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Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway - foreign newbie needs good eats

Hi to the board. I’m John and I live in north west England.

In September, my wife & I are spending 3 weeks travelling through VA, NC, SC & GA and are looking for good eats. We are still route planning and will be posting other threads as and when we sort things out.

But we know we are going spend a few days driving the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway and exploring some of the towns between Front Royal and Asheville.

In terms of the northern part, Front Royal, Charlottesville and Lexington are definitely on the itinerary and any recommendation for those towns would be welcomed. I’d also like any general recommendations for the rest of the drive down to Asheville (I’ll post separately about there, so don’t need Asheville ideas just now).

Casual dining would be good for this part of the trip, but if there’s a more upscale “don’t miss” place, then please tell me. If possible, we’d like to eat local cuisine for dinner.



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  1. Charlottesville has great resturants. It is not, however, a true southern town. So don't expect great BBQ, collard greens and such. You'll find that cuisine to get better and more authentic as you get closer to Asheville. The Downtown Mall has the best restaurants in Cville. Here are som current local faves:

    Zocalo - upscale latin fusion. great bar. dinner only. seasonal outdoor patio. www.zocalo-restaurant.com

    Bizou - comfort food (great meatloaf, fried chicken, etc) in a diner-meets-fine dining atmosphere. Lunch and dinner. Outdoor dining on the walking mall in warm weather.

    C&O - American meets French. Three levels of the building give three different dining venues. Great wine list. www.candorestaurant.com

    South Street Brewery - handcrafted beers made on premises have won numerous awards. Food is OK. Stick to burgers, ribs, and simpler items. Long copper bar and nice bartenders.

    Ten - upscale sushi and Japanese. 16 different sakes. The lobster tempura is heavenly. Dinner only.

    Continental Divide - excellent Southwest food with a twist (think seared ahi tuna tostada with black bean and goat cheese puree). Very affordable. Get there early for dinner only!

    Christian's Pizza - great local lunch/dinner hangout. Pizza by the slice with crazy and traditional toppings.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mojoeater

      I have to disagree about not expecting great barbeque, Jinx' Pit's Top barbeque is spectacular, in my opinion. Jinx himself is a character (that's a polite term, right?) but he makes some seriously good pork.

      I moved out of town before Ten opened, so I can't render a comparison opinion, but Miyako, also on the downtown mall does a lovely job with sushi and the cooked food is very underrated. Ask for the specials.

      For South Street, I'd say stick to the beers, they're amazing. Especially if your'e a fan of hops.

      I couldn't agree more with the Continental Divide rec., its a gem.

      Other thing that are uniquely Charlottesville:
      Spudnuts Donut Shop, the best donuts I've had outside of a Krispy Kreme (and since Krispy Kreme closed in C'ville, that makes these far and away the best in town). Made with potato flour and totally delicious.

      The same family that does Spudnuts does Wayside Take Out which is some of the best southern fried chicken you'll find anywhere.

      And, go figure, the best bagels I've ever had are at Bodo's in Charlotesville. There are 3 of them now. Super cheap, and very very tasty.

      1. re: ccbweb

        Jinx's Pit Stop might be the best BBQ in town, but it is NOT great southern BBQ. And the place is filthy. I would recommend our foreign friend wait until he's a little further south to get real southern BBQ.

    2. enter blue ridge parkway in the search field (top right above my chow) and see the thread from oct. 2004 started by Lauren in Ct. titled Driving Trip Along Blue Ridge Parkway.
      Most rec.s are still valid but disregard my posting about the parkway being closed in some spots as repairs have been completed. Be forewarned, the BRP is known as a feast for the eyes, not so much so for the stomach.....

      1. As you get down into the North Carolina Tennessee area there is a hotel / restaurant that is supposed to be very, very good but quite a bit of money. It is called Blackberry Farm and it would be off the parkway towards Knoxville tennessee. I included the link to their website. Blowing Rock is supposed to be a fun town and I have heard good things about Sonny's Grill but haven't eaten there myself. Have a great trip!

        1. Hope you enjoy your trip. In Downtown Spruce Pine, between Asheville and Boone, you will find The Lazy Susan. You can't get more traditional that this. All food is served family style (brought out in platters) All you can eat. Flat price--something like 12$.. The best fries chix, okra, stew, cobblers, ect. A true southern gem.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bethd127

            I have a house near Mt. Mitchell and if we decide to venture out we usually head to Burnsville but you have gotten my attention! Exactly where in SP is The Lazy Susan and does it serve lunch or just dinner?

            1. re: Tee

              it is downtown, in the historic area, right in front of the train tracks.(where they put the xmas tree every year) I would call for hours. i think they are closed in the beginning of the week. But I believe they are opened for both lunch and dinner.

              1. re: bethd127

                Thanks. I know exactly where you are talking about. Thanks for the tip.

          2. Find the Blue Ridge Pig in Nellysford, VA. Not on the Blue Ridge, but a 45 minute drive down the hill (east). Amazing barbeque:


            Also nearby, Rodes Farm Inn - great family style farm meals, part of Wintergreen resort (down in the valley, down the road from Blue Ridge Pig). RODES FARM INN

            Enjoy - it's a special place in the world down that-a-way.

            1. Thanks for the recs, so far.

              We will definately base ourselves in Charlottesville for a couple of nights. Looks a great town.

              I'd still appreciate some recs for a bit further south - say around the VA/NC line - for another night's stopover.



              1. At the Thornton Gap, if you follow 211 E into Sperryville, there is a coffee roasters which might be nice if you indulge. In "town" on the right. About five minutes from where you get off the Skyline Drive. There is also, if you go a little further into Sperryville and hang a right on 522S for about thirty seconds, there is a nice little place called the "Thornton Grill", but it's got to be lunch, at dinner they are always solidly booked. The owner's son runs the butcher's shop adjoining and they do good stuff.

                And, also off the Thornton Gap, if you take 211 E into Washington, Virginia (about ten minutes past Sperryville) is The Inn at Little Washington. http://www.theinnatlittlewashington.com/ (Go watch the flash animation, if nothing else, such pretty scenery shots and some not bad food porn. ; P ) I'm pretty sure you'd need to book in well in advance, although I have often been pleasantly surprised being able to slip in occasionally for lunch.

                Happy travels.

                Edited to ad: The Thornton Gap is the first gap in Virginia, after you get on the Skyline Drive in Front Royal.

                I don't know how you're getting to Front Royal, but if you have the opportunity and are at all interested in Civil War history (or, as Southerners call it, The War of Northern Aggression), you might like to investigate Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, which is an easy hour drive north of Front Royal. I think it was Thomas Jefferson that called Harper's Ferry the most beautiful spot in America..(so, the review is a little old). It features the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and the town is cute to walk around in, as well as the footpath along the rivers for walking and scenery and the fact that a lot of the historical buildings have been preserved, thanks to the National Park Service.

                1 Reply
                1. re: paxamicus

                  Thanks for this, paxamicus. As a foreigner, I'll stick with a fairly neutral "War Between The States". This will be our third trip into VA - the first was very much a trip following the War (Jefferson was possibly right about Harpers Ferry). This part of the trip is to catch some nice scenery before we head towards Charleston & Savannah

                  And, of course, catch up on good food. As we all know, tourists the world over never know about the "great little restaurant round the corner" and end up eating in the nearest tourist trap. Same in the US. Same in Britain. Until boards like this one came along.

                2. You might consider stopping at Chateau Morrisette for a winery tour and lunch: http://www.chateaumorrisette.com/inde...

                  1. Another one that gets high marks for its fried chicken is Bluff's Coffee Shop in Doughton Park, at Mile Post 241 on Blue Ridge Parkway.

                    1. OK. We’ve been & we’re back in the UK. Our thanks for the recommendations. Some we managed. Bad weather on the drive forced some changes in routes/timing which meant we were not at other recommended places at times we wanted to eat. This is how we did:-

                      Skyline - lunch – bought from J’s Gourmet in Front Royal. Sandwich/salad/chips/drink. Good food – ate it at a picnic site a few miles down the Skyline. Recommended. It looked like they have a small dining room as well for lunch.

                      Charlottesville - dinner at Bizou – great ambiance with an outside table on the Mall. The Mall had a very familiar European feel and Bizou’s menu seemed to reflect that influence. Mrs Brit started with pate and then had steak frites. She raved over the salad and its dressing (which was probably balsamic – it seems to be the default these days). I started with a blue cheese ravioli which had a nice tang without being overpowering. This was followed by duck breast which came with a squash puree and a cranberry sauce. I also had a side of kale which was finished with balsamic and made for a pleasantly interesting taste. It was all very good.

                      Charlottesville – breakfast at Chaps on the Mall. Egg and bacon sandwich for me. Bacon, hash browns, French toast for herself. Bargain basement prices – fantastic value even allowing for the great dollar/sterling exchange rate.

                      Charlottesville – lunch at Michie Tavern. Touristy as expected. Buffet lunch of fried chicken, pulled pork with veg and salads - mashed potato, green beans, beets, coleslaw and so on. With drinks, a shared dessert and tips, the price for two was about $38 – not cheap, but reasonable value all things considered.

                      Charlottesville – dinner at Downtown Grille. Chowhounds recommended steaks and steaks it was. They come with a starter salad of very chilled iceberg lettuce and a dressing of (you’ve guessed it) balsamic and bacon. We don’t see such a simple salad in UK restaurants and it made for a nice change. Mrs Brit had the 8oz filet mignon and greedy Mr B had the 16oz ribeye. We had a side of fries and one of stir-fried squash, peppers and onions. Good fries; excellent veg. The steaks were perfectly cooked and very tender. As we often find on that side of “the pond”, beef can be a little lacking in flavour compared with good UK steak and so it was here. At the Grill they claim to properly age it, so it must be something about differences between the countries in what the cows eat.

                      Parkway – lunch at the restaurant at Otter Creek. Sandwich/salad. We weren’t
                      hungry afterwards but that’s the best that can be said.

                      Hillsville – dinner at Countryside Restaurant. We stopped overnight just off the Interstate. Options were Shoneys and the Countryside. This was cheap and plain nasty. Amongst the worst meals I have had, anywhere in the world in my 57 years!

                      Hillsville – breakfast at the Hillsville Diner. Town redeems itself. Genuine old railway carriage diner. Sat at counter. Great experience. Had the hotcakes – are these a local speciality? They were a thin savoury pancake/gallette like we get in Europe, rather than the usual thicker US pancakes.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Brit on a Trip

                        I hope you enjoyed your visit. I went to college in Lexington, and am in love with that part of our country.

                      2. The Edelweiss in Staunton, VA serves up some very good German Food and is run by a very pleasant couple. The prices are very reasonable.


                        Edelweiss Restaurant
                        Reservations Appreciated (540) 337-1203
                        19 Edelweiss Lane, Staunton, VA 24401
                        Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.
                        Sundays from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jlawrence01

                          My late in-laws had a place in Wintergreen, and LOVED stopping at the Edelweiss to/from DC. What a happy memory you just brought up. The hosts/owners were indeed so gracious, and very nice food. Hope to get back there someday - house still in the family, but so far from NY.

                          1. re: Nancy C

                            My wife and I were staying at the Hessian House on our 1st wedding anniversary in 1985. We were directed to the Edelweiss for dinner that evening and the food was excellent.

                            Twenty years later, we were in the area and we went back to Edelweiss with a large group for our 21st anniversary, Food was very good and the owners really made an effort to make it a festive occasion including allowing my 10 year old nephew to play the accordian.