Roanoke VA- where to find a flawless dinner and breakfast for 2, money is no object.
I'm planning ahead for a road trip (just me and my spouse) along i-81 in October and we will be spending a night in Roanoke/Salem VA along the way unless we change our route (unlikely but you never know). We'll be exhausted after the long drive when we arrive, so I'm doing a bit of homework to ensure that we don't have a bad or mediocre meal. Being well-fed (quality not quantity) and refreshed for another leg of our road trip is the goal, so I'm in search a restaurant for dinner, and one for breakfast that represent the best of Roanoke.
From browsing around the web I found a few restaurants that seem like they would be a good fit, but I haven't seen many reviews on Chowhound (I don't trust the reviews on yelp) and I'm hoping for some recent feedback. It's going to be hard to pick just one, they all look so good I wish I could try them all:
1) Lucky Restaurant - French/new American. The menu looks great, had mostly good reviews on yelp but a very negative complaint on their kitchen execution that has me second-guessing.
2) Blue Apron - Technically in Salem but I'm wondering how it compares to Lucky, the cuisine is similar so it would be nice to know which is the better restaurant.
3) Table 50 - New American. saw numerous complaints about overcooked meat on yelp, reviewers seem to love it or hate it.
4) River and Rail- Southern New American, local seasonal food, menu looks great!
5) Local Roots- Farm to table, seasonal food, some unusual ingredients on their menu
6) Downtown Soul Roanoke - we're new to southern soul food, this looked interesting but I couldn't find a lot of reviews. They also seem to close early for dinner, I'm not sure if we'd arrive in Roanoke before they close.
1) Blue Collar Joe's - Even if we pick a different place for breakfast, we may stop by here to get some doughnuts and coffee for the road. I saw a positive CH review on this one and was hoping for recent feedback. Who doesn't love doughnuts? Especially fresh apple cider doughnuts.
2) Bread Craft Cafe - French press coffee is not something I see offered every day, croissants and breakfast menu looked good even though it's a short one.
3) Famous Anthony's - local chain with a good reputation
4) Thelma's Chicken and Waffles - sounds like a the place for a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.
5) Tudor's Biscuit World - are the biscuits really that good? I haven't had a biscuit yet that really knocks my socks off.
So if anyone has feedback on any of these places I'd love to hear it. Also if there are any outstanding places you'd like to suggest, that would be great too. We're looking for great food that is unique to the region or friendly/gentle on a traveler's stomach (nothing spicy).
Thanks in advance!
Downtown Soul Roanoke
304 1st ST Roanoke, VA 24011
18 Kirk Ave SW Roanoke, VA 24011
210 E Main St Salem, VA 24153
309 Market St Roanoke, VA 24011
River and Rail
2201 Crystal Spring Ave SW Roanoke, VA 24014
1314 Grandin Rd Roanoke, VA 24015
Blue Collar Joe's
1171 Roanoke Road Daleville, VA 24083
Bread Craft Cafe & Bakery
106 S. Jefferson St. Roanoke, VA
Thelma's Chicken and Waffles
315 Market St Roanoke, VA 24012
2221 Crystal Spring Avenue SW Roanoke, VA 24014
Tudor's Biscuit World
23 Church Ave SW Roanoke, VA 24011
We had the most scrumptious chicken and waffles of my life at Thelma's Sunday (as well as a very nice bloody mary). The skin on the chicken was perfectly crisp and tastily seasoned. I might drive 3 1/2 hours next Sunday for the fried chicken alone.
We had dinner at Lucky on Saturday night. I had a "handsome devil" cocktail that was some delightful concoction of muddled lavender and hibiscus with bourbon. Yum!
Next we had a bacon-blueberry salad and a Ceasar. The bacon-blueberry salad was divine, with generous portions of bacon and blue cheese. We split the duck quarter and it was perfectly prepared. It came with what was termed "risotto," but that was a misnomer to be nice. It was more of like seasoned rice, but definitely *not* risotto.
Lucky had a hip vibe, with red walls and ceilings. The concrete floors and high ceilings did not do anything to help the noise level, which I found too loud for my tastes. However, the food was good++, the waitress super friendly and engaging, and a chic ambiance which led me to enjoy the evening.
Price wise - the cocktail was $9, the salads $5 and $6 respectively, and the duck was $21 I think
It's been about a year since I've been back, but I've eaten at a few of the places on your list.
Local Roots was overall very good. If memory serves, I had some sort of cauliflower soup (I really liked it), chicken 3 ways (liked 2 of the preparations but not the third, just a personal preference on my part, not bad prep on theirs) and a creme brulee (not very memorable). Very friendly service, cute little restaurant.
Thelma's Chicken and Waffles is a good, stick to your ribs, Southern style breakfast. It's very no-frills, nothing fancy, but just good basic food. It was slammed the day we were there (there was a parade downtown), so service was very slow, but very polite.
I've only been to the Famous Anthony's in Blacksburg, but I'd hazard a guess that the Roanoke one is about the same. I used to like breakfast there, but it is more of a greasy spoon type location.
Blue Collar Joes is closed :(
Not that you need to add to your list, but my college roommate who lives in Roanoke always recommends Frankie Rowland's Steakhouse to people for dinner.
I would second the recommendation for Hotel Roanoke. I can't remember when the farmer's market dies down for the year, but on weekends with good weather there are some great farmer's stands in the downtown area.
If I were selecting just one for dinner it would be Blue Apron. Pleasant atmosphere, professional and accommodating service and very good food. I think the food is a little better than at Lucky and the service much better. They also have different feels. Lucky is very dark and cozy - at times so dark it's hard to read the menu - but is good for an intimate dinner. Blue Apron has a more open feel.
Since money is no object, stay at the Hotel Roanoke, a historic railroad hotel (now managed by Doubletree/Hilton) and have breakfast there, and avoid any parking issues.
I'm interested to see the responses on breakfast; my girlfriend loves breakfast, and I've yet to find a place in Roanoke that really stands out.
Tudor's is ok, but it's mainly a breakfast-biscuit place. Honestly I haven't been that impressed when I've gone there.
I haven't tried Thelma's signature dish, but when I tried one of their regular breakfast platters I was sort of underwhelmed. It was just basic and uninspired, and didn't even benefit from large quantities.
Here's what my friend had to say:
"I think the choices on the CHOW message board look good, although Thelma's might have moved (I think they closed and reopened), Blue Collar Joe's is indeed sadly gone, and good luck finding Tudor's, or parking. I'm not sure I've ever had a biscuit from there, but they are a fixture."
Thanks very much for passing along your friend's advice. The info about Tudor's parking problem was very helpful and it sounds like they're busy, we're likely going to be in a rush for breakfast in the morning so it might not be the best choice for our situation. For breakfast we're leaning towards the Bread Cafe or Thema's (I'll double check the address).