No matter which region you’re in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene, with dozens of notable chefs creating inspired dishes from locally sourced ingredients that bring the best flavors of the Commonwealth together in uniquely delicious ways. To shine a spotlight on the best eats in Virginia, we talked with a few of these chefs, from the award-winning seasoned professionals to the rising stars that have garnered attention in national and even international publications. Follow our “Inside the Kitchen” series as we take a look at all there is to Eat.Drink.LOVE in Virginia!
Located in the heart of Shenandoah County to the west of Shenandoah National Park, Woodstock Cafe sources almost all of their ingredients for the constantly-changing weekend dinner menus from nearby farms, taking full advantage of the fertile soil and lush farmland of the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to weekend dinners, the restaurant is a prime lunch spot any day of the week, serving an array of creative sandwiches, salads, paninis, and wraps. After eating, be sure to spend some time perusing The Pantry at 117, a shop within the restaurant stocked with gourmet food items including a selection of wines from local vineyards as well as carefully curated home decor accents.
Photo Credit: Nikki Grant
Woodstock Cafe’s Chef Jose Arevalos is both the culinary mastermind behind the restaurant and the co-owner, running the restaurant with his partner, Nikki Grant. The hard work and talent between these two has created a restaurant that is not only a leader in the region when it comes to fresh local food, but also a community gathering place that is welcoming and friendly to all.
If you’re traveling along the northern end of Interstate 81 between Harrisonburg and Winchester or looking for a bite to eat after spending the day in Shenandoah National Park, stop in to Woodstock Cafe and see why they have quickly become one of the most respected and often-visited culinary destinations in the Shenandoah Valley.
Want to know more about Woodstock Cafe and Chef Arevalos? Read on to learn about some of his chef secrets followed by one of Chef Arevalos’ favorite recipes!
Do you have a few go-to producers, farms, or other purveyors you prefer to get your local ingredients from?
We love our local farms. We use Adam’s apples and herbs a lot, mowery’s orchard and we love oxymel from Red Root & Co. All right here in Woodstock.
What are your favorite Virginia flavors?
Squash from Adam’s is all over our menu right now. We roast delicata squash and serve it with burrata and pomegranate syrup and baby arugula. We have used butternut squash in several of our pasta specials including a hearty risotto. Also apples! Fall is the best time to get local apples. Honey crisps are a favorite in salads, pies and our seasonal dessert for dinner
What is your favorite thing to cook for yourself?
At home, we eat a lot of pasta and tacos - we can pretty much turn anything into a taco. We get home late, so anything simple and easy. On days off, I like to make stew and have it cook most of the day. My wife, Nikki, likes when I cook traditional Mexican recipes passed down from my Mom and Grandmother.
What Virginia wine, craft beer, cider, or cocktail would you pair with that?
I’m a beer drinker - and love Three Notch’d out of Charlottesville. The Big Slice IPA is a favorite. Nikki, is the wine drinker in the family - so she would probably say sparkling from Cave ridge or Thalia from Muse.
What is your favorite vacation spot in Virginia?
Honestly...our house. We don’t get a lot of downtime, so actually getting to enjoy our house, time with our dog, and the beautiful view of the mountains is a nice treat. Maybe when we retire, we will get to see more of the state!
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Pomegranate Burrata Squash Salad
Photo Credit: Nikki Grant
- One 8-ounce ball of Belgioioso Burrata
- Small Box Baby Arugula
- 1.5 quarts Pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup high-quality honey
- Fresh Pomegranates
- 1 Delicata squash
- Chopped sage
- Laconiko Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pistachios (half handful, crushed)
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- Cracked Pepper to taste
- Sliced and core out squash. Coat with olive oil, sage, and salt - roast at 425 for about 15 minutes. Chop squash into medium dice.
- Make Pomegranate syrup by combining 1.5 quarts pomegranate juice and 1/2 cup of honey in a pot. Reduce on the stovetop to syrup (you will have lots left over - we use ours for cocktails!).
- Place burrata on a plate or serving tray. Assemble squash pieces and arugula around the burrata, then drizzle with pomegranate syrup and olive oil, top with pomegranate seeds and pistachio pieces, and finish off with kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper; serve cold.
Looking for more incredibly tasty recipes from Virginia’s top chefs? Stay tuned for more In the Kitchen articles and check out these other articles in the chef series: