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Jun 10, 2009 06:16 AM

Recs? I-81 in VA from Maryland border to TN

Well be driving south along the full length of I -81 at the end of the month. We're interested in recs for home cooking, bbq or the best local food within 10 miles of the Interstate. Traveling with DH and 2 grade school children.

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  1. In Harrisonburg, there's the Little Grill Collective. It's a laid-back "hippie-ish" (but not vegetarian) kind of place, and there would be plenty that your kids would like.

    1 Reply
    1. re: profjmm

      Would second this place as something a little out of the ordinary.
      Here's a link...

      (Note that they only accept cash and checks)

    2. The very best food: . I always stop at the K&W whenever I am in Roanoke, Va. Probably the closest one for you coming off I-81 would be the one right off the I-81 exit I-581 then take the I-581 Exit 3E.1609 Hershberger Road at the crossroads mall. Phone: 540-563-4977. They also do a great breakfast.

      1. If you're looking for excellent home cooking, go to the Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba, VA (just 7 miles off I-81 west of Roanoke). It's in a converted farmhouse, and they serve grand southern feasts family-style. They don't have a website but here's a link with a lot more info. about the place:

        4968 Catawba Valley Dr
        Catawba, VA 24070
        (540) 384-7252

        Another different option is If you're looking for excellent cuisine that prides itself on sourcing from local farms. There's an exciting new restaurant in Roanoke called Local Roots Cafe. Very interesting because the chef does one part "slow foods movement", growing their own herbs and having relations with dairies and farms, but they also experiment quite adeptly with molecular gastronomy. So you can get everything from hearth-baked fresh pizzas there to avant-garde dishes rendered with pectin and liquid nitrogen.

        Local Roots Cafe
        1731 Grandin Rd
        Roanoke, VA 24015

        Tues - Sat
        11 - 3 Lunch
        5 - 9:30 Dinner

        11-2 Brunch

        They also have an approchable kids menu.

        As their website is currently down, here is an article about the restaurant:

        and here is the chef's blog:

        3 Replies
        1. re: mikeh

          the home place sounds great. i wish i'd known about it after i was finished sitting for the bar in roanoke a few years back. do they serve lunch and dinner every day?

          if jwg and family go there, it sounds to me like they'll need to check into a local bed & breakfast for a nap after lunch!

          1. re: alkapal

            I found an article with Home Place's hours:

            4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 3 to 8 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays

            It might change depending on the time of year so they should call to find out.

            As for Local Roots, I get e-mail newsletters from them, and here are some of their recent menus (noting that they change something like weekly):

            Kid'S meNu !

            Granola 4
            Grilled cheese 4
            Polenta 4
            Slice of cheese pizza 3
            Bowl of homemade oat cereal and homestead creamery milk 4
            Bowl of seasonal vegetables 4


            QUICK STARTS

            Garlic Crostini, Parmesan
            Local Lettuces, Parmesan, Lemon, Sea Salt

            Fresh Mozzarella, Parmesan, Herbs
            Fig Jam, Local Apple, Goat Cheese, Greens, Truffle Oil
            Bacon, Tomato, Cheddar
            Or Choose :: Garlic, Caramelized Onion, Bacon, Chicken, Greens,

            FAST MAINS

            Apricot, Garlic Aioli, Organic Greens
            Goat, Mozzarella, Parmesan,
            Tomato Sauce
            Local Apple, Cheddar, Honey Mustard
            Honey-Wheat, Goat cheese, Garlic Aioli
            OUR BACON
            NRV Hydro Tomato, Local Lettuce, Aioli
            Chicken, Beef or Vegetable
            Cheddar, Smoked Salsa, Organic Greens
            Cheddar, Smoked Salsa, Organic Greens



            Yoder's Hydro Tomato, Greek Oregano, Mozzarella 10
            Lamb Stir Fry, Thai Red Chili Sauce, Shiitake, Soba 11
            Braised Pork Tacos, Salsa, Cheddar 10

            BIG PLATES

            ½ Roasted Chicken, Garlicky Polenta, Siberian Kale, Honey Jus 18
            Short Rib 'Sous Vide', Carrot Puree, Siberian Kale, Red Wine 21
            Beef and Pork Sugo, Local Roots Pappardelle Pasta, Parmesan 16
            Hawaiian Marlin, Shiitake, Seaweed Salad 25
            Thyme Crusted Lamb Saddle, Tomato Provencale, Shiitake, Kale, Lamb Jus 22


            Soft Chocolate, Hazelnut Shortbread, Ginger Ice Cream 7
            Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, BliS Maple Syrup 7
            Chocolate Cake, Mascarpone Sorbet, Coffee Caramel 7
            Yuzu Sponge Cake, White Chocolate Meringue, Spruce Water, Lemon Gastrique 7

            1. re: mikeh

              mikeh, thanks for the hours at the homeplace.

              boy howdy, at "local roots", i could definitely go for this pizza: Fig Jam, Local Apple, Goat Cheese, Greens, Truffle Oil

        2. One of my top 5 restaurants is The Log House in Wytheville,Va. I had the best strip steak there. I believe my sister had grouper. It was very good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sixties child

            We had a very nice dinner there as well.

            There's also Skeeter's in Wytheville. A neat old place with great dogs.


          2. The kids might get a kick out of the Pink Cadillac Diner, which is near Natural Bridge VA--less than 30 sec. off I-81, exit 180-A. Decent burgers etc. Elvis type theme.

            Based mostly on reading reviews, I would mention three places for more serious eats. Google them or search the boards here for more info:

            Thai Siam near Arrington VA--a carry out mostly but some claim it's the best Thai food in North America. Somewhat more than 10 min. from I-81 tho.

            Ridgewood BBQ in Bluff City TN. Excellent q. But hard to find and odd hours.

            Town House Grill in Chilhowie VA. Very high level, fine modern cooking. Excellent reviews. Destination restaurant. Expensive but cheap for what you get, according to those who've been. I think open only for dinner. Probably not for kids, but maybe yours think differently.

            4 Replies
            1. re: johnb

              Town House is spectacular. I wouldn't take kids there, and it's dinner only.

              Mrs. Rowe's in Staunton--southern home cooking; very reasonably priced. Excellent pies.

              In Salem, Mac and Bob's (exit 140--American), Mamma Maria's (exit 137--Italian) and Awful Arthur's (exit 137--seafood) are good bets.

              Ellis Soda Shoppe in Abingdon (exit 17) has an extensive menu of great food and is kid-friendly. Be prepared to wait if you go for lunch.

              1. re: ToriB

                I second Mrs. Rowe's. Not fancy, but good southern food. We stop there often for breakfast on the road. And always take a pie to go.

                1. re: ToriB

                  I just moved to rural Southwestern VA from Toronto, Canada and am shell-shocked on a number of fronts, not the least of which is the lack of roti shops. At any rate, I was in Abingdon on Labour Day weekend and went to Ellis. The soda was remarkable and the food was very good diner fare.

                  As much as I like the vibe at Huddle House, I know there must be some good food in Appalachia...

                  1. re: doubtc


                    i'm sorry for your predicament, but i had to laugh at "not the least of which is the lack of roti shops".

                    good luck. and learn to make rotis. you might start a fad.

                    you'll meet fellow hounds. don't worry!