As much as I love DC, there’s another place that also holds the designation as “home” in my heart. That place is Roanoke, VA. I technically grew up in Salem, but went to college at Hollins University in Roanoke- so the whole area is home. I’ve been away for almost 6 years, but am still absolutely charmed by the city every time I go to visit. The mountains, the people, the architecture. It’s all great. Like I mentioned in my post about The River and Rail, things seem to be picking up just in the past couple of years. Maybe it’s because I was blind to things when I actually lived there, but I really think the city is improving and growing. And man do I miss those mountains. So much so that I’ve tattooed them permanently onto my arm. They’re always with me.
I made a trip home over Memorial Day Weekend and thought that would be a good time to take a bunch of pictures for a post to share some of my favorite things about the city with you. I’ll be splitting this into 2 or 3 posts to make sure I cover everything. First, the food!!
The River and Rail
I’ve already written a whole post about the wonderful River and Rail. Seriously. The best food I’ve ever had in Roanoke in my entire life. It’s one of the reasons I know Roanoke is on the right path.
Texas Tavern is a dive joint just on the edge of the center of downtown Roanoke. As you can see from the picture, you can get a full meal for well under $5. The menu isn’t huge, but it’s perfect late-night or hangover food. There is only one row of stools, so if you get there during a busy time, you might be waiting for a bit, but it’s so worth it. I recommend a Cheesy Western with (this means with onions) and a bowl of Chile.
Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea
Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea is were Roanokers fulfilled their coffee needs WELL before Roanoke got its first Starbucks (which wasn’t until I was in college, so 2006?). I’ve spent many hours sitting in each of the locations (there are about 5 all over Roanoke, Salem, Daleville, and beyond the Roanoke Valley), doing homework, hanging out with friends, just killing time because there was nowhere else to be. The menu is huge, any coffee, tea, smoothie, drink you could possibly want. They also have some pretty great baked goods and even sandwiches and salads. It’s definitely a place to dip into if you find yourself near one.
The Market Building
The city market building sits in the very center of downtown and was just remodeled a few years ago. It basically serves as a food court for downtown. There’s a great variety of things there, everything from noodles and dumplings to vegetarian fare to subs to hot dogs. Anything you could want. I recommend Fork in the Market and Firefly Fare.
Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint
I first went to Jack Brown’s just before we left town to head to our New Year Eve plans. It’s also in the center of downtown. My parents had been recently and told me all about it. They had really creative burger toppings and a great craft beer selection. Burgers and beer, can’t beat that! It was a perfect meal to end our Christmas visit.
Oh, the bistro. I’ve talked a little about it before and I’m sure I’ll do a whole post on it in the future. It’s located a few miles from downtown, near Hollins University. It’s actually tucked in beside a gas station, but don’t let that fool you. I started working there just a couple months after they opened and worked there for all of college. It’s where I really learned how to cook- where I learned how to toss pizza dough and how to properly season food. If you want good greek comfort food, this is your place. The pizza and calzones are my favorite and the baklava is to die for. Greek Night is certainly worth checking out. If you do go, tell Irene and Chris that Melody says hello. And see if you can find my picture framed in the restaurant. Oh, and make sure you sit on the veranda if the weather is nice and take in that amazing view of Tinker Mountain.
Ah, Macado’s. This is one of the places I have missed the most since I moved away. I’ve found other sandwich places in DC with huge menus, but I still haven’t found a sandwich that rivals my ‘Do’s favorite, the Bobagger. I’ve been ordering it consistently for like 15 years and haven’t gotten tired of it yet. I’ve had a lot of great times at Macado’s- it’s a great place to go with a group. I celebrated my 21st birthday there, and still to this day, marvel that you can get a pitcher of Blue Moon for under $10. Just imagine how cheap a pitcher of Miller Lite is…
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of all the places to eat in Roanoke, there are so many I missed! These are just the ones I keep returning to time and time again. So Roanoker’s, what did I miss? What do I need to try next time I’m in town? I’ve heard A LOT about Lucky. It’s definitely on the list for my next trip. Some other friends of mine have been talking about Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles, too.
Up next, Roanoke: The Sights!