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Liz Johnson

I-81

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Lurking in this forum before a recent trip to DC proved fruitful: excellent dinners at Nectar and Firefly and the dim sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico. Thank you!

Now for a more difficult task. I'll be driving through Virginia (and PA and Maryland and West Virginia) on Interstate 81, which seems to have nothing but fast food. Anywhere I could stop for something out of the ordinary or especially well-made? What about barbecue?


Edited by Liz Johnson (log)

Liz Johnson

Professional:

Food Editor, The Journal News and LoHud.com

Westchester, Rockland and Putnam: The Lower Hudson Valley.

Small Bites, a LoHud culinary blog

Personal:

Sour Cherry Farm.

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unless you are willing to drive a bit inland, yes 81 is a wasteland. Harrisonburg has a couple of restaurants (none I've personally been to) but that whole corridor, well, lacks a certain sophistication...


"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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Sorry, no good 'cue that I'm aware of.

However, the Southern Kitchen in New Market, VA (exit 264) has killer fried chicken. Veggies are so, so, but the chicken is top notch. I'm not a peanut soup fan, but folks tell me their's is a respectable version.

If you're a grease stain fan, Jess's Lunch in Harrisonburg (exit 247 -east, about two blocks up on the left) has a good chili dog. I usually get 4 when I'm there.

Doug, Luray, VA

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Not sure how far south you are going in Virginia, but Rowe's Family Restaurant in Staunton is a great, old-fashioned, country Sunday supper kind of place. It is just about where I-64 crosses I-81. Look for the giant Cracker Barrel sign - it is just across the service road from there.

I always have their impeccable fried chicken, but other dishes are supposed to be first rate as well, e.g. pork chops. The never-ending basket of yeast rolls is heaven, and the house-made pies fantastic. Sides are just passable. Place your pie order with your dinner order to make sure they do not run out of your favorite. I think there is a good write-up on Roadfood.com.

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Not sure how far south you are going in Virginia,

All 800-plus miles. I'm actually headed to Tennesee. Thanks. That's not the first time I've heard that Rowe's suggestion, so I'll try to give it a shot.


Liz Johnson

Professional:

Food Editor, The Journal News and LoHud.com

Westchester, Rockland and Putnam: The Lower Hudson Valley.

Small Bites, a LoHud culinary blog

Personal:

Sour Cherry Farm.

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Stop in Middletown, VA at the Route 11 potato chip factory. They have some amazing flavors and you can watch the chips being made. Try the Dill Pickle chips!

In Harrisonburg, VA there is a BBQ restaurant called Smokin Pig which has very yummy pulled pork at cheap prices. Get a fried pickle on the side. And you can take one step to your right and get an icecream at Kline's icecream stand that is attatched to the building.

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Folks swear by the pork chops at the Southern Kitchen in New Market. Best ever, they say! Believe I will try that myself next chance I get!


Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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In Harrisonburg you should try Luigi's pizza. Harrisonburg's about an hour from my house and I still drive there to satisfy my Luigi's cravings. Hand-tossed pizzas, endless list of toppings, great sauce, hippy/college town atmosphere, good beer selction.

I also second the Southern Kitchen in New Market. I've hear good things about the BBQ place in Strasburg. I've never eaten there and can't remember the name of the place but there's a billboard for it on 81. Sorry, that's about it for that stretch - McD's, truck stops and Cracker Barrel abound ....


Some say the glass is half empty, some say the glass is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

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I apologize if this post is too late to help, but I found myself in the same spot this weekend - driving down I-81 with no idea of where to get good food. Through some friends and some chance, we ended up at an excellent spot in Chilhowie - the Town House Grill. It's off Exit 35 on I-81.

The Town House Grillis different from the home / country cooking that's been mentioned above, so mebbe not what you were looking for. But, if you're looking for well prepared food with fresh ingredients, I'd highly recommend this place.

My girlfriend and I each had excellent meals. We ordered entrees off the specials list - I had pork loin with an apricot reduction served with mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus, while my girlfriend had a veal chop with baked new potatoes and asparagus. Both were delicious. We ended the meal with a tasty key lime tart. Service was a little iffy - the waitress was very efficient, but not nearly knowledgeable enough to do justice to the food.

(This is my first post here - I'm a bit nervous about it as the food knowledge on this board seems extraordinarily high. Hopefully my descriptions help!)

Hello there. This is my first post,

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Hello there.  This is my first post,

Welcome! And thanks for the tip.

I also got these tips from Chowhound a couple years back. Has anyone heard of or been to any of these?

Strasbourg Hotel — Strasbourg, Va.

Haag’s Hotel — Sharlesville, Pa.

Ridgewood Barbecue — Johnson City, Tenn.


Liz Johnson

Professional:

Food Editor, The Journal News and LoHud.com

Westchester, Rockland and Putnam: The Lower Hudson Valley.

Small Bites, a LoHud culinary blog

Personal:

Sour Cherry Farm.

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Hello there.  This is my first post,

Welcome! And thanks for the tip.

I also got these tips from Chowhound a couple years back. Has anyone heard of or been to any of these?

Strasbourg Hotel — Strasbourg, Va.

Haag’s Hotel — Sharlesville, Pa.

Ridgewood Barbecue — Johnson City, Tenn.

I know this isn't great help but I used to eat at Hotel Strasburg about .... 13 years ago. It was good then (but I was also 17 at the time so...). They still serve the dish I loved which I believe was called Shenandoah Chicken - chicken breast in an apple cider reduction, stuffed with ham, apples and peanuts. This months Washintonian (not the most reliable source, I know) mentions Hotel Strasburg as a good place to eat in the Valley and specifically mentions this dish.


Some say the glass is half empty, some say the glass is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

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I was in Strasburg two weekends ago on a camping trip. Had very good fried chicken at the Hi Neighbor Restaraunt. There is also a good little Ice Cream stand near the main antique mall. Next to it is a decent Mexican place who's name escapes me.

The brewery in Saunton is not too bad....a little chainesque. In Lexington, the Southern Inn used to be pretty good as well.

And for bonafide southern truckstop food, Lexington Restaurant (Lex Rest) on 11 just outside of town.

Drive safely!

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Liz,

Haag's is in Shartlesville, which is exit 8 on I-78 east of Allentown. It's pretty good, I enjoyed breakfast more than dinner. The sausage was outstanding.

I second eljo's rec on Mrs. Rowes, don't know why it escaped me before. Exit 222 east in VA.

Have never been to Ridgewood, but friends whose judgement I trust like it. I believe it's actually located in Elizabethton, about 10 mile east of Johnson City. I don't know if it's worthy of a somewhat lengthly detour from I-81, depends on your trip pace.

The spot in Chilhowie sounds great. I will definately hit it the next time I'm down there.

Doug

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Violinos in Winchester isn't far off I-81. For Brazilian fare, Tucanos is also nearby.

Haven't been to either one since moving west two years ago.

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I'm back.

Dinner on the way down was at Luigi's in Harrisonburg, Va. What a fun place! The thin-crust pizza with artichoke hearts, mushrooms and onions was perfectly delicious, but I'm also a bit of a ranch dressing freak, and I felt right at home here. They make a great ranch (creamy, dilly, herby, etc.), and everyone there dips pizza, calzones, whatever! into their ranch bowls. Don't mock it till you try! The music and the crowd were very college hipster — something you hardly ever seen in NY.

I peeked into Mrs. Rowe's when we stopped for gas, and it looks cute, but average. Better than Dick Monalds, for sure, but I don't know if I'd go out of my way. I didn't get near Southern Market.

Also stopped at Ridgewood Barbecue in TN, and I wrote about that on the Southeast forum.

On the way home, we ate at Momo's (yes, Steven) Barbecue in Dayton, TN for lunch. Great, great smoky pulled pork sandwich, awesome meat-to-bun ratio, and sweet cole slaw. Very good. If you ever find yourself headed to the mock Scopes-monkey trial at Dayton's courthouse (held each July), you should make time for Momo's. It's take-out only, but there are a few picnic tables.

We stayed overnight in Strausburg, Va. at the Hotel Strausburg. The most bizzare thing: at the bar we met a couple who lives not 2 miles from us at home, and at dinner, the woman at the table next to us was originally from the next county over. Anyway, somebody had mentioned this place makes a mean mint julep, but that must have been a Derby Day fluke, because the bartender looked at my husband like he was an alien when he asked for one. We had some Virginia wines instead. (Not bad! Not great, but not bad!)

We had a smoked trout platter with capers and artichokes and a salad with nuts and gorgonzola and the sweetest dried cranberries I've ever tasted. Both of which were a relief to our barbecue-weary systems. We also tried the chicken Shenandoah — which was drowned in that sauce, but acceptable; and the North Mountain pork chops, which were overcooked. It was an OK meal, but next time I might stick with the apps.

The hometown couple we met at the bar recommended a Bulgarian (?!?) place in Winchester called Cafe Sophia. Next year!


Liz Johnson

Professional:

Food Editor, The Journal News and LoHud.com

Westchester, Rockland and Putnam: The Lower Hudson Valley.

Small Bites, a LoHud culinary blog

Personal:

Sour Cherry Farm.

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