Friday, February 3, 2017

100 Essential Restaurants in West Virginia

West Virginia is making a name for itself in the culinary world. Our Appalachian restaurants – hearty, resilient, inventive – are receiving more and more praise. And, I certainly welcome it.

We have an abundance of lists via various websites ranking these restaurants. Best sandwiches or desserts or coolest atmosphere. I've had my taste of West Virginia restaurants in the form of fancy dinners and on-the-go hot dogs. I've had indulgent ice cream sundaes and delicate French desserts. I've had hot, fresh pepperoni rolls and expensive cuts of steak.

But, the best restaurants in West Virginia – for me – are the ones that are doing something different. Not the ones that are necessarily my personal favorites, but the ones that offer something new, unique, unexpected or otherwise iconic.

From hot dogs to haute cuisine, this is my take on our most unique restaurants here in the Mountain State. These include hometown favorites, classic and must-try eateries, each of the stalwart drive-ins and any one of our breweries that offers food. But I'm curious on your thoughts – comment below for your additions or deletions from the list!

1. Austin's Homemade Ice Cream (Ceredo)
With dozens of flavors to choose from – and tons of fun seasonal ones – it may be a tough decision. Don't let it be. They're known for their grape-pineapple.

2. Avenue Eats (Wheeling)
This little burger was named one of the best in the country by Thrillist. Get the Diner burger, which is made from fresh, daily ground, grass-fed beef and topped with sharp cheddar cheese, lettuce, onion, pickle, diner sauce on a kaiser roll.

3. Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar (Huntington)
Inventive pizzas and seafood combine in one unconventional marriage in Huntington. Fortunately, it works.

4. Bavarian Inn (Shepherdstown)
You've never had a German brunch like this. These cute chalets overlook the Potomac River, and the food is just as spectacular.

5. Berkeley Springs Brewing Company (Berkeley Springs)
In a town known for its water, there's no way the beer can be bad. Add in some simple menu items that complement the brews, and it's a match made in heaven.

6. Berkshire's Old Fashioned Frozen Custard (Multiple Locations)
Head to the southern part of the state to get a taste of this custard – which has just a touch of egg to make it richer, smoother and creamier.

7. Biggie's (Grafton)
One of the few remaining drive-ins in the state, Biggie's serves up traditional drive-in fare for extra cheep.

8. Black Bear Burritos (Morgantown)
Burritos of all ethnic cuisines is the name of the game in Morgantown. With everything from a Mr. Teri Yaki burrito to a Motown Philly Cheesesteak burrito, they don't hold back. Plus, their daily specials at both locations are delicious.

9. Black Sheep Burrito & Brew (Charleston & Huntington)
Another restaurant that features specialty burritos, Black Sheep Burrito offers bulgogi burritos, falafel burritos and even tuna burritos. Plus brunch.

10. Blackwater Brewing Company (Davis)
A microbrewery and kitchen in one! Plus, a lot of the menu items incorporate the beers in the cooking process. Perfect.

11. Bluegrass Kitchen (Charleston)
This Charleston go-to is vegetarian friendly and serves up the best pie in the world: Blueberry Buttermilk Pie.

12. Bob's Hot Dogs (Norton)
This little hot dog stand in West Virginia has more than 250 kinds of hot dogs. Mashed potatoes? Mac & cheese? Salsa? You can get them all on your hot dog at Bob's.

13. Café Cimino (Sutton)
This farm-to-table restaurant has a chef-driven menu that continually leads the way in Appalachian cuisine.

14. Cathedral Café (Fayetteville)
This Fayetteville café serves sandwiches, salads and more all located in a former church. Complete with stained glass windows!

15. Chestnut Brew Works (Morgantown)
Artisanal ales in small batches created by a biologist makes for a scientifically delicious beer.

16. CJ Maggie's (Elkins & Buckhannon)
This neverending menu has – literally – something for everyone, including "40 Miles of Bad Road Nachos," "Fantasy" pizza and "Alfredo pie."

17. Colasessano's (Fairmont)
The pepperoni roll takes on a new life at Colasessano's, where it becomes a pepperoni bun – stuffed full of sauce and cheese.

18. The Cold Spot (Multiple Locations)
The menu specializes in beer and wings, but this neighborhood bar occupies a special place in my – and other West Virginians' – heart.

19. Coleman's Fish Market (Wheeling)
This iconic fish market in the Northern Panhandle has long lines for its iconic sandwich: two three-ounce fillets of fresh North Atlantic Pollack fried, stuck between two slices of white bread and wrapped in deli paper. Yum.

20. The Corner Shop (Bramwell)
An old-fashioned soda fountain features homemade ice cream in the form of floats, shakes, sundaes, splits and cones. How fun.

21. Country Club Bakery (Fairmont)
Widely credited with creating West Virginia's unofficial state food, Country Club Bakery serves up the original pepperoni roll.

22. Creperie Café (South Charleston)
It's an entire restaurant devoted to crepes: breakfast crepes, sweet crepes, light crepes. ALL THE CREPES.

23. Crabby Patty's (Ripley)
Who knew crab cakes in the middle of West Virginia could be so good? This restaurant does seafood – and does it well.

24. Custard Stand (Multiple Locations)
As well known for their frozen custard as their hot dog chili, The Custard Stand is spread throughout our state and can always be counted on for one of the best dogs around.

25. DiCarlo's Pizza (Multiple Locations)
This square pizza with the lightly melted cheese is a specialty in the Northern Panhandle and my person favorite (definitely the Wellsburg or Elm Grove locations).

26. DeeJay's Ribs (Weirton)
A staple in the northern panhandle, this tropical paradise is has fall-off-the-bone ribs. You won't find better ribs anywhere else.

101 List

27. Dobra Zupas (Beckley)
This restaurant and brewery in one cooks according to the season, and those beer do the same. What's better?

28. The Donut Shop (Buckhannon)
This 24-hour donut shop offers the best of both worlds: donuts and pepperoni rolls. And, they're the ones with ground pepperoni so you get bits in each and every bite.

29. Draper's (White Sulphur Springs)
The famous fried green tomato sandwich is a must-have in this colorful, floral restaurant located in The Greenbrier.

30. Drover's Inn & Tavern (Wellsburg)
This historic restaurant serves up – surprisingly – some of the best wings. And, it's on the National Register of Historic Places.

31. El Gran Sabor (Elkins)
This Venezuelan restaurant serves up authentic arepas and cachapas – be sure to try one. Or three.

32. Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream (Charleston)
Homemade ice cream has a special place in my heart, and this Capitol Street icon never lets me down. Specials like the pawpaw ice cream are sure to impress.

33. Fat Patty's (Multiple Locations)
A Marshall University staple, Fat Patty's boasts the best burgers in town. And, it's been named as on of the top burger joints by USA Today.

34. Fazio's Italian Restaurant (Charleston)
This old-school Italian restaurant specializes in veal dishes, and everything is made from scratch.

35. Frostop Drive-In (Huntington)
Drive toward the rotating root beer mug for a unique drive-in experience. Hot dogs, cheeseburgers and, of course, root beer make for the perfect meal.

36. Gino's Pizza & Spaghetti House (Multiple Locations)
The sister to Tudor's Biscuit World, this West Virginia chain is spread all across the state, offering up pizzas, pasta and sandwiches.

37. Gumbo's Cajun Restaurant (Fayetteville)
There are few places in our state to get Cajun, creole and low-country food. Soak in the Big Easy vibe, and, of course, try the gumbo.

38. Griffith and Feil Soda Fountain (Kenova)
This old-school 1920s soda fountain is a community landmark, and the they create more than just classic ice cream sodas: sandwiches, salads, burgers and more.

39. Hash Browns & New Grounds (Morgantown)
The premier food truck in West Virginia dishes out inventive dishes and can be found at festivals and other events statewide.

40. Hellbender Burritos (Davis)
Named after an amphibian unique to Appalachia, Hellbender Burritos is not your typical burrito joint. Instead, feast your eyes upon unique, West Virginia-inspired, meal-sized burritos filled with homemade ingredients.

41. Heston Farm Winery (Fairmont)
Sure, it's common for a lot of breweries to have a restaurant component – but what about a winery? Heston has it all and with great food to boot.

42. Hill & Holler (Lewisburg)
Where else can you find a bike shop and kitchen in one? Lewisburg, that's where.

101 List

43. Hill & Hollow (Morgantown)
A leader in the farm-to-table movement in West Virginia, Chef Marion Ohlinger continues to create global meals with Appalachian ingredients. Cool on every level.

44. Hillbilly Hot dogs (Lesage)
It's everything that outsiders think of when they think of West Virginia: hillbillies, broken down buildings and some questionable accents. But, there's something about that hillbilly tourism that keeps people coming back, and there's no denying that it's certainly one of the well-known restaurants in the state – even earning a spot on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.

45. Hinton Dairy Queen (Hinton)
Sure, Dairy Queens are a dime a dozen. But, if you've ever been to Hinton's, you know it's different. It is perched on the New River and has some of the tastiest English bun hot dogs.

46. Holl's Chocolates (Vienna)
Not a restaurant, per se, but handmade fresh Swiss chocolates cannot be dismissed. Stop by the shop and get one of everything. Especially anything salted caramel!

47. Hutte Swiss Restaurant (Helvetia)
Tucked away in the Swiss village of Helvetia, The Hutte Restaurant serves up hearty homemade specialties. Fasnacht wouldn't be the same without it.

48. Janet's Park & Eat (Logan)
One drive-in of three left in Logan, Janet's Park & Eat still has curbside service. And, it has items like a "whatchamacallit."

49. Jim's Drive In (Lewisburg)
Try the ranch burger: Sweet pickles, a slice of ham, cheese, tomato, purple onion, lettuce and tomato. And, don't forget ot one of their delicious shakes – all curbside.

50. Jim's Steak & Spaghetti (Huntington)
This iconic spaghetti house is known for just pasta: Once their strawberry pie is in season, the line stretches around the block.

51. King Tut Drive-In (Beckley)
As one of the first restaurants to bring pizza to southern West Virginia, you gotta try it. The drive-in had to give pizza away at first because no one had ever heard of it!

52. Last Run Restaurant (Cass)
The coolest thing about this restaurant is it's right at the train station at Cass, which is a must-see for all West Virginians.

53. Laury's (Charleston)
High-class dining in a historic train depot overlooking the Kanawha River. That's a trifecta that you just don't get often.

54. Lola's (Charleston)
Hot, homemade Neapolitan-style pizzas served out of a stone hearth oven all crisp and bubbly. Get it topped with all sorts of things – like fig jam and fresh rosemary.

55. Lost Dog Coffee (Shepherdstown)
This kinda crazy, kinda awesome coffee shop isn't the mellow, lounge type you're thinking of. Instead, think of alive, funky, and a lot of tasty coffee.

56. Lost River Brewing Company (Wardensville)
A craft brewery and pub nestled in the Potomac Highlands? Count me in. Inventive dishes that pair well with tasty beers is all I need.

101 List

57. Lot 12 Public House (Berkeley Springs)
The only restaurant in the state to be nominated – multiple times – for a James Beard award is right over in the Eastern Panhandle. A historic location, incredible food and a lovely view puts this at the top of my list.

58. Lynn's Drive Inn (Bluewell)
This drive-in has 32 ice cream flavors, as well as all the traditional drive-in friend foods. As one of the few drive-ins left in the state, it earns a spot.

59. Main Kwong (Charleston)
This local Chinese restaurant is a favorite amongst locals – especially for the complimentary desserts.

60. Mario's Fishbowl (Morgantown)
This legendary Morgantown dive bar is known for serving up giant frosty beers in fishbowl glasses. Their wings are pretty good, too.

61. Morgantown Brewing Company (Morgantown)
This brewery is a risk-taker with some of the best menu items around. They even do suggested beer pairings for the dishes.

62. Morrison's Drive Inn (Logan)
Morrison's Drive Inn has been voted as having the best hot dog in the state. Try one: Each of these dogs are wrapped in the signature cellophane plastic.

63. Mountain State Brewing Company (Thomas & Morgantown)
The flagship ales are well-known throughout the state: Cold Trail Ale, Almost Heaven Amber Ale, Seneca IPA, and Miner's Daughter Oatmeal Stout.

64. Midway Drive-In (Huntington)
Classic Americana is served through the car window at this Huntington landmark. Burgers, fries and homemade milkshakes are done right here.

65. Muriale's Italian Restaurant (Fairmont)
Italian food doesn't get much better than at Muriale's, which has long been the authority on the topic in North Central West Virginia.

66. North End Tavern & Brewery (Parkersburg)
The oldest restaurant and brewery in the state earns a spot for its longevity.

67. Parkway Drive In (Logan)
The last of three drive-ins in Logan, Parkway Drive In still stands out. Just order a cheeseburger: It's a grilled cheese that they open up to put the burger patty inside so that ooey gooey cheese is just perfect.

68. The Peanut Shoppe (Charleston)
Less of a restaurant and more of a shop, The Peanut Shoppe is an establishment in Charleston. It was established in 1950 and continues to churn out nuts and fresh popcorn daily and draws people in on scent alone.

69. Pho Vinh Long (South Charleston)
South Charleston has not one, but TWO Vietnamese restaurants. I would be remiss to not include both. For hot, comforting pho, don't miss Pho Vinh Long.

70. Pies & Pints (Multiple Locations)
West Virginia's most famous pizza place that started in Fayetteville and has created locations in both Charleston and Morgantown can't be beat. Their award-winning grape and gorgonzola pizza is to die for.

71. Pinnacle Drive Inn (Pineville)
Pinnacle Drive Inn is one of just a few drive-ins left in the state and for good reason. Try the submarine, which has turkey salad, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce.

72. Pipestem's Mountain Creek Restaurant (Pipestem)
This restaurant is accessible by tram only, so if you want some good, gourmet dining, you have to ride the tram to the base, across from the Bluestone River. Dinner is always better with a side of adventure.

73. The Pizza Place (Parkersburg)
This Parkersburg institution dishes out thick, Sicilian-style pizza with those little pepperoni cups that turn up when baked. Mmmm.

74. The Pizza Station (St. Mary's)
This railroad-theme pizza joint has some great pizza that is godsend to locals. Every hometown seems to have its favorite pizza place, and this one certainly rises to the top.

75. The Poky Dot (Fairmont)
The biggest sundaes you will ever see in the kookiest environment is what makes The Poky Dot special. Plus, tons of homemade cheesecakes, pies and tableside s'mores.

76. Prime 44 West (White Sulphur Springs)
The lobster mashed potatoes from this restaurant have been featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate. So.

77. Provence Market & Café (Bridgeport)
Casual, French dining with a farm-to-table focus? Sign me up. You must try the roasted red pepper soup.

78. Purple Fiddle (Thomas)
Music venue, tasty food and an incredible beer selection are the three focal points for Thomas' Purple Fiddle. Plus, they have an ice cream counter made from local cow's milk.

79. Rocco's Ristorante (Ceredo)
The best Italian food in North Central West Virginia has a counterpart a few hours away in Ceredo. Both from the same family, both serving up some of the best food you'll ever have.

80. Sandwich U (Morgantown)
Giant, overfilled, fried sandwiches are a necessary part of college, and I'm not sure there's anyone who does it like Sandwich U.

81. Secret Sandwich Society (Fayetteville)
This small, gourmet sandwich shop is one of West Virginia's worst-kept "secrets" – and for good reason! All of the sandwiches, named after dead presidents, offer something different and fun.

82. Sirianni's Pizza Café (Davis)
Located in a hundred-year-old steam ship office, Sirianni's Pizza Café has the locals' favorite pizza in a fun, eclectic environment.

83. Skeenies of West Virginia (Charleston)
In West Virginia, we take our hot dogs very seriously: chili, slaw, mustard and onions. And, it's likely that Skeenies is one of the first to help christen the idea that slaw belongs on a hot dog.

84. South Hills Market & Café (Charleston)
Modern Appalachian cuisine is served under the direction of Chef Rich Arbaugh, and every single item is made to perfection. Plus, they have some great cocktails.

85. Spring Hill Pastry Shop (Charleston)
Home of the hot dog – no, not that hot dog. The hot dog pastry is a donut or éclair that is elongated so it looks similar to a, well, hot dog.

86. Stardust Café (Lewisburg)
This extra green restaurant uses locally grown and harvested organic products. European butter, fresh local veggies, local artisan bread = a recipe for deliciousness.

101 List

87. Sterling Drive In (Welch)
The signature Sterling Sub is unmatched: cranberry sauce, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and their special "spread" on a deep-fried bun. Order it inside in the retro bright orange dining room or right from your car window.

88. Stewarts Original Hot Dogs (Kenova and Huntington)
This drive-in has two locations in southern West Virginia – both bright orange! Grab a hot dog and a root beer curbside.

89. Stumptown Ales (Davis)
If you like hop-centric beers, Stumptown is your place. Plus, they have a few snacks to whet your appetite.

90. Tailpipes Gourmet Burgers and Shakes (Morgantown)
Have you had a burger with peanut butter and fried bananas on it? What about a fried green tomato, slaw and bacon? This Morgantown restaurant has 'em all – and they are all named after cars!

91. The Tea Shoppe (Morgantown)
It's tea time – complete with loose-leaf teas, gourmet sandwiches and a variety of fun hats to play dress up in. Don't miss this afternoon tea.

92. Thyme Bistro (Weston)
This new American restaurant is unlike any other. Check out their bistro fries, which have garlic and parmesan and served with a smokey aioli for dipping.

101 List

93. Tip Top (Thomas)
One ranked as the best coffee shop in the state, TipTop serves up hand-brewed coffee with lots of specials depending on season. And that latte art!

94. Tricky Fish (Charleston)
This laidback, beach-shack restaurant is the perfect place for fish tacos, hushpuppies and a bucket of beer out on the deck as you watch Charleston pass by.

95. Tudor's Biscuit World (Multiple Locations)
West Virginia's most beloved biscuit comes in the form of Mary B or Peppi or Dottie. Whichever you choose, you can't go wrong with starting your day the homemade way.

96. Tunnel Drive-In (Williamson)
As one of the few drive-ins left in the state, Tunnel Drive-In is a step back in time. You can get your burgers, hot dogs and ice cream all from the comfort of your own car.

97. Wheeling Brewing Company (Wheeling)
Grab a beer. Get a delicious meal. Enjoy the local atmosphere.

98. Yama (Morgantown)
This hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves up some of the best one pot meals. Try the teriyaki chicken bowl.

99. Yann's Hot Dog Stand (Fairmont)
If you've ever seen Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" episode, imagine that taking place in Fairmont, West Virginia – with hot dogs. Plus the spiciest "sauce" you may ever have. Grab a chocolate milk to wash it down.

100. Yen's Sandwiches (South Charleston)
This may be the only restaurant in the state to get banh mi, and wow is it good. Try the meatball and thank me later.