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Category: History

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.

Celebrate Juneteenth Staunton Style

Are you ready to embrace the warm weather and the loosening of Covid restrictions? Are you ready to celebrate community and learn about cultural heritage? Are you ready to dance? Read on for some local ways to enjoy  Juneteenth, the holiday to celebrate the end of slavery.

Juneteenth Celebration at Sunspots Pavilion

Get the Juneteenth party started early on Friday, June 18th at the Juneteenth Celebration at Sunspots Pavilion in the historic Wharf. The free event is from 6 – 10 p.m. and features a variety of vendors as well as music by Steve The Painter & DJ Adonis. Expect to hear old-school classic club hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s as well as some sounds from South Africa. All that dancing will make you hungry, so grab a bite from one of the onsite food trucks, Wharf restaurants, or stroll over to Beverley Street to take advantage of dining opportunities. Beverley Street is closed to vehicular traffic on the weekends. 

5th Annual Juneteenth at the Frontier Culture Museum

In the past, the annual Shenandoah Valley Juneteenth Celebration was held at Montgomery Hall Park. This year, however, the Frontier Culture Museum is hosting the free family-friendly event on June 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s theme is “The Continual Evolution of JUNETEENTH” and it will feature live music and event speakers. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and plan to hang out. If you’re feeling competitive, join the 3-point shooting competition or the cornhole tournament. Food, jewelry, craft, and other vendors will be on site.

Visitors should also explore the rest of the 200-acre living history museum and learn about the early inhabitants of our area from costumed interpreters.  Of special interest will be the museum’s West African farm exhibit, which “explores the cultural contributions of African captives who were brought to Virginia in the 1700s.” Though enslaved peoples were captured from all over Africa and represented many ethnic groups, many were Igbo from the West African Coast. The clay farm exhibit demonstrates how the Igbo cooked, farmed, created crafts and pottery before enslavement.

Juneteenth After Party at the Pompei Lounge

DJ Adonis is back, this time at the Pompei Lounge at 23 E. Beverley Street on Saturday, June 19th, 10 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. This Juneteenth After Party is sure to get you dancing. The Pompei offers plenty of room to spread out over two floors with several unique spaces, a balcony, and an open-air terrace.

If you’d like to discover resources for gaining a broader understanding of our city’s African-American history, culture, and contributions, check out our post on African American History in Staunton.