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Va., Roanoke - weekend trip report

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I found very few mentions of Roanoke on this board when I was planning my trip, so thought I would give a report for other searchers.

I had a nice lunch at Padow's Ham and Deli. This is a clean, bright space with simple furnishings. They sell and ship Virginia hams, peanuts and other items. You order at the deli counter, self serve beverages and the bring your food to the table. This is a great spot to get supplies for a pic-nic too – nothing fancy, but they cover all the basics quite well. My lunch was “The Sailor”, pastrami, knockwurst, Swiss, mustard and onion on rye. The bread was a tad soggy, but the flavors were delicious! I would return.

http://www.padows.com/index.cfm/sid.249

Several people I spoke to during my visit suggested a new place downtown called Meze, specializing in small plates with a Mediterranean bent. Once one fellow realized I was comfortable driving/exploring he suggested Isaac's Mediterranean in Grandin Village. This is the original restaurant of the owner of Meze. So, off to Isaac's I went.

Isaac's appears to be a local favorite, reservations would be wise for weekend dining. Decor is contemporary, pleasant live music which still allowed easy conversation, professional service. Menu ranges from small plates, sandwich/wraps to entrees with a good amount of local, seasonal ingredients. I went with the nights special, local lamb with a peach/yogurt sauce and local chard as a side dish. The lamb was tender and flavorful, the sauce didn't do it for me, but it wasn't bad. The chard was amazing, slightly charred and absolutely delicious. The food was prepared to order, so I had a fair amount of time to sip my wine. My only quibble, a little bread or something would have made the wait nicer. The apps looked wonderful, but after inquiring about the size of the entree and being told it was big, I felt an appetizer would be just too much food for this solo diner without a kitchen for leftovers.
I plan to return and explore the menu further.

http://temp.theisaacsrestaurantcom.of...
http://meze.food.officelive.com/defau...

Now for the bad. I ventured into the international food court in the City Market and tried the worst excuse for a Cuban sandwich ever. (I have no expectations for the bread outside of Florida.) This was made with exceptionally poor quality ham and Swiss, a tiny (covered perhaps ¼ of the sandwich) amount of roast pork, yellow mustard and the blasphemy of a (one) sweet pickle chip. Sweet pickles and Cuban sandwiches should not be discussed in the same breath. I am still stunned by how bad this was. Sandwich came with a salad straight out of a premix bag with a nasty Sysco dressing.

A past poster had recommended the Hyatt by the airport – I second that! A lovely, well kept facility with spacious rooms - each has a mini fridge and cafe table by a small sink/ bar area. Complementary continental breakfast has a few nicer than usual touches, with a fruit salad including pineapple, expanded juice selection, along with hot/cold cereals and breads. Egg dishes available for purchase. Food is available 24/7 at a counter in the lobby that has an assortment of cookies, pastries, salads and sandwiches. Hotel is by a mall with a good amount of chain restaurants in easy reach.

Other food related finds:
*Roanoke has a very nice food co-op. Vibrant, good selections and a small attached cafe. Gluten free beer too!
http://www.roanokenaturalfoods.com/
*The City Market had lovely produce, potted herbs and local meats.
http://www.downtownroanoke.org/market...
*Close to the market is a small kitchenware shop with a great selection of goodies, many of which I had not seen before.
http://www.ladlesandlinens.com/page.home
*Also in the market area is a shop with a very good selection of chocolates, and an assortment of hostess gift/ entertaining items.
http://www.chocolatepaperroanoke.com/

Hope this helps future visitors. Please add your discoveries to this thread! I hope to return to Roanoke soon!

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