Feed your inner foodie in Lewisburg, West Virginia

December 7, 2018

The interior of Retro Donuts is pictured in Lewisburg, W.Va.

“Eat and sip your way through downtown morning, noon, and night... Plan your food adventure for any time of the day.” — visitlewisburgwv.com

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This began as one piece, but quickly became too long! Therefore, this is part two of a three-part travel series, once more featuring the Greenbrier Valley area of West Virginia. In the first part, I focused more on the abundant outdoor attractions, especially those of C B Ranch. During this second piece, I will feature the wide array of dining experiences that can be enjoyed while visiting Lewisburg. Finally, next week, I will offer snapshots of what can be discovered along the Midland Trail National Scenic Highway.

“Hi! Welcome back! How have you been?”

I was a bit taken aback. As my brain immediately recognized her face from our previous visit at the end of summer, my thoughts kept swirling as I tried to recall her name. Furthermore, how on earth did she remember us with as many guests as they must serve daily? Nonetheless, after engaging in a few minutes of pleasant conversation with both her (I think her name is Paige.) and Annie, FOH manager, John, my husband, and I knew we made the right choice by deciding to kick off our dining adventures in Lewisburg, West Virginia, at Hill and Holler Pizza.

While we had been to Hill and Holler on our previous trip, the food, staff, and atmosphere at Hill and Holler is wonderful; therefore, we had to visit again — especially since they offer gluten-free pizza with their own house-made crust that actually tastes delicious! With 16 beers on tap, Greenbrier — trained chef and manager Todd Wagner, and a menu that is way more than pizza — including homemade ice cream, house-smoked wings, crab cakes, and freshly plated salads — Hill and Holler is not your usual pizza joint. It is eclectic, hip, and possesses bistro flair. Plus, it possesses one of the largest stages in town for regular musical offerings.

Meanwhile, back at the tranquil setting of C B Ranch, where we were staying, John began to pore through Trip Advisor as well as local web sites in search of our Lewisburg food experiences. Honestly, it was hard to choose as there are so many interesting and varied offerings in the Lewisburg area. John, who is ever conscious of the fact that I have celiac disease and am not a big meat eater, read menu after menu in an attempt to find just the right places.

There are several key points that make the Lewisburg food scene so darn good. To begin, the Lewisburg area possesses a local distillery, brewery, and cidery; and after much conversation at numerous local establishments, they all agree it is the fresh, clean taste of the locally available spring-fed mountain water that contributes to the success of those local businesses. Additionally, Lewisburg is in the heart of the Greenbrier Valley surrounded by a plethora of farms. Thus, most Lewisburg dining establishments feature numerous locally raised ingredients on their menu.

Which brings me to my final point, while there are a few restaurant chains in the Lewisburg area, most restaurants and food venues are locally owned/operated; and, most importantly, all of these businesses seem to support one another.

Our next dining adventure occurred at Del sol Cantina and Grille. Jamie, our waitress and bartender, spent time discussing all the menu options available at Del sol, which is varied and wide. From house made pizza to their version of hamburgers, and from fresh seafood dishes to traditional Latin fare, this menu offers a wide range of tasting options. In the end, Jamie recommended the Veggie Bowl for me and Pork Enchiladas for John. Plus, we also sampled the their tortilla chips served with two house made sides. I chose salsa, and John chose Salsa De Queso. All told, our meals, service, and atmosphere were excellent, and I have no problem recommending this tasty restaurant.

Retro Donuts was the location of our next food foray. Situated about 5-10 minutes outside of downtown Lewisburg, this diner definitely offers more than your typical donut shop. Not only does Retro Donuts offer freshly made donuts and pastries, (Oh boy, were they good!), but it also features organic/fair trade coffees, teas, and espresso, unique breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and homemade soups and salads, with both vegetarian and gluten-free options available! Plus, it is all served up in a 1960s diner retro theme! Even the ongoing background music is from the ’60s, adding to the dining experience. Once discovered, we ended up visiting Retro Donuts twice during our stay. John enjoyed their donuts (of course!) as well as two different breakfast-style sandwiches. I enjoyed their cappuccino as well as a breakfast bowl one morning and their house-made granola with fresh berries and nonfat Greek yogurt on another.

As two visits indicates, I highly recommend Retro Donuts for efficient service, amusing atmosphere, and quality food!

Next up for us was a visit to The Asylum. Also located in downtown Lewisburg, The Asylum offers a unique and eclectic menu along with numerous craft beers and spirits. The atmosphere is casual and cool with a large stone fireplace, leather couches/chairs, abundant tables, large bar, numerous large screen TVs, and multiple levels of sitting areas. Yet, like all the

other Lewisburg establishments, it was the food that made us want to visit again. John and I started off with a basket of their House Fried Potato Chip served Sizzling Sriracha style. Next, I enjoyed their fresh house salad with house made dressing. Finally, John savored the oversized Pork BBQ_ sandwich with a side of homemade Mac-n-cheese; while I enjoyed their house made (gluten-free) black bean burger sans bun and served with fresh veggies and hummus. Yes, this is certainly another new favorite that I highly recommend!

We were undecided about our last cuisine expedition until we happened to meet the owner of Retro Donuts, Arthur Forgette. He, along with Debbie Porter, are also the proprietors of The French Goat. As the name indicates, The French Goat offers traditional cuisine as well as several twists on classic French dishes. Located in an attractively decorated house, the dining and bar areas are intimate, elegant, and comfortable. Staff members go out of their way to ensure that every part of your dining experience is exquisite. Featuring the beautifully prepared and plated foods created by highly trained and much sought-after, Chef Stephen Gustard, The French Goat is a must-do dining experience. John and I enjoyed being served and spending time with Shawn Huffman, bartender extraordinaire, who like Gustard, spent numerous years working and training at the Greenbrier. The wine and cocktail menu was extensive, and Huffman made perfect recommendations that enhanced our dining experience.

We started with a decadent cheese and meat plate with tastes that seemed to melt in your mouth. After consulting with me extensively, Huffman recommended the Tuna Nicoise for dinner, but rather than serve it with the traditional ahi tuna, he suggested perfectly prepared, pan-seared scallops. Meanwhile, Huffman suggested John try The French Goat twist on the traditional burger. The French Goat offered us a lovely and unique dining experience that I also highly recommend. Additionally, I could not help but notice the French Goat also has a Bed and Breakfast! If our dining experience is any indication, I am sure the Bed and Breakfast would be restful and lovely respite. Over-all, Lewisburg, West Virginia offers numerous choices to feed your inner-foodie!

Unfortunately, on this visit, we were unable to revisit Stardust Cafe, Thunderbird Tacos, and the Irish Pub, but rest assured they are quite spectacular. Additionally, we did spend a brief time in both The Wild Bean as well as Blackwell Catering, in which I, unbelievably, found a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie sealed in cellophane wrap to prevent cross contamination. Their offerings in both eateries looked scrumptious! Likewise, we heard great things about Amy’s Cakes and Cones as well as Corn and Flour, but due to my celiac, did not visit either one. Finally, we still have not yet visited General Lewis Inn, The Livery, The Market, as well as Food and Friends.

Hmm... does this mean another trip on the horizon?

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.

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