A Culinary Tour of Roanoke: Must-Try Restaurants and Local Eats

downtown Roanoke restaurants and local food

During my recent trip to Roanoke, Virginia, I uncovered some amazing foodie spots that are definitely worth exploring. This city boasts a range of unique culinary gems that cater to various dietary preferences. As my blog readers know, my travels always revolve around food and discovering new dining experiences. So, come along with me on a culinary journey and discover the diverse food finds that Roanoke has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Roanoke offers a diverse culinary scene with options ranging from farm-to-table delights to international flavors.
  • The city is becoming a dining destination thanks to its combination of raw talent and proximity to local farms.
  • Visitors can enjoy Southern comfort food, vegetarian and vegan options, and fine dining experiences.
  • Roanoke’s food tours and culinary events provide an excellent way to explore the city’s best eats.
  • Don’t miss out on the city’s coffee culture, sweet treats, and casual dining spots for a well-rounded culinary experience.

Exploring Downtown Roanoke’s Food Scene

Downtown Roanoke is a vibrant hub of culinary activity, offering a delightful mix of local restaurants, breweries, and hidden gems. The walkable sidewalks of downtown Roanoke are a balanced mix of local restaurants, breweries, boutiques, art galleries, museums, and attractions, making it a one-of-a-kind destination. From local brews and libations to authentic international cuisine, exceptional craft flavors and unexpected culinary delights abound in the Star City. Experience nearly 10 local craft breweries around Downtown Roanoke as part of the VBR Cheers Trail.

Southern Comfort Food at Its Best

Classic Southern Dishes

Embracing the age-old traditions of American barbecue, Big Valley Barbecue is where smoky flavors and soulful cooking come alive. The aroma that wafts from the grill promises a meal that’s comforting, hearty, and deeply satisfying. The chefs here have mastered the art of slow-cooking, ensuring that every piece of meat is tender, juicy, and packed with flavor. The rustic setting, reminiscent of old-school barbecue joints, adds to the charm. As you sink into the flavors of their smoked delights, you’ll find yourself enveloped in the warmth of genuine Southern hospitality.

Modern Twists on Old Favorites

The River and Rail is a local favorite for traditional Southern fare sourced from the Roanoke and New River Valleys. As you might expect, the menu rotates regularly based on what’s fresh and in season. Begin, for example, with a Virginia oyster wrap sculpted with organic Bibb lettuce, house-made kimchi remoulade, shaved radish, and chives or the applewood smoked heritage pork ribs with a modern twist. Experience comfort and innovation at this beloved eatery.

Where to Find the Best Biscuits

Ask anyone in Roanoke where to go for a craft cocktail and chances are high, they’ll send you straight to Lucky. For over a decade, this restaurant has built a reputation around its beverages as well as its high-end comfort food. Try a unique concoction from the bar, such as the “Stede Bonnet,” fashioned with Seedlip Grove 42, sorrel, jasmine green tea, green cardamom, adjusted orange, aquafaba, and champagne. The dinner options are just as enticing; a four-course prix fixe menu featuring the likes of buttermilk biscuits that are simply to die for.

Roanoke’s Southern comfort food scene is a delightful blend of tradition and innovation, offering something for every palate.

Vegetarian and Vegan Dining Options

Roanoke boasts a variety of top-notch vegetarian restaurants that cater to all tastes. Bloom in the Wasena neighborhood offers seasonally driven small plates like sautéed spaghetti squash and roasted butternut squash. The ambiance is modern and inviting, making it a perfect spot for a cozy dinner.

For those seeking vegan-friendly cafes, Screaming Vegan is a must-visit. Located on Melrose Ave NW, this black-owned eatery offers a fully plant-based menu with options like Black Bean Burgers, Chili Cheese Fries, and DIY Quinoa salad bowls. Their superfood lemonade with seamoss is a refreshing treat.

Fruits and Roots, an organic eatery, is another gem in Roanoke. They offer cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, plant-based treats, smoothies, and bowls. Try their classic açaí bowl topped with house-made vegan granola or the Nutty Green smoothie. Don’t forget to grab a pack of organic energy bites for a quick snack.

Roanoke’s vegetarian and vegan dining scene is diverse and vibrant, offering something for everyone, whether you’re a dedicated vegan or just looking to try something new.

International Flavors in Roanoke

Authentic Mexican Cuisine at Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje

Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje is a must-visit for anyone craving authentic Mexican flavors. The vibrant atmosphere and delicious tacos make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Don’t miss their signature margaritas, which perfectly complement the bold flavors of their dishes.

Exploring Asian Delicacies

Roanoke offers a delightful array of Asian cuisines, from savory Vietnamese pho at Viet Sub to the rich and aromatic dishes at Taaza Indian Cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for sushi, ramen, or curry, you’ll find a spot that satisfies your cravings. Cedars Lebanese Restaurant is another gem, offering a taste of the Middle East with its flavorful mezze and grilled meats.

European-Inspired Eateries

For those who enjoy European flavors, Roanoke doesn’t disappoint. Lucky Restaurant & Bar blends Southern and French influences to create a unique dining experience. Recognized by several magazines, this spot is known for its exceptional cocktails and innovative dishes. Inka Peruvian Grill also brings a touch of South America to the mix, with its delicious Peruvian specialties.

Roanoke’s international food scene is a testament to the city’s diverse culinary landscape. From Mexican to Middle Eastern, there’s something for every palate.

Fine Dining Experiences

Roanoke’s fine dining scene is a treasure trove of elegant ambiance and exquisite menus. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply indulging in a night of luxury, the city’s top restaurants offer an unforgettable experience. From the moment you step in, you’ll be transported to a world of culinary artistry and sophistication.

Elegant Ambiance and Exquisite Menus

The chefs craft dishes that are both visually stunning and incredibly flavorful, a testament to their passion for the culinary arts. Each restaurant offers a unique atmosphere, ensuring a new experience with every visit. The attention to detail in both the food and the setting makes dining here a feast for all the senses.

Wine Pairings and Tasting Menus

For those who appreciate the finer things in life, Roanoke’s fine dining establishments offer expertly curated wine pairings and tasting menus. These multi-course meals are designed to take you on a culinary journey, with each dish perfectly complemented by a carefully selected wine. It’s an experience that will linger in your memory long after the meal is over.

Special Occasion Restaurants

When it comes to celebrating life’s milestones, Roanoke’s special occasion restaurants are second to none. Perched beautifully by the waters, The River and Rail offers a dining experience that harmoniously blends natural beauty with culinary mastery. The soft murmur of the river, combined with an ambiance that exudes warmth and comfort, creates a backdrop for meals that linger in the heart and mind. Every dish tells a story, a tribute to the traditions of Southern cooking but with a modern twist.

Roanoke’s fine dining scene is a testament to the city’s rich culinary heritage and its commitment to excellence. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these restaurants promise an experience that is both memorable and delightful.

Casual Eats and Quick Bites

Best Burger Joints

Roanoke is home to some of the best burger joints that will make any food lover’s heart skip a beat. Be sure to try the signature burgers at local favorites like Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint and Beamer’s 25. These spots offer a variety of unique toppings and flavors that are sure to satisfy your cravings.

Popular Food Trucks

For those on the go, Roanoke’s food truck scene is a must-explore. From gourmet tacos to artisanal sandwiches, these mobile eateries provide a diverse range of options. Keep an eye out for the Wanderlust Coffee Truck, which serves up delicious brews and snacks to keep you fueled throughout your day.

Family-Friendly Diners

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a meal with the whole family, Roanoke has plenty of family-friendly diners. The Roanoker Restaurant is a local institution known for its hearty breakfasts and classic Southern dishes. Another great option is The River and Rail, which offers a Southern, bistro-style menu that changes daily but always features locally sourced ingredients.

When exploring Roanoke’s casual eats, make sure everyone gets something different. Then, share your food with others at the table so everyone gets to try something new. It’s a great way to experience the variety of flavors the city has to offer.

Sweet Treats and Dessert Spots

Must-Try Bakeries

Roanoke is home to some delightful bakeries that you simply can’t miss. From freshly baked pastries to decadent cakes, there’s something for everyone. The Pie Shoppe in Fincastle is a local favorite, offering a variety of pies that are perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic apple pie or something more adventurous, you’ll find it here.

Ice Cream Parlors and Gelato Shops

When it comes to cooling down with a sweet treat, Roanoke has plenty of options. Be sure to visit Beamer’s 25 for their famous Fried Oreo’s & Ice Cream. It’s a unique twist on a classic dessert that you won’t forget. If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, there are several ice cream parlors and gelato shops around town that offer a wide range of flavors to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Unique Dessert Creations

For those who love to try something new, Roanoke’s dessert scene offers plenty of unique creations. One standout is the ice cream sampler at The River and Rail, where you can enjoy a selection of house-made ice creams and sorbets. Another must-visit spot is downtown’s sweet treats, conveniently located in Market Square. This is the ideal stop for chocolate lovers and sour gummy worm enthusiasts alike. Find candy, cello coffee house & cafe.

Roanoke’s dessert spots offer a delightful mix of classic and innovative treats, making it a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Roanoke’s Coffee Culture

Roanoke is best known for its proximity to over 1,000 miles of world-class hiking and biking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but the culinary scene in this southwest Virginia city is also on the rise. In addition to farm-to-fork dining and craft cocktails, restaurants are churning out locally-made brews, Southern-inspired fare, and organic vegetarian cuisine. The combination of raw talent and proximity to local farms has turned Roanoke into a bona-fide dining destination—one you won’t want to miss.

Food Tours and Culinary Events

Guided Food Tours

Explore immersive food tours, meet food artisans, taste diverse flavors, and discover top-rated eateries in Roanoke. Led by a fun & passionate local tour guide, these tours offer a fascinating journey through historic downtown. You’ll uncover hidden gems, iconic landmarks, and our colorful history. All food and beverages are included, making it a delicious and satisfying experience. Weekly public tours are available, and advance tickets are required.

Seasonal Food Festivals

Roanoke hosts a variety of seasonal food festivals that celebrate the region’s rich culinary heritage. From the annual Strawberry Festival to the Chili Cook-Off, there’s always something to look forward to. These events are perfect for families, foodies, and anyone looking to enjoy some local flavor. Don’t miss out on the chance to taste one-of-a-kind specialties and locally crafted beverages.

Cooking Classes and Workshops

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned home chef, Roanoke offers cooking classes and workshops that cater to all skill levels. Learn from local chefs and food artisans as they share their expertise and passion for cooking. These hands-on experiences are not only educational but also a lot of fun. You’ll leave with new skills, recipes, and a deeper appreciation for the culinary arts.

Local Markets and Artisan Foods

local market with artisan foods in Roanoke

Farmers Markets

Roanoke’s farmers markets are a must-visit for anyone interested in fresh, locally-sourced produce. These markets offer a variety of goods, from organic vegetables to handmade crafts. It’s a great way to support local farmers and artisans while enjoying the vibrant community atmosphere. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, you’ll find something unique and delicious to take home.

Artisan Cheese and Charcuterie

For those who appreciate fine foods, Roanoke’s selection of artisan cheese and charcuterie is unparalleled. Local shops offer a range of handcrafted cheeses and cured meats that are perfect for any occasion. These products are often made using traditional methods, ensuring high quality and exceptional flavor. Don’t miss the chance to sample some of the best local offerings.

Handcrafted Chocolates and Sweets

If you have a sweet tooth, Roanoke’s handcrafted chocolates and sweets will not disappoint. Local chocolatiers create exquisite treats that are as beautiful as they are delicious. From truffles to toffees, there’s something for everyone. These sweets make perfect gifts or a delightful indulgence for yourself.

Exploring local artisans, craft stores, custom furniture, and art galleries can be a delightful experience. Enjoy dining and entertainment while shopping in Hampton.

Dining with a View

Rooftop Restaurants

For those who love to dine with a view, Roanoke offers some spectacular rooftop restaurants. These spots not only provide delicious meals but also breathtaking views of the city skyline. Whether you’re enjoying a romantic dinner or a casual meal with friends, the ambiance is sure to enhance your dining experience. Don’t miss the chance to explore Roanoke’s iconic star at Mill Mountain Park for stunning views, hiking trails, and a zoo. Visit during spring or fall for the best experience. Accessible to all with visitor amenities.

Scenic Outdoor Patios

If you prefer dining al fresco, Roanoke’s scenic outdoor patios are perfect for you. These patios offer a serene environment where you can enjoy your meal while soaking in the natural beauty around you. The River and Rail, perched beautifully by the waters, offers a dining experience that harmoniously blends natural beauty with culinary mastery. The soft murmur of the river, combined with an ambiance that exudes warmth and comfort, creates a backdrop for meals that linger in the heart and mind.

Waterfront Dining Options

For a unique dining experience, consider Roanoke’s waterfront dining options. These restaurants provide a picturesque setting where you can enjoy fresh, flavorful dishes while taking in the calming views of the water. Each visit promises a new experience, as the chefs craft dishes that are both visually stunning and incredibly flavorful, a testament to their passion for the culinary arts.


Roanoke, Virginia, is truly a hidden gem for food enthusiasts. From farm-to-fork dining and Southern-inspired fare to organic vegetarian cuisine and locally-made brews, this city offers a diverse culinary landscape that caters to all tastes and preferences. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the restaurants and food tours in Roanoke promise an enriching and delicious experience. So, the next time you find yourself in the Blue Ridge Mountains, make sure to embark on a culinary tour of Roanoke and savor the unique flavors this charming city has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the must-try restaurants in Roanoke?

Roanoke has a diverse culinary scene with must-try restaurants such as Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje, Bloom Restaurant and Wine Bar, and Bernard’s. Each offers a unique dining experience with exquisite dishes and flavors.

What types of cuisine can I find in Roanoke?

Roanoke offers a wide range of cuisines including Southern comfort food, vegetarian and vegan options, international flavors like Mexican and Asian, as well as fine dining and casual eats.

Are there vegetarian and vegan dining options in Roanoke?

Yes, Roanoke has several top vegetarian restaurants and vegan-friendly cafes that offer organic and locally-sourced menus catering to plant-based diets.

What are some popular food tours in Roanoke?

Roanoke offers guided food tours that take you through the city’s best eateries, seasonal food festivals, and even cooking classes and workshops to enhance your culinary experience.

Where can I find the best Southern comfort food in Roanoke?

For classic Southern dishes and modern twists on old favorites, there are several restaurants in Roanoke that specialize in Southern comfort food. Look out for places known for their biscuits and hearty meals.

Are there any fine dining experiences in Roanoke?

Absolutely! Roanoke boasts fine dining experiences with elegant ambiance, exquisite menus, wine pairings, and tasting menus perfect for special occasions.

What are some family-friendly dining options in Roanoke?

Roanoke has a variety of family-friendly diners, popular food trucks, and casual eateries that offer a comfortable dining experience for families with children.

Where can I find sweet treats and desserts in Roanoke?

Roanoke is home to must-try bakeries, ice cream parlors, gelato shops, and unique dessert creations that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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