Staunton’s 10 Best Fall Flavors

 

Pumpkin Spice Muffins from Paradise Donuts

The official first day of fall was September 22, but we’ve been salivating—for weeks—at the thought of apples, pumpkins, and anything with a hint of spice and cinnamon. If your palate enjoys these flavors, too, come to Staunton this fall for a full-fledged dine-and-drink-around of epic proportions. Our 10 best fall flavors are waiting …

  1. Chef Said Rhafiri’s pan-seared maple leaf duck breast at Aioli is served with butternut squash parmesan risotto, vegetable tempura, and blackberry reduction. It’s one of the finer meals you can enjoy in downtown Staunton this fall.
  2. We’ve come to know that many travelers make their way to Staunton just to eat. Yes, our meals are THAT good. One of their destinations is The Shack, where Chef Ian Boden is inspired to create daily menus based on what the growers are delivering. Watch for delightful treats like Rappahannock oysters, pumpkin pierogi, and apple fry pie!
  3. A name like “Harvest Rigatoni” says it all. At Byers Street Bistro, you can order up this savory dish that includes sweet Italian sausage, roasted Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, fried sage, parmesan cheese, and a garlic white wine sauce. 
  4. Cast iron cornbread is a southern staple and Zynodoa pairs it with house-made Gala apple butter. That’s just one of the special entries you’ll find on their ever-changing menu. You may also want to try the mixed green salad topped with Malcolm’s Market radishes, cucumbers, butternut squash, toasted almonds, Wayside Farm ginger, and herb vinaigrette.
  5. We’re always amazed at the ingenuity and think-outside-the-boxedness of Chef Mike Lund of Mike Lund Food & LunDch. You never know what incredible dish he will whip up, like maybe giant fennel-spiced garbanzo balls with spaghetti squash covered in herb marinara and shaved parmesan? It’s a veggie, gluten-free option that capitalizes on the season. And it’s delicious!
  6. If you love donuts, Paradise Donuts has to be on your list. Apple spice and caramel apple flavors are already rolling out, and maple is one of the all-time best sellers. New for this year are pumpkin spice muffins. You’ll want to arrive early to ensure you score one of these tasty seasonal treats!
  7. Moriarty Day is one for your calendar. It’s the day Redbeard Brewing Company releases their latest edition of Moriarty, a barrel-aged Imperial Stout. This year’s Moriarty Day is October 18, and this year’s pour has been settling in Bourbon barrels from John J. Bowman, Eagle Rare, and Buffalo Trace. 
  8. It’s no surprise that Staunton pulls off a flawless transformation to become the quaint wizarding hamlet of Hogsmeade in September. What may be a surprise is that Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company is tapping their Mischief Butterscotch Ale to coincide with the Queen City Mischief and Magic weekend (previously known as Queen City Potter Party … as in Harry Potter).
  9. Queen City Brewing has two delicious beverages that are perfect for the fall season. Try the hard-pressed Apple Ale or Cranberry Ale, both 7% ABV, and both quite refreshing.
  10. Fall flavored coffee and pastries are likely found in several of our favorite morning hot spots, but we like The By & By for their surprises like pumpkin rolls, peanut butter pie, and of course, their Oktoberfest celebration of craft beer and brats. Prost!

Eat well and enjoy the autumn season in Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley!

A 101: The Virginia Food Truck Battle & Beer Competition

The smells from food trucks on city streets are always so enticing, aren’t they? Think of a field full of food trucks. Now consider that they’re truly bringing their “A game” because such a gathering could only mean one thing: competition.

Now in its third year, The Virginia Food Truck Battle & Beer Competition will be held Sunday, September 3rd to benefit The Madee Project, a local non-profit foundation providing support to families facing their own battle: pediatric cancer. The event has grown with more food trucks than before vying for Grand Champion status. They cook well, you eat well, and The Madee Project benefits well. It’s a win-win-win.

HOW IT WORKS

  • Food trucks from across the Commonwealth are split into three zones.
  • VIP ticket holders act as the judges and receive a sample of each truck’s cuisine (six total per zone) and a sample from each of the six breweries in the beer garden. VIPs cast their votes and a winner from each zone plus one brewery is proclaimed. The three zone winners then deliver their wares to a panel of judges who name a Grand Champion food truck.
  • VIPs enter at 11:30 am before the general admission ticket holders are permitted access at 12:30 p.m.
  • General admission tickets provide entry to the Frontier Culture Museum and access to entertainment and children’s activities. Trucks, breweries, and wineries are essentially vendors for a la carte purchases starting at 12:30 pm.

BUY TICKETS
VIP: $40 advance; $45 day-of
General Admission: $10 advance; $15 day-of; free for children five and younger

THE FOOD TRUCKS

These are the known contenders as of this writing. What isn’t known is which trucks will be in which zones until the day of the event. Oh, the suspense!

  • Delicias Marina – Waynesboro
  • Eats on the Streets – Staunton  
  • Grillizza (16 meals tax due) – Broadway
  • Farm Fresh Fixins – Staunton
  • Rock’s Money Pit BBQ- Augusta Co.
  • El Chilango Mexican Grill – Nelson Co.
  • Bella Luna Food Truck – Harrisonburg
  • Cuz Em  Southern Cooking & Seafood – Harrisonburg
  • Dirty Bean – Staunton  
  • Grapevine – Richmond  
  • The Saucy Bird -Staunton  
  • El Budare Grill – Roanoke  
  • Hardman’s Smoke Stack – Lynchburg  
  • Truck 121 -Harrisonburg  
  • Mama’s Caboose-  Harrisonburg
  •  Paella Perfecta – Harrisonburg  
  • Mouth Wide Open – C’ville  
  • Sooners – Stuarts Draft

THE CRAFT BEER

Six breweries will compete for #winning status:

  • AleWerks of Williamsburg (last year’s winner)
  • Seven Arrows of Waynesboro
  • Basic City of Waynesboro
  • Shenandoah Valley Brewing of Staunton
  • Pale Fire of Harrinsonburg 
  • Great Valley Farm of Lexington

COOL THINGS TO KNOW

Most important…BRING YOUR ID!

Need cash? There’s a Farmers & Merchants Bank mobile ATM on site.

Have creative kids? Let them PAINT A CAR, courtesy of Valley Cars! Magic Shows and Freckles & Friends will be performing. Along with several games to take part in!

Is the phone going dead? There’s a charging station, courtesy of Cricket Wireless.

Not much of a craft beer fan? Coors Lite will be available for purchase.

Not a beer fan at all? Ox-Eye and Rockbridge Vineyards will be pouring their wines by the glass as well as selling bottles.

Love selfies and capturing the moment? There’s a hashtag for that: #VAFoodTruckBattle.

Staunton’s Top Four Places for Barbecue

Oh and😀

A photo posted by Travis Taylor (@travclimb) on

According to author Joe Haynes, barbecue originated in Virginia. And why not? Virginia is the birthplace of America. Haynes released Virginia Barbecue: A History in September 2016. Only time will tell if it becomes the definitive guide to juicy smoked meats in the Commonwealth, but we do owe thanks to Haynes for successfully lobbying to make Virginia Barbecue Season a thing. The season begins in May and ends in October, but we want you to be ready. Bookmark this page or print it for reference when you travel the Shenandoah Valley. 

According to Yelpers, Staunton has four places rated four stars where the barbecue is worth the drive. Do give each a try yourself and review, if you like. 

Peck’s Bar-B-Que | 477 Lee Jackson Highway

Peck’s was a long-time barbecue staple in nearby Waynesboro, but their relocation to Staunton has been a real gain for the locals who love smoked pork Virginia style. As it turns out, passers-through love Peck’s, too!

“This is a down home Virginia BBQ … if you are in Staunton, make it a foodie stop.” – Linda F., Pinson, AL
“Highly recommend the chopped BBQ sandwich special. Worth the drive!” – Matt R., Andover, KS
“It’s a total dive, and I hope they never change a thing! Food was delicious, and portions were huge. Best thing was the 1/2 rack of ribs platter – it was one of those meals where you’re SO full but you can’t stop eating.” – Amy G., Burke, VA

Kline’s Hog Wild BBQ | 906 Greeville Avenue

If you’re familiar with the name Kline’s, it’s likely for Kline’s Dairy Bar, one of our favorite ice cream parlors. However, Kline’s also has Hog Wild BBQ and you’re missing out if you don’t give it a try, too. Actually, you can do both at once!

“Yum, yum, yum!  Love the BBQ, ice cream and coleslaw!” – Teri B., Waynesboro, VA
“Great tasting barbecue.  The Cole Slaw (sic) was really good.” – Steve M., Madison, WI

Mill Street Grille | 1 Mill Street

Mill Street Grille is not a barbecue joint by any stretch, but their slow-cooked ribs and homemade barbecue sauce are one of the top draws.

“I chose the best BBQ in the south, even if the Mill isn’t a bbq restaurant technically. The ribs were literally fall-off-the-bone … Totally tender, absolutely delicious … and the sweet bbq sauce was to-die-for: I was only disappointed to learn that the Mill does not sell its own BBQ sauce …” – Colin M., Newmarket, NH
“I’ve had BBQ Ribs in many places in my life, but none as good as these!” – John M., White Stone, VA
“If you are in the area, and a bbq rib fan, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.” – John C., Cranford, NJ

The Depot Grille | 42 Middlebrook Avenue

The housemade barbecue sauce and rub are key to a great rack of ribs at The Depot Grille. Like Mill Street, The Depot offers a diverse menu and the ribs are pretty popular.

“The best ribs I’ve ever tried.” – Sergiy M., Manassas, VA
“The dry rubbed ribs were great, ordered with sauce on the side as well.” – Christie P., Avon, IN
“Baby back ribs – among meatiest and tenderest we’ve tried anywhere. A delicious prelude to our evening at Blackfriars!” – Elizabeth M., Mountain View, CA

Eat well and often with us in Staunton, Virginia. 

Fall Flavors: Four Field-to-Fork Gourmet Markets

Seasons are exciting! We love the changes in temperature, the visible transitions in our landscape, and the fall flavors of our field-to-fork gourmet markets. If you’re looking for something awesomely autumn, this is for you. Fill up, take something great to go, and don’t forget your craft beer, wine, specialty oils, or other gourmet sundries.

1. Farmhouse Kitchen & Wares | 101 W. Beverley Street

Truly farm to table!

A photo posted by Farmhouse Kitchen & Wares (@farmhousekitchenandwares) on

This sweet cafe and kitchen shop offers breakfast and lunch, and always has an eye on the fields for inspiration. “Healthy and hearty” salads include locally grown veggies. Choose one and then add on a seasonal vegetable soup for a fantastic taste of the Shenandoah Valley. A filling breakfast option is the European yogurt featuring local granola and honey.

Local providers include Geezer Farm, Edwards Sausage, Caramont Cheeses, and Wade’s Mill.

2. Lewis Creek Market | 300 Church Street

lewis-creek-market

Hot plates, cold plates, salads, and soups are daily options at Lewis Creek Market, but the flavors change all the time depending on what’s seasonally available. Vegan and gluten-free diners will find something tasty and healthy, as will hearty meat-eaters and vegetarians. With chilly fall days ahead, keep this warming soup in mind: A chowder of cauliflower, carrots, celery, onion, and Lima beans. Mmmm.

Local providers include Grazelen Farm, Shenandoah Peaks, Five Maple Farms, and MeadowCroft Farm.

3. George Bowers Grocery | 219 W. Beverley Street

Four Cheese Grilled Cheese.

A photo posted by Ken Cox (@shenvalleyhoo) on

The burgers and hot dogs are the way to go at George Bowers. Load ’em up with fresh fixin’s and know they’re not only the best tasting, but the best for you. From nearby Polyface Farms, the pork even finds its way into soft tacos topped with housemade pico de gallo. 

Additional providers include Newtown Bakery and the Community Garden at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

4. Pennywhistle Provisions | 10 S. New Street

Healthy, happy chickens. #eggmobile #polyface #internlife #livethelifeyoulove

A photo posted by deeprootsfarmRI (@hippytendencies) on

Sure, you can “grab and go” at Pennywhistle, but know that it’s not fast food in the traditional sense of the phrase. The bread is homemade, the meats and vegetables are farm fresh, and it’s all prepared honestly by hardworking hands. “Food & Drink Post Haste” is the way they roll at Pennywhistle Provisions.

Local providers include Newtown Bakery, Polyface Farms, and the Community Garden at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

Looking for more farm-fresh favorites? Check out Downtown Staunton’s 10 Best Places to Dine.

Your Guide to Dining Alfresco

‘Tis the season to be outside! Fortunately for you, fellow seeker of warmth and sunshine, Staunton has excellent places for outdoor dining. Places you’ll be able to take a deep breath, nosh a bit, and throw back an ice cold drink for lunch, dinner, or after dinner.

Table 44
Table 44

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PATIOS

Byers Street Bistro (18 Byers St) – Head to the Bistro after work or meet friends for an afternoon chill-out beneath the umbrellas on the patio. Happy Hour deals extend from the bar, so watch for those offerings while enjoying a “shareable” like the fried green tomatoes, fried dill pickles, smoked bacon and corn hushpuppies, or chorizo fondue. In fact, get a plate of each and pass it around.

Cranberry's
Cranberry’s

Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery (7 S New St) – Shopping downtown around lunch time? Waiting for a show at Blackfriars? Cranberry’s is centrally located! 

Try the New Street Burrito (also available as a salad) or a classic BLT paired with a freshly squeezed juice concoction, Mexican Coca-Cola, or even coffee. There are many cool options at Cranberry’s, and the patio is an excellent place

Table 44 (300 Church St) – The covered patio is a signature space at Table 44, where a table is waiting for you! Try the refreshing feta and watermelon salad or splurge with a decadent dessert from Paris Cake Company. It’s a great option on a warm day or evening, especially when you add a sangria or a bucket of beer.

Chicano Boy (300 Church St) – This small eatery boasts a huge patio that’s perfect for enjoying a meal with family and friends. A local favorite after, Chicano Boy offers a great menu perfect for guests of all ages. 

Newtown Baking (960 W Beverley St) – Having been a Staunton staple for years, Newtown Baking provides fresh, delicious breads and pastries daily in addition to lunch. Open Wednesday-Saturday, you can now enjoy dinner, ranging from gyros all the way to wood-fired pizzas from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the bakery. 

DECKS

The Shack (105 S Coalter St) – Chef Ian Boden brings a fresh new menu every day of the week based on whatever is fresh from local producers. The Shack is a busy place and reservations are recommended if you can’t get there early. Having the deck enables more people to enjoy the incredible dishes Chef Boden is slingin’. Popular snacks for your five o’clock wind-down have included pimento cheese with benne biscuit crackers, and Sewansecott oysters on the half shell.

Thai Staunton* (1000 Greenville Ave) – Take your friends straight to the deck at Thai Staunton and order up the Asian sample platter to share while sipping cocktails. The deck overlooks bustling Greenville Avenue, but laughter among friends creates an entirely different atmosphere. 

ROOFTOPS

The Pompei Lounge (23 E Beverley St) – The open-air rooftop terrace at The Pompei Lounge is the place to be on a hot summer night. When the sun goes down, the atmosphere becomes electric with live music, plenty of drink offerings, and bar bites that won’t disappoint.

The Pompei Lounge View
The Pompei Lounge View

BREWERIES

Queen City Brewing (834 Springhill Rd) – Staunton’s first brewery hosts food trucks and musicians each Friday night for an event they call Picks n Pints, and their

Queen City Brewing
Queen City Brewing

deck is an awesome place to hang out and sip one of their 22 tapped options of craft beer. Open Mic Night is Wednesdays, if you need a mid-week evening break.

Bedlam Brewing (2303 N Augusta St) – A neighborhood hangout, Bedlam Brewing creates the perfect pub environment offering delicious wood-fired pizza and craft brews. Their patio is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the live music that occurs at Bedlam on Fridays and Sundays. 

In conclusion, there are plenty of great options for outdoor dining in Staunton. Other choices with limited outdoor seating include:  The Pampered Palate, Clocktower Food & Spirits, and Farmhouse Kitchen and Wares, all serving a wonderful view of Beverley Street. Get out and enjoy!

 

A Perfect Picnic Made in Staunton

As the warm weather draws you out to enjoy the beauty of and around Staunton, plan a full day of explorations complete with a perfectly packed picnic.

THE BASICS

If you need a picnic basket, you’re in luck. Antique stores are known for them (and we have some of those), or you might find your next handmade heirloom to pass down when you visit Appalachian Pieceworks on Middlebrook Avenue.

 

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Good luck with this one, as you’ll probably wantmore than a picnic basket full of what Staunton has to offer. With a broad stroke of the pen, these are some goodies we think you’ll love to take along.

  • Cranberry’s Club at Cranberry Grocery features house-made cranberry mayo on Newtown sourdough bread.
  • Caromont Plank Road Round cheese pairs well with crusty bread and fruity red or white wine. Pick it up at Yelping Dog.
  • Order a small bowl (or large, if you want) of Gourmet Olives or Waldorf Salad at Lewis Creek Market.
  • Ask for the Hummus Plate to go at George Bowers Grocery. It includes fresh veggies, feta, and crackers. You have our permission to get a cucumber and banana milkshake to go.
  • Swing by The Store for fresh tomatoes or cucumbers (because you need them outside of a milkshake, too).

AND AWAY WE GO …

So where will you enjoy your picnic? Will it be one our parks? How about an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Take a scenic drive and look for a great place to pull over and enjoy the sunshine.

Cheers to eating, loving, and exploring locally!

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.