How fresh and local is that dinner you're savoring? A farmer dropped off the kale that morning, a docent plucked the collards from the garden at the Stonewall Jackson House, the steak was raised down the road at Buffalo Creek, the ginger beer was made in-house and the strawberry shortcake? Created from scratch by the pastry chef.
Chefs are pretty accessible in Lexington and you're likely to find them chatting with customers about their meals. Look for Southern fare served with Southern hospitality, where the chefs are inspired by what's local and fresh. From the cocktails to the entrees to the made-from-scratch desserts, it’s all home-grown and original.
At longtime hot-spot Southern Inn, the menu offers spiffed-up favorites from across the south. Creative food pairings drive the menus at Haywood’s and TAPS, both found in The Georges. At TAPS, the Buffalo Creek burger with pimiento cheese is plate-licking good. Local specialties include the sirloin steak from Buffalo Creek and shrimp with Wade's Mill cheese grits.
Authentic Italian cuisine takes the spotlight at Rocca’s, where the breezy patio overlooks the action on Main Street. Look for modern Latin fare at casual eatery Mano Taqueria, where the burritos are stuffed with local meats and local produce. Seven homemade hot sauces line the counter. Another quick and tasty option is Blue Phoenix Cafe, specializing in all-natural vegan and vegetarian meals.
As your taste buds will discover, "farm-to-table" is more than a culinary buzzword in Lexington. At The Red Hen, Haywood's and Taps, the short but robust menus change weekly based on what's newly available. At Southern Inn, Mano Taqueria, Pure Eats, and Blue Phoenix Cafe, savor meats, cheeses, grains and desserts sourced regularly from Shenandoah Valley farms and mills.
Just look at those tomatoes and carrots! Bright, fresh, and flavor-packed. As local chefs will tell you, the Shenandoah Valley is unique when it comes to produce. The Valley's hills aren't well-suited to large-scale agricultural enterprises, but small family farms thrive on the rich soil. Dozens of farms dot the landscape, and they sit within a range of micro-climates, which supports a variety of produce.
Tastes are richer on Lexington menus because the fruits and vegetables served are picked when ripe, not earlier, because they don't have far to travel. This homegrown produce sports an array of colors and shapes because it's not mass-engineered for conformity.
On Lexington menus look for produce from Paradox Farm, Sunflower Flats, Fox Ridge Farm, Stone House Farm, Three Rivers Farm and Polyface Farm, grains from Wade's Mill, and cheeseboards curated by Cheese to You, Mountain View Farm, and Razzbourne Farms. Some of these farms offer their produce at area farmers markets in addition to sourcing local restaurants.
Lexington is also unique because Valley-sourced meats like all-natural burgers and steaks from Buffalo Creek Beef and chicken from Somerset Farm, can be found on local menus and purchased for cooking at home from Cattleman's Market.
Don't forget the locally made beverages of our area. Taste wine at Rockbridge Vineyard, Jump Mountain Vineyard, or Lexington Valley Vineyard. Or if craft beer is your thing, the view is amazing at Great Valley Farm Brewery and that of Devils Backbone Outpost Tap Room & Kitchen soaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains, too. Those who are new to hard cider (and even those who aren't), will want to seek out Halcyon Days Cider Co. to try a flight. Don't forget to wander their apple tree labyrinth!