Café Cimino Country Inn, Sutton
From down-home dishes to cosmopolitan fine dining, West Virginia brings mouth-watering flavors to the table. The Mountain State offers an endless selection of locally prepared and grown food, leaving diners with only one question: Where to start?
Sample fresh local fare at restaurants such as Bridge Road Bistro in Charleston, Café Cimino Country Inn in Sutton and Dish in Charles Town. To assist travelers in discovering local cuisine, the West Virginia Division of Tourism and the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia have partnered to produce a guide identifying “can’t miss” eateries across the state. The guide, “101 Unique Places to Dine,” is available free at wvtourism.com or by calling 1-800-CALL WVA (1-800-225-5982).
Traditional cooking receives a contemporary update at Stonewall Resort with its New Appalachian Cuisine. By putting a fresh spin on traditional regional dishes—and focusing on local and seasonal ingredients — the resort’s Stillwaters restaurant draws crowds and acclaim.
Dozens of other eateries across the state have been inspired by that same philosophy. Savor the flavors of Lot 12 Public House and Panorama at the Peak in Berkeley Springs, Key Ingredients for Life in Bluefield and Huntington Prime in Huntington.
Besides many great authentic ethnic restaurants, another way to get a taste of ethnic specialties is at celebrations like Swiss Fasnacht in Helvetia, Lebanese gatherings in Wheeling or Italian festivals in Clarksburg or Fairmont, home of the annual Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Enjoy a West Virginia specialty: Drop by the annual Feast of the Ramson in Richwood or check out one of many ramp festivals held statewide every spring. The pungent member of the leek family is the star of this dinner, and it is usually paired with ham, pinto beans, cornbread, fried potatoes and cooked cabbage.
Smoked, hand-pulled, tender barbecue stars in several popular festivals as well, from Blues, Brews & BBQ in Charleston to Pickin’ in the Panhandle: The West Virginia State Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival in Hedgesville.
Brave souls who’d like to test the temerity of their taste buds might want to check out the varying levels of hot pepper heat at Smoke on the Water Chili Cookoff in Charleston, Chilifest in Huntington or Fire on the Mountain Chili Cookoff at Snowshoe Mountain.
For those who like to prepare locally grown food at home, West Virginia offers an abundance of choice. The Farm2U Collaborative website provides detailed information on town-and-country farmers markets and stands selling such desirable take-home tastes as fresh fruits, heirloom vegetables, organic meats, pure honey, homemade jams, handcrafted cheese, even wine and mead — and also guides you to farms with seasonal berry-picking and pumpkin patches.
In fall, let the kids romp through a corn maze at Cooper Family Farms in Milton. In winter, take them to Ridgefield Farm and Orchard in Harpers Ferry to pick out a fresh-cut Christmas tree.
To learn how to make the most of your fresh and local culinary purchases, take in a cooking class or demo at The Greenbrier, Stonewall Resort, Tamarack and The Blennerhassett hotel in Parkersburg. Huntington’s Kitchen, established during “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” filming in the city, offers classes on healthy cooking.
Diners can choose to pair their meal with a tasty locally produced wine. West Virginia is home to several wineries, breweries and distilleries, many of which also offer tours. The Mountain State presents a collection of wineries including Potomac Highland, Forks of the Cheat, Daniel Vineyards, Kirkwood, Lambert Vintage Wines and West-Whitehill. Each has its own distinctive blend of vineyards, wines and styles.
For additional information about dining, food festivals and more, visit wvtourism.com or call 1-800-CALL WVA (1-800-225-5982).