes.

Newtown Baking

Newtown Baking creates “artisanal everything” and is known for its organic coffee, pastries, fresh breads, and wood-fired pizzas. You’ll find pecan brownies, buttery croissants, blueberry scones, blueberry Danish, cinnamon morning buns, bagels, and a variety of bread. Walk in and see what’s left in the display case, or order ahead for Wednesday-Saturday pickup.

Crumbl

Make your day a little sweeter at Crumbl Cakes & Bakes. This locally owned bakery and coffee shop opened just this summer, but it’s already a Staunton favorite for its rotating variety of muffins, scones, cupcakes, cookies, cookie dough, brownies, and vegan and gluten-free treats. Have a special event coming up? Crumbl make’s beautiful custom cakes on request, and they even sell pupcakes for your dog.

D&L Donuts

Take an early morning stroll to D & L Donuts for a hot cup of Trager Brothers organic coffee and to catch special seasonal donut flavors like Hawaiian Malasadas, pumpkin, and apple crisp before they’re all gone. D & L also has standard flavors like glazed, peanut butter, cream-filled, coconut, and chocolate-covered cake and yeast donuts, made fresh every morning. All of the fillings and glazes are made from scratch.

Firkin Pie Co.

Get your pie fix at Firkin Pie Company, which bakes beautiful, flavorful pies with crisp, buttery crusts in both sweet and savory varieties. The menu varies, but expect seasonal flavors like butterscotch, cranberry chess, and chocolate mocha. All pies are made from scratch and are served by the slice and in 5” or 9” whole pies. Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving? Make your pie order now!

Serendipity Java Bar & Eatery

Family-owned Serendipity Java Bar & Eatery is one of Staunton’s newest businesses, and you’ll love the ambiance. It’s decorated with tasteful antiques and flowers, and it features comfy seating and lots of natural light. Located near the historic train station in the Wharf district, it serves muffins, seasonal scones, cinnamon rolls along with breakfast delights like egg and cheese bagels and French toast plates. Don’t skip the impressive selection of coffees, including cold brew, iced, and chocolate coffee as well as a menu of espressos and specialty drinks like razzle chai. Come later in the day for grilled lunch sandwiches and a kids’ menu for little appetites. 

Giancarlo

Giancarlo Fine European Pastries is tucked in a former garage in a residential part of town, but even if you get lost, it’s totally worth it. The shop opens to the public on Fridays and Saturdays and the public can shop for bread, cake, tarts, Danish pastry, fine chocolates made with 65% cacao, and more. Try a Colombian chocolate espresso tart of a strawberry Bavarian chocolate ganache if there’s any left! Custom orders can be placed all week.

Clocktower Eats & Sweets

You might know the Clocktower Eats & Sweets as a perfect downtown Staunton spot for drinks and dinner. But now, under new ownership since 2018, the restaurant serves house-made desserts as well. Stop by the bakery case for a daily selection that includes donuts, eclairs, muffins, cookies, sticky buns, key lime pie, and more. If you’d rather drink your dessert, stop by the bar for pumpkin pie or dreamy chocolate espresso martini.

Staunton Olive Oil

The Staunton Olive Oil Company is under new ownership, and while it still offers the same delicious flavored olive oils and vinegars, you can also try some of their new baked goods. Try your oils and vinegars on freshly baked 100% gluten-free bread, which tastes just like a traditional French bread loaf. Follow this up with a selection of keto treats, like blondies, power bars, brownies, and cheesecake bars. 

Cocoa Mill Chocolate

You’ll swoon when you bite into a handmade, gourmet chocolate from Cocoa Mill Chocolates. Sample the artisan truffles, boozy bonbons, chocolate bark, dipped fruits, and more. Looking for a gift? Send a chocolate greeting and a gift tower or a chocolate survival kit.

Ice Cream

Split Banana

Exploring Beverly Street? We bet you can’t walk by the window at award-winning Split Banana and not come away with at least one flavor of fresh-made gelato. This dense, creamy treat is made from local grass-fed milk and packed with intense flavors. You’ll be hard-pressed to pick from the selection that includes pumpkin pie, banana, hazelnut, brownie bash, sweet cream, caramel peanut butter, and more. Have it in a dish or in an amazing waffle cone.

Kline’s

Kline’s Dairy Bar makes its ice cream fresh every morning. This local chain uses a “continuous freeze” method of producing a soft, dense ice cream. Kline’s always makes vanilla and chocolate, but each week there are two different special flavors that change over on Wednesday. Check the sign, flavor card, or website each week for a rotation of can’t-miss flavors like pumpkin and cake batter or local favorites like razberry and lemon gingersnap in cones, cups, shakes, and sundaes.

Wright’s Dairy Rite

Wright’s Dairy Rite has been flashing its neon sign since the 1950s and serving up Americana in the form of burgers, onion rings, and soft-serve delights. You can even stay in your car and cruise up to the old-fashioned drive-through terminal and have staff bring your food to your window. The dessert menu offers dipped cones, funnel cake fries, flurries, splits, milkshakes, malts, and drink freezes to cool off on a mighty hot day. To curb a raging sweet tooth, try a Wright’s Wheelie. This warm donut is mounded with ice cream, whipped cream, and your choice of topping. 

That’s the roundup. Now head to Staunton to eat and treat your way around the city!

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in Staunton

In 1968, Lyndon Johnson designated a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. This date is important because September 15-18 is when a number of Latin American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile) celebrate their independence from Spain. Later, in 1988, Ronald Regan expanded the observation to an entire month (September 15 to October 15 each year). Help us pay tribute to the history, culture, and positive contributions that have made our nation and our city richer and more diverse places. Check out a few of our Hispanic-owned restaurants and businesses!

Pamper Yourself

You know you need some pampering, so why not head to Bonita’s Salon, which has been helping downtown Staunton look its best since 2010. Whether you’re seeking a new hairstyle, artistic nails, a special-occasion look, or hair and makeup services for your wedding party, you’ll find it here! 

Try Something New

A farmer’s market and food truck favorite since 2019, Magdalena Bake is opening a brick and mortar store on West Beverley September 18, 2021. This store specializes in pastries, cookies, wedding, birthday, and custom cakes, as well as special-ordered items. If you’re looking for something savory, try the empanadas.

Los Marquez Mexican Restaurant opened less than a year ago in 2020, but it already has a stellar reputation for its authentic Mexican food, cozy atmosphere, and friendly service. It’s close to Gypsy Hill Park, so you can stop in after a ball game or a round of golf. You’ll find reasonable prices and a big menu of all your favorites in platter and combination forms. There’s even a vegetarian menu that has tasty dishes like fajitas stuffed with squash, mushrooms, green and yellow peppers, onions, tomatoes, beans, and guacamole. Wash it down with a big margarita! There’s even a drive-thru if you’re in a hurry.

Grab a Quick Lunch

The Gonzo’s Pollo food truck opened in 2018 and has delighted Staunton since then with the best Peruvean charbroiled chicken in the Valley. Pollo a la brasa is a juicy, healthy alternative to fried food. Its amazing flavor comes from Peruvian spices and wood charcoal. You can order whole, half, and quarter chickens, butifarra sandwiches, nachos, and sides like fried plantains and yuca fries, and black beans and rice.

Gloria’s Pupuseria emphasizes authentic Salvadoran cuisine and locally sourced ingredients. For the past year, Gloria’s has been serving food from their popular food truck as they rebuild the restaurant after Staunton’s 2020 flooding. If you try only one thing from the menu, order the pupusas, tortillas packed with flavor and fillings like chicken, blended pork, vegetables and cheese. You can also enjoy tamales steamed in plantain leaves, fried plantains, or Salvadoran enchiladas. Refresh yourself with an mango and pineapple juice ensalada. 

Sit Down to Dinner

Since 2015, Mexican-American taquería Chicano Boy Taco has been making our mouths water with handmade tacos and enormous mission-style burritos. This bustling joint has some of the best tortillas you’ve ever eaten. Order from the simple menu of burritos, tacos, or burrito bowls plus your choice of fillings and salsa, and choose a seat inside or on the patio. You can get a Mexican beer or a “cheap beer” and eat here for lunch or dinner. 

El Puerto Mexican Restaurant is a family-owned business that opened its Staunton location in 2003. Featuring fresh tortillas and the only Mexican all-you-can-eat lunch buffet in town, El Puerto will tempt your taste buds for lunch and dinner. Try the burrito tropical, which combines the flavors of marinated chicken with onions, spinach cheese and pineapple. Save room for flan or sopapillas for dessert. There’s a separate kids’ menu.

Mi Rancho has two locations near Staunton, including one on West Beverley and one in Verona. Mi Ranch III has been serving Staunton with fresh Mexican favorites and a menu of wine, beer, and icy margaritas since 2012. Don’t miss the Tuesday/Thursday happy hour! The extensive menu is flavored with hometown spices from Jalisco, Mexico. It includes appetizers, a la carte favorites, combo platters, specials, vegetarian selections, a kids’ menu and more. If you’re starving, try the molcajete mixto. The flavorful meal features sizzling steak, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, and veggies piled in a molcajete and mounded with a combination of cheeses.

Must-See & Do in Staunton’s Wharf

The Wharf Historic District shines as one of Staunton’s busiest and most vibrant neighborhoods. Once a quiet meadow, it was developed for business when the Virginia Central Railroad came to town in the 1850s. Along with warehouses and hotels, this district once featured saloons, distilleries, liveries, brothels, and a dispensary of a patent medicine that claimed to “cure all ills.” It’s now home to a wealth of independently owned businesses and restaurants.

Where to Stay

If you’re coming to Staunton for the weekend, plan to stay at Gibson’s Warehouse, a four-suite loft lodging in a historic TJ Collins-designed warehouse. Designed in 1905, the building was originally used to store hay, fertilizer, and farm equipment. Now, it’s the epitome of comfort and industrial cool, central to dining, shopping, and entertainment. Each suite offers a fully-equipped kitchen, living space, and a king-sized bed. There is also a common space in the lobby with seating areas so guests can socialize.

Where to Have a Drink

Redbeard Brewing Company serves excellent craft beer in a newly renovated tap room. Stop in for a pint of one of the dozen beers on tap and stick around for entertainment like live music, trivia, karaoke, and more. Try the award-winning 221B Baker Brown. 

 

The Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room, located in the yellow historic Fultz Office building, serves estate-grown, food-friendly wines. Stop in to relax over a tasting or a glass — you can’t go wrong with the Reserve Scale House Chardonnay — and make sure you tour the upstairs art gallery. 

Ciders from Mars has only been open for a few months, but people love the hard cider and the cool, modern space. Hang out at the bar, at a table, or grab a spot on the large patio and watch the bustle of the wharf. Ciders from Mars presses locally grown apples for its cider, and you can drink it by the glass, bottle, or flight. Try the Mellow Gold, made from Virginia Goldrush apples.

Where to Eat

Byers Street Bistro serves drinks, tasty appetizers like crab dip, stellar sandwiches and burgers, and the atmosphere is welcoming. Enjoy your food on the shaded brick patio. 

Locals and tourists alike rave over the food and kid-friendly service at The Depot Grille. Look for favorites like the crab cakes, fried oysters, and steak. Pose for selfies by the historic bar or the caboose parked outside. 

Once one of the largest flour mills in the Shenandoah Valley, Mill Street Grill dishes up a wide selection of choices including steak, ribs, seafood, and pasta. 

Taste of India boasts generous portions and good prices. You’ll enjoy a big menu of authentic Indian food that’s always rich, delicious, with a spice level suited to your needs.

Crumbl Cakes & Bakes just opened, but Staunton residents are already lining up for their daily treat. Choose from a rotating variety of cakes, cookies, cookie dough, and brownies. Try a vegan or gluten-free treat and don’t forget a  pupcake for your dog.

Where to Shop

If you’re shopping for unique gifts, you can’t go wrong with the Wharf district. Find some incredible art glass at Sunspots Studio, housed in the historic 1929 Klotz building. As a bonus, you can slip into the studio and watch the artists manipulate the molten glass into globes, vases, and much more. 

Spoil someone you love with artisan bath and body products from Essentially Zen. Choose from great-smelling essential oil soaps, soy candles, body frosting, and more. Essentially Zen will put together gift boxes tailored just for you.

Gamers will find supplies for all kinds of tabletop fun at The Dragon’s Hoard, and Pufferbellies Toys & Books carries a large, and well curated selection of toys, games, and books for all ages. 

Wilderness Adventure stocks your favorite brands of outdoor gear, clothing, accessories, and a huge selection of shoes. Better yet, investing in footwear here guarantees you’ll get a perfect fit. 

Don’t forget to get Fido a treat or a pet massage from the Well-Balanced Paw.

And of course if you’re in the Wharf on a Saturday morning from April to Thanksgiving, you don’t want to miss the producer’s only Staunton Farmers’ Market. Expect to enjoy the freshest local fruit, produce, cut flowers, baked goods, and more.

Where to Walk

Despite a history fraught with fire, flooding, and war, much historic architecture remains. Look for the the Beaux Arts-style Augusta County Courthouse and the Bungalow-style C&O Train Station. Many of the Wharf’s buildings are protected by the Historic Staunton Foundation.

For a detailed description of the historic architecture in the district, take our walking tour. Make sure you snap some selfies near the train station. There are lots of insta worthy backgrounds, including the Sears Hill Bridge that crosses the tracks and delivers walkers to Wilson Park, a small park with big views of Staunton.

Eat, Drink, Love Staunton

There’s a lot to love about Staunton. Not only does it have proximity to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, a vibrant arts and cultural scene, and a rich history and agricultural heritage, it also serves up a wide range of culinary experiences. From coffee shops to farm tours, here’s how to eat, drink, and love Staunton.

Eat

Begin your day with love at one of Staunton’s bakeries or coffee shops. Réunion Bakery & Espresso pairs fresh coffee drinks with authentic French pastry like apple galettes with pecan cream. Check the menu for what they’re baking this week: their focaccia and quiches are to die for.

Crucible Coffee Roasters is a great place to meet with friends and share site-roasted coffee in an urban cool environment. Prefer your coffee at home? Consider a coffee subscription. Newtown Baking creates “artisanal everything” and is known for its pastries, fresh breads, and wood-fired pizzas.

If you’re more interested in diner food, you should know that Kathy’s Restaurant is the reigning breakfast champion. Not only is it wonderful and filling, it’s served all day long. And people in other states fantasize about classic-Virginia-style breakfast (and pie) menu at Mrs. Rowe’s Family Restaurant and Bakery

For a small city in Virginia, Staunton has an exciting global dining scene. Check out Chicano Boy Taco, a Mexican-American taquería boasting a simple (but amazing) menu and some of the best burritos you’ve ever eaten. Gloria’s Pupuseria stuffs its pupusas with chicken, blended pork, vegetables and cheese, and this Salvadoran dish packs major flavor. You can also get tamales steamed in plantain leaves, fried plantains, or Salvadoran enchiladas.

The enticing scents from Taste of India will distract you as you explore downtown, so you might as well go inside this gem and order a serving of chicken tikka masala or lamb vindaloo. Meat-free dishes like aloo gobi vegan and saag paneer will please vegetarians. You can get a good selection of Indian beers, wine, and yogurt lassi drinks. Staunton boasts authentic Thai cuisine at Ubon Thai, and you can dine on Vietnamese noodle soup at Snapdragon Pho. Aioli offers creative Mediterranean cuisine, and Gonzo’s Pollo sells irresistible charbroiled Peruvean chicken.

Staunton is a leader in farm-to-fork dining, and many of its restaurants emphasize using fresh local ingredients. You’ll find an upscale and modern exploration of Southern favorites at Zynodoa, which serves entrees like housemade spaghetti and Autumn Olive Farm Sausage or crispy skin speckled sea trout.

For a guided tour of seasonal excellence, try the four or five-course tasting menu at The Shack or pre-order takeout at Lundch, which serves family-style meals like asparagus and shiitake lasagna and grilled mahi-mahi. Table 44 has barbequed shrimp and grits or steak frites with grilled Angus as well as a selection of fancy sandwiches. And if it’s Virginia seafood you crave, BLU Point Seafood has some of the freshest you’ll find in the state as well as a raw bar where you can find delicious Virginia oysters.

Finally, you can’t go wrong with steak or pasta at the family-friendly Mill Street Grill and Depot Grille. Don’t forget to follow your meal with The Split Banana gelato or a classic cone or sundae from Wright’s Dairy Rite.

Drink

Virginia’s award-winning wine and craft brewing culture is giving out-of-towners a reason to visit. Hundreds of vineyards and breweries dot the landscape, making use of locally grown ingredients and the magnificent views from tasting and taprooms. Jump on the Shenandoah Wine Trail, which stretches from Rockbridge County to the south all the way up the Valley to Frederick County and Winchester. Nearby favorites include Barren Ridge Vineyards, Bluestone Vineyard, and Rockbridge Vineyard & Brewery

In Staunton, you’ll want to head down to Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room to sip estate-grown wines. Choose your favorite from a selection of reds, whites, and seasonals. Another place to taste to your heart’s content is Yelping Dog Wine. This wine bar stocks an extensive collection of local, regional, and international wines to enjoy by the glass or the bottle over gourmet cheese plates and good conversation. The Green Room is a local meeting place that sells wine, beer, upscale snacks and more in an Instagram-worthy setting.

Speaking of beer, downtown Staunton is home to three craft breweries: Redbeard Brewing Co., Shenandoah Valley Brewing, and Queen City Brewing. Make yourself at home over delicious beer in their welcoming taprooms. Want to be entertained? Come on a night when there’s live music, trivia, karaoke, open mike, table-top gaming and more on the schedule. These three breweries (along with 16 others) are part of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. Other local restaurants with deep beer lists (as well as tasty fare) are the Clocktower, Shenandoah Pizza and Taphouse and Baja Bean.

Staunton is now home to Ciders from Mars, which ferments Augusta County apples into the hard cider it serves in its new, downtown taproom.

Love

You’ll love spending a Saturday morning at the Staunton Farmers’ Market producer’s only market in the historic Wharf district downtown. Listen to live music, and say “hi” to your neighbors as you browse the stalls for your favorite flavors. You’ll find ripe, organic fruits and vegetables, fresh baked goods, cut flowers, and much, much more.

 

 

There’s nothing like having a delicious meal outside, and on weekends, Beverley Street in downtown Staunton transforms into a pedestrian mall, with access to dining and shopping. Visit Shop and Dine Out Downtown for more info.

Want to learn more about the food you eat? Why not take a self-guided, private, or “lunatic” farm tour of Polyface Farms, a leader in ethical, sustainable, and clean meat production?

Share the love with your family by taking a trip to a nearby pick-your-own farm for fruit, produce, or decorative gourds in the fall! Celebrate grape season at Wenger Grapes, stock up for apple pie baking at Sunrise Orchards, or up your autumn game with a wagonload of pumpkins from Middle River Farm.

How to Beat the Dog Days of August

We’ve all heard the term “the dog days of August”. It’s when dogs supposedly pass out from lying on the hot pavement and you can fry an egg on the hood of your car. The expression carries negative associations: drought, dangerous storms, rabid dogs, and just plain old bad luck. Though the term actually refers to the sun’s apparent location near the Canus Major “big dog” constellation, area kids are bummed that summer vacation is ending. It’s time to take a quick trip to Staunton and eke out a tiny bit more fun before the grind begins again. 

Dance to Roots Music

You don’t want to miss the dinner-concert Roots Music Events at the Frontier Culture Museum. You’ll hear bluegrass, blues, gospel, traditional Appalachian music and more during the five nights of concerts which “celebrate the influence of these musical roots genres on American frontier culture.” Grab dinner from onsite food vendor Island Wheels Caribbean Cuisine and listen to artists like Wound Tight Bluegrass and Southern Hospitality. Make a day of it by exploring the museum where you’ll learn all about the Valley’s earliest residents through living history farm exhibits, questions and answers with interpreters, and hand-on experiences. This museum is suitable for history buffs as well as kids, who can play historic games and check out cows, goats, pigs, and cats. 

Find Cheer with Craft Beer

August is Craft Beer Month, and fortunately most of our area breweries have areas that are family friendly. Redbeard Brewing Company is having a monthly outdoor concert series and on August 28, it will welcome the Findells. Come sing, dance, and enjoy some delicious craft beer. Skipping Rock Beer Company hosts live music most Friday and Saturday nights. Come get comfortable in their beer garden, grab a pint of your favorite brew, and get ready for a great night. Look for upcoming acts like VS., HoboJac, McHale & Justina, and more! Queen City Brewing sells “all kinds of beer in all kinds of ways.” Come check out their outdoor seating area and plan to come on a night where there’s something fun going on: trivia, live music, open mic nights, and more.

Splash Your Blues Away

Just because school is starting doesn’t mean it’s too late in the season to swim. Take the family to one of our area’s lakes or rivers for a day on the water. Good bets include spring-fed Sherando Lake and Todd Lake in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Both include sandy beaches, swimming areas, and restrooms. Paddlers will like the urban Waynesboro Water Trail and the more remote Goshen Pass, one of the top-rated kayaking spots in the area. For more on water fun, read Staunton’s Nearby Swimming Holes and Places to Cool Off.

The Best Way to Drive-Into Fall

If you’re sad because Staunton’s Movies in the Park 2021 season is over, you can still get your fill of the alfresco cinematic experience with a trip to Hull’s Drive In. Though it’s a bit of a drive, it’s worth it for the classic big-screen experience, the snack shop fare, and the community experience. Plus, it only costs $20 per carload of people for a double feature!

Dine out Downtown

There’s still plenty of time to dine out and shop in downtown Staunton. Each Friday night at 4 p.m., Beverley Street closes and stays closed until Monday morning. This lets restaurants in the busiest section of town use the sidewalk and street as dining, tasting room, and retail space. Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co., 101 West Beverley, Baja Bean Co., Shenandoah Pizza & Taphouse, Zynodoa, and more are all participating in the initiative. Stop by the Staunton Olive Oil Company, which is under new ownership, to taste some olive oils and vinegars on freshly baked 100% gluten-free bread, which we’ve heard tastes just like a normal French bread loaf. Follow this up with a selection of keto treats, which include blondies, power bars, brownies, and cheesecake bars. A map of the area with parking, pedestrian walkways, and restaurant take-out/pick-up spots clearly delineated is available here.

Pick Your Spirits Up

If your family hasn’t gotten enough fresh fruit pie from all the peaches you’ve been picking or buying, there’s still plenty of time to make more with bounty from the Staunton Farmers’ Market. Spend a Saturday morning perusing the stands, chatting with growers, and selecting the best fresh produce in the area. If you’d rather have a more hands-on experience, head to one of our nearby pick-your-own farms. Grapes and apples are coming into season at  Wenger GrapesSunrise Orchards, and Carter Mountain Orchard. School lunches always taste better with fresh fruit!

Just Let the Dogs out!

Nothing lifts our spirits like our pets, and since it’s the dog days of summer, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to Staunton’s dog-friendly destinations. Let your pet work off excess energy at Staunton’s Bark Park in Gypsy Hill Park. Divided into separate spacious runs for small and large dogs, it lets dogs play and socialize while their owners do the same. Other city parks are stocked with doggy-bag stations and open to well-behaved dogs on leashes. Serious hikers might enjoy the Betsy Bell Wilderness Area and the trails at Montgomery Hall Park. Finally, reward a good dog with a treat at the Well-Balanced Paw. This shop carries treats and supplements and provides nutritional guidance and therapeutic massage.

Savor the Sweet Staunton Summertime

Can you believe there are only a few weeks of summer vacation left before everyone heads back to school? If you’ve already been camping, cheered at a baseball game, and spent a week at the beach, here are a few more ways to savor the sweet Staunton summertime! 

County Fairs and Festivals

The Augusta County Fair is happening now through July 31. Gorge on carnival food and see rides, exhibits, livestock, acrobats and other sideshow performances, music, tractor pulls and more! If you miss the fair in Augusta County, head up to Rockingham County Fairgrounds for the Rockingham County Fair from August 16-21 for more fair action, including music by Hardy with the Hackens Boys and a demolition derby. The Rockbridge Regional Fair and Expo is happening in Glasgow on August 26-28 and will feature music, rides, pageants and more.

Normally a springtime festival, Art in the Park is being held in the fall this year. On September 4-5, head to Staunton to enjoy the shady space by Gypsy Hill Park’s bandstand as you browse the work of a variety of juried artists. You’ll find photography, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, wood turnings, activities for kids, and more.

Pop over Afton Mountain on August 5 for fun and to support a good cause at the Rockfish Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival. You’ll find rides and games for the entire family as well as delicious pit-cooked chicken and other food. Grottoes Volunteer Fire Department will host a Chicken in the Park event on August 14, and a Sunday lunch on August 15.

Fruit Picking

Nothing says summer like a fresh fruit pie or smoothie, and nothing says family like time spent bonding in an orchard or berry patch. Here’s how to head into the country and make some memories this summer. Remember to check what’s in season on this calendar and call the farm ahead of time to see what’s available. Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray!

Troyer Nursery specializes in strawberries, but there’s still plenty to pick later in the season. You’ll find sweetcorn, tomatoes, green beans, red beets, squash, zucchini, onions and other vegetables. They also sell milk and ice cream mix from Mount Crawford Creamery. Critzer Family Farm is dedicated to environmentally-friendly farming practices and education. It’s a nice place to take the kids to learn about food production and to pick seasonal strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pumpkins, and fresh veggies. Don’t skip home-churned ice cream after your time in the sun!

If you want to wait for the weather to cool off a bit before heading outside, mark your calendar for the end of August when the crops of Concord and Niagara grapes start to ripen at Wenger Grapes. Another good option is Sunrise Orchards, a small pick-your-own apple orchard that offers Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Jonathan by the bag, peck, half bushel, or bushel from early September until the apples are gone. Carter Mountain Orchard is a bit of a drive, but they offer the pick-your-own fruit experience on a large scale. You can pick or buy pre-picked apples and other seasonal fruits and shop at the farm market, making sure to order a plate of the apple cider donuts! The pumpkin patch at Middle River Farms opens in the middle of September. You’ll find beautiful views and over 30 varieties of pumpkins and gourds. Their wagonload deal is one of the best around!

Best Barbecue

Barbecue season lasts all summer, giving you plenty of time to celebrate and try all the Staunton varieties of this juicy, smoky warm-weather staple. Here are the places worth the drive!

Peck’s Bar-B-Que is a local favorite, known for Virginia-style smoked pork served chopped, sliced, or coarse. Get your meat on a sandwich or on a platter with sides like coleslaw and hush puppies. If you want straight meat, you can order that too. The less carnivorous will enjoy salads, fish, and chicken choices. Shredder’s BBQ also serves your favorite Virginia barbecue. It’s made with locally raised meats and smoked with hickory wood.

Kline’s Hog Wild BBQ serves Carolina and sweet-style barbecue and sides for dining in and taking out. Drink a milkshake with your meal or finish with some of the fresh-churned ice cream that Kline’s is famous for! Big Red Barbecue’s menu is packed with selections like pulled pork and fried catfish. The menu also includes a ton of breakfast selections. Check Facebook for daily specials like jerk chicken and shrimp and grits. Valley Smokehouse specializes in seafood, barbecue, and steaks. Be on the lookout for events like all-you-can-eat seafood or scallops, prime rib, and tuna steak meals! Finally, next time you dine at Mill Street Grill or The Depot Grille, make sure to sample their slow-cooked ribs and homemade barbecue sauce.

For even more summer fun, visit our blogs on Live Music, Ice Cream and Swimming Holes.

Staunton’s Legen-Dairy Ice Cream Sweet Spots

Did you know that ice cream first came to the U.S. in the 1700s, but only members of high society could afford it? That vanilla is America’s favorite flavor? That the waffle cone was invented in 1904 at the St. Louis Fair? That it takes approximately 50 licks to finish a cone? July is National Ice Cream Month and Staunton has plenty of places to go to find your favorite flavor. Whether you like soft-serve, gelato, classic shakes and malts, or traditional scoops, we can help you find your Staunton-area sweet spot.

Wright’s Dairy Rite

Just look for the glowing neon sign! Generations of Stauntonians have been eating themselves happy at Wright’s Dairy Rite, which has been a Staunton mainstay since 1952. Not only can you sit in a retro booth and order your food with the built-in phone, you can also drive in and get classic curbside service. Originally a frozen custard store, Wright’s serves a full menu of burgers, subs, and sandwiches along with its frozen treats. The menu offers dipped cones, funnel cake fries, flurries, splits, milkshakes, malts, and drink freezes to cool off on a mighty hot day. To curb a raging sweet tooth, try a Wright’s Wheelie. This warm donut is mounded with ice cream, whipped cream, and your choice of topping. Keep an eye out for the next Wright’s Cruise-In antique car rally, returning September 5, 2021.

Kline’s Dairy Bar

The Staunton location of Kline’s Dairy Bar has made its ice cream fresh every morning since 1997. If you grew up in Staunton, you probably went to Kline’s after your big baseball win. Your best friend probably had a birthday party in the back room. This local chain has been in business since 1943, and that’s given it plenty of time to perfect its “continuous freeze” method of producing a soft, dense ice cream. Kline’s always makes vanilla and chocolate, but there are two different special flavors that change over on Wednesday. Check the sign, flavor card, or website each week for a rotation of can’t-miss flavors like banana and cake batter or local favorites like raspberry and lemon gingersnap in cones, cups, shakes, and sundaes. Kline’s in Staunton also offers Hog Wild BBQ, so you can get sweet or Carolina-style barbecue and burgers there, too. 

The Split Banana

Next time you’re in downtown Staunton, walk up to the window at The Split Banana and order the best part of your day. The Split Banana uses local grass-fed milk to create its award-winning gelato. At any given time, you can pick from 24 delectable and fresh-made flavors from a rotating lineup of more than 50. Choose traditional tastes or opt for something more adventurous like espresso biscotto, peanut butter and jelly, hazelnut, or cocoa ancho. Curious how gelato is different from ice cream? It uses more milk, making it lower in fat. But it’s also dense and creamy because it incorporates less air. Gelato tends to deliver intense flavors because it is served at a slightly higher temperature. A favorite of locals and tourists alike, The Split Banana stays open late, so night owls should stop in after dinner or a show. Can’t cram enough ice cream onto one cone? The Split Banana sells ice cream to go by the pint or quart.

Coming Soon: Crumbl

Crumbl is putting the finishing touches on its new downtown Staunton location. It’s set to open at the end of July. While Staunton’s newest bakery won’t necessarily specialize in ice cream, we couldn’t help but include Crumbl in this roundup because their rotating variety of cakes, cookies, cookie dough, brownies will include delicious and spectacular-looking ice cream cake!

Smiley’s Ice Cream at Mt. Crawford Creamery

Since a cow gives enough milk to produce two gallons of ice cream a day, the folks at Mt. Crawford Creamery have virtual ice cream machines on their hands! Onsite Smiley’s Ice Cream turns that milk into ice cream and that ice cream turns into smiles. Smiley’s is a bit of a drive from Staunton, but the slow-churned “front porch ice cream” and local ingredients like strawberries, peaches, and blueberries they serve is worth it. Smiley’s dips up 16 different flavors each day and shifts those flavors seasonally. Regular flavors include java chip, salted caramel chocolate chunk, black raspberry, and lime sorbet. Many options are gluten free. Order your ice cream at Smiley’s or plan ahead and buy online. Stay tuned: Smiley’s will soon be moving to a new, larger location in Bridgewater.

Sweet Creations at Valley Pike Farm Market

If you’re heading up to Harrisonburg, stop off at the Valley Pike Farm Market for a treat at Sweet Creations. You can order a cone, cup, or sundae made from fresh Homestead Creamery ice cream. It comes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and a rotating selection of specialty flavors.

Beat the Heat – Light Bites and Hidden Spots to Eat:

It’s officially summer and that means lots of time outside on pool decks and at picnic tables. But if the lure of fresh air and fireflies has given way to sunburn and sweat, probably the last thing you want to do is spread out a heavy meal in the sun. Here are some ideas for light bites and hidden spots to eat your meal out of the sun.

Light Bites

If you want to go out to eat, but the idea of a heavy meal gets you heated, try a light bite from one of these restaurants. Dine-in, eat outside during Shop and Dine Out in Downtown, or grab some takeout for your picnic adventure.

Raw Power 

Raw Power is the newest addition to Staunton’s culinary scene. It offers healthy eating in the form of fresh juices and smoothies as well as wraps and sandwiches. Patrons can eat inside or on the porch, or they can easily grab their orders to go. Offerings have fun and punchy names like Cool Hand Cuke and Refresh & So Clean, Clean. Raw Power is located a short walk from the Staunton Public Library’s Brenda L. Papke Memorial Sensory Garden, which would be a nice place to sit and enjoy your food.

Laughing Bird Pho

Laughing Bird Pho is a locally-owned Vietnamese noodle shop serving authentic pho, a popular street food in Vietnam. Pho is slow-simmered beef or vegetable broth poured over meat, noodles, and vegetables. Season the soup to your own tastes with garnishes like bean sprouts, peppers, and lime. Laughing Bird Pho also serves rice noodle salads and summer rolls as well as boba tea, which is a “fruity, foamy, tea-based drink served over chewy black tapioca pearls.” 

The Green Room

The Green Room is a hip gathering spot in Staunton run by Blackfriars Playhouse actors. Stop in for wine, craft beer, cider, specialty non alcoholic cocktails, and more. The Green Room also serves artisan snacks and light fare like loaded tots, charcuterie boards, and sandwiches. Visit for a quick drink before dinner, settle in and hang out with friends, or grab something to take home with you from the curated selection of beverages and board games for a fun “night out at home.” 

The 101 

The 101, aka “that bowl place” is a poke-bowl restaurant where diners can customize all parts of their meal from the grain to the protein to the sauce. Hawaiian poke-bowls traditionally contained raw fish, but this casual eatery offers chicken, beef, or vegan-friendly tofu options. You can also order gluten-free and allergy-safe items. Choose from a selection of pre-designed bowls like the Atlantic salmon salad. Thai shrimp and kimchi, or Southwestern chicken. You can also design your own bowl by mixing and matching all sorts of healthy and delicious ingredients. The 101’s corner location makes it a prime spot for watching the downtown bustle.

Cranberries Grocery & Eatery

Cranberries Grocery & Eatery is located in the heart of downtown and is a convenient way to grab a fresh bite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and organic grains. Breakfasts include favorites like waffles and fruit, house-made granola, breakfast burritos, and Southwest tofu scrambles. Lunch specialties are wraps and sandwiches made with chicken, turkey, beans, tempeh, veggies, and more. There are numerous options for vegetarians, vegans, and those who eat gluten-free diets. Cranberries also boasts gourmet coffee and a juice bar. Stock up on natural food items and remedies in the grocery.

Nu Beginning Farm the Store

Nu Beginning Farm the Store is focused on helping you enjoy delicious, clean, and healthy food in a convenient manner. The store sells organic and local produce, meats, dairy, baked goods and more, and allows pre-ordering and curbside pickups. Those looking for a quick bite should grab a pre-made meal to enjoy at home. People with limited time to cook who want to eat healthily can order custom-made meals. Schedule a consultation to discuss preferences and dietary needs – it’s like having a personal chef!

Chicano Boy Taco

Chicano Boy Taco is a Mexican-American taqueria that serves up handmade tacos and enormous mission-style burritos prepared on some of the best tortillas you’ve ever eaten. Order from the simple menu (burrito, taco, or burrito bowl, nachos, or salad) plus your choice of fillings (chicken, beef, pork, sweet potato and beans, chorizo, squash) and salsa at the counter. There’s also a kids’ menu that includes a quesadilla and ice cream from Kline’s. There’s seating inside or on the patio as well as plenty of beer (Mexican, craft, and “cheap”) to wash it all down. Chicano Boy is located just a short walk from downtown Beverley Street, but also offers ample parking.

Hidden Spaces

It’s sure nice to eat outside in the fresh air, but not if the sun blazes a hole through the back of your neck. Here are some of our favorite al fresco dining spaces that offer both shade and a bit of privacy.

R R Smith Center Garden

The R R Smith Center’s Mevluda Tahirovic Memorial Garden is a quiet and hidden space that displays plants like hostas and climbing hydrangeas, shade, and tables and chairs away from the bustle of downtown. Tucked between buildings, the urban space can be accessed from the Smith Center or Barrister’s Row. It’s open to the public during daylight hours.

Montgomery Hall Park

Montgomery Hall Park has acres and acres of places where you can spread a blanket. If you’re a parent, you’ll be pleased to discover picnic tables in the shade at the playground. There’s also a new covered picnic pavilion near the swimming pool. Even better is the Nature Ridge natural playground. Not only is the entire playground in shade, but there are two picnic tables and several benches for grownups to rest up while the kids wear themselves out. And while nearby Jones Garden isn’t exactly a picnic space, it’s a new community garden dedicated to area beautification, healthy eating, and affordable food, and is currently seeking volunteers. See the schedule for days the garden sells to the public.

Gypsy Hill Park

Gypsy Hill Park has plenty of picnic tables and most of them are easy to access from the 1.3-mile driving/walking loop. Shade lovers can find suitable spots to eat near both playgrounds, under the picnic pavilions, and in the softly wooded area around the bandstand. If you visit the bandstand in the evening during the week, you’ll probably get to hear live music.

JMD Farm Market and Garden Center 

Take a short drive into the countryside to visit JMD Farm Market and Garden Center. Not only can you take care of your gardening needs with annuals, perennials, vegetables, pottery, and more, you can also buy a glass of local wine and spread out for a snack while the kids play in the small natural play area.

Sears Hill Bridge 

The Sears Hill Bridge and Woodrow Park overlook downtown Staunton, which provides the perfect backdrop for lunchtime. 

STAR Trail at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center

The STAR Trail at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center is an accessible half-mile loop trail around a small lake. The trail itself is mostly flat with lots of shade and there’s a covered picnic area that overlooks the lake. The trail connects with the longer, paved shared-use Lifecore Trail that leads to Augusta Health.

Interested in additional picnic spots? Check out Eat Your Heart out at One of Staunton’s Best Picnic Spots.

New Staunton Flavor: Ciders From Mars

If you’re into exploring Staunton’s best flavors, make sure you stop in at the newly opened Ciders From Mars on Lewis Street in the historic Wharf District. Located in the former Black Dog Bikes space across the street from both Redbeard Brewing Company and the Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room, the new cidery offers visitors a third tasting option.

Inside, the space is cool and modern, decorated with slick surfaces and a neutral color scheme. There are a lot of choices for seating with plenty of room to spread out: at the bar, at tables, in a more relaxed lounge area, or on the large outdoor patio that overlooks the Wharf. Visitors inside the taproom can look through a glass wall and actually see the cider being fermented. Visitors who choose to sit outside can enjoy the sun, the fresh air, and the bustle of downtown.

Valley natives and JMU grads Nikki West and Jeremy Wimpey own and run Ciders From Mars. West, a geochemist, learned cider distillation techniques from the Cider Institute of North America. The couple have planted their own orchard in Mount Solon, but the trees are not mature yet. Meanwhile, they use local apple varieties like gold rush, winesap, and other vintage and modern varieties from area orchards. The Ciders From Mars ciders tend to have low sugar content. Some get more flavors by co-fermenting with other fruits like peaches, pears, and cherries.

The cidery serves cider by 9 oz. drafts, bottles, or flights of four flavors in 100 ml pours, which they present in beaker-shaped glassware. 

Did You Know:

  • Hard cider is an old drink. People in England drank it in the 1600s (as well as beer and wine) because water wasn’t always clean enough to keep them from getting sick.
  • Cider is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants from the apples.
  • It’s a great gluten-free alcoholic option for those who are intolerant. 
  • Hard cider is NOT the same thing as apple juice and it contains 4.5 to 10 percent alcohol by volume.
  • The length of time a cider ferments usually determines how sweet it will be. Ciders tend to lose sweetness and get drier as they age. They also gain more alcohol by volume.

Ciders From Mars is on Untappd. Check there to see what’s on tap and what your friends are drinking.