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Cruising Virginia's Shenandoah Valley? We've got the best restaurants, cafes, and drive-ins to tempt your tastebuds, calorie counts not included.
Winchester: The Valley’s Best Pulled-Pork BBQ
Okay, so that’s just my opinion, but if you happen to be traveling through Winchester, don’t miss the Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery, which is auspiciously located about halfway between the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and the Patsy Cline House. Here you’ll find down-home Southern cooking extraordinaire. Pull up a picnic table, and eat pulled pork BBQ smoked on outdoor cookers, spicy chicken salad (another dish I highly endorse), homemade mac and cheese, fried apples, and buttermilk biscuits.
Other local southern fare you’ll find here include fried oysters, catfish, shrimp and grits, collard greens, and pinto beans. And there’s nothing quite as deathly decadent as the bakery’s cheddar and bacon biscuits. You might as well go the full Monty on the calorie load and have a beer or locally made apple cider with your meal as well!
The Bonnie Blue also sells local produce and dairy products.
Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery
334 West Boscawen Street, Winchester,
Stephens City: Divine Dishes at a Restored Mansion House
I have to admit historic architecture is my thing, so I’m delighted to spend the night at the Inn at Vaucluse Spring, just outside of Stephens City. Part of the inn occupies a 1780 manor house. Barry and Neil Myers have been operating the house and surrounding cottages as an inn since 1995.
“We’re escapees from Fairfax County,” says Neil. “We wanted to move to the country, and we fell in love with the property.”
The inn has 15 guest rooms and suites, though my favorite part is the manor house front porch where rocking chairs are lined up to take in the distant view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But to be quite honest, despite the fact I spend an evening in a cottage with a fireplace and whirlpool bath, it is Chef Adam Policinski’s culinary delights that really thrill me here.
Policinski has been with the inn for six years and serves up breakfast each morning along with dinner five days a week. How did this Johnson & Wales University-trained young chef end up in the rural countryside of Frederick County? Well, with a laugh, Policinski explains he found himself out of work when the owners of a resort where he was employed got arrested for embezzlement.
“And here’s Adam who just bought a house!” he exclaims. So initially his landing at Vaucluse Spring was one of desperation, but years later, he’s still here. “It’s a good fit,” he says. “I can be creative here. I don’t make the same thing every day.”
The inn serves dinner with reservations Tuesday through Saturday. Some of the decadent options you may encounter here are poached scallops with pickled mushrooms, radish, and compressed celery or beef short ribs with celery root puree and Brussels sprouts.
The Inn at Vaucluse Spring
231 Vaucluse Spring Lane, Stephens City,
New Market: Retro Dining With Comfort Fare
OK, so I’ll admit to being calorie-conscious, but every once in awhile, I let my awareness slip for the sake of indulgence in serious Southern comfort food. One of the best places to find it is in New Market, with real 1950s-style road-trip fare at the Southern Kitchen. With its nostalgic neon road signs, it draws in even the most apprehensive of travelers to sit in vinyl booths and take in the diner atmosphere.
I highly recommend one of their open-faced sandwiches…like turkey and mashed potatoes served over wheat bread and slathered in gravy. Uh-huh, that hits my comfort sweet spot. Also, be sure to check out the Southern Kitchen’s famous fried chicken and peanut soup!
9576 South Congress Street New Market, 540-740-3514.