Parallel to Williamsburg’s reputation as a colonial town, you’ll find restaurateurs, spirit makers, and beer masters who are passionate about their craft and boosting the city’s profile as an East Coast destination for food and beverage enthusiasts. From eclectic street tacos and modern fine dining to carefully crafted brews and spirits, Williamsburg is home to a new wave of culinary types dreaming up dishes, drinks, and experiences that will excite serious gourmands and foodies alike. Follow along for a guide on how to eat and drink your way through a weekend in Williamsburg, the #EatDrinkDC way.

Day 1

Kick off your Williamsburg weekend trip with lunch at Casa Pearl. The team is passionate about tacos and oysters, and the menu combines their love for seafood, tacos, and sourcing local ingredients. Highlights include a raw bar with East Coast oysters and ceviche with red snapper (or whatever they have fresh that day) served with cucumber, avocado, jalapeno, garlic, torn herbs, and taro root chips. The stars of the show are the tacos, which are influenced by the flavors of Latin America but with a Southern flair. The oyster po-boy (napa cabbage, jalapeno, tomatillo salsa verde, remoulade) and grilled fish tacos (chimichurri, red cabbage, mint, cilantro-soy aioli) were two of the favorites from what we tried. Pro tip: The tacos here are generously sized. I recommend ordering one per person if you’re also getting an appetizer or split three between two people.

casa pearl Lanna Nguyen

After getting your fill of Chesapeake Bay seafood and tacos, head down the road to The Virginia Beer Company. The local craft brewery offers 16 draft selections in their taproom, including their year-round beers along with limited edition and experimental brews that are rotated on a regular basis. If you’re not sure what to choose, opt for a flight (like I did) and sip through your choice of four or eight beers. My favorites from the flight included their Pie Fight (a light sour ale) and It’s Tillar Time (a barleywine-style ale finished with maple syrup and vanilla beans). Enjoy your brews in the recently redesigned interior space - outfitted with garage doors - or snag a table on the patio where they have plenty of outdoor seating.

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From beer to bees, pop over to Silver Hand Meadery to learn all about honey and one of the world’s oldest fermented drinks, mead. If you’re new to the mead and honey world, sign up for a tasting experience and discover the many types of honey as the staff walks you through varietal and wildflower to rare and whipped honeys. From there, taste Silver Hand’s meads - from Traditional (made with honey, water, and yeast), to Metheglin (meads flavored with herbs or spices), and Melomel (mead fermented or flavored with fruit). The latter category was my favorite, and I’d recommend trying the Tangerine and Raspberry Passion meads. Pro tip: Be sure to check out the shop for honey and meads to take home afterward. I stocked up on the cocoa whipped honey!

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End the day with dinner in a gorgeous setting at Gabriel Archer Tavern, located at The Williamsburg Winery. The drive to the winery takes you through a beautiful vineyard. I highly recommend the outdoor seating where the vined terrace makes for the most beautiful ambiance. We ordered a wine flight and local Virginia cheese and charcuterie board to start the meal (as one must when at a winery). The restaurant recently revamped its dinner menu. We tried the Seared Diver Scallops with parsnip puree, bacon roasted brussels sprouts, and aged balsamic and the Hereford Filet Mignon with Dauphinoise potatoes, lemon roasted broccolini and crispy leeks with Cabernet jus. Both were excellent.

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Day 2:

Fuel up for a full day of exploration at Blue Talon Bistro. Located in downtown Williamsburg, the welcoming bistro offers a full range of French brasserie staples. Think crepes, French toast, and quiche, among other favorites. Channel all the French café vibes and dine al fresco, sipping lattes and taking in the street scenery while relaxing in bistro chairs. Pro tip: Order the Truffled Eggs (two eggs in truffled cream served with a baguette and asparagus). It’s a favorite among locals and, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

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Take a short drive to Copper Fox Distillery. The Williamsburg location is the second outpost for the whisky distiller, which also operates out of Sperryville, VA. It’s recognized as the first North American distillery to build a traditional malt floor and kiln since Prohibition, and they use local fruitwoods instead of peat to smoke and dry their grain. Go on a guided tour of the property (formerly a hotel) for a peek into their production areas and learn more about the process of creating their whisky. Afterward, find a seat at the speakeasy lounge (hidden from the main entrance by a bookcase) or at the fire pit courtyard and sip on a whisky flight or specialty cocktails. Pro tip: The Pirate Lemonade with bourbon mash spirit, lemon juice, ginger, and mint is the perfect, refreshing cocktail for warm summer days.

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After sampling some whisky, fill up on street tacos from Electric Circus Taco Bar inside Precarious Beer Hall. The fun, energetic interior space is filled with arcade games, neon colors, and plenty of seating for families and larger groups, while their outdoor patio is great for taking in the street scenery. On the menu, you’ll find street tacos with flavor combinations that up the ante, like the Pork Belly BLT topped with arugula aioli and the Ropa Vieja taco with Cuban style braised beef and queso fresco. A must order? The Spicy Chorizo taco with queso fresco, potato, tomatillo chow chow, level up aioli, and cilantro. Pair your tacos with a flight of brews from the beer hall and lunch is served.

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For an afternoon pick-me-up, take a short drive to Alewerks Brewing Company, one of the area’s most established breweries. Order a flight from the taproom which serves 16 varieties of locally-crafted brews, from seasonal beers (I definitely recommend their lemon ginger shandy!) to popular standbys. The brewery also offers plenty of outdoor seating by way of picnic tables at their expanded beer garden where you can often enjoy live music.

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As dinnertime approaches, mosey over to Fat Canary at Merchants Square - a Williamsburg establishment. The award-winning, family-owned and operated restaurant offers an upscale dining experience in an unassuming setting with a menu that reflects Executive Chef Thomas Power’s extensive culinary background; from Asian-influenced flavors to creative American fare using local ingredients. We started the meal off with Shrimp Dumplings and Seared Foie Gras - both were equally delicious in their own way. The Grouper with herbed compound butter and Heritage Breed Pork Chop with goat cheese bread pudding, golden apple sauce, and grilled onion were the perfect entrees to end the night.

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Day 3:

Start the day by going off the beaten path to find a unique breakfast experience at Tipsy Beans. They serve up a full slate of coffees, teas, and cocktails in addition to hearty breakfast items like chicken and waffles, omelets, and low country shrimp and grits. They also offer specialty toasts; the peanut butter and banana toast topped with sea salt, honey, and banana are not to be missed! For those looking to start the day with lighter fare, an açaí berry bowl is a great option that’s bright and refreshing, yet filling. The cozy cafe also offers outdoor seating.

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From breakfast, pop over to Joker Brewing Company for a taste of kombucha from Virginia’s first hard kombucha brewer (and one of only five kombucha brewers on the east coast). Made from fermented tea and sweeteners, the light and refreshing kombucha is the perfect drink for a hot summer day. Order it as is or try the selection of hard kombuchas. I would also recommend signing up for a tour and tasting to learn more about the small-batch brewing process, then ending the tour with a flight. Sip on your drinks in the fun and funky interior space or take them outside to enjoy on picnic tables. Pro tip: You can also order a flight of coffees from King of Clubs, a coffee roaster that shares the space with Joker Brewing.

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Drive to nearby Yorktown for a beach day and stop by Umi Sushi for lunch. Japanese for “sea,” Umi is the perfect spot to grab a bite in between dips in the water. Find fresh sashimi, sushi, and a wide collection of sake and plum wine on the menu. I opted to start with a small sashimi platter of some of the freshest tuna, salmon, and white fish, then ordered the Beautiful Roll (tuna, white fish, cucumber, crab) and the Umi Roll (salmon avocado roll topped with salmon). Both were beautifully prepared and a great option for a light yet filling lunch. The bright, cozy interior seats a handful of people, but there are additional tables outside in a picturesque courtyard area.

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The passionate and welcoming community of chefs, distillers, and brew makers in Williamsburg is what makes the city's food and beverage scene so unique, and one that I look forward to visiting again soon. The next time you plan a trip to the Virginia peninsula, make sure to spend some time exploring all the cool, hip, fun, and exciting dining destinations Williamsburg has to offer.