Let’s be honest. Interstate 81 can become congested. The lure of something good to eat is just one reason to hit the exit ramp and leave the traffic behind for a while. These restaurants are less than seven miles off of Interstate 81 between Roanoke and Bristol, and they’re four-star rated (or higher) on Yelp. Try them out and let us know. Looking for I-81 from Clear Brook to Lexington? It's here.   Bread Craft – 4.5 stars – Sandwiches, Bakeries - $ - 6.1 mi. Exit 143 in Roanoke “The sugar cookies are unbeatable, and the French press coffee is the best in town.” Nona N. “Highly recommended.” Brad L. “Wow Roanoke, you are lucky to have such a legit French bakery!” Jennifer B. This style of baking is new to Roanoke, but a traditional style that creates some of the best breads visitors have ever tried. Bread Crafts make their breads daily and as fresh and easy as possible. Although they are mainly a bakery there are many other great eats found inside to create an aroma visitors and locals keep coming back for. Each day is greeted with new and fresh breads. Stop by for breakfast or lunch and be sure to try and take with you some of the tasty croissants, scones, cookies, and sweet rolls. Be sure not to miss this fresh taste.   Firefly Fare – 4.5 stars – Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, American (New) - $$ - 6.5 mi. Exit 143 in Roanoke “Everything tasted extremely fresh.” Karmalife L. “Very nice staff and such a wonderful addition to the downtown eatery scene.” Raul R. “I wish I could eat it every day.” Cassandra D. The local, farm-to-table southern cuisine is exactly what Firefly Fare in Roanoke is known for. That passion for great food visitors are looking for is met with a curiosity for the connections between people, the land, and the food they eat. Firefly Fare makes connections between cultures and history through their dishes. Found inside a historic city market building and supporting the farm-to-table movement in restaurants, Firefly Fare has been featured on NPR’s “Veggie Chef” and with the Salem Farmer’s Market Chef’s Circle. With both children’s and fresh juice menus try out the Paninis, pitas, and bowls of flavors. A wine and beer menu is also available to check out new tastes.   Dude’s Drive In – 4.5 stars - American (Traditional) - $ - 1 mi. Exit 118B in Christiansburg “A local favorite! I can’t like it enough.” Justin M. “The staff is super sweet and friendly, very quick, the food is awesome, and it’s super affordable!” Samantha C. “This place is wonderful.” Liz A. This small drive up restaurant may not seem like much from the outside but Dude’s Drive in has so much to offer in taste and experience. As an old-fashioned drive-in the kids will love to watch the car hops ready to meet and serve you with a smile. Come see the authentic style shop and try out their famous hot dogs. They may feel like fast food but the friendly service and old fashioned atmosphere creates a whole new experience you don’t want to miss out on, so swing by for a quick and great meal.

Dude's Drive-In

Dude's Drive-In

  Due South BBQ – 4.5 stars – Barbeque - $ - 1 mi. Exit 118B in Christiansburg “This place is great.” PC “The perfect stop on a road trip down south.” Lia M. “Down home country feel, friendly service, great food!” Ingrid K. We’ve found the best pulled pork, brisket, and ribs in the New River Valley. Due South BBQ is the 2007 Virginia State BBQ championship winner for best sauce and the 2009 champion for smoked brisket chili. The People’s choice best taste and appearance winners also make some of the best chicken and homemade sides visitors have ever tried. The locals adore their banana pudding and there are five available sauces to taste. Headed toward a Virginia Tech game? This is the place to stop. All meats are hickory smoked daily persuading us to promise that you’ll come back to visit for the great flavors.   Graze on Main - 4.5 stars - American (Traditional), Southern - $$ - 1.4 mi. Exit 70 in Wytheville "Delicious is just not a good enough word!" Laura C. "The food was amazing!" Jacqueline J. "Carrot cake is the bomb." Gary M. Tucked into the beautiful Bolling Wilson Hotel, this gem of an establishment delivers high quality eats in a lush, historic building. Take your southern favorites (pimento cheese or fried green tomatoes, anyone) out on the patio for a great view of the mountains.   Rain – 4.5 stars – American (Traditional), Sandwiches - $$ - 1.3 mi. Exit 17 in Abingdon “If you’re in Abingdon, Rain is a must try” Lawrence S. “Wonderful service and great food” TyAnne C. “So delicious I practically licked the plate.” Lisa G. Casual-fine dining offered for lunch and dinner is best served at Abingdon’s Rain. The restaurant’s own Chef Ben Carroll is being named Abingdon's most creative chef, so come try the amazing butternut squash soup or the stuffed chicken breast. With something for everyone, it’s a meal you can’t skip. Rain’s beautiful dishes are available for lunch and dinner and outside seating is available for relaxing. Enjoy homemade food with a traditional southern twist making each bite more incredible than before. Main courses include the rosemary chicken linguine, Benton-cured bacon, and stuffed chicken breast. There are also seafood options such as the scallops and catch-of-the-day. Taste for yourself the blackened ribeye steaks, one of their most popular dishes.   The Tavern – 4 stars – American (Traditional) - $$$ - 1.3 mi. Exit 17 in Abingdon   “The filet was awesome, the atmosphere was charming, and our server was friendly.” Leigh C. “Great Food! Tremendous service.” Deborah W. “We visit only once a year and The Tavern is a MUST before we leave.” Missy S. The Tavern, inside a building constructed in 1779, is Abingdon’s oldest building and home to some of the best dishes and tasteful dinners all visitors say you just must try for yourself. With its roots in American history, the building was used as a tavern and inn and even a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Dinner at The Tavern is a long-time and beloved tradition in Abingdon. With an extensive beer and wine list, everything perfectly complements your meal. Guests enjoy a friendly and relaxed atmosphere met with a diverse menu with everything prepared fresh to order. Visitors come from all over the state to gather with friends and family in the restaurant or on the porch and courtyard to soak up the history of Abingdon.

The Tavern in Abingdon, VA

The Tavern

  Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace – 4.5 stars – American (New) - $$ - 0.8 mi. Exit 14 in Abingdon “The Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace is a one-stop shop for all things relating to Appalachia-music, arts, crafts, literature, and even food!” Cat P. “Amazed by the portions and quality of the food. You need to try it yourself, it is a treat.” Khawla N. “This place is great to go for great food and a true Virginia experience!” Lauren H. Visit the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace and experience Abingdon in a whole new way. Shop in the galleries full of unique craftsmanship and see what is so different and special about Southwest Virginia. With just as much to offer as the land around, their dishes are fresh and full. Try a fresh approach like the Southern Salad with cornbread croutons and foggy ride sweet Staymen vinaigrette or a hot sandwich like the Grass Fed Burger or Appalachian Ham. This is the best opportunity to have a fun experience in the region’s artisan heritage and crafts.

Heartwood in Abingdon, VA

Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace ,Image by Jason Barnette.

  Brooklyn Grill & Café – 4.5 stars – American (New) - $$ - 3.5 mi. Exit 3 in Bristol “Super Deli! The food is amazing.” Dany H. “Wow!!” Liana K. “Two things-Awesome food. Great service. I will definitely go back if I’m in Bristol again.” Todd S. Where does gourmet meet comfort? In Bristol, Virginia. At the Brooklyn Grill and Café guests can try new and improved favorites. This gem of a restaurant offers the satisfaction you were looking for and a taste you didn’t expect. Taste for yourself the eggplant appetizer, chicken Marsala, and even the spinach salad with a warm Gorgonzola sauce. Or instead try Brooklyn’s mouthwatering steak stuffed with blue cheese. Open from 11:30-2:00 and 5:00-9:00 Tuesday – Saturday, come see for yourself why locals and visitors alike are calling them “Bristol’s best!”   About the Author: Kemry Johnakin is an English Major at Brigham Young University-Idaho, hopes to write the next great American novel, and is greatly unsettled by the lack of oxford commas used in government paperwork.