Diners and Dives Tour!
An American tradition but made popular more recently by Food Network celebrity Guy Fieri, there is something special about finding a little gem off the beaten path to have a bite to eat. Scattered across the United States, these culinary institutions have been serving their unique creations to hungry travelers and locals for decades. Everyone has their favorite at home and we want to share some of ours with you as you make your way through the small towns of Virginia. Roll up your sleeves, take a seat, and dig in to our Diners and Dives tour!
1st Day: We depart this morning for Wakefield, VA and a stop at the Virginia Diner. The Virginia Diner has been a refuge for folks who like down-home cooking ever since Mrs. D’Earcy Davis served hot biscuits and vegetable soup to hungry customers, way back in 1929. In those days the little diner was a refurbished Sussex, Surry, and Southampton Railroad car. As business grew so did the restaurant with dining room after dining room added on to accommodate a growing list of satisfied customers. Today, the Virginia Diner has been replicated and the old railroad car has become a legend, but its quaint atmosphere has been faithfully preserved and still reflects throughout the restaurant. Antique peanut vendor roasters and buckets of free peanuts for munching continue to greet guests at the front door along with the irresistible aroma of freshly prepared dishes just like Grandma Galloway used to make. Enjoy lunch, including a slice of the diner’s World Famous Peanut Pie with ice cream! Next, we will visit Darden’s Country Store. Curing hams, smoking ‘em. The way they do it is the way Tommy’s daddy did it - the way they salt ‘em, the way they stack ‘em. It takes a personal touch. They work individually with each ham ‘til they get it right. This is a lost art. Now, you can’t even find a pot big enough to cook a ham. Here in Virginia, ham is a traditional food. But everywhere else, because of the publicity around salt cured pork meat, it’s now more of a delicacy. Not too many people do what they do anymore. Farm, run the little store and do hams. It’s all part of our lifestyle, our history, and our future. We will also visit the Bon Vivant Market which produces beer and wine. They operate in an intimate store where you can purchase your own bottles and souvenirs. This evening, dinner is included at Smithfield Bakery and Restaurant. Their award-winning chef will prepare a delectable meal for you. It has a true down-home feel with fantastic food to match! (L, D)
2nd Day: We travel to Norfolk today and enjoy a tour of Rowena’s, known for their delicious cakes and jams. Three backyard fruit trees sparked what is today a thriving gourmet food business for Rowena Fullinwider, founder and president of Rowena’s. As word spread about the “cake lady”, requests for Rowena’s specialty foods exceeded the capabilities of her kitchen. Rowena opened her gourmet manufacturing facility in May of 1983 and in 25 years, her facility has grown to 18 employees, a retail store, staff offices, call center, tearoom, two spacious kitchens and two warehouses. Rowena’s has been featured in national publications such as Lady’s Home Journal, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Taste of Home and Southern Living, and has appeared on Food Finds on the Food Network, QVC, The 700 Club and The Today Show. Next, we meet a Local Food Tour Guide and depart on a Norfolk Food Tour. Our guide will lead us on a journey through historic Downtown Norfolk with stops at local restaurants to sample house specialties. Hear the stories of a young Norfolk in its early stages and how it’s shaped Norfolk today, while you munch on savory dishes and interact with restaurant staff and owners! Sample Hampton Roads seafood classics, loose tea and coffee from a West Coast style coffeehouse, Mediterranean staples, British Isle pub fare, and more. Note: Some walking may be required. Where was the very first ice cream cone ever made? It was created by the Doumar family during the Jamestown Exposition in 1907. Doumar’s Drive-In is a Hampton Roads landmark and to this day, the family continues to use the original ice cream cone-making machine. Tonight, enjoy dinner at The Train Station. Nestled in a small inlet of the James River, the restaurant provides a spectacular view of the river. On any warm evening, you can enhance your dining experience with a glorious sunset or ominous storm clouds provide an arresting scene. The moment you step inside the doors and set your eyes on the rich décor of the main dining room’s teal and dusty rose blends trimmed throughout with the original mahogany-toned wood. The walls are rich with the history of Newport News’ downtown, railroad and waterways. The specials of this establishment include the best crab cakes on the Peninsula, made with 100% backfin crabmeat, friend and broiled trout, she crab soup, and peach and apple cobbler. (CB, L, D)
3rd Day: We will head to Williamsburg this morning to visit Pierce’s PITT Bar-B-Que. Barbecue connoisseurs have been flocking to Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que ever since its founder “Doc” Pierce fired up the pitt back in 1971. Considered one of the absolute best bar-b-que restaurants in America, Pierce’s enjoys an enormous local, national and international following. The smokehouse, containing three hickory burning bar-b-que pitts, each able to cook 2,000 pounds of meat per day, can be found just next to the restaurant. To keep up with the restaurant’s enormous popularity, and depending on the season, there are Boston pork butts cooking and smoking four to six days a week. Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que enjoys high praise from bar-b-que enthusiasts across America. Earning Southern Living magazine’s “Readers Choice” award year after year, Pierce’s has also earned top honors from Vince Staten and Greg Johnson, authors of the book Real Barbecue - The Classic Barbecue Guide to the Best Joints Across the USA. Enjoy lunch this afternoon at the Old Chickahominy House. Lunch includes a cup of Brunswick Stew, Old Virginia Ham on Hot Biscuits, Fruit Salad, Homemade Pie, and coffee or tea. After lunch, we will depart for home, thus ending a wonderful tour of Diners and Dives in Virginia. Arriving back at approximately 6:30 PM. (CB, L)
Special Notice: Balance is due 30 days prior to departure. Cancellations within 30 days of departure will result in payment forfeiture.