We’re trying to hasten the passing of winter by doing little road trips to explore the local food and beer in some towns near home, including Fredericksburg, VA, and now Roanoke, VA. The Roanoke area is home to several breweries, has a growing local food scene, and with its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is close to some fantastic hiking. Here are our picks for hiking, beer, and food in Roanoke.
Hiking near Roanoke
The excellent site for Virginia hiking, HikingUpward, shows a few great options for hiking a short drive from Roanoke, but I knew I wanted to do McAfee Knob. The photo op at the top is incredible: a rocky ledge overhanging wide views of the Catawba Valley far below framed by ridge after ridge of blue mountains. The downside of this hike is its popularity: because it’s a killer view so close to Roanoke, it’s very busy. Our solution: hike it on a day that’s so cold, nobody else would want to go. We got up early on a blustery below-zero morning and saw only a few other hardy/crazy groups on the trail. It’s an easy 8-ish mile out-and-back.
Breweries in and near Roanoke
We loved Soaring Ridge Brewery near downtown Roanoke. The tasting room is in a big warehouse, but the raised bar and cornhole area in the middle makes the space feel less cold and industrial. There was a BBQ food truck outside when we were there and a stage for live music. The garage doors lining the side of the tasting room can open for nice weather (not the case when we were there) and YOU CAN BRING YOUR DOG INSIDE. Oh, and the beer is great. They offer 6 beer flights, and their beers range from a white ale up to a porter; our favorite was a delicious grapefruit IPA.
The feel at Big Lick Brewery, across from the newspaper building downtown (where you can see the presses running in the window if your timing is right), is dark and cozy, with limited open hours, and now that I’m exploring their website I see that THEY ARE ALSO DOG-FRIENDLY. Get with it, Charlottesville breweries! Anyway, for such a small operation, they have an impressive array of beers. Our only complaint was paying $10 for a teeny tiny crabcake from the food purveyor of the day.
Can you believe it–Parkway Brewing Co also ALLOWS DOGS. The tasting room is big and bright, with a stage for live music, and the best assortment of branded clothing I’ve seen at a brewery. A taco truck was parked outside when we were there. We got flights and were not surprised (since we’d had them before) that our favorites were the Majestic Mullet Krispy Kolsch, Get Bent IPA and Factory Girl Session IPA.
Local Food in Roanoke
We had lunch at Local Roots farm-to-table restaurant, which I found by googling “roanoke local food.” It’s in Grandin Village, a cool little collection of shops and restaurants that from May to October has a community market featuring local, sustainable food, and live music. The restaurant sources ingredients from neighboring communities along the Blue Ridge; the list of farms they work with is impressive, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it. The staff was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and we both really enjoyed our dishes.
Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op is across the street from Local Roots; there’s also one in downtown Roanoke. Anytime I see a food co-op I have to check it out. (See what I mean?) They sell local, organic, seasonal produce; local dairy items including milk and butter from our favorite Homestead Creamery in Wirtz, VA; pastured beef from Polyface Farms in Swoope, VA, and organic enriched-environment (NOT free range/pasture raised) chicken from Red Wheelbarrow in Harrisonburg, VA; local and regional beer; and all the natural body products, bulk foods, pet foods, etc you’d expect to see at a natural foods store.
We have a couple more breweries on the list to hit for next visit, including Flying Mouse Brewery in Troutville, and Roanoke Railhouse Brewery in downtown Roanoke. What other breweries, local food spots, and hikes near Roanoke should we check out?