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Apr 4, 2010 06:08 PM

Review--Vacation meals in Williamsburg, VA

We are just back from a long weekend in Williamsburg and wanted to share reviews of the restaurants that we visited. We made most of our choices based on recommendations from this board. I should say that each one of these restaurants was a much better value than we usually get when eating out on vacation. The prices were very reasonable.

Five Forks Diner--Very friendly service, classic diner atmosphere. The menu was a bit limited but we liked everything we tried for dinner, including Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Fingers, Roast Turkey and a Hamburger platter.

The Cheese Shop--Yum. It was a gorgeous day to eat outside and the outdoor atmosphere is charming. Indoors was another matter. It was a very busy Saturday and the sandwich counter area was bedlam. There is not enough space indoors to have an orderly system of ordering or waiting for sandwiches. Between waiting to order our food and waiting to pick up the food, we spent nearly an hour at the store before we ate a thing. That said, the sandwiches (tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad and pastrami) were very good. I'd love to try more. I would just make sure to go at a "off" time.

Pierce's Pitt BBQ--Okay, this place is NOT about atmosphere, it looks and operates like a fast food restaurant. That said, we sure enjoyed getting our food quickly and it was very very good. I would definitely go back there for pulled pork. The hush puppies were the best I've ever had and even the fries were pretty good. The kids meal ribs were a bit spicy for a kids meal, so avoid that unless your kid is used to spicy food.

Chickahominy Inn--Eating here, I felt like I was a character in a classic movie about the American South like Steel Magnolias or Driving Miss Daisy. Everyone in the restaurant and store seemed to already know each other. The service was exceptionally friendly and accommodating. We enjoyed the ham and biscuits and Brunswick stew (chicken soup was a bit bland) and sweet tea. The portion sizes are smaller than we are used to, but that just leaves room for pie. We tried three different kinds of pie and each one was perfect.

La Tolteca--Friendly service, huge menu, reasonable prices. Big margaritas. It wasn't the best Mexican food I ever had, but it was perfectly fine.

Five Forks Cafe
4456 John Tyler Hwy, Williamsburg, VA 23185

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  1. As a local here's some advice:

    Cheese Shop- I'm pretty sure they have a menu online by now, but best bets are to call in your order and pick it up outside or on the far right side of the counter. If you want to be a true local- just get a bag of bread ends and some of their house dressing. You can peruse the store, but the only "down time" there is either right when they open (though this is debateable and depends on the day), around 3 in the afternoon or when it's raining.

    La Tolteca is okay for mexican in Williamsburg, but Tequila Rose is the best...the rest of the reviews are spot on. For higher end eating try Fat Canary or the Blue Talon Bistro..
    Also in the CW area, Aroma's, which is a 2 minute walk from the Cheese Shop, is stellar and a local favorite.

    Fat Canary
    410 Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185

    Blue Talon Bistro
    516 S Henry St, Williamsburg, VA 23185

    Tequila Rose Restaurant
    7207 Merrimac Trl, Williamsburg, VA 23185

    1. As another local, I highly recommend two places for "evening out" type dinners. The Fat Canary (the dinner restaurant associated with the Cheese Shop), has very creative, fresh menu items, and a great atmosphere. Even when the restaurant is full you can usually get served at the bar without too much of a wait. I also recommend the Cafe Provencal, which is actually located in a hotel, but is worth the trouble of finding. Again, the menu is interesting, fresh and seasonally based, and the scallops especially are usually memorable.

      Fat Canary
      410 Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185

      2 Replies
      1. re: nameci61

        I really appreciate these local weigh-ins. I'll be visiting CW soon with 2 adolescent puppies and alpha dog ( or something). Our pack will be slightly impecunious following admission prices and period-accommodations - can you please give some indication of how pricey these recommendations are? I would love to find tasty, possibly-period locales for dinner (or lunch too for that matter) that are priced lower than higher. I don't even know what "lower" means in this market. I'm not used to paying much more than $15 for an entree, but that might be unreasonable in Williamsburg.

        Thanks tons.
        Thanks for any suggestions-on-a-budget.

        1. re: aliris

          I don't know about the Cheese Shop, but the other four establishments drcmk described are lower priced, even for a tourist town. BTW, It is the Old Chickahominy House (not Inn), it is only open for breakfast and lunch, and it may have a wait depending on the hour. But it's worth it.

          Another suggestion: In CW, Chownings Tavern has table games and might be a good choice to make a reservation for supper. It shouldn't be too expensive (but the food won't be outstanding, either. However, you are going for the atmosphere, and that may be the best CW choice for the whole family).

          There is a free ferry across the James River (beside Jamestown), and from there it is a couple of miles drive to Surry, home of the Surry House Restaurant. Peanut Soup and Peanut Pie. Surry is also the home of Edward's Virginia Ham, sold at high-end deli counters across the USA. The ferry ride alone is worth the time. Take something to attract the seagulls.

          If you happen to have a Member Card for your local public radio or tv station, I recommend ordering the one for Virginia (for only a shipping charge, I think). There are several local Williamsburg restaurants included with 2 for 1 deals.