Nine Tavern Dining Experiences in Virginia

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

Comments: 29 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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Highly recommend Griffith Tavern ,great food ,beautiful setting and if your into two wheel traveling , a great destination ride on Rt.522.

stevez51 says:

After a day of wine tasting the Griffin was a pleasant surprise. Recommended by Rappahannock Cellars we had a very good time there. Looking forward to stopping again.

Hunter Shelton says:

You are aware that the tavern restaurants in Colonial Williamsburg are not in original buildings, don’t you? They were reconstructed during the 1930’s. So it’s curious that King’s Arms Tavern made the list (

Casey Higgins says:

Yes, but it would be incomplete to have excluded Colonial Williamsburg. There are no better reconstructed and interpreted buildings and history in the country.

John says:

The Tavern in Abingdon has such an authentic feel without wait staff being dressed up. Highly recommend.

Glad you missed a few! Otherwise there wouldn’t be any room anywhere for the rest of us 🙂

Humberto Candlelit says:

Surprised not to see Red Fox Inn & Tavern, Middleburg, VA, included in the list.

Julia says:

Chowning’s Tavern in CW (Colonial Williamsburg) is fantastic. Communal tables, great music and fun games while you enjoy meeting new people, enjoying good food and they have a great beer selection. I also agree with Kim – Gadsby’s is great fun.

These are great taverns to go to. Travelers often get the most unseemly taverns because of poor communication, and your post will help them get to one easily. Saves more time and gives more resources for more fun and camaraderie. Thanks for sharing.

Kim says:

How about Gadsby’s tavern in Alexandria? I feel like northern va gets left off these lists to often.

Casey Higgins says:

You know, Kim, I looked up Gadsby’s Tavern for inclusion and our website only references, which doesn’t mention a restaurant. I’ve never visited Gadsby’s and so I have no direct knowledge of what’s available. If they do indeed offer dining, I’m more than happy on include them here. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Michie Tavern is the best!