8 Ways to Taste Williamsburg
The culinary scene in this Virginia city is waiting to be explored – just choose your approach. From tours to shopping and sit-down meals, you’ll get a true sense of the food Williamsburg has to offer.
Williamsburg is synonymous with the Colonial era in America, and what better way to experience it than by eating as the Revolutionary City’s citizens did? King’s Arms Tavern is one of Colonial Williamsburg’s dining establishments, serving dishes from the 18th century like chop of shoat (think pork chop) and peanut soup. Another historic tavern is Christiana Campbell’s, known for its seafood and being a favorite of George Washington.
Shop for Ingredients
Want to take the tastes of Williamsburg home with you? Stop into The Spice & Tea Exchange for spices, spice blends, salts, sugars and teas from around the world. La Tienda gives a taste of Spain through wines, cheeses, meats and paella supplies. There’s even an tapas bar on weekends! For home-grown products, The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg hand-roasts Virginia peanuts until they’re golden and crisp, and Edwards Virginia Ham Shoppe churns out bestsellers like hickory-smoked sausage links, Surryano ham slices and, of course, whole Virginia hams.
Discover the upscale side of Williamsburg’s food scene at establishments like Fat Canary, where a seasonal menu is complemented by a robust wine selection. For a luxurious experience, visit the Williamsburg Inn’s Regency Room to enjoy a meal of classic favorites in addition to more avant-garde items such as braised rabbit ragout. Other popular choices include Le Yaca and Café Provençal, both of which serve French cuisine like foie gras and escargots, as well as Opus 9 Steakhouse.
Learn from the Pros
Get an up-close look at a chef’s process through the show-kitchen dinners at A Chef’s Kitchen. As you watch the preparation of five courses, you’ll be educated along the way about the ingredients and the best way to prepare them. Alternatively, you can have a hands-on experience at The Taste Studio of Colonial Williamsburg, which offers chocolate truffle-making classes, interactive chef demonstrations and other learning opportunities.
The cuisine in Williamsburg restaurants often reflects the city’s location near the coast as well as its place in the South. The greater Tidewater region boasts an agriculture that facilitates using local ingredients, from seafood to fresh vegetables. For example, Silt’s farm-to-fork approach to redefined Southern food results in dishes like sea scallops with summer succotash. Or look to the Old Chickahominy House for traditional takes on Brunswick stew and Virginia ham on biscuits.
To Market, To Market
Make a shopping trip to Merchants Square to pick up some tastes of Williamsburg, like the selection of specialty goods at The Cheese Shop. The retail village is also where the weekly Williamsburg Farmers Market is held, perfect for purchasing produce, baked goods, plants and more.
Sips and Suds
Be sure to swing by Alewerks Brewing Company — Williamsburg’s only craft microbrewery. Taste nationally recognized brews like the Old Stitch Historical Brown Ale while hanging out in the taproom, or embark on a guided tour of the brewhouse. For those who prefer grapes over grains, Williamsburg Winery has been producing top-notch wines since 1988. Set up a tasting or tour of the European estate-inspired property, with its lovely views of rolling hills.
Experience a Festival
Take advantage of Williamsburg’s events calendar for a chance to savor a variety of tastes in one place. Taste Tradition, held over Labor Day at Colonial Williamsburg, is a weekend culinary gathering complete with seminars, organized meals and a tasting room. Jamestown Settlement hosts Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia, a three-day experience over Thanksgiving weekend that highlights how English colonists and Powhatan Indians gathered and prepared food in 17th-century Virginia. Also in November is Williamsburg Harvest Celebration, when Virginia chefs, farmers, brewers and vintners host more than 30 culinary events. Meanwhile, the stroll-and-sample Food & Wine Festival at Busch Gardens occurs on Fridays and Saturdays in May and June.