Food blogger Steve Post of FoodAroundtheTrack.com and the Motor Racing Network's "Fast Food" radio show is no stranger to Martinsville-Henry County and we enjoy hosting him when he visits each spring and fall for the NASCAR races at Martinsville Speedway.
This week, I had the opportunity to chat on-air with Steve and the "Fast Food" crew about the must visit dining hot spots in Martinsville-Henry County. Culinary tourism is a nationwide travel trend and Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia has quite a few exciting restaurants for foodies to check out.
For those that may have missed the broadcast, here are our picks from the show for you to visit:
This establishment is a local favorite and a must visit stop for race fans as the Checkered Pig and NASCAR racing go hand in hand. Locally owned by Tommy & Lisa Houston, they are known for their award winning ribs, brisket and sauce. They won first place overall in the 2014 Pigs & Pedals BBQ competition in Asheville, North Carolina and 1st Place for Ribs at the 2014 Smoke n Thunder BBQ Classic in Rome, VA.
Don't have time to dine there? Stop by to buy a bottle of grilling sauce or dry rub to take home!
Known for their lunch buffet offering a variety of specialty gourmet pizzas, Jerry's is locally owned by Jerry Degiovanni, a professionally trained chef from the International Culinary Center. Jerry uses family recipes that have been handed down two generations to him and the proof is in the taste. There are many great pizzas to choose from but "Grandma's Pizza" was Steve's clear favorite during his visit. The rustic style pizza features a sauce rich in garlic, oregano and basil. Steve noted how the pizza has “all the great qualities of a Sicilian pizza but with a thin crust.”
Filled to the brim with authentic 1950's decor, Fenderz is a fun place to take your family. Pile in the booths to watch episodes of 1950's sitcoms on the TV while you dine on burgers, hot dogs, hand-cut fries and delicious milkshakes.
While everything on the menu is excellent, owner Stacy Connor's claim to fame is her hand-cut, beer battered onion rings that are fried to perfection. Made in house, they come out mounded up and with your choice of dipping sauce. To this day, Steve still has not found onion rings on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Circuit better than these!
A long-time favorite of Steve's, Dippers keeps rising to the occasion with new and inventive flavors. Owner Tracy Cox has been busy in the kitchen preparing for the fall season. Highlights include "Sweet Potato Souffle", infused with real sweet potatoes, spices, a hint of coconut and toasted pecans and "Pecan Pie Bread Pudding" is served sundae-style with a warm, ooey-gooey pecan pie bread pudding topped with warm Drunken Caramel Sauce, homemade pie crust and vanilla ice cream. A special treat for race week, "Snack Tracks," brings together all of your favorite race track snacks in one delicious sweet and salty treat. Imagine ice cream infused with pretzel, potato chip and Ritz brittle clusters (completely homemade, by the way!) and add to that chocolate covered pretzels and M&Ms and you have one decadent treat.
As if that is not enough, Tracy and the Dippers team now offer wine infused ice creams (yes you heard me) - wine and ice cream together at last. "Chardonnay Apple Pie" is infused with Chardonnay from nearby Stanburn Winery, apples, spices and pieces of homemade cinnamon pie crust. It's simply divine!
A newcomer to the MHC dining scene, Chopstix brings modern flair and exciting Asian-fusion cuisine. They offer a variety of Japanese, Chinese and Thai dishes along with a full service sushi bar. Sushi is a favorite food of Steve's, so we sampled a variety of rolls this past summer. His top pick in the specialty roll category was the Naruto roll featuring cucumber, eel, avocado, salmon and topped with caviar.
The atmosphere at Chopstix is trendy and the friendly staff are great at making recommendations, so if you are a newcomer to sushi, this is a great place to try it and decide what flavors you like best.
This locally owned bakery and café is on Steve's list of restaurants to visit soon. Owned by baker Darla Main-Schneider, this is a site on the newly formed Smith River Artisan Trail which features more than 50 local artisans and agri-artisans.
Baking bread from locally sourced ingredients using artisan techniques is a specialty of Darla's. She's in the kitchen each morning baking fresh bagels, baguettes, ciabatta, sourdough, cinnamon buns, scones and so much more. Darla's baked goods can be enjoyed not only at her shop but also at the Uptown Farmers' Market and several regional resorts. Daily lunch and breakfast specials are also offered.
The newest restaurant in Martinsville, Serendipity has taken the community by storm. Located in the heart of the Uptown business district and near higher education institutions, this cafe owned by Laurence Vanderwoods is winning customers over by offering exceptional customer service, a relaxed atmosphere and amazing cuisine. The menu offers a wide variety of gourmet sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads and loaded baked potatoes.
On air, Steve and I chatted about a few of the sandwiches including the "Grilled Cheese with Bacon" which seems like such a simple dish, but Serendipity's is truly elevated to a higher level with a complex layering of three cheeses including a picante provolone, tender slices of bacon and fresh tomatoes on grilled Texas toast. It's the ultimate comfort food. We also mentioned the "Turkey Bacon Brie," "The Cuban," and the seasonal espresso drink "Salted Caramel Apple Latte." This stop is also on Steve's list of restaurants to visit soon and we can't wait to see which selections he picks as his favorite.
It's not just about the food in MHC. We have so many opportunities to enjoy outdoor recreation, the arts, history and more. You and your family are sure to have fun in record time while visiting the area . For example, after enjoying The Cuban sandwich at Serendipity you can visit Piedmont Arts to take in Celebración de las Artes, their new series of exhibits and performances highlighting Latin American culture. "Ten Days in Havana" by David Spears features intimate scenes from life in a shuddered country. The celebration also features works by Cuban artist Feliz Suarez Merlin in his first US exhibition. Admission is free, so make sure you stop by to see this and other area attractions while visiting Martinsville-Henry County.
So, what are you hungry for?
Let's get started! Explore area dining opportunities and tell us YOUR favorite in the comments below.