Nine Tavern Dining Experiences in Virginia

by Casey Higgins | Posted: Mar 3, 2015 | Updated: Mar 4, 2016

Comments: 24 Comments

Tuck into a cozy corner or dine fireside at one of these Virginia taverns. In original buildings dating from the 1700s, these restaurants show off authentic period recipes, greet you with costumed waitstaff, or simply welcome you into a bygone time lost amid the neon lights of fast food joints. You’ll be intrigued as you dine your way through, as surprise menu items await. Cheers to great eats and atmosphere!


Michie Tavern


It’s not just the ca. 1784 tavern’s authentic appearance that history buffs will find appealing at Michie Tavern (pronounced “mickey”), it’s also the waitstaff dressed in period attire and recipes dating to the 1700s that draw people. The traditional southern fare includes fried chicken, of course, as well as pork barbecue, black-eyed peas with country ham, cornbread and cobblers. While you’re there, visit the gift shops housed in adjacent historic buildings, and then take the half-mile drive up to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.


The Tavern Restaurant


Abingdon’s oldest building (1779) was a tavern and stagecoach inn at its inception. In fact, the tavern was refuge for historic figures such as President Andrew Jackson and King Louis Philippe of France. As time passed, the building saw use as a post office, bank, general store, bakery, barber shop, cabinet maker’s shop and private residence. Since 1994, however, the building has welcomed visitors for dining. The menu at The Tavern is diverse but includes a German influence, as the owner is German. Wienerschnitzel, anyone?

Red Fox Inn and Restaurant


Established in 1728, the venerable Red Fox Inn and Tavern stands at the center crossroads of Middleburg, Virginia, a historic village in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Bull Run mountains.  The historic tavern welcomes travelers alike to enjoy hearty breakfasts, casual lunches and inti­mate candlelight dinners in the traditional Vir­ginia style. Oak tables, handcrafted furnishings, stone fire­places, hand-hewn ceiling beams and thick fieldstone walls create an intimate dining at­mosphere any time of day.


Hunter's Head Tavern


The 1750’s Carr House is home to Hunter’s Head Tavern, a local favorite offering English fare including fish and chips, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and more. Nearly all of the ingredients are locally sourced. Of interest when you dine at Hunter’s Head is the authentic cabin feel, including original fireplaces and mantels.



Many historic figures have passed through the doors of Hanover Tavern, including George Washington, Lord Cornwallis, the Marquis de Lafayette, and of course, Patrick Henry, who was the son-in-law of the tavern’s 1750 to 1764 owners. Henry and his wife, Sarah, lived at the tavern for several years prior to his governorship in 1776. Today you can visit the tavern for dining and even dinner theatre, if you wish. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday with dinner and/or lunch specials daily. Menu items include fresh Rappahannock oysters, fried green tomatoes, Virginia peanut chopped salad, meatloaf, crab cakes, and more! Reserve a table.

King's Arms Tavern


King’s Arms Tavern could be described as a destination restaurant, and rightfully so. Dating to 1772, its founder noted it to be “where the best people resorted.” It’s at King’s Arms within Colonial Williamsburg that you’ll find musical entertainment and 18th century-cloaked waitstaff to greet and serve you. The chophouse menu will fulfill a hungry man’s palate, and a children’s menu is available, too. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson’s mac-n-cheese will hit the spot in that little belly? Reserve a table.

White Oak Tea Tavern


The 1783 Cloyd House welcomes you with a fireside table to enjoy a pot of White Oak Tea Tavern’s Signature Breakfast Blend black tea and a baked spinach and artichoke chicken salad served in a hot, fresh bread bowl. It’s perfect on a chilly day.



Established in 1790, this historic house has seen life as a tavern, inn, personal residence and even dentist office. Re-established in 1982 as a fine dining opportunity in Lancaster, today’s visitors are welcome to tour the upstairs suites after their meal. You’re also welcome to stay, as Lancaster Tavern is also a bed and breakfast. Lunch and dinner are available daily and feature local seafood and homemade desserts and dressings.


Three dining rooms are beautifully situated in this updated 1850s tavern. Cheery, well-lit rooms feature tables set for  two, four, six, or more, so bring the family. Comfort comes easy with home-style meals from Chef Rachel Rowland and warm fireside ambiance when there’s a chill in the air. Reserve a table.

When you think of history and dining, what establishments come to mind? Leave a comment to give some love to your favorite.

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Judi says:

The Historic Lancaster Tavern comes equipped with her own ghost! The crusine is an event! For a full menu and daily specials go to:

wraauthority says:

Great list! Maybe consider adding the Wayside Inn in Middletown (just outside Winchester). The oldest continuously operating inn in the United States, open since 1797. The tavern (originally called the Wilkenson’s Tavern) is still at the core of the restaurant which still operates today.

Maureen Brown-Petracca says:

Don’t forget Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria.

Bri says:

Michie Tavern in Charlottesville!

Elena says:

How did they miss Gadsby’s tavern in Alexandria? It is so old and historical, it claims that George Washington actually had a birthday party there.
I was so unimpressed with Michie, I am surprised it is really authentic. Self-serve, canteen kind of service. And breaded fried chicken.
Mount Vernon Inn (a colonial-style restaurant located at Mount Vernon), although new, gives you a much nicer experience, feels a lot like Gadsby’s.

David says:

Where is the love for Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, one of George Wahington’s hangouts?!? My daughter is a junior docent there. The place is authentic and the food is representative of actual meals that would have been served mid 18th century.
You really dropped the ball on that one!

Nancy V. Chase says:

I agree. Michie Tavern used to be authentic but now it’s a cafeteria.

Nancy Bauer says:

Bring your Virginia Getaway Pass to White Oak Tea Tavern for a free pot of tea with your entree!

Steve says:

The Halfway House in Chester is very nice.

John says:

Michie caters to bus tours. Enough said. Don’t miss Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria or Red Fox Inn in Middleburg.