A day of local hiking, eating, and drinking in Roanoke, VA

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

McAfee Knob

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.

mcafee knob

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.

roanoke - 13 soaring ridge beer list roanoke soaring ridge brewing

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.

big lick brewing company big lick brewing company big lick beer list

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.

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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 local roots restaurant roanoke local roots restaurant

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.

roanoke co-op natural foods roanoke co-op produce section roanoke co-op red wheelbarrow roanoke co-op polyface farms meat

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?

Local food, lovely lodging in Salem, MA

On a recent trip to Salem, MA to visit family, I was fortunate to stumble upon Scratch Kitchen in my quest to escape (what I assumed would be) crappy, uninspired food in the touristy downtown area. Scratch Kitchen

…is a quality driven restaurant with a focus on regional and local farm fresh ingredients. We feature house smoked meats & homemade bacon, breads, condiments and pickles.

We believe in helping our regional and local producers in showcasing their efforts to the best of our abilities in creating dishes that let their hard work stand forward. We also offer a fine selection of craft beers and wine.

The weather was perfect for sitting at one of the small outdoor tables, but the never-ending procession of roaring, souped-up motorcycles on the adjacent road (is this a thing in Salem??) drove us indoors.

Scratch Kitchen dining room

We enjoyed our brunch dishes: a little basket of cornbread that was so good we ate it all before I could take a picture; squash and red pepper quiche; and a big, bacony breakfast sandwich with potatoes. One warning: Scratch Kitchen doesn’t have a full liquor license, so they make their Bloody Marys with sake. Mr. HP, an optimistic sake disliker, nervously tried one sip of his and immediately exchanged it for a mimosa.

Scratch Kitchen brunch

Scratch Kitchen proudly displays the long list of local farmers and vendors they source their ingredients and products from–including eggs, meat, dairy, produce, beer, and wine–and seasonal produce they are featuring. They also make their own bread in-house and it is delicious.

Scratch Kitchen local food list

While in Salem we stayed, via Airbnb, at the House of Four Gables. The guest lodging is a basement apartment with a comfortable bed, a full kitchen and bathroom, and a backyard to die for.

House of Four Gables

Dale was a gracious host, answering all our questions on Salem activities and beaches. The price and value of this rental absolutely cannot be beat. From their Facebook page:

Enjoy amazing views from this charming lower level 2 room apartment in an 1885 Victorian Home. Located in Salem Willows, a mile from downtown Salem, it offers a fully equipped kitchen with granite countertops, stove, refrigerator and microwave, a recently renovated bath and large bedroom with queen sized bed. TV, internet and cable are also included.

If you are looking for lodging in Salem, I highly recommend contacting Dale on Airbnb.