Both picky and adventurous eaters can rejoice at the variety of Winchester’s dining scene. While the city of just under 30,000 has plenty of dependable restaurants serving traditional American cuisine and inspired Italian favorites, it also has dining establishments for those craving dishes that are farm fresh, modern or cross-cultural.
Here are some places in Winchester that respect traditional palates while also satisfying those looking for something new or innovative.
The Butcher Station
Butcher, Restaurant, American, $$$
“Fresh food tastes better.” That’s the philosophy behind The Butcher Station, a restaurant dedicated to providing locally sourced dishes. True to its name, The Butcher Station actually butchers antibiotic-free beef and pork at the restaurant. Lunch offerings are burgers and sandwiches, along with soup and salad, while dinnertime focuses on seasonal, American dishes. There is also a market that sells locally sourced milk, eggs, and cheeses, in addition to dry-aged beef, pork, chicken, and seafood.
Tropical Island Coffee and Cafe is a taste of the Caribbean in the Blue Ridge. This outpost of Jamaican cuisine, along with its pastries and freshly brewed coffee, has customers savoring its jerk chicken, curried goat, and ackee and salt fish, which is codfish cooked with ackee (a type of fruit) and sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
It’s easy to find Bonnie Blue: look for the bright blue building with the red awning. The structure was once a gasoline station, but after some renovations, it now offers a different kind of fuel. This restaurant-market has perfected comfort food, including barbeque. Bonnie Blue has “amazing smoked brisket!” according to one resident. The pulled pork and their Cuban sandwiches have also garnered praise from the locals.
This mom-and-pop establishment offers what some say is the best Mexican fare in Winchester and even greater Northern Virginia. From the freshly made guacamole to the carnitas to anything served with mole sauce, Taqueria Guadalajara sees repeat customers regularly. Locals also rave about the margaritas.
Bar, Craft Ale Bar, Pub, Restaurant, British, American, $$$
Housed in a grand Victorian bank building, complete with 20-foot (six-meter) ceilings in the dining area, The Union Jack Pub & Restaurant offers traditional pub fare and British cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients. The pub has 38 European and American beers on tap, and locals know it’s where they can catch a European soccer match over a plate of fish and chips with their mates.
The standout dish at the cozy Aroma Deli is the Peruvian chicken, which is a staple found in Aroma’s burritos and its American-style sandwiches. Others like to order Aroma’s mixed bowls with rice and black beans. Whole chickens are also available for takeout. Have the chicken with a side of yucca fries.
Sweet NOLA’s offers gumbo stews and eight different kinds of po’boy sandwiches, some flavored with Sweet NOLA’s special Gypsy sauce, a secret, in-house Creole spice blend. In addition to its New Orleans fare, Sweet NOLA’s has an addictive banana pudding for dessert. Music bands also play weekly at the restaurant.
The Neighborhood Italian Kitchen is just that—an Italian restaurant offering solid fare such as spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Parmesan and lasagna. The restaurant is also known for its dependable, tasty pizzas that you can eat there or order for takeout.
Locals who want homemade bagels don’t need to take the bus to New York. They can go to Steamy’s Cafe, where owner Lenny Sweet sells bagels seven mornings a week. While the traditional bagel with cream cheese is always available, customers can get creative with toppings. Specials include the RusT, with peanut butter and jelly with bacon, and the Haskins, an everything bagel with tomato, spinach, onion, and avocado, with cheddar melted on top.
Those seeking festive happy hour libations should head to Sexi-Mexi, a “cross-cultural fusion” burrito bar in the pedestrian downtown mall. Standard cocktails include El Hippie Cholo, made with bourbon, garam masala and guava, and Sexi-Sour, a concoction with tequila, house grenadine, egg white, agave bitters and lemon. Sexi-Mexi serves burritos for breakfast, lunch and early dinner, with options for vegans and vegetarians.