FARM-TO-TABLE FOOD, ROBUST WINE
AND CRAFT BEER SCENES, AND EXCELLENT CULTURAL
OFFERINGS TAKE CENTER STAGE. BY BRENT BALDWIN
Trains have long been associated with
Roanoke, almost as much as the iconic Roanoke
Star atop Mill Mountain, a tourist attraction
billed as the free-standing, man-made
illuminated star in the
Roanoke has grown from that train-centric sleepy valley town to
the arts and culture hub of Southwest Virginia. Along the way,
experienced revitalization within its bustling downtown, where new
housing developments are popping up with regularity and residents
are flocking to take part in both the diverse cultural attractions and
plethora of outdoor activities.
Today visitors are likely to be drawn to the thriving downtown music, visual arts and theater scenes, not to mention a burgeoning food and drink an impressive wine region less
than an hour away and two major breweries, Deschutes and Ballast
Point, announcing plans to open local operations with tasting rooms.
Here are just a few ways to discover the richness of Roanoke and the
New River arts, culture and dining scenes.
Food, Breweries and Wine
Those looking for a bite will be pleasantly
surprised by the diversity of restaurants in
foodie scene. Some prominent entries
include farm-to-table options Local Roots
(which offers a wide spectrum of locally produced ingredients, such as seafood, rabbit and
garden-fresh vegetables) and high-end comfort
food at Lucky. Shop local at the open-air Historic
Roanoke City Market, open seven days a week.
About 40 minutes southwest, get first crack
at all the locally grown goodness by exploring
the open-air Christiansburg Market,
open Thursday evenings from May to October.
No visit to Smith Mountain Lake would be
complete without getting a taste of Southwest
thriving small-scale agriculture
industry. Take a tour of Homestead Creamery in
off with a stop at its onsite petting zoo, Farm Market and ice cream shop.
Mike Allen, columnist for the Roanoke
Times, cites the upscale, retro-chic
(which serves up dishes such as Tuscan lamb
as a community favorite, and next-door
neighbor Corned Beef Co. as a nightlife hot
be remiss if I mention the legendary Texas Tavern, where one can buy a $2.45
cheesy ham and egg sandwich at any hour of the
day or he adds.
For scratch-made, seasonal Southern fare,
head to River and Rail for modern locavore spins
on ribs and cornbread or Blue for live music
and classics such as gumbo, shrimp Creole and
grits, collard greens and succotash, as well as an
impressive tap beer selection.
Touring musician J. P. Powell, the co-owner
of Lucky, also owns and a tuckedaway bar, Stellina, which was named one of the
10 Best Tiny Bars by the New York Post. Powell
and his partners play in a band, My Radio, which
has placed music in television and film, most notably Homeland. But have
a TV in any of our Powell proudly notes.
Along with Deschutes and Ballast Point
coming to town, the Roanoke area already
has a thriving microbrewery scene, including
Parkway Brewing Company in Salem and Big Lick
Brewing Company, which is expanding to a bigger location this year with a 6,000-square-foot
Blue Ridge is an up-and-coming
wine region in a top-5 wine-producing state. The
small, family-owned wineries ferment
I DA OT A I I I A A AG A I WA I A
PERFOR MANCE CENTER); SAM DE AN (LUCK ); BRE WINTER LEMON (ALE ANDER
CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: The Nutcracker
performed by the Southwest Virginia
Ballet; Buddy Guy onstage at the Harvester
Performance Center; mixologist;
Heritage Pork Chop Milanese, served alongside
local vegetables, at