The Best Food and Drink in West Virginia for 2019
December 20, 2018
The state’s most wild and wonderful cuisine
The Best Food and Drink in West Virginia
A lot of outsiders are tempted to make West Virginia into some kind of punchline. The state has the word “wild” in its tagline, for goodness’ sake. But West Virginia is an overlooked beauty, filled with plenty of green space and fine, hardworking folks. But beyond its beauty and its residents, West Virginia has a ton of culinary highlights — and no, none of them are roadkill. So to highlight this wonderful state, we rounded up its best foods, beverages, and restaurants as a part of our second-annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
One may be quick to assume West Virginia’s culinary merits all come from Charleston, and while the city is arguably the state's top culinary destination, the entire state has incredible food and drink. There’s the state’s best bar, Mario’s Fishbowl, in Morgantown. Parkersburg’s JR’s Donut Castle hosts some of the finest pastries you’ll ever taste. And Shepherdstown is worth a visit for Maria’s Taqueria alone.
Over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best hot dogs and brunch spot to its best bar and craft beer in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs. We’ve compiled these into individual slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state, and you can find our West Virginia gallery here.
Best Airport Restaurant: Tudor’s Biscuit World (Yeagar Airport and Tri-State Airport)
West Virginia’s two largest airports have the same two options for food: Tudor’s Biscuit World and Gino’s Pizza & Spaghetti House. Tudor’s wins out on account of its varied options for both breakfast and lunch, with biscuits made from scratch on which you can have meats, cheese, eggs, hash browns, and even fried apples. For lunch, try one of their popular hot dogs or 1/3-pound hamburgers.
Best All-You-Can-Eat Deal: Quinet’s (New Martinsville)
This humble and down-home eatery in Downtown Martinsville has been feeding the locals high-quality, classic American fare since the 1920s, and has been owned by the Quinet family (who changed the name) in 1941. Along with a full menu of classic breakfasts, salads, sandwiches, and comfort food entrées, the restaurant also offers a daily buffet featuring scratch-made dishes like barbecue ribs, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, Southern fried chicken, baked Swiss steak, and plenty of side dishes, all cooked according to old family recipes. This place is Americana at its finest.
Best Apple Pie: Sugar Pie Bakery (Charleston)
Sugar Pie Bakery, opened in January 2012, is a locally owned and operated business that is a real family affair — owner Gina Watts along with her husband and children work together to make sure things run smoothly. All of their menu items are made from scratch, and their apple crumb pie, with tart Granny Smith apples and a crumbly sweet topping, is sure to hit the spot.
Where to Find America’s Best Apple Pies
Best Bar: Mario’s Fishbowl (Morgantown)
A trip to Mario’s Fishbowl (established in 1963) is like a drinking history lesson. The original owner’s name still stands. The namesake “fishbowl” glasses — made at the old Morgantown Glass Works — are a relic of days when the building was Richwood Avenue Confectionary. The signs on the walls are proclamations of victory in various drinking and eating contests held over the years by WVU students and other patrons with competitive streaks. Although the owners have changed, the menu has expanded and the kitchen has been updated, the nostalgia of the Fishbowl has always remained the top priority.
The Best Bar in Every State
Best Beer: Moxxee Coffee Stout, Bridge Brew Works (Fayetteville)
Best Brunch: Bluegrass Kitchen (Charleston)
This popular farm-to-table comfort food spot has a relaxed, 1920’s-era vibe, and its veg-focused menu is primarily sourced from farmers in West Virginia and Appalachia. Brunchtime is all about the comfort food, though: potato skins filled with scrambled local eggs, Vermont Cheddar, local bacon, and scallions; freshmade bagel and lox, house-cured, grass-fed corned beef atop a potato cake with peppers, onions, and gravy; eggs Benedict with local ham; shrimp and grits; homemade biscuits and gravy; and a breakfast burger topped with local bacon and eggs will start your day on the right foot, especially alongside a $12 carafe of mimosa.
Best Burger: Avenue Eats (Wheeling)
This small, low-key restaurant offers a relaxed patio, a casual atmosphere, and a burger that’s putting the town of Wheeling on the map. The burgers here are made with freshly-ground, locally-sourced, grass-fed beef, and come in a variety of tempting styles, including one topped with poutine; another topped with house-made pub cheese, bacon, and fried onion straws; and another with Brie, grilled pear, caramelized onions, and bacon. These aren’t gimmicky, though; they’re all designed with an eye toward flavor and balance.
Best Chinese Restaurant: Main Kwong (Charleston)
This small Charleston mainstay serves a huge menu chock full of all the Chinese-American classics: fried rice, lo mein, General Tso’s, and the like. It also happens to do it very well. You’re not going to be blown away by a visit to this recently expanded restaurant, and you’re not going to find anything too outside-the-box, but you are going to be treated to spot-on renditions of all the familiar standbys.
The Best Chinese Restaurant in Every State
Best Chocolate Shop: Holls Chocolate (Vienna)
If you’re looking for the best chocolate-covered strawberries in West Virginia, look no further than Holl’s Chocolate. Their coated fruits are some of the best in the business. Beyond that, Holl’s has been crafting scrumptious milk chocolates, dark chocolates, and caramel confections for over 30 years.
Best Coffee Shop: Lost Dog Coffee (Shepherdstown)
A self-described "coffee, tea, juice, and smoothie fine arts beverage emporium," Lost Dog Coffee is beloved by locals, and for good reason. Not only are the bartenders here exceedingly friendly, but they're also super creative and willing to come up with a specialty drink or dessert perfect for you.
Best Dive Bar: Doug’s Topside Tavern (South Charleston)
Not all dive bars serve steak on the weekends, but not all dives are Doug’s Topside Tavern in South Charleston. Friendly regulars and the even friendlier Doug will greet you with some true Southern hospitality and a bottle of cold beer. Can’t ask for more than that, can you?
The Best Dive Bar in Every State
Best Doughnuts: JR’s Donut Castle (Parkersburg)
The doughnut recipe used at JR’s Donut Castle hasn’t changed for more than 30 years, and it’s probably because the giant glazed doughnuts are such an incredible attraction, both to see and to eat. Regular customers will insist that you try the maple cream fill, but there will be 33 other doughnut flavors available, too.
The Best Doughnuts in Every State
Best Farmers Market: Morgantown Farmers Market (Morgantown)
All of the produce sold at the Morgantown Farmers Market is grown within a 50-mile radius. During the peak season there are more than 30 farmers offering the freshest produce, meats, eggs, breads, flowers, and more to the community. Everything from eggs and goat cheese to pork, lamb, fruits, and vegetables can be found. The summer market runs every Saturday, May through November.
101 Best Farmers Markets in America
Best Fried Chicken: Dirty Bird (Morgantown)
Open since late 2011, Dirty Bird keeps the focus on chicken, both in fried and egg form; there’s also a wide variety of chicken sandwiches on offer. As per usual, when you see fried chicken on the menu, it’s the thing to order. Chef-owner Kim Noville dredges her chicken in black pepper-heavy seasoned flour before pressure-frying it, and the end result is a crispy, crunchy, tender bird that’s found legions of fans.
Best Grocery Store: Capitol Market (Charleston)
In the heart of West Virginia’s capital city of Charleston, Capitol Market is serving the community. Built from an old transfer dock, the market is a year-round affair and has an eclectic collection of indoor shops featuring fresh fish, meat, and produce. Yes, this is technically a farmers market, but this grocery is top rated on Yelp and other conversation boards. As one Google reviewer said, “WV finest. An excellent farmers market, top notch wine shop, great meat market…So many local farmers! A great place to visit every day!”
The Best Grocery Store in Every State
Best Hotel Restaurant: Main Dining Room, The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs)
The Greenbrier is one of America’s most beloved resort hotels, and its ornate main dining room has been serving graceful and elegant fine-dining meals for more than 100 years. The breakfast buffet is an absolute must for guests, but come back for dinner (wearing the required jacket and tie) and sample some truly luxurious fare, with many ingredients grown in the hotel’s 43-acre garden. Cream of asparagus soup with Meyer lemon and fresh watercress; five onion soup with chive Chantilly and fried shallots; chicken liver parfait with cherry aigre-doux and port gelée; seared diver scallops with spring peas and crispy lardons; pan-seared wild-caught halibut with spring garden vegetables and minestrone broth; herb-crusted lamb loin with mint and lemon-barley peach jus; rosemary-basted heritage pork loin with collard greens and bacon grits; and spice-crusted local duck breast with poached rhubarb and black lentils are a handful of current menu items.
Best Ice Cream Stand: Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream (Charleston)
Best Italian Restaurant: Fazio’s (Charleston)
This Charleston favorite was founded in 1950 by Nell Fazio, and her son, chef Danny Fazio, has been at the helm for more than 35 years. Nell recently passed, and today Danny runs the restaurant with his wife, Marsha. A true family operation, Fazio’s specializes in the red-sauce basics, and they also happen to turn out some mean fried chicken (not exactly Italian, but we’re not complaining).
The Best Italian Restaurant in Every State
Most Outrageous Restaurant Dish: The WidowMaker, Hillbilly Hotdogs (Lesage)
Hillbilly Hotdogs specializes in outrageous hot dogs, and the WidowMaker is its peak. The 30-inch hot dog holds a 2-pound sausage and has 4 pounds of toppings.
Most Romantic Restaurant: Café Cimino Country Inn Restaurant (Sutton)
Cimino Country Inn/Yelp
Located inside a country estate dating back to 1989, Café Cimino Country Inn is home to a charming bed and breakfast as well as the state’s most romantic restaurant. The small restaurant is just a handful of well-spaced tables draped with long white tablecloths and topped with flowers and candles, in a homey chandeliered dining room with wine bottles stored along one wall and a curving row of windows along another. Before or after your meal of linguine with clam sauce, pan-seared filet mignon, sea scallops and prosciutto, and sticky toffee pudding cake, be sure to stroll the grounds along the Elk River.
Best Pancakes: The Preston County Buckwheat Festival (Kingwood)
There’s an actual town called Pancake in West Virginia, but as it’s named after a family (and is incredibly tiny), there sadly aren’t any great pancake spots there (or restaurants in general) that we could track down. But West Virginia’s Preston County is renowned for its buckwheat, so much so that every year since 1938 the town of Kingwood has hosted a buckwheat festival. Raised buckwheat cakes (not called pancakes) are very popular around these parts, but they’re usually cooked at home using old family recipes like this one; if you want to try the best pancakes in West Virginia, we suggest you mark your calendar for the last Thursday of September, when the festival, which is held in the heart of Kingwood, kicks off. The buckwheat flour used here is sourced from Stanton Milling, and $9 plates of butter- and syrup-topped buckwheat cakes and sausage patties are served all day during the festival at the volunteer fire department community building. Make sure you stick around for the car show, carnival, and Cow Palace.
Best Pizza: Lola’s (Charleston)
This eclectic and adorable little restaurant is located inside an old house in the heart of quaint Charleston, and New England Culinary Institute-trained chef-owner Cary Charbonniez has cultivated a laid-back and welcoming environment while serving artisan pizzas from a stone hearth oven that are just about perfect. You can create your own pizza, but we suggest you sample some of chef Cary’s suggestions, which aren’t exactly traditional. The Steak & Cheese pie is topped with flank steak from Swift Level Farm, white Cheddar, red onions, jalapeños, and fresh garlic; Fig Jam & Rosemary is topped with fig jam, gorgonzola, and fresh rosemary; and the Spicy Shrimp & Sausage has ground Italian sausage, shrimp, roasted tomatoes, and goat cheese. You can go half-and-half on large pizzas, and if you want to eat it at home they’ll even cook it halfway for you so you can finish it in your own oven.
The Best Pizza in Every State
Best Restaurant for Breakfast: The Country Café (Harpers Ferry)
The name doesn’t lie: This place is about as country as a café can get. Wooden floors, ceiling fans, a front porch with rocking chairs, plastic tablecloths, locally-made original art on the walls, a sign that says “Family & Friends Gather Here”… the works. Owners Mandy Armstrong and Lynn and Mark McDonough, who took the 20 year-old restaurant over in 2014 and spiffed it up a bit, also markedly improved the menu; locals flock for the Hearty Breakfast (two farm-fresh eggs, two sausage patties or three strips of bacon, home fries, and toast), French toast, pancakes, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, and specials like creamed chipped beef or sausage gravy on toast, biscuits, or pancakes. It opens at 7:30 daily, and is closed Mondays.
Best Sandwich: Cam’s Original Sugar Flaked Ham Sandwich, Cam’s Ham (Huntington)
Besides being a great name for a restaurant, Cam’s Ham is also the name of a West Virginia institution that’s been serving legendary ham sandwiches (yes, those exist) since the 1950s. To make these beauties, a toasted bun is topped with lean ham that’s been sliced super-thinly (“flaked”), and simply topped with shredded lettuce and secret sauce.
The Best Sandwich in Every State
Best Soup: Roasted Cauliflower Soup With Cashews, The Block (Charleston)
The Block is a popular gastropub specializing in scratch-made modern American cuisine. Regulars rave about the handmade pastas and creative flatbreads, but make sure you go when the real draw is on the specials board: roasted cauliflower soup with cashews. It’s a smooth and creamy concoction with plenty of roasted cauliflower flavor, crunchy cashews for texture, and a sprinkling of herbs for freshness.
The Best Soup in Every State
Best Steakhouse: The Chop House (Charleston)
Diners in the mood for a classic and old-school steakhouse experience in “the other Charleston” should look no further than The Chop House. All steaks here are USDA Prime, available as 8- or 11-ounce filet mignon, steak au poivre, New York strip, 24-ounce porterhouse, or 22-ounce blackened or barbecued cowboy rib-eye. Beef Wellington on the menu is also a nice touch, as is a generous seafood platter, fried lobster bites, and a roasted rack of venison.
The Best Steakhouse in Every State
Best Thing to Eat: Pepperoni Roll, Terra Café (Star City)
The pepperoni roll is the definitive snack food of West Virginia, a no-frills bread roll filled with either sticks or slices of pepperoni. When baked, some of the spicy oil from the pepperoni seeps into the surrounding bread, resulting in a hearty and delicious nosh. Some contain cheese, some are served warm instead of room temp, some contain shredded or ground pepperoni, but the end result is always addictively delicious. You can find pepperoni rolls everywhere from gas stations to fine-dining spots, but the roll served at Terra Café in Star City is the one to beat. These plump round buns, made in house by pastry chef Sue Hartman, are filled with wide pepperoni slices and cheese and served warm, and it’s a perfectly-proportioned, perfectly delicious version of this West Virginia classic.
Best Tacos: Maria’s Taqueria (Shepherdstown)
Northern Virginia native Maria Allen opened this taquería on a whim after graduating from local Shepherd University, and it became a hotspot almost immediately, necessitating a recent move into bigger digs. The reason? The food here is fresh, scratch-made, and tasty, and there’s an expansive menu that will make just about anyone happy. The fish taco is a real crowd-pleaser in particular: Crispy fried cod is tucked into a soft flour tortilla and topped with cilantro, jalapeño aïoli, and spicy cabbage slaw. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2019.