Whichever region you’re in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene, with dozens of renowned chefs creating inspired dishes from locally sourced ingredients that bring together the best flavors of the Commonwealth in uniquely delicious ways. To put the spotlight on the best dishes in Virginia, we spoke to some of these chefs, from the award-winning seasoned professionals to the emerging stars who have garnered attention in national and even international publications. Follow our Inside the Kitchen series as we check out everything Eat.Drink.LOVE in Virginia!
Located in the heart of Shenandoah County west of Shenandoah National Park, Woodstock Cafe sources almost all of the ingredients for the ever-changing weekend menu from nearby farms, making full use of the fertile soil and lush farmland of the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to weekend dinner, the restaurant is a prime lunch spot every day of the week, serving a range of creative sandwiches, salads, paninis, and wraps. After your meal, be sure to spend some time at The Pantry at 117, an in-store shop filled with gourmet foods including a selection of wines from local vineyards as well as carefully crafted home decor accents.
Photo credit: Nikki Grant
Woodstock Cafe’s head chef, Jose Arevalos, is both the culinary mastermind behind the restaurant and the co-owner who runs the restaurant with partner Nikki Grant. The hard work and talent between these two have created a restaurant that is not only a leader in the area in terms of fresh local food, but also a meeting place for everyone that is welcoming and friendly to everyone.
If you’re on the north end of Interstate 81 between Harrisonburg and Winchester, or if you’re looking to grab a bite to eat after a day in Shenandoah National Park, stop by the Woodstock Cafe and see why they have quickly become the most prestigious and often-visited dining destinations in the Shenandoah Valley.
Want to learn more about Woodstock Cafe and Chef Arevalos? Read on to learn more about some of its secrets, followed by one of Chef Arevalos’ favorite recipes!
Do you have a couple of producers, farms, or other suppliers that you prefer your local ingredients from?
We love our local farms. We use a lot of Adam’s apples and herbs, Mowery’s orchard, and we love Oxymel from Red Root & Co. All right here in Woodstock.
What are your favorite Virginia flavors?
Adam’s squash is on our menu right now. We roast Delicata squash and serve it with burrata, pomegranate syrup and rocket. We’ve used butternut squash in several of our pasta specialties, including a hearty risotto. Apples too! Fall is the best time to get local apples. Honey chips are a favorite in salads, cakes, and our seasonal dessert for dinner
What do you prefer to cook for yourself?
We eat a lot of pasta and tacos at home – we can turn pretty much anything into a taco. We come home late, so it’s all simple and easy. On days off, I like to make stew and let it cook for most of the day. My wife Nikki likes it when I cook traditional Mexican recipes passed down from my mother and grandmother.
Which Virginia wine, craft beer, cider or cocktail would you go with?
I’m a beer drinker – and I love Three Notch’d from Charlottesville. The Big Slice IPA is a favorite. Nikki is the wine drinker in the family – so she’d probably say she sparkles from Cave Ridge or Thalia from Muse.
What is your favorite Virginia vacation spot?
To be honest … our house. We don’t have a lot of downtime so it is a nice treat to enjoy our home, time with our dog, and the beautiful views of the mountains. Maybe we’ll see more of the state in retirement!
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Pomegranate Burrata Pumpkin Salad
Photo credit: Nikki Grant
- An 8 ounce Belgioioso Burrata ball
- Small box of baby rocket
- 1.5 liters of pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup of high quality honey
- Fresh pomegranates
- 1 fine pumpkin
- Chopped sage
- Laconiko extra virgin olive oil
- Pistachios (half a handful, crushed)
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Broken pepper to taste
- Cut into slices and core the pumpkin. Brush with olive oil, sage and salt – fry for about 15 minutes at 425. Cut the pumpkin into medium cubes.
- Make pomegranate syrup by combining 1.5 liters of pomegranate juice and 1/2 cup of honey in a saucepan. Reduce to syrup on the stove (you still have plenty left – we use ours for cocktails!).
- Place the burrata on a plate or serving tray. Place the pumpkin pieces and rocket around the burrata, then drizzle with pomegranate syrup and olive oil, top with pomegranate seeds and pistachio pieces and finish with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. serve cold.
Are you looking for incredibly delicious recipes from Virginia’s top chefs? For more items from In the Kitchen, see the following cooking series items:
- Chef Rachel FitzGerald from Magpie Dinery – Apple Bacon Cheddar Sandwich
- Chef Dale Ford of the Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Braised Ribs with White Cheddar Byrd Mill truffle seeds, crispy Brussels and simple sauce
Inside the Kitchen with Chef Jose Arevalos of Woodstock Cafe first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.