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81-S (PA to Asheville, NC)

Need your recs for great food, easy- access restaurants. Give me your best, must try- Diners, Dives and Drive-ins! (Am I asking for too much....?!)

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  1. i made that trip last year on a trip to maine.


    i can vouch for the burgers at the glass lounge. they were quite good. skip the fries.

    1. Wow, I have made this trip (PA to Charlotte) often and I am not aware of any decent food stops on 81-S. It's a total truckers wasteland. At least as far as I know. If there is decent chow to be had I'd be thrilled. I imagine the best food would be in Roanoke/Troutville/Salem area. Or maybe something in Harrisonburg near the JMU campus.

      3 Replies
      1. re: lynnlato

        We have to find something! This is the only place I've found so far: Skeeter's


        I'd like to try to find something else because I've not had a hot dog in over 10 years!

        1. re: Displaced California Foodie

          DCF, okay Skeeter's definitely looks worth a stop. I read some review by "a bunch of dirty hippies" whose appetites probably would of been satiated by a bag of Doritos but they said the place was awesome. Ha!

          Speaking of hippies, I found this place called The Little Grill Collective in Harrisonburg VA which looks promising. Another hippie place but it's been around since 1940 and is closed on Mondays b/c they serve a community meal. Interesting. Here's a link: http://www.littlegrillcollective.com/ Here's another link for Harrisonburg recs and some reviews of The Little Grill Collective: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/504879

          Search Chowhound for Roanoke and Harrisonburg and see what you come up with. Then, please let us know how you make out. I certainly could use some options other than Mickey D's and Wendy's!

          Safe Travels!

          1. re: lynnlato

            Wonderful! The Little Grill Collective looks great. Thank you!

      2. As suggested by others, there isn't much. Best single place is Ridgewood BBQ near Bluff City Tenn. Odd hours and long lines however--also not easy to find. There is a place near Natural Bridge Va called the Pink Cadillac Diner. Interesting decor and half decent low-end diner food. There are a few decent places around Abingdon Va--I don't remember names, but try a search. Same for Front Royal. Same for Johnson City, Tenn, where there is a college and the usual student type places.

        Other than Ridgewood, best to save your appetite for Asheville.

        1 Reply
        1. re: johnb

          Just saw on another thread a mention of a place called Skeeters in Wytheville, Va., said to have great hot dogs. The post was about Dec 27 2007 on the link below.


        2. We drop our kids off at camp in the Shenandoah Valley and often stop at The BBQ Ranch- a homey little BBQ place just north of Harrisonburg on Route 11 right off I-81. I believe the exit sign just says Route 11 - its near mile marker 257. You go south on 11 for about 1 mile. Anyway, its not a BBQ destination like Ridgewood in TN(mentioned by an earlier hound) but they have good fried shrimp and fried chicken platters. Very down home - same waitstaff for 30-years. Certainly beats any fast food joint and right off the highway.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gina Miller

            Thanks John B, Gina and lynnlato and mark.
            I appreciate the suggestions and I'll post upon my return to give feedback.

          2. You should get off the road in Lexington. I can't vouch for great meals, but Cocoa Mill on West Nelson (according to the Wall Street Journal and me) makes some of the best American chocolate you'll have and there selection is extensive. And Lexington is worth a visit with or without a meal.

            1. Roma's at the Stephens City exit (just south of Winchester Va) will do you fine if you like Italian/Greek. About 20 seconds off I-81 to the North. Very good drink selection, the basic pastas and pizzas and calzones and greek salads and such -- all done better than you would expect for that area. Nothing else in the Winchester/Stephens City area that is easy on/off except for every chain you can imagine.

              1 Reply
              1. re: justicat

                Thank you everyone for your recs.- maybe I'll skip Asheville and just drive up and down Route 81! ; )
                We will definitely stop at the Cocoa Mill. Thanks again to all!

              2. I can vouch for Skeeter's. My family's favorite is slaw dogs. I'm afraid the place has been hit by inflation, though. The price climbed 3 cents over a year ago. Bleve it's now $1.27 for a hot dog.
                You might also like the Texas Tavern in Roanoke. A tiny place witn a sign that says "We can seat 1,000 people - 10 at a time). That's on 10 stools. A very limited menu including a soupy chili, and hot dogs. Beware: Service of hot dogs is slow. It took a good 15 seconds from the time I ordered mine til it arrived. Their regular cheeseburgers are great. They also have a cheesey hamburger that you can get topped with a thin egg omelet. Dessert: limited to a personal bag of a brand name of cookies (I forget, maybe Oreos). They have another sign: "we don't cash checks or play with bumblebees." it's that kind of place. They have fast turnover. If you wish to wait for one of the stools, when we were there, there were a half dozen people waiting in front of us and 4 of us got seats within 10 minutes. The joint has its own parking lot and it's right in the middle of Roanoke's financial district, with huge banking and financial buildings surrounding it. There's also a walk-up takeout window in the front where we heard lotsa people ordering 15 or 20 hotdogs each. Of course, they had to wait probably a full minute to get their order.
                114 Church Ave., SW, Roanoke, VA. 540.342.4835. Open 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. Closed Sundays.

                1. If finding your way around Roanoke for the Texas Tavern seems challenging, go down I-81 another 30-40 miles or so, and go to Dude's Drive In in Christiansburg Va. The burgers are awesome (the hot dogs are pretty good, too). Very, very, thick milkshakes are available to complete the hardening of your arteries.

                  Dude's is just off the interstate. Get off at US-11 and head towards Christiansburg. The place is on the left, after you pass a bunch of auto dealerships and go under an underpass. If you stick around long enough, maybe you can catch a movie at the neighboring drive in!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: alonzo

                    Thanks Potomac Bob and alonzo - the recs sound great.
                    I ate a hot dog last week (first I had in about 10 years) to prepare myself for the road trip! It's not a good situation for the driver to get car-sick! I'm all prepped for the trip!

                    1. re: Displaced California Foodie

                      The Little Grille Collective is going to be closed during the week of AUG 11!!!
                      UGH!! Can anyone recommend a good place for Bfast in Harrisonburg or Lexington VA?

                  2. I know this is an old post but I happened apon it and figure other folks probably do too. I moved to Wytheville in Jan of 2008 and let me tell you.. this is a great little town! There are a LOT of restaurants available from national chains (ie Ruby Tuesday, Applebees, Shoney's, Cracker Barrel) but there is a wealth of local flavor as well! El Puerto is an awesome Mexican restaurant. (Im from Texas so I know good Mexican food!) Also there is Peking.. a locally owned and operated Chinese Restaurant that is realllly good and very reasonably priced. Kimono's Japanese and Thai Restaurant opened a few months ago with a hibachi grill and sushi bar that is AWESOME! Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theater has great food AND a show.. and The Log House is simply exquisite. There is also Fran's Deli, Snow House Cafe, Troy's Philly Cheesesteak, Skeeter's and Ocean Bay Seafood. I am very excited about my new home but find that people who live in the area tend to forget things that have become so familiar. Wytheville is a growing little town but has a great homey feel and lots of local flavor, lot of very nice, clean and some brand new accomodations. So if its been a few years since you visited.. come on back! You will be surprised!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: T_Que

                      Thanks to everyone for the recs. Here is an update:
                      Went to Texas Tavern on my way to Aheville: great burgers, yes a little out of the way- but worth it. Burgers were great, and I my order was handed to me so fast, I thought they were handing me a bag to hold until the burgers were ready- but they were already there!!! I think it took less than 2 minutes til my order was done. (nice, clean restroom at the restaurant next door!)

                      Skeeter's- hot dog was described as "red" but it is actually "hot pink" almost fluorescent and my bun was pink from the dye. It was horrible- yyeeech. The restaurant was nice and staff at Skeeters were great. Just the hot dog was yukky in my opinion- inedible. Tasted nothing like a hotdog. Took one bite and had to stop!
                      Dude's drive in- shakes great, opens at 7 AM and passed thru at 9 AM on my way back- burgers fresh and hot- needed salt but were good. Nice clean place.
                      The little grill collective was closed during my trip.