- West Virginia
Sample West Virginia’s rich heritage and lively spirit, one meal and bluegrass beat at a time.
Surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, the charming hamlets of this state have cultivated a distinct cuisine with dishes found nowhere else in the USA. Alongside the food heritage, a rich folk music tradition has continued to emerge from this state for generations. Porch front picking, bluegrass, country and even rock ‘n roll rhythms can be heard at venues across the state. Here’s your insider guide to some of the best spots to eat and catch a musical performance in West Virginia.
Purple Fiddle Café, Brews and Stage
Located in a small town of 600 people named Thomas and tucked away in the Allegheny Mountains, the Purple Fiddle isn’t the most likely venue to show up on music lovers’ radar. But people are flocking to this hopping music scene founded in the town’s humble general store. Perhaps, it’s the authentic music low on pretense and high on talent that has bands and singer-songwriters booking six months out. On one visit, you might be grooving to upbeat banjo strumming; the next you may be listening to a Celtic rock songstress. As with music, the menu is the real deal. The deli-style restaurant churns out delicious homespun sandwiches, made-from-scratch soups and garden salads. Nearby, if you’re outdoorsy, camp or hike the trails in lovely Monongahela National Forest. In the winter, you can snowshoe across a peaceful coat of freshly fallen snow through Canaan Valley, where the only sounds you’ll hear are the crunch of the snow underneath your feet.
A bluegrass show at The Purple Fiddle
The capital city has its perks. Located on the banks of the Kanawha River, Charleston is known for its welcoming culture. Chat with a local and expect a recommendation to The Bluegrass Kitchen, an eatery focused on sustainable, organic and approachable cuisine that is crafted for optimal flavor. Make sure to save room for dessert; the blueberry buttermilk pie with vanilla bean whipped cream lives up to its decadent ingredients. But the menu isn’t the only draw. You’ll be eating amid history, too. The dining room has been lovingly restored to its original 1920s splendor. Count on live musical acts all week long including local artists and singer-songwriters. The impressive lineup is always crowd-approved. While in town, dash over to Sullivan’s Records, where you can still buy turntables, vinyl (of course) and a peruse a smattering of retro concert posters of 1980s bands like The Clash.
Live music at one of Charleston’s many venues
Hill and Hollow
College towns are known for their lively bars, which usually translates into a groundbreaking music scene. Morgantown (home to the West Virginia University Mountaineers) is no different. Musical energy accompanies this town’s youthful energy, and a solid dining scene complements the vibe as well. Foodies seeking the local hot spots should start at Hill and Hollow. Order the pan-fried walleye, a clear favorite among patrons. As far as cocktails go, you can’t go wrong with the Mountain Mule (a take on the popular Moscow Mule) to jump start the fun. Ready for live music? Step into an 1800s row house at 123 Pleasant Street, a trendy venue featuring popular musical acts both local and national.
The adorable exterior of 123 Pleasant Street
Housed in a former grocery store (Clingman’s Market), the Stardust Café is a foodie destination in historic, small-town Lewisburg. The twist here is that the Stardust gives a nod to local ingredients but prepares them with a Mediterranean flair. Farm-fresh ingredients and eco-friendly practices make this a prime locale to savor a top-notch dinner such as the grilled cod linguini with lemon and capers or the arugula prosciutto crostini small plate. After your meal, head to Carnegie Hall for a performance from a national, regional or local act. The acoustics are grand at this storied venue. It is one of only four Carnegie Halls in the world still in continuous use as a performance venue, a fact that’s sure to make your evening that much more special. While you’re in the area, explore more of the gorgeous Greenbrier Valley, which is home to the iconic luxury resort, The Greenbrier.
Chalkboard menu showcasing the farm-fresh dishes at Stardust Cafe
The best airports for getting to West Virginia include Yeager Aiport (CRW) in Charleston, Greenbrier Valley Airport (LWB) in Lewisburg, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) in North Carolina and Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Washington, D.C.