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Jun 27, 2010 05:54 PM

I-81 & beyond (no more Cracker Barrels!)

please help! Stuck in Cracker Barrell because Mother's in Bristol is closed. I-81 thread is old & am traveling Tuscaloosa,.AL to New Palltz, NY with 3 kids. Need cheap good local eats. Health is nice, but a meat & 3 or two is good too. Thanks in advance! Do this drive a few times a year & need a good list along te way.

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  1. When are you leaving and where are your planned places to stop for the night. Are you going to drive all the way without a break. It's about 20 hours to NY from AL. You can make it to Bristol in 7/8 hours. Are you in a hurry. Do you have time to stop in Knoxville for lunch. Litton's is best there. Troutdale Bistro is the best in Bristol.
    Tell me some more. Thanks.

    Troutdale Bistro @ 724 State St., Bristol, TN 423 - 989 - 3663.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Littleman

      We were in Bristol when I originally posted this. I have to learn to scout things out better before we start out. We tried to go to a meat & 3 in Bristol called Mother's recommended on a 2006 thread, but it was out of business. We tend to do the drive in 2-3 days, so, yeah, Bristol was where we were by dinner time. Next time maybe we'll try Troutdale Bistro. We have stopped for lunch in Knoxville before & found decent deli food on the University campus before hanging with the kids in the awesome fountains. Definitely a good stop.

      I did use the Trip Advisor ap on my Palm to find a better lunch spot the next day on this trip. In Winchester we lunched at Thai Winchester (24 N. Loudoun). The chicken pad thai was pretty good. We prefer it a little less sweet, but any complaints we had were more than made up for by the service & ambiance. N. Loudoun is a street roped off for strolling in the Historic district & has outdoor dining. The restaurant has a kids menu & they brought the kids free desserts, even though it wasn't listed as part of the meal.

      Unfortunately, by dinner in Scranton, we couldn't find anything on the Trip Adviser except chains & ended up at 5 Guys, which admittedly has good burgers, but I need to hit the NE board so we don't end up there again if possible.

      1. re: csweet

        we'll be headed back that way august 1st if anyone has any suggestions for the return trip (or christmas when we do it again). thanks!

    2. Ooh, thanks for posting this. I travel I-81 from i-77 to central PA and it is a wasteland of Cracker Barrels, McDonalds, Wendy's, Subways, etc. I will be following this thread in hopes of finding some hidden gems along the way.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lynnlato

        CSWEET....Here's a few tips driving N from TN to N VA. I assume you can make it to Chattanooga before a road food stop. There's a place on I 75 heading N out of Chattanooga at Exit 5 on Shallowford Rd. called Country Place for great breakfast/lunch.

        Country Place Restaurant @ 7320 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 423 - 855 - 1392.

        Before you reach Knoxville get off I 75 at Exit 373 on the S side and hit the first street left on Parkside and go about a mile to Smokey Mountrain Brewery for pizza, burgers and steaks. Get back on I 75 and head N on I 75/I 40 past Knoxville.

        Smokey Mountain Brewery @ 11308 Parkside Dr., Knoxville, TN 865 - 288 - 5500.

        The folks that own Smokey Mountain own Copper Cellar just N of SM at Exit 380 S of I 75 on Parkside also convenient to plenty of shopping and just a minute off I 75. Both places are similar.

        Copper Cellar Restaurant @ 7316 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 865 - 673 - 3422.

        Phil's Dream Pit BBQ is excellent at Exit 67AB near Kingsport, TN go E on I 26 just a minute to Exit 10 then go N on Eastern Star Rd. a minute. About 5 minutes off I 81.

        Phil's Dream Pit @ 534 Eastern Star Rd., Kingsport, TN 423 - 349 - 6437.

        Just N about 10 miles on E side of I 81 is Dixie Outpost BBQ if you prefer at Exit 69. Go E on # 394 a mile or two then turn left or N on # 126 just a few minutes to Dixie.

        Dixie Outpost BBQ @ 3172 Highway 126, Blountville, TN 423 - 574 - 7447.

        Troutdale Bistro is the place for lunch/dinner in Bristol, TN.

        Troutdale Bistro @ 724 State St., Bristol, TN 423 - 989 - 3663.

        In VA you can find good road food at Abingdon, VA at Peppermill or Parks Mill BBQ at Exit 17 off I 81.

        Parks Mill BBQ @ 21405 Parks Mill Rd., Abingdon, VA 276 - 628 - 9191.
        Peppermill Restaurant @ 967 West Main St., Abingdon, VA 276 - 623 - 0530.

        On up N on I 81 in Wytheville, VA stop at Smokey's BBQ at Exit 70 or 73. Peking Chinese Restaurant is outstanding also. C J's Pizza is good if you have kids.

        Smokey's BBQ @ 1090 East Main Street, Wytheville, VA 276 - 228 - 9014.
        Peking Chinese Restaurant @ 105 Malin Drive, Wytheville, VA 276 - 228 - 5515.
        C J's Pizza @ 1025 West Lee Highway, Wytheville, VA 276 - 228 - 8448.

        In Fairlawn @ Exit 105 is Troy's Steaks and Pizza but it's 10 minutes or so W of I 81 and W of Radford in Fairlawn in town. Good place for road food.

        Troy's Steaks, Subs and Pizza @ 7339 Peppers Ferry Boulevard, Fairlawn, VA 540 - 731 - 4611.

        In Christiansburg just on up the road a piece is Dude's, Due South, Farm House and Summit. All are very good places to eat.

        Dude's Drive In @ 1505 Roanoke St., Christiansburg, VA 540 - 382 - 7901.
        Due South BBQ @1465 Roanoke St., Christiansburg, VA 540 - 381 - 2922.
        Farm House Food @ 285 Ridinger St., Christiansburg, VA 540 - 382 - 4253. .
        Summit Restaurant @ 95 College St., Christiansburg, VA 540 - 382 - 7218.

        I'm gonna take a break and come back. Good luck.

      2. Roanoke has quite a few nice restaurants but they are mostly in town. The restaurants near I 81 don't compare. If you should spend the night in Roanoke go check out these places for good road food. Blues BBQ, Fork in the Alley for pizza, burgers, sandwiches, Harbor Inn Seafood, Hollywood's Restaurant and Bakery for lunch/dinner, The Roanoker for breakfast and Wildwood Smokehouse BBQ.

        Blues BBQ @ 107 Market Street SE, Roanoke, VA 540 - 344 - 5683.
        Fork in the Alley @ 2123 Crystal Spring Ave. SW, Roanoke, VA 540 - 982 - 3675.
        Harbor Inn Seafood @ 7416 Williamson Rd., Roanoke, VA 540 - 563 - 0001.
        Hollywood's Restaurant and Bakery @ 7770 Williamson Rd., Roanoke, VA 540 - 362 - 1812.
        The Roanoker Restaurant @ 2522 Colonial Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 540 - 344 - 7746.
        Wildwood Smokehouse @ 2041 Electric Road, Roanoke, VA 540 - 989 - 2100.

        There's a great restaurant several miles W of I 81 W of Roanoke at Exit 141 serving outstanding country food, good fried chicken and deserts in an old home.

        Home Place Restaurant @ 4968 Catawba Valley Dr., Catawba, VA 540 - 384 - 7252.

        Just a little N of Roanoke at Exit 150A/150/B is 3 Little Pigs.

        Three Lil Pigs BBQ @ 120 Kingston Dr., Daleville, VA 540 - 966 - 0165.

        Lexington, VA has a number of good restaurants like Bistro on Main for lunch/dinner, Macado's for sandwiches, Sheridan Livery Inn and Restaurant for lunch/dinner, The Palms for lunch/dinner and drinks and Soutern Inn for fine dining lunch/dinner. Lexington is the home of VMI and W&L U. It's a beautiful town a few minutes W of I 81 and worth a visit.

        Bistro on Main @ 8 North Main St., Lexington, VA 540 - 464 - 4888.
        Macado's @ 30 North Main St., Lexington, VA 540 - 464 - 8201.
        Sheridan Livery Inn & Restaurant @ 35 North Main St., Lexington, VA 540 - 464 - 1887.
        The Palms Restaurant @ 101 West Nelson St., Lexington, VA 540 - 463 - 7911.
        Southern Inn Restaurant @ 37 South Main St., Lexington, VA 540 - 463 - 3612.

        Staunton is just W of I 81 and a very nice town also. It's home to Mrs. Rowe's country food breakfast, lunch and dinner, Wright's Dairy Rite, Staunton Grocery for casual fine lunch/brunch/dinner and The Depot Grill.

        Mrs. Rowe's Family Restaurant @ 74 Rowe Rd., Staunton, VA 540 - 886 - 1833.
        Wright's Dairy Rite @ 346 Greenville Ave., Staunton, VA 540 - 886 - 0435. I81/EXIT220. ***
        Staunton Grocery @ 105 West Beverley Street, Staunton, VA 540 - 886 - 6880.
        The Depot Grill @ 42 Middlebrook Ave., Staunton, VA 540 - 885 - 7332.

        Harrisonburg has quite a few fine restaurants convenient to I 81. There are BBQ Ranch, Calley's Restaurant and Brewing Co. for good BBQ also, Dave's Downtown Tavern for good food and drinks, Donna Rosa for good Mexican, Jess' Quick Lunch, Joshua Wilton House Inn and Restaurant, Little Grill for breakfast, Local Chop and Grill House for fine dining, Smoking Pig BBQ and Village Inn.

        BBQ Ranch @ 3311 N Valley Pike, Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 3296.
        Cally's Restaurant and Brewing Co. @ 41 A Court Square, Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 8777.
        Dave's Downtown Taverna @ 121 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 564 - 1487.
        Dona Rosa @ 43 Linda Lane, Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 442 - 7672.
        Jess' Quick Lunch @ 22 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 434 - 8282.
        Joshua Wilton House @ 412 South Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 4464.
        Little Grill @ 621 North Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 3594.
        Local Chop and Grill House @ 56 West Gay St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 801 - 0505.
        Smoking Pig @ 56 East Wolfe St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 433 - 3917. I81/EXIT247AB.
        The Village Inn @ 4979 South Valley Pike - S Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 7355.

        Just up I 81 a few miles is Southern Kitchen serving outstanding country food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Exit 264.

        Southern Kitchen @ 9576 South Congress St., New Market, VA 540 - 740 - 3514.

        On past Strasburg at Stephens City is Butcher Block BBQ @ Exit 264.

        Butcher Block BBQ @ 131 Town Run Lane, Stephens City, VA 540 - 869 - 4141.

        The Naked Oyster is a great place for lunch/dinner at Winchester at Exit 31A.

        Naked Oyster @ 2444 Valley Avenue, Winchester, VA 540 - 678 - 0778.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Littleman

          We stayed in Harrisonburg for a weekend with 2 kids. Hank's Smokehouse in McGaheysville, about 8 miles out 33 off of 81 in Harrisonburg was really good food. The ribs were more to my liking than the pulled pork. They also have an interesting sister restaurant, the Thunderbird Cafe down the road.

          We ate at Southern Kitchen in New Market and found the food and service to be really good. (And if you are ever there on the 4th, get there about an hour before closing, eat dinner, stay in the parking lot and you have an awesome view of the fireworks!) The fried chicken was very well done, although not the best I've ever eaten. Wouldn't recommend the mashed potatoes. Blackberry pie was good.

          Southern Kitchen
          606 S Madison St, Whiteville, NC 28472

          1. re: aekbooth

            In the Bristol/Abingdon area of I-81 I have a few places I've been meaning to try. I have relatives in the area and used to love to go to the Starving Artist Cafe, but perusing on the web I see that it has closed the Abingdon location. I found that it's now in Bristol as Greene's Starving Artist Cafe ( I'll try to take it for a spin the next time I'm in the area.

            In the course of looking for the Starving Artist I saw several recommendations for Pop Ellis' Soda Shop in Abingdon (, so I think that one will go on the list to try sometime, too.

            In the teensy town of Meadow View (outside Abingdon on 1-81 before Marion) you'll find Harvest Table ( which is a local farm-to-table restaurant co-owned by Barbara Kingsolver's husband Steven Hopp. It's gotten rave reviews and has been on my list of places to try ever since I read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle".

            In Chilhowie, Va, just a bit further SE, is the Town House restaurant (, which i supposed to be amazing. I've not been, but I have an acquaintance who has who raved about it. Here's a NY Times article about it: .


            Town House
            Chilhowie, Chilhowie, VA

            1. re: panchodog

              Just an update, Town House closed a few years ago. Although plans are in the works for the chef to come back and put on occasional dinners in the area. Not a quick, inexpensive option..

        2. Thank you for posting! We are headed in same direction- had excellent BBQ at Sugar's Big Time BBQ in Chattanooga TN, exit 181A off Rt 24. They have wonderful goats that the kids will love --and a beautiful view! Nice staff also.