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Colonial Williamsburg

I am in the preliminary planning stages for a June trip to Williamsburg. Any dining do's (or don'ts) would be greatly appreciated. Our 6 and 12 year old daughters will be with us too.

Thank you!

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  1. Take them to at least one of the Colonial taverns. Our favorites are the King's Arms and Christiana Campbell's.

    1. I love Williamsburg! The taverns are a must! King's Arms is the best! For a casual lunch outside, go to Barrett's, they do seafood. If Downtown Short Stop is still there, that'd be a good place to go with kids. There is a place on Duke Of Glouster Street (DOG Street) called "A Good Place To Eat." I assure you, it is not. The Cheese Shop is a must for sandwiches, it's a wine shop with a deli counter. Get a picnic together and eat on the lawn in front of the Governor's Palace. If your daughters are girly girls, you might want to see if the Williamsburg Inn does a high tea. They might find that fun. Even the nicest restaurants in Williamsburg are generally family friendly because of the nature of the town. If you guys have a jones for comfort food or ice cream sundaes, there should still be a Friendly's on Richmond Road (where I worked in high school!) There's The Peanut Shop also that you should check out. They have candy, and the best Virginia peanuts. The girls certainly deserve a trip to Wythe Candy, right? My family is currently in mourning because they've stopped shipping their turtles.

      You are going to love it!

      5 Replies
        1. re: fussycouple

          I lived there for five years. Needless to say, we had lots of family visit. We moved a lot while I was growing up and Williamsburg was by far my favorite place we lived.

        2. re: eightlegeddj

          I seem to recall from our last visit that "A Good Place To Eat" had been replaced by something better. Maybe someone else could confirm.

          1. re: eightlegeddj

            Can you recommend something that is more teen boy friendly? I am also traveling with two teenaged girls. Thanks!

            1. re: eightlegeddj

              Fortunately, A Good Place to Eat is gone. Williamsburg Inn does do high tea. The W--burg Lodge across from the Inn has a similarly sumptuous brunch that is cheaper than the Inn because it doesn't serve unlimited champagne. The Greenleafe Cafe, down the street from DOG street, is a fun, casual place with tons of beer on tap.

            2. I'd like to echo the King's Arms recommendation. The atmosphere alone is worth the trip, but the food is very good as well. Have fun! I love colonial williamsburg - as a revolutionary war reenactor, it's kind of my job.

              1. I would recommend swinging by The Trellis Restaurant for their to die for chocolate desserts. Yum!

                Trellis Restaurant
                403 E Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185

                1. We had a good lunch at the Blue Talon a few weeks ago. We only bought wine at the Cheese Shop, but the lunch offerings looked great. It was packed - popular place.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: VaPaula

                    Been about five years ago, but the Colonial Breakfast (buffet style) at Williamsburg Inn was the biggest spread I ever saw for breakfast and had lots of traditional dishes and lots of stuff I'd never seen before for breakfast. Sausages, ham biscuits, eggs of all sorts, grits. It was delicious, even an oyster-based pudding-type dish was surprisingly good.

                    1. re: Potomac Bob

                      It's still a big spread, but very pricey b/c of unlimited champagne. A less costly but still elegant alternative is the breakfast buffet at The Williamsburg Lodge across the street from the Inn. No champagne, though you can get a glass from the Lodge's bar, but about a third of the cost of breakfast at the Inn.

                  2. For a high-end dinner out (if your six year old can behave herself) try The Fat Canary, right near Colonial Williamsburg. Much better than The Trellis, and a bit nicer and more interesting fare than The Blue Talon. If you are in the mood for pizza while there, let me recommend Florimontes, which also has good sandwiches. Florimontes is hidden behind a shopping center on John Tyler Highway.

                    For the absolute BEST sandwiches in Williamsburg, go to Carmine's, which is located a little bit out of the way in a strip mall at 6380 Richmond Road (near Rt. 199). (They have meat and vegetarian options.) Get them to go and bring them with you for a picnic in Colonial Williamsburg. While The Cheese Shop is not a bad place for cheese, bread, and wine, the sandwiches there are overrated beyond belief, and I am always surprised when people recommend it. It certainly isn't worth putting up with the crowds and wait.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: north2south

                      Love, love, love Carmine's...their chicken cutlet sandwich is too die for...and enormous

                      1. re: wellfedred

                        Try the roast beef with fried onions and provolone. The meatball sandwich is very good, too. Thinking of Carmine's actually makes me wish I still lived in Williamsburg.

                    2. Old Chickahominy House
                      1211 Jamestown Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185

                      (757) 229-4689
                      I have been to this restaurant once and loved it, they served ham biscuits and brunswick stew and pie. what more could you ask for? It is a drive from Colonial Burg.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: waitress

                        I've lived in Williamsburg for about 18 years and dining options are much better than ever before. I agree that the Kings Arms is the Best of the Colonial Taverns. I also agree that the Fat Canary is about the best for high-end dining, but dine regularly at the Blue Talon Bistro myself -- it is great and fine for kids. The Trellis remains first rate. Le Yaca is excellent for French cuisine. There are also some nice ethnic places, Chez Trinh (Vietnamese), Emerald and Thai Pot (both Thai), and Taco Mexicali (authentic Mexican, but no atmosphere). I would also suggest Food for Thought on Richmond Road. The Bray Dining Room at Kingsmill offers a great seafood buffet on Friday evenings. If you are looking for something good and less expensive, I'd suggest Hog Wild Smokehouse (although it's a bit of a drive from the Colonial area). They serve great barbecue and Cajun dishes. I also like the Cheese Shop for cheese, bread, sandwiches, gourmet food, and prepared food, and their basement wine shop is nice. You can pick up a nice picnic lunch there if you like. I hope you thoroughly enjoy Williamsburg -- it is a great place to visit and an equally great place to live.

                        1. re: waitress

                          I second this -- we just returned from a trip to Williamsburg, and really enjoyed breakfast at Old Chickahominy House. The unusual flat biscuits were addictive.

                          I would also recommend a stop at Sno To Go on Richmond Road for delicious shaved ice in a ton of flavors, "stuffed" with ice cream.

                          We had a very good pizza at Sals By Victor one night -- we ate there early in the evening and had the best bacon pizza we have ever had. (Although another night we ordered one quite late for takeout and it wasn't quite as wonderful, but still pretty good.)

                          One thing we were surpised by in Colonial Williamsburg -- although the taverns are open until 8:30 for dinner, EVERYTHING else in the colonial village shuts down at 6, except for a few walking tours and activities here and there that do not go into any buildings. The shuttle buses continue to run, though.

                          1. re: prose

                            Fat Canary, Blue Talon, and Berrets, Seasons all in the Colonial District are open later--maybe even past 11? The Green Leafe, which has all kinds of beer, is definitely open late.

                        2. yes yes yes..............blye talon and fat canary. awesome. flat ham biscuits at the chickhominy house(sp) are nuts...a little yellow mustard ...........aaahhhhh
                          get one for the ride home

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: PFAinATLANTA

                            Kings Arms Tavern is the best in the Town.

                            1. re: epicurious2008

                              Just curious, how late are the pubs open in Colonial Williamsburg? Will I be able to find restaurants/pubs open if I arrive around 10 p.m.?

                          2. Live in Yorktown; work in Williamsburg. The best restaurants on the Peninsula are in the burg, but the dining scene changes. Case in point, the famed Trellis has gone way down hill in terms of general food. Their famous Death by Chocolate dessert is still great, but other than that, it doesn't show me much. I was similarly underwhelmed by Le Yaca. Stuffy, overpriced, so 20 years ago French. You'll be much happier at The Blue Talon.

                            Cheese Shop is an institution for sandwiches. Be sure to ask for the house sauce on yours.

                            Fat Canary is wonderful, but a reservation is a must on weekends. If there are just two of you, it is great fun to eat at the bar. The bartenders are wonderful.

                            Blue Talon is great as well. Very authentic French bistro. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wonderful iced coffee. The liver and onions with sweetbreads and marsala is my favorite.

                            A Chef's Kitchen is a great experience. Former executive chef of Colonial Williamsburg and cookbook writer has opened a place where you get a full meal with wine pairings, and you watch him cook it, and he gives you all the recipes. Like being in the audience with Bobby Flay only John is much nicer. Reservations essential. Great fun, and I'd do this any time over a meal at a tavern. During the week, he does cheaper meals without the wine pairings.

                            Moving out of the colonial area to sushi--Hayashi on Richmond Road is fabulous. Get a dynamite roll.

                            The best barbeque is at Pierce's Barbecue. Written up in Southern Living all the time.
                            A shout out for a local's favorite goes to Five Forks Cafe (Diner?) on John Tyler Highway (if you visit the Rt. 5 plantations, it's on the way). Former pastry chef from aforementioned Blue Talon and hubby, formerly of several local restaurants have opened the perfect diner. Recently had some delicious strawberry crepes, and the Huevos Rancheros are great. Being a liver afficionado, I'm eager to try the liver and onions on the lunch menu. Only open for breakfast and lunch.
                            Bon Appetit!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: VAfoodie

                              just went to chef's kitchen this weekend. great fun. really an overall very good experience. all the food was good - not really anything that blew me away. but you get recipes and a really great lecture/experience with tons of food science and information. and the wine pairings were nice. would make a great date night or girl's night because there is built in "entertainment". john was very nice and so were the rest of his staff.

                            2. 2nd Street Bistro is one of my favorites everytime I'm there. Big salads, awesome bugers and sandwiches, and some down-home southern favorites with little twists. I love their shrimp and grits. Located on, duh, 2nd Street right outside Colonial Williamsburg area.

                              Pierce's BBQ. Casual BBQ dining, inexpensive, so good..worth the 30 minute drive from Norfolk to eat there :)

                              1. Any updates? We're going to be in Colonial Williamsburg the end of June until July 4 with 3 teens. We'll definitely have to try the tavern dining. We'd appreciate any other chowhounder recommendations. Thanks!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: mushimushi427

                                  i do think teens would like pierce's pitt for bbq and the sandwiches at the cheese shop. there's a REALLY divey place at the end of the colonial strip that had what i thought was great pizza but i don't remember the name. sorry - maybe someone can help!

                                  1. re: AMFM

                                    We'll put Pierce's Pitt on our short list. Thanks!
                                    Is VA pizza different from NY pizza?

                                    1. re: mushimushi427

                                      this pizza is pretty NY style. but i'm not much help since i can't remember it well. we stumbled across it. also, and i can't tell you if ANY are good, but if you've never been there before prepare to be blown away by the fact that i think there are more pancake houses per capita in williamsburg than anywhere else on the planet!

                                      1. re: mushimushi427

                                        let's just say that VA is not known for it's pizza. If you're looking for NY style you'll be disappointed in my opinion.

                                  2. We went to 6 Crabs and purchased 2 dozen large crabs steamed with bay seasoning. Delicious!

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: mushimushi427

                                      yum! the crab i had in tappahannock this weekend was amazing so i'm glad to hear! will have to check this place out.

                                      1. re: AMFM

                                        6 Crabs is a take out place, there are some tables but I certainly wouldn't eat there. The crabs were delicious. We supplied our own sides at our home away from homw.

                                        1. re: AMFM

                                          Is Tappannock just a place or is it the name of a restaurant?

                                          1. re: mushimushi427

                                            it's a town up on the rappahannock river. there are cuter ones but we were driving through. it's in the northern neck - you're in the area known as the middle pennisula. you could check out deltaville or matthews or cross up to irvington, white stone, or kilmarnock (all three of those are cute little towns). the tides inn is beautiful and world renowned - had a great meal there about a year ago. we were at a restaurant called lowery's which was divey and dated and the sides were horrible but the seafood was obviously fresh! wouldn't drive for that! :) sounds like you've found some good places.


                                            1. re: AMFM

                                              AMFM, Do you know anything about a barbeque restaurant near that town called Virginia Barbeque? I think there are a few, but one recently opened near me in Ocean Pines, Maryland. We have not found good barbeque since we moved to Delaware from the Carolinas. This place advertises two barbeque styles, "North Carolina" and "Virginia" so we are hopeful.

                                              1. re: Lewes17266

                                                i don't. sorry i can't be more helpful! you can try and post but i guess if you're desperate you might as well try it out yourself. :)

                                                1. re: AMFM

                                                  We tried Virginia Barbeque last weekend and liked it a lot. The Carolina-style is pretty close to what you find around Lexington. We will go back for sure. It puts the Bethany Blues pulled pork barbeque to shame.

                                      2. The taverns are a good suggestion, as well as the gingerbread cookies from the baker on Duke of Gloucester St. My kids always liked the College Deli by William & Mary for subs/sanwiches. Across the diagonal street from the College Deli (you'll know what I mean geographically once you see it) is a place with "Green" in its name. It might be something like Green Pine Inn. I can't remember the exact name, but they have good food and large pitchers of quality beer. Yeah, I know, you have young kids, but a pitcher of Hefeviezen(sp) from there is good.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. we have friends staying at a time share (king's creek plantation) in february, but we'll be visiting nearby for a couple of days. here is the list of restos the place puts out.

                                          we want a good southern breakfast with homemade sausage, biscuits, etc.
                                          we love authentic bbq and fresh seafood, country french and quality italian. we also like "country fare" with game and good vegetables, breads. a good pub, too, for quality beer without (necessarily) tourist trappings.

                                          what from this list would you recommend? or something not on the list! http://www.kingscreekplantation.com/r...

                                          thanks in advance.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Hey alka, we were down there a couple of weeks ago. Check out my "Quick Williamsburg Report" on this board.

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              For bbq - Pierce's BBQ
                                              I've heard really good things about Sal's by Victor Italian Restaurant.
                                              The King's Arms has very traditional food - peanut soup, game etc.
                                              Second Street Bistro is southern food with a really good bistro flair - I'm a big fan of this place.

                                              Pierces Pitt Bar-B-Que
                                              E Rochambeau Dr, Williamsburg, VA 23188

                                              King's Arms Tavern
                                              422 W Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185

                                              Second Street Bistro
                                              140 Second St, Williamsburg, VA 23185

                                              The Original Sal's by Victor Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
                                              1242 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185

                                              1. re: krisrishere

                                                On a recent trip to Williamsburg I tried Pierces Pitt BBQ. It does not resemble anything that a North Carolinian calls BBQ. It is minced pork drenched in a thick sweet sauce that overwhelms any taste of the pork. The restaurant was jam packed at 2:00 pm on a Saturday so it does appeal to a great number of people but this is just not my thing. I had recommended this place to people before based on articles and other reviews but would never suggest that a person who likes true ENC or Leington BBQ to even bother.

                                              2. re: alkapal

                                                I notice the list on the Kings Creek site has several restaurants that have closed. As far as what's still open...
                                                Pierce's is great BBQ, but Hog Wild smokehouse is also great. A bit farther away, but they also do cajun dishes, so there's lots of choices for everybody (and often a wait on Friday and Saturday nights).
                                                Quality beer/pub with tourist trappings- Chownings Tavern. W/O trappings- try Pauls Deli (not on the list, but across the street from the College Deli which is)...
                                                Country French/ bistro- Blue Talon (not on the list)
                                                Quality Italian (a little more of a challenge in Southeastern VA)- Giuseppes is the best choice. It isn't like many of the all-to-similar Italians restaurants in the area and actually does some different dishes including risotto.. Hope this helps and you haven't already traveled...

                                                1. re: marshmaven

                                                  thanks. the trip was postponed due to the big snow. i'm bookmarking your recommendations for future reference.

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Me too -- please keep any and all recommendations coming! What do you favor at the King's Arms? It doesn't seem there are any vegetarian options -- is there a tavern that is better than others in the non-meat department?

                                                    Is lunch at a tavern any different from dinner? It seems for half the price it might be OK to skip dinner... thoughts?

                                                    Any and all current recommendations for a family with tween girls would be most appreciated.