Foodie Adventures in Southern Virginia
Monday August 22, 2016
Southern Virginia is well-known for its lakes, racing and history, but you may not be aware of the region’s growing reputation as a destination for foodie getaways.
Food tourism is defined by the World Food Travel Association as “the pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near.” Culinary tourism is a growing trend, and visitors can enjoy new experiences and sights as they sip, taste and dine their way across the region.
Located on the westernmost end of Southern Virginia, Martinsville-Henry County is a new stop on the state-wide Artisan Trail of Virginia. The area has many talented agri-artisans and restaurants of the Smith River Artisan Trail that are serving up unique culinary creations and fresh farm-to-table meals.
Professional and home chefs looking to source the freshest in ingredients can visit several area locations. Sandy River Pork in Axton offers locally raised meats and fresh eggs, Stonehaus Farms just outside of Martinsville is the place to go for handmade goat milk cheeses and Windy Ridge Farm offers a variety of locally grown produce.
Each of these venues is not just a shopping trip. Memorable experiences are found whether you are sampling recipes made with Yvonne Riek’s farm fresh pork, taking cheese making lessons from Connie Stone or enjoying afternoon English tea with Janet Ashby on her farm. The friendly people make these destinations worth the drive and you’ll want to come back!
When it comes to dining out, several restaurants are stepping up their game to bring the best to the table. Daily Grind in Martinsville is a cozy place to have a cup of coffee or tea and the café, opened in 2011 by Danny Heiss, now offers a menu with expanded culinary flair and Martinsville’s first micro-brew bottle shop. Enjoy a unique brew or glass of wine with your meal and take a bottle (or a few!) home to try some new micro-brew selections. One of their more popular dishes is the chicken salad salad that features fresh cut pineapple, melon, berries and salad greens and artisan chicken salad, served with lemon poppy-seed dressing and a cocktail croissant. Daily Grind burgers are also a favorite. They feature 100% ground chuck that is ground fresh each morning at nearby Prillaman’s Meat Market. Their classic patty melt features sautéed onions, imported aged Swiss cheese and 1000 isle dressing. The burger is served on rye bread with a pickle spear. Be sure to also follow the café on Facebook for daily specials that might not ordinarily appear on the menu like zesty grilled fish tacos. Located just a short walk from the Rives Theater, a popular music venue, and the Virginia Museum of Natural History, this café is a perfect casual lunch or dinner spot for your next visit.
For lunch or dinner in a unique building, consider visiting 3rd Bay Café in Martinsville. Third Bay Café is located in a restored 1960’s service station where the dining room is divided up among the bays of the former station. No tools insight these days – today the atmosphere is cozy and casual with local artwork displayed throughout. Additional dining is available outdoors on a semi-enclosed patio. Because of the cafés close proximity to the 4.5 mile long Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, bicyclists often stop there to dine al fresco during or after rides. Owned by Yvonne Givens 3rdBay’s specialties include.... Save room for desert because no meal is complete without 3rd Bay’s signature Chocolate Chess Pie.
You can’t talk about Martinsville, Virginia and not mention Checkered Pig BBQ. Established in 1997 by Tommy and Lisa Houston, the restaurant offers casual family dining and a great selection of grilled chicken, BBQ, and ribs. Their award winning dishes have been seen on the Food Network and Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters. Recent claims to fame for the business include: You can even take the winning flavor home with you by purchasing a bottle of their famous grilling sauce or dry rub spices at the restaurant.
For groups wanting to immerse themselves in the culinary and agri-artisan scene of Martinsville-Henry County, guided tours for groups of 10 or more are provided by the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center. Complementary step-on guides are provided to entertain your group as they explore “A Taste of MHC” through samples, informative talks with chefs and hands-on experiences like learning to decorate gourmet cupcakes.
Discover more about these and other sites in the Martinsville-Henry County area at VisitMartinsville.com. Call 276-403-5948 for group tour information.
DANVILLE AND PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY
The City of Danville and surrounding Pittsylvania County are rich in history and known for their legacy of tobacco. Millionaire’s Row, a section of Main Street, near downtown Danville, is considered to have some of the best examples of Victorian and Edwardian domestic architecture in Virginia and North Carolina. While exploring this area and the nearby Tobacco Warehouse District, along the banks of the Dan River, there are several restaurants that food travelers can enjoy.
616 Farm to Table is housed inside a beautifully restored 130-year old building, The 616 Farm to Table is the area’s only restaurant sourcing its ingredients from nearby farms and producers. Partner/Executive Chef Chris King and his staff treat thee products with respect and deliver a delicious modern southern menu. The menu changes daily based on what is fresh and n season. The open concept kitchen allows diners to watch their meals as they are prepared. The 616 also features a complete bar and the real copper-topped bar is a popular spot.
The 616 also features a stunningly adorned and elegant private dining room decorate with historic photos and features. The private dining room is equipped with modern A/V components to allow for business meetings and functions.
The 616 features the Neapolis LIVE! Stage with a state-of-the-art light and sound system where the area’s best talent entertains guests.
611 Farm to Table is open Thursday through Saturday for dinner and Sunday, featuring a Farmers Table Breakfast Buffet, from 11-2pm.
Brewed Awakening opened in Danville’s River District mid-August 2015. The coffee shop is located on the first floor of the Continental building across from the Community Marker on Craghead Street. Not only is Brewed Awakening a coffee shop, it also features twelve flavors of ice cream, a full lunch menu featuring homemade soups, sandwiches, wraps and a convenient selection of locally written books and gentle used fiction.
Owners, Bonnie and John Hale, started the shop in 2004 in Martinsville, Virginia. The shop stated as a bookstore with a small coffee bar called Binding Time Café. Due to customer demand, the shop quickly evolved into a larger coffee shop with a small bookstore. Throughout eleven years of business, the shop continued to outgrow its space. With the desire to expand more, the Hales moved the quaint coffee shop to Danville renamed it Brewed Awakening. The shop has more than doubled its space since reinventing itself in the burgeoning River District. The unique space blends the original hardware of the old warehouse with the contemporary coffee shop. The Hales hope Brewed Awakening will become a destination for ice cream, food and fun…and of course, freshly brewed gourmet coffee.
Golden Leaf Bistro, located in Danville’s historic Tobacco Warehouse District, offers elegant dining in a unique atmosphere. Serving brunch, lunch, dinner and tapas, guests to the Golden Leaf and choose to dine in or outdoors on the enclosed deck that offers a relaxing spa-like feel. Glazed duck, creamy risotto, Atlantic salmon and ribeye are just some of the dishes served there.
Me's Burgers and Brews is near the fountain in the heart of the River District. Owners, and a mother-daughter team, Kathy Cropp and Emily Tomlinson are avid readers who have named the burgers after some of their favorite authors including- Agatha Christie, Margaret Maron and Emyl Jenkins. In addition to choosing among the ten specialty burgers, patrons also have the chance to “Author Your Own.” This menu feature allows guests to choose from a selection of toppings to customize a burger any way they want. Along with providing fun burgers and the ability to customize, Me’s has 12 taps with mostly local craft beer that rote weekly. The restaurant also offers a variety of wine, mixed drinks and with real draft non-alcoholic root beer on tap.
“We are excited to be a part of the revitalization of the River District,” said Tomlinson. “We have the best location in town with a view of the river and a beautiful fountain. Downtown has changed so much in the last few years it’s exactly where we want to be.”
Dell'Anno's Pizza Kitchen -owned and operated by Agostino and Brandi Pugliese and modeled after their Brosville Dell’Anno’s Restaurant- offers extra-large New York-style, Sicilian pan-style and stuffed pizzas, as well as pizza by the slice, pizza rolls, buffalo wings, salads, pasta and a variety of craft beers and wines. Dell’Anno’s has several flat screen TVs showing all the major sporting events and regularly hosts live music. Open since 2013, Dell’Anno’s Pizza Kitchen has become a fixture in the River District.
Main Street Coffee Emporium (MSCE), located at 547 Main Street, has been waking up Danville since 2001. As a coffee shop/deli/downtown meeting spot, you can enjoy dining in or take advantage of delivery and catering services.
The menu includes breakfast items (New York bagels and muffins, to name a few), sensational specialty sandwiches, soups, salads, and of course, GREAT coffee.
Home to Danville Roasting Company, MSCE proudly roasts and flavors its own coffees; hence, the motto, “By the cup or the pound, the only fresh roasted coffee in town.”
Owners Matt and Leisa Royster and the terrific staff at MSCE invite you at come in Monday through Friday 7:00am to 3:30pm. Stop by on your next trip to the River District and ve sure to follow MSCE on Facebook.
Nikki's Family Restaurant and Gini's Family Restaurant:Nikki Fouts had a dream of wanting to more than just a job. She combined her passion for food with the desire to have a family business and Gini’s Family Restaurant opened six years ago. Niki’s Family Restaurant opened a year later. “My inspiration of wanting to make a positive impact and bring jobs to our community is endless as I continue this journey,” Fouts says.
Nikki brings a flare of home cooking to her restaurants. She adds, “Our menu ranges from everyday fresh made meats and veggies, meat loaf, barbecue chicken, hand- mashed creamed potatoes, string beans… to our mouth- watering signature burgers, fresh never frozen 7 ounce hand- patted meat.” Fouts is quick to point out the best part of the meal-made-from-scratch desserts. She continues, “Banana pudding, chocolate chess pie, and the most delicious moist cakes you’ll devour!”
Every restaurant has to have that special something that keeps people coming back Fouts say. “I believe what makes us unique is our deep passion and care instilled in both restaurants, we understand a dining experience is not just about wonderful food, but incredible service as well. I believe our amazing staff and the love we have for our customers is what makes people regulars.”
In the future, Fouts looks to stay the course. “I plan to take what we have and make it better. To continue to grow and work hard on the many things I’m hoping to accomplish… The best is yet to come!”
By 2015, Primo Pizza and Mediterranean was a favorite pizza spot for locals. After being in business seven years, owner Mohamed Srioua thought it was time to expand the menu. He chose to add a taste of the Mediterranean. “The Mediterranean diet is one of the best and healthiest out there now. Through research I learned that Danville has in interest in Mediterranean food.”
Srioua’s vision to bring the Mediterranean to Danville began with a diverse menu encompassing the entire Mediterranean Sea. “We serve dishes from Spain, Italy, Greece, Northern Africa, and the Middle East,” Srioua says. Along with dishes such as paella and tabbouleh, Primo offers a variety of delicious desserts including truffle cake and baklava.
Srioua hopes to continue expanding the Mediterranean taste through the area. “We have people travel forty-five minute to an hour to satisfy their craving for variety.” And Primo has you covered when it comes to variety with a menu offering everything from pizza and subs to signature Mediterranean tour dishes.
Boasting the only person-to-person curb service and a menu that hasn’t changed in over fifty years, Mama Possum’s is a must pit stop for area foodies. The building that houses Mama Possum’s was built in the mid-sixties. In 1999, Eddie Blachura purchased the restaurant. “I had worked with Rockola Café for over ten years when the opportunity to buy the landmark became available. I couldn’t pass it up, so I decided to give it a try,” Blachura says.
Mama Possum’s offers a menu of American favorites including cheeseburgers, award-winning hot dogs with homemade Cole slaw and chili, salads, and hand-dipped milkshakes. The Cole slaw is available for purchase in seven different grocery stores.
After many years of success and repeat customers, Mama Possum’s 2 opened in 2010. The Mt. Hermon location provides a drive-thru for those in a rush.
As for the future, Blachura says, “Mama Possum’s is fortunate to be able to remain unchanged in appearance and menu. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… And I will not.”
Joe & Mimma's is nearing its fortieth anniversary. Owner Mimma Brooks purchased the restaurant form her brother and since has been helping people to create wonderful dining memories. The atmosphere is welcoming and for the patrons, Joe & Mimma’s offers more of a family dinner experience than a night out at the restaurant.
The menu is made up of a wide variety of Italian delicacies. Lasagna and chicken dishes are favorites. A well-stocked salad bar keeps people coming back for seconds. Brooks points out that seafood is a popular choices among visitors. She says, “We change the seafood menu weekly to make sure our customers are served the freshest options.” Brooks adds that she purchases many fresh ingredients locally from the community market.
Brooks attributes a diversified menu and a true caring for customers as a key to Joe & Mimma’s longevity. Looking to the future she hopes to keep the business in the family. Speaking of family, regulars view Mimmi and her husband, Randy, as family. Many of them give her a hug after satisfying meals.
At Joe & Mimmi’s, you know you will get great food, great service, and great memories.
Bro Pete's opened its doors in 2012. Owner Pete Hairston says inspiration for Bro Pete’s came from “seeing minorities serve in the food industry but rarely owning a successful business.” He continues, “I’ve always believed in opportunity for every man in this country. We just need to stop making excuses.”
Along with broad menu, Bro Pete’s offers several popular deals including a hot dog special with drink for under three dollars. The mouth-watering fried chicken will make you a repeat customer.
Hairston’s faith is the foundation for his good fortune. “I don’t separate my business from ministry. People are more important than dollars. We govern customer flow to ensure every patron receives excellent service,” Hairston says.
Bro Pete’s is a success story. Hairston plans to open at least four more locations in the future.
Centrally located in the heart Southern Virginia, we invite you to discover Halifax County's rich history, thriving arts community, and premiere NASCAR and international motorsports offerings. Halifax County is home to three rivers that offer more than 100 miles of navigable water and picture-perfect scenery and one of the nations' s only international dark skies. The charming and vibrant community is also a foodies' delight.
Halifax County is home to numerous dining establishments sure to delight the novice palette to the most refined food connoisseur.
Located on Main Street in South Boston, Bistro 1888 is a casual, upscale restaurant & bar offering Infused New American Cuisine in a cozy, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Chef Margaret Moorefield has owned Bistro 1888 for more than a decade now and in 2014 she was named one of the top chefs in the country by the publication Best Chefs America. With a long list of accolades and awards in her 30 years of culinary experience, Moorefield’s menu offers a variety of entrees including fish & shellfish, steaks, chicken, handcrafted pasta and vegetarian options. The Baltimore Sun describes Bistro 1888 as “Great fresh food served with panache.” The business won 3rd Place Best Place for Cocktails in Central Virginia in the 2012 Virginia Living “Best of Virginia” Awards and is also 3 Diamond Rated by AAA.
Travel six miles north to the Town of Halifax for fine dining with a warm and lively atmosphere at Molasses Grill. Owned and operated by Chef Steven Schopen and his wife Karen, the Schopens pay close attention to quality and detail, ensuring that all ice creams, desserts, dressings, marinades, and sauces are made from scratch in house. Seafood and meats are sourced within Virginia and North Carolina whenever possible and vegetables, fruit, herbs, eggs, and other ingredients are seasonally sourced from local and Virginia farmers. The casual opulence juxtaposed with pine floors, tin ceiling, and exposed brick creates an inviting dining experience with views of downtown Halifax or overlooking the open kitchen to observe Chef Steve and his team. Guests can enjoy dining with views of downtown Halifax or overlooking the open kitchen to observe Chef Steve and his team. Molasses Grill received the 2010 Virginia Wine Master’s Program, Crystal 5 Stem Award.
Travel west and you will find the small town of Alton and the thriving action of international road racing at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). The road course attracts guests from all over the world that come to race and watch the events. Visitors to the VIR resort can spend a day on the track learning the ins and outs of motorsports through various driving courses. Wind down at the end of the day at the Oak Tree Tavern, One of the highlights of the sprawling 1,300-acre property. The Tavern, located in a beautifully restored 1800's plantation house, the Tavern serves steak, seafood and pasta dish in the dining room. Seasonal outdoor seating is available with stunning views of the rolling countryside.
Foodies will delight in the multi-course meals at the mouth-watering prices during Halifax County's Inaugural Restaurant Week. Locals and visitors alike will discover the culinary scene in Halifax County September 11-18 for Restaurant Week. The week-long celebration will showcase local chefs, produce, meats, farms and wines as agriculture meets tourism for this gastronomic event.
Discover more about these and other dining, historical and cultural experiences in Halifax County at GoHalifaxVA.com.
Known as Virginia’s Lake Country and home to the 50,000+ acre Kerr Reservoir (a.k.a. Buggs Island Lake) as well as 35,000 acre Lake Gaston, Mecklenburg County is a boating paradise for fishermen, skiers and pleasure boaters, as well as a growing number of paddlers and outdoor adventurers. After enjoying a day on the water, guests have a variety of dining options to enjoy that range from traditional comfort food to fresh, exciting farm-to-fork creations.
Cooper’s Landing Inn & Travelers Tavern in Clarksville was originally built in 1830. Owned by young Innkeepers Nichol and Les Cooper, the restaurant offers a variety of dining options ranging from romantic meals in their beautifully restored historic dining rooms to outdoor dining on the trellised patio.The menu at Cooper's Landing changes seasonally and includes blackboard specials that highlight certified Black Angus meats, fresh fish, and local seasonal vegetables and fruit. Chef Les' nightly specials are also offered which can be paired with interesting and unique wines. The Inn offers on-site Cooking School Classes for those passionate about food and wine. The classes blend relaxation, fine dining, and hands-on instruction all in a romantic and inviting setting. The Tavern received a Wine spectator award of excellence and the New York Observer named them "One of the 7 Most Romantic inns in Virginia"
Opened in December of 2015, Apothecary in Boydton, VA introduces you to fresh, locally sourced ingredients from around Virginia and will treat you to its wonderful "Grinds, Grains, ad Goods"! Nestled in historic Downtown Boydton across from the beautiful Mecklenburg County Courthouse, Apothecary's quaint surroundings will take you back to a simpler time where everything that you ordered was made fresh ans served with a smile. Some culinary creations include everything from Turkey Paninis served with soft goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and spring leaf lettuce, and deli mustard! Pair it with locally famous Birdie's Pimento Cheese and an old-timey bottle of pop!
One of the newest eateries in the area, the Bare Bones BBQ food truck is shaking up things over in Clarksville. Regularly set up for lunch (ans sometimes dinner) just blocks from Kerr Lake, young owner Robert Obst turned his dreams into a reality in 2014 when he opened the only food truck in town, and broke the mold by having a scratch kitchen in his mobile eatery and a smoker hanging out he back. Using almost entirely locally sourced ingredients from around Virginia and North Carolina, he spins out specials such as citrus soy ginger Mahi Mahi tacos, hand crafted Polish sausages with spicy Sam Adams beer mustard, and Taylor-Wright Farms fried bologna sandwiches in addition to his excellent homemade BBQ & brisket.
Discover more about these and other sites in Mecklenburg County at VisitMeckVA.com.
Smith River Artisan Trail