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Calling all foodies! Harrisonburg is home to Virginia’s First Culinary District. On January 28, 2014, Harrisonburg’s City Council designated the downtown Harrisonburg area a Culinary District. More than 30 restaurants are downtown, with an additional 15 food-related businesses. What this means for visitors is a fabulous and delicious foodie scene!
Harrisonburg restaurants have won accolades from many well-known publications. Chefs and writers for Travel + Leisure, Wine Enthusiast, Southern Living, USA Today, and many more have lauded the food scene in Harrisonburg. And with good reason!
The city hosts many food-related events as well. Sample a variety of menu offerings during the Taste of Downtown Harrisonburg Restaurant Month (typically in March). Or rock out at the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival (typically in April). Delight your senses at the sweetest event in Harrisonburg, the Chocolate Walk (typically in early April). The city’s restaurants celebrate Farmhouse Breakfast Week (typically in January). There are several other events year-round; check out the city’s calendar for more details. Time your visit appropriately if you want to attend one of these events.
Where to Eat in Harrisonburg, VA
Located in the historic Hardesty-Higgins Visitor Center on Main Street, Heritage Bakery & Cafe can easily be found. Owned by a mother-daughter duo, you’ll feel the personal touch in anything you eat. The pastries focus on seasonal flavors (think pumpkin chai, salted caramel, and brown butter cinnamon). I enjoyed a chai tea with an apple on peanut butter toast – the most affordable breakfast I’ve had in a long time – great comfort food!
They really do make Harrisonburg sweeter, one pastry at a time! It’s also one of the most Insta-worthy spots in Harrisonburg.
This was an unexpected find based on locals’ recommendations. If you’re looking for a hippie, laid-back, casual eatery, then The Little Grill is a great option. You’ll find traditional diner options here, but vegans and vegetarians will also find something to savor.
I went traditional with a cheese omelet topped with their vegetarian chili and crispy potatoes. The vegetarian chili was the best I’ve had; next time, I would order a bowl!
Whether you visit for breakfast or lunch, Magpie Diner will regale you with delicious traditional diner fare with a modern twist. Housed in a 1950s tire service station, the menu constantly changes to match local seasonal offerings. If you’re not on a working lunch, enjoy one of their seasonal cocktails (which can also be served as mocktails!). And they always have a special – so check those out!
Wish you had visited for breakfast? Don’t fret – they serve all-day breakfast during the week! As a fan of breakfast for any meal, I tried the Green Poutine (crispy potatoes topped with a green sauce and arugula). I paired it with a Maple-Cardamom Latte and a Pear & Ginger Margarita.
If you aim to have brunch at Magpie Diner on the weekend, be prepared to wait. The restaurant is one of the town’s hot spots, with wait times often exceeding an hour or two! Be patient, put your name on the list, and explore downtown Harrisonburg while you wait for the text announcing your table is ready.
PRO TIP: Plan your visit well ahead of time by using their Brunch Pro Tips to avoid frustration! If you sit at the counter, your wait may also be shorter.
I’ve become addicted to Korean shows on Netflix, so any opportunity to try a delicious Korean restaurant, I’m there! Mashita was an unexpected find in Harrisonburg. They serve a clean, fresh, Korean-inspired menu.
Starting as a food truck, they became so beloved that they opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Like many other Harrisonburg restaurants, the focus is on fresh, locally sourced foods from the Shenandoah Valley. So, how do Southern flavors complement Korean? Deliciously!
I ordered the Caramelized Kimchi Fries with Beef Bulgogi and Spicy Gochujang Sauce (something I’m still trying to perfect at home!). The fresh flavors came together in an explosion in my mouth – the best I’ve ever had!
Do you want to go full Korean? Mashita offers options like Korean-style burritos, Fried Chicken Sandwiches (with Gochujang Sauce), and more. Ask the friendly staff for help if you’re unsure what to choose.
Mashita means it’s delicious. And that’s true here!
If you’re looking for a farm-to-table dining experience, you must try Rocktown Kitchen. This restaurant serves elevated American cuisine in a casual atmosphere. The menu features seasonal, locally sourced products. What I liked about Rocktown Kitchen was how down-to-earth the atmosphere was.
The servers are incredibly knowledgeable about their menu. Foods offered vary from traditional southern fare, such as Fried Green Tomatoes, to unique offerings, such as Wild Mushroom and Sweet Vermouth Linguini, which was unexpectedly light and smooth. And try the Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Whether you visit for lunch or dinner, you will have a delicious experience!
Looking for the fanciest dinner place in town? Then make a reservation at the Joshua Wilton House! Nestled in the Historic Inn at Joshua Wilton House is the restaurant with the same name. The restaurant is perfect for those romantic three-course dinners!
Check out their Date Night Tuesday if you’re visiting on a Tuesday night. For $40 per person, a couple can select an appetizer, entree, and dessert from a prix fixe menu. It’s a great deal!
PRO TIP: Save your budget by visiting during Happy Hour Tuesday-Thursday. For $20, you can order an appetizer and a drink (wine, beer, or cocktail). It’s an incredible deal!
Where to Snack (or Get Some Coffee) in Harrisonburg, VA
Kline’s has been a Harrisonburg institution since 1943. The old-fashioned ice cream-making technique using continuous freeze delivers a smooth and creamy frozen treat with excellent flavor to boost. Each location makes fresh ice cream daily, so check out the special during your visit!
Try an after-dinner treat at Bella Gelato. Whether you’re looking for a delicious fresh gelato made from milk from the Mount Crawford Creamery or simply looking for a steamy espresso, you’ll be glad you ended your day here. A cup of homemade chai on chilly evenings is perfect.
As a college town, Harrisonburg serves a mean cup of joe at multiple locations! If you’re a fan of pour-over coffee, head over to Chesnut Ridge Coffee Roasters. Drifter’s Café, nestled between Pale Fire Brewing and Rocktown Kitchen, is a great place to start your day with great flavors. The iced Horchata Latte hit all my favorite horchata notes. Sip on your Broad Porch Coffee Co. java while shopping at the boutiques at Agora downtown. Or stop by Black Sheep Coffee while strolling the side streets of Harrisonburg.
I can’t possibly do the Harrisonburg coffee scene justice in a foodie post. Just know that if you’re in Harrisonburg, you’re never more than a few steps from a delicious cup of joe.
Final Thoughts on Where to Eat in Harrisonburg, VA
Harrisonburg, VA is a true foodie destination that blew me away. This post barely scratched the surface of all the food offerings in town. There is a lively food truck scene (one of my favorite things to try) and worldly cuisine ranging from Chinese to Indian to even Indonesian. And vegetarians and vegans won’t go hungry either!
Check out these other related posts:
- 10 Instagrammable Spots in Harrisonburg
- Explore Harrisonburg from Hotel Madison
- Lavender Fields in Virginia
Annick, The Common Traveler