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Jun 19, 2009 06:21 AM

Harrisonburg Recommends...

Since Harrisonburg, VA doesn’t have its own board, nor dare I say does it deserve one, I’ve started this thread in the hopes that other valley dwellers might contribute. There are many threads concerning dining in H’burg, but mostly by out-of-town visitors, and most of the recs come from the large transient student population. So where do the long-time residents eat and what do you think? I know there are other local chowhounds, so speak up! (Of course, anyone is welcome to respond!)

And, if there are no responses, I hope to report back anyway. :-)

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  1. To begin...

    I had resisted going to Dona Rosa’s for a long time. I don’t know why because I’ve had Rosa’s cooking before and it was wonderful. Anyhow, my SO and I went there last night. The decor and ambience wasn’t much different from the previous occupant – Macondo’s, dark and cozy, rustic and welcoming, well almost. We stood around for a while before anyone came to seat us (or acknowledge us for that matter).

    A waiter finally seated us, but blocked access to my seat. I had to stand there until he got out of the way. A different waiter came, handed us the menu and asked for our order. “We need a little more time...” After the rough start, drinks and food were ordered and the evening was very pleasant.

    I decided on the Pollo con Mole and it was delicious! It came with a spoonful of black beans, refried beans and rice, just enough to compliment the large portion of chicken. The mole was perfect - unexpectedly bitter and sweet with a hint of cinnamon, but never overpowering. The complimentary salsa was served with homemade chips, and it was fresh and flavorful.

    A few boisterous patrons were mildly disruptive, but the place soon settled into an intimate dining experience. Overall, the food was excellent and made up for the mediocre service. Pricing was very affordable also.

    6 Replies
    1. re: cuccubear

      Yes Harrisonburg!! This board popped up on my minifeed and made me so excited. I don't live there anymore, but still visit as the bf's family lives there.

      In response: The guacamole at Dona Rosa's (or avocado salad i think it is called) is so delicious. Dona Rosa is amazing!!! Also, the bf who grew up in Harrisonburg highly recommends the taco truck, even for veggies. I will find out which ones particularly and what it is he always orders, he raves about it.

      Other all time favourites are Little Grill, especially for downhome night on Fridays. I would always get the vegetarian ribs, mash potatoes with mushroom gravy, collared greens and cornbread. With either the carrot cake or the massive cookie for desert... delicious.

      Other topics to be discussed: Indian Food. Bombay courtyard used to be my favourite, the small portions were the perfect size and such a great price. American Indian is OK but as a Brit, it never managed to satisfy. Last time I was in town we went to the new Indian restaurant off University Blvd- i think it was called Taste of India (hmm sounds familiar, re: Taste of Thai..) and it was pretty good! I got the Saag Paneer and was quite happy with it. Prices were good, not sure about the service as we got food to go.

      Lastly, the best doughnuts I have ever had in my entire life were at the Farmer's Market held on Saturdays. A Mennonite stall where they had made the doughnuts that morning.

      1. re: ClaireyMary

        All those places are very good. I've only been to the Little Grill for breakfast but always enjoy it.

        Taste of India is the best Indian in the area, IMO. A bright, colorful place.

        BTW, I checked out your blog, and I bet that zombie cake was fun to eat!

        1. re: cuccubear

          Yes it was yummy! Although the amount of food colouring that i used was a bit offputting.
          The boy said the taco truck is called "Tacos El Primo" and is the only one worth going to, there are two- one by Reservoir St off Holly Ct. He gets the torta.

          1. re: ClaireyMary

            Guana Chapi was my favorite! However, it so much Mexican, but El Salvadorian. However, I cannot find it anymore. It was located behind Saigon Cafe in the parking lot of a small Mexican tienda. There is another El Salvadorian one down the road from Ciro's on 33 but I haven't tried it. Does anyone know where Guana Chapi went or what happened to it AND has anyone tried any great place to get pupusas???

            1. re: gunden2819

              I used to go to La Pupuseria in Dukes Plaza for a really enjoyable meal. I heard they changed hands and I haven't yet been back.

              1740 Country Club Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802

            2. re: ClaireyMary

              In the few weeks I've been in town, I've found the Tacos El Primo on S. Main to be consistently better than the one on Reservoir (where everything's been under-seasoned on my visits). The one on S. Main is pretty great.

              I've also been fairly impressed with the tacos at El Sol, especially their tacos campechanos (combination of carnitas and pork skin sauteed in hot sauce). I can't get enough.

              El Sol
              91 E Elizabeth St, Harrisonburg, VA 22802

      2. Reporting back for my second meal at Taste of India. They have done it again! The whole experience was terrific.

        Chicken Tikka Massala this time, with Garlic Naan, Onion Bhajia appetizer, Flying Horse Lager, and Kheer for dessert. Everything was spot on delicious.

        The staff is so friendly and attentive. It helps too that the Hostess is a Harry Potter fan like me, lol.

        1. I give a hearty recommendation for the Pueblo Grande Mexican Grill, on South Main. The food was wonderful, and the dining room light and airy. Service was standard, but they were friendly, good-humored and knowledgeable.

          Pueblo Grande has all the appearances of just another Mexican eatery, but when the food arrived, I could tell it had been prepared fresh. The Chori-Pollo, a chicken milanesa topped with ground Mexican sausage, was full-flavored and tender. Standard sides were refried bean and Spanish rice. I typically hate Spanish Rice, but I ate every grain and “mopped the plate” with the tortillas.

          The expected tortilla chips and salsa were delicious as well, served with two kinds of salsa, mild and very picante. It’s hard to tell, but I think the latter is also prepared fresh in house.

          The menu is varied, with all the tacos, enchiladas, burritos and tamales, but the “specialties” are truly the star of the show. These were things that I haven’t seen at other Mexican places, with the exception perhaps of Doña Rosa.

          Mexican restaurants come and go around here, but I hope this one stays for a long time.

          1. Hi:
            We're "Snowbirds". We migrate every six months between Narragansett Bay and Stuart, Florida, We stay in Harrisonburg(Village Inn). Tonight we tried Franklin's, a Café and Wine Bar. Wine selections were eclectic, good, and moderately priced. Small plates were imaginative. Grilled pizza was outstanding. We'll be back!

            Franklin's Cafe and Wine Bar
            50 S Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

            1 Reply
            1. re: trail 6

              Sorry to report that Franklin's is no more. They closed recently. I happen to think that's a bad location. There's no place to park, and if you sit outside you're right next to the street on a very busy intersection. The fumes alone would have kept me away.

              Please come back though, there are new places opening all the time!

            2. I went to Areperas Las Chamas the other night, downtown on Mason Street, and sad to say was disappointed. I was hoping for a plateful of flavorful food that would introduce me to Venezuelan cuisine and blow me away with Caribbean flavors. Regrettably, the food was rather bland and flavorless, not just mine but that of my mate’s as well. There were subtle flavors throughout but I really had to concentrate to find them. I thought the accompanying sauces would liven up the meal, but they were oddly bland as well.

              The portions were very generous. I had the “Camarones a la Vinagrette” – mixed sautéed vegetable (peppers, onions) with six shrimp that were very over-cooked and leathery, rice, a yucca salad that was reminiscent of a creamy potato salad, and a stack of tostones.

              All in all, the meal filled my belly, and I ate everything on my plate, but I’m not likely to rush back for seconds. The dining room was cold and sterile with a few splashes of Venezuelan local color by way of large photo-prints. The waiter was more interested in the TV than in us, letting us wait until we were nearly done to ask if we wanted another drink.

              The drinks they offer are home-made smoothies and I think I saw some Jarritos on the counter for sale as well. I had the Tamarind batido which was the hi-lite if the meal. The durazno batido I had later was as bland as the meal.

              Maybe it was me, maybe it was a bad night, but unless I hear rave reviews I doubt I’ll be going back any time soon.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cuccubear

                I went to Las Chamas today with friends. Food was very good and not at all bland. I had the pabelllon criollo (the arepas were very good) and a friend had the cachapas. It has only been open for a week so I would interested if your go again. The pleasant and very friendly owner gave us samples of various foods/drinks and we will definitely be returning.

                1. re: Harrisonburger

                  It's been open for more than one week since I went a month ago. If I hear more recs like yours, I might try it again. I would love for this place to succeed.