Looking for good food and drink in Williamsburg? It all depends on what you’re looking for, of course, but there are a lot of good places to stay or for grabbing something to eat or drink in the ‘Burg. (Of course, you can find out much more online about the places I mention below, including reviews from others, etc.– in addition to sorting through reviews on Yelp, I find Tripadvisor reviews are often useful (here’s a link for Williamsburg: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g58313-Williamsburg_Virginia.html ).
For a casual lunch or , The Cheese Shop (and Wine Cellar) ( https://cheeseshopwilliamsburg.com/ ) in Merchants’ Square is a must. It’s long been a favorite for William & Mary students, alumni and locals. As the name suggests, it’s a cheese shop, with a nice wine (and beer) shop downstairs, but their to-go sandwiches (that you can eat out at tables out front or on the side, or take with you) are excellent– they’re simple sandwiches, but excellent. Be sure to order their famous house dressing on it– ask for “extra house”– that’s maybe what they’re best known for.
For coffee and an easy breakfast, Aromas ( https://www.aromasworld.com/ ), over on Prince George Street just outside of Merchant’s Square, is a great local coffee shop. And they have some pretty good lunches and dinner meals there, as well.
The Trellis ( https://www.thetrellis.com/ ) is an old, upscale stand-by– lots of people love it and it’s still well reviewed. (Me, though? Not so much.)
Another great, casual restaurant outside of the colonial area, on the other side of town where a lot of more modern development has taken place in the past 5-10 years (Target, Trader Joes. etc.) is a great deli, Paul’s Deli ( http://www.paulsdelineighborhoodrestaurant.com/ ). Over in the “New Town” area, it’s one of the closer restaurants to the race site. Their original restaurant, a W&M student standard bearer, is over by the college right off of Richmond Road (across from the football stadium), and has been a student favorite forever ( http://www.paulsdeliwilliamsburg.com/ ). In fact, Paul’s owns several of the restaurants on that corner (they’re called “delis” in the ‘Burg). But, the newer location in New Town is bigger and has good, large meals at very reasonable prices. It’s a casual place. At breakfast/brunch, the crab cakes Benedict and a seafood bloody Mary, for about $20, are great!
One of my wife’s favorites is The Old Chickahominy House ( https://www.oldchickahominy.com/ ). Originally “a tea room serving ham biscuits and homemade pie as well as selling antiques, gas, and cigarettes,” they serve southern food with a nice period feel to the place – we enjoy good country breakfasts and lunches, including their country ham biscuits, Brunswick stew, etc. (Not that they have limited hours.)
There’s always the colonial taverns (King’s Arms Tavern, Josiah Chowning’s Tavern, Christiana Campbell’s Tavern, etc.) operated by Colonial Williamsburg, itself. Many people like them, and they’re a fun visit for the colonial atmosphere, but you should also be prepared for tourism prices. You can check out the colonial taverns (and the official CW hotels) at https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/.
Food for Thought ( https://www.foodforthoughtrestaurant.com/ ) is another really good place to eat in the ‘Burg. It’s a typically American fare restaurant, but with a pretty diverse menu.
The Hounds Tale ( https://www.thehoundstale.com/ ) is a more recent place getting good reviews. It’s modern and has a cool vibe to it (“a casual, cozy bistro-type restaurant”), with good food – lots of small plates. I think it’s a bit higher on prices, but not overly expensive.
For good pizza, specialty burgers and craft beer restaurant (actually with much more, including a raw bar, many entres, etc.), head over to Craft 31 ( http://craft-31.com/ ), on the outskirts of town and actually a bit closer to the race site.They’re owned by the same people as a popular gourmet pizza restaurant in Richmond, Bottoms Up Pizza (and my daughter just might be your server / bartender if you visit Bottoms Up).
Blue Talon Bistro ( http://www.bluetalonbistro.com/ ), also right by Merchant’s Square is a nice, cozy little French Restaurant. Good food. For a long-time (and more expensive) French classic, you might check out Le Yaca ( http://www.leyacawilliamsburg.com ).
Fat Canary ( https://fatcanarywilliamsburg.com/ ), connected to (and owned by) The Cheese Shop, has a great reputation, but I haven’t been yet, myself (note: it’s quite pricey).
DoG Street Pub ( http://www.dogstreetpub.com/ ) is a nice little place also right in Merchants Square– lots of great craft beer choices and some solid meals that aren’t too expensive. (They have a really nice bottle shop with a lot of great beers, including 5-6 rotating beers on tap, just around the corner from the restaurant entrance – https://www.facebook.com/HairoftheDoGBottleShop/ ). If you’re in town on a Monday evening, they host a well-attended running club at 6 pm ( http://www.dogstreetpub.com/running-club.html ).
The outside bar (now called “The Taphouse Grill”) at Berret’s Seafood Restaurant ( https://berrets.com/ ), also in the Merchants Square area, is a great place for drinks, oysters and other seafood when the weather is nice.
For some Italian carb loading, you might check out Sal’s ( http://salsbyvictor.com/ ), a locals’ favorite. In my own opinion, it’s certainly good food, and might be a good bet for packing in some carbs, but it doesn’t necessarily live up to the local love. But, maybe so.
If you’re looking for great beer, you’ve got to hit the Precarious Beer Hall ( https://www.precariousbeer.com/brewery-1 ) right off of Merchants’ Square in the historic district. Precarious Beer Project ( https://www.precariousbeer.com/home ) originally opened with the restaurant the Amber Ox Public House ( https://www.theamberox.com/ ), also off, but on the opposite side of, Merchants’ Square – there’s definitely good food (and still Precarious beer – now called their “Beer Lab”) at the Amber Ox. Precarious opened their separate, nearby beer hall about a year ago and they have great beers, especially their hazy IPA’s. The beer hall also has food – i.e., TACOs from the Electric Circus Taco Bar.
There are several other breweries in Williamsburg, but Precarious sits atop the ladder there IMHO. Alewerks Brewing Company ( https://www.alewerks.com/ ) has a few great beers – try their darker beers or, if available, the Bitter Valentine IPA, but not quite as wide of a selection of great beers as Precarious. The Virginia Beer Company ( https://www.virginiabeerco.com/ ), founded by some W&M alum and just a bit further from the race venue, is great and also has solid beers. There’s also Brass Cannon Brewing ( https://brasscannonbrewing.com/ ), but I am not a huge fan, myself – your mileage may vary, of course! I haven’t yet been able to get over to Billsburg Brewery ( https://billsburg.com/ ), a somewhat newer brewery (over by Jamestown and not far from the transition area for the original Rev3 Williamsburg race location), but you may want to check them out.
Robert is an age-grouper from Northern Virginia. He enjoys triathlon for its continuing challenges and friendly camaraderie among triathletes. 70.3 has long been his favorite race distance, but Robert has recently been enjoying the speed of shorter distances. He loves Williamsburg, having attended William & Mary for seven years and spending much of another visiting his later-to-be wife while she finished school. Robert raced his first-ever triathlon in Williamsburg in 1984, and has raced every year Rev3 has been in Williamsburg. Often traveling through the ‘Burg for work, he professes to know the best places to eat and drink in town.