Amusement Parks
National Parks
Route 66 Cities Beaches




Getting There
Other Area Attractions
At Williamsburg, meals are more than nourishment. They are one more way of totally immersing yourself in history. The village restaurants are living museums just as the windmill, horsedrawn carriages and militia drills on the Green. The menus are just as they were in the 1700s. The ingredients are the same and the ways the food is prepared are the same. Correctly costumed troubadors circulate among the tables, playing their flutes or violins or other instruments. Hostesses, like Christiana Campbell, converse with the guests about topics of the day circa 1772. Furniture, plates and utensils are accurate historically. These were real restaurants in the years leading up to the Revolution. James Madison, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other Founding Fathers sat at these tables, ordered from these menus, debated politics and economics with their colleagues, and paid their tabs once a month, leaving us a record of what each meal cost and what drinks they favored. To eat in one of these restaurants, you must make advance reservations for a specific time. They sell out, and there are very few no shows or cancellations.
Christiana Campbell's is one of the two most important restaurants in American history, along with the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston. The Sons of Liberty plotted the American Revolution upstairs in the Green Dragon, and George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and General Rochambeau plotted the Battle of Yorktown at a back room table in Christiana Campbell's the night before marching with the troops to Yorktown for the grand finale of the Revolution. This was George Washington's favorite restaurant and when he was in town during the legislative sessions he would eat every meal here. In the 1700s, Christiana Campbell's was famous as Virginia's finest seafood restaurant. Today, it is one of America's top 10 seafood restaurants. The prelude is a basket of Sourdough Bread and Sweet Potato Muffins, and during the meal they bring you Hot Spoon Bread. The Seafood Chowder will wake up your taste buds, and among the entrees we particularly like the Crab Cakes and Fish Stew, although when they offer it their Rainbow Trout is also outstanding. In the unlikely event you can save room for dessert, their homemade ice cream 1700s style is memorable. If you have kids along Christiana Campbell serves gourmet Macaroni & Cheese.
Shields Tavern has more of a pub or classic tavern atmosphere than that of a restaurant. Appetizers include Crawfish Bisque, Peanut Butter Soup and Welsh Rarebit. Someone at your table should order each so you can pass them around and sample. They're delicious. Entrees feature Vegetable Ravioli, Pulled Pork, Brunswick Stew, Prime Rib, Barbequed Ribs, Pot Roast and Donkers (Chicken & Dumplings). For dessert there are Apple Dumplings, Peanut butter Pie and Berry Crumble Pie. Rooms are lit by candlelight and especially downstairs, where there are no windows, the rustic atmosphere is very impressive, although quite dark and eerie. Costumed musicians rotate among the rooms, playing the fiddle or flute and singing. You must remember they are preparing foods the way they prepared them in the 1700s. The food is very good but it is not being prepared to suit 21st Century tastes. If you come with an open mind you will enjoy Shields immensely. This is not a seafood restaurant --- they leave that to Christiana Campbell's. This is what passed for good hearty bar food in the 1700s. They also serve drinks known to have been popular back then, like Rum (served in crushed ice) and Peach Brandy. Mr. Shields comes by your table and chats with you for a while in his 17th century dialect.
Kings Arms Tavern, in business since 1772, advertises itself as a steakhouse, but that's a bit misleading. Their seafood and chicken dishes are also outstanding. As a matter of fact, if you're there when the Crab is in season, it may be their best entree. We almost always recommend an appetizer, but here you may wish to hold back. They bring you a generous portion of Sally Lunn Bread and assorted relishes, and you'll have a hard time resisting those. You want to leave room for dessert, and the main course will be very filling. So an appetizer may not be your best strategy. If you try one, it should be the Peanut Soup, an old Williamsburg favorite which Kings Arms does really well. An example of an entree which will leave you stuffed is the Norfolk Pottage Pie. It's a generously sized meat pot pie, crammed with meat and vegetables, very well prepared. There's also a Wild Game Pie which is even better. The menu changes with the season, but is always short, with 5-7 entrees. They usually offer Pork Chops, Steak, Virginia Fried Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie for vegans. Dessert will include such options as Triple Layer Chocolate Torte With Raspberry Sauce.
Chowning's is probably the weakest link among Williamsburg historic restaurants, but it does a huge business because it offers outdoor terrace seating at lunch for a reasonable price in the middle of the Historic District. The menu is limited to five items : Brunswick Stew, BBQ Sandwich, Turkey Sandwich, Ham Sandwich and Comb (ham and turkey) Sandwich. These are usually prepared inside and brought back to the terrace, which is shaded by overhead grapevine trellises. Unlike its three neighboring restaurants, these five lunchtime items are nothing historic or special. As a matter of fact, they're just average in taste. But they're filling and quick and you can get in, relax in the cool shade, sit down for half an hour, and then resume your walking tour of the village. Josiah Chowning's in the 1700s was an alehouse. After 8 pm they stop serving back under the grapevines and move inside to become a more traditional tavern with a classic one page menu of full entrees. Chowning's is famous for its Gambols, a group of troubadors who perform inside in the evenings, leading guests on sing alongs. It makes for a festive occasion. The Cream Ale and Wheat Ale are outstanding if you're a beer conneisseur.
The Trellis is at the other end of Duke of Gloucester Street (the main historic district street), in Market Square. Its food quality declined for a few years but it is now under new management and is trying to restore its reputation. If you want to be on the safe side, order the two items that have always been their signature items and which never dropped in quality : The entree Pan Seared Rockfish in Leek Beet Sauce, and the dessert Death by Chocolate. They are both delicious and very filling. However, the Crab Chowder is a fine appetizer and the Flounder is another excellent seafood entree. If they offer the Stuffed Trout the day of your visit, order it. They stuff the trout with crabmeat and sweet cornbread. It's outstanding. Their Crab Cakes are also very good, moist and smooth. The Trellis now offers wine by the glass (it's about time) and has some excellent selections. Prepare for the possibility of inconsistent service. The Trellis employs mostly William & Mary college students as wait staff. Some are outstanding, some less so. Most of the reviews on the internet complain about the service. Yes, they probably need to enroll their entire staff in a one week wait staff training program. But you're going for the food, and it's once again very good.
Huzzah's is a more reasonably priced family restaurant behind the Visitor Center. You can get everything from pizza and burgers to soup and chicken. Huzzah's is not historic. It is simply a convenient restaurant to serve everyone staying at the Woodlands and the Cascades motels. It compares to a Denny's, EatnPark or Shoneys. It is open only for dinner and the menu is not imaginative. However, if you have kids or a youth group, this could be ideal. The pizza is small but tasty, their Lemonade, Root Beer and Iced Tea are very good and served in generous sized glasses, and their desserts are satisfying. Salads are small and the entrees are only fair. Soups are canned and dressings and sauces are bottled. It may seem we're advising against Huzzah's, but this is not true. It is a very good alternative. Most people, especially families or youth groups, cannot afford to eat every meal in one of the historic district restaurants. They have to have somewhere else to go, and Huzzah's meets that need very well. But after reviewing all the other restaurants, we need to make sure everyone understands that this is not the same kind of establishment as Christiana Campbell's or Kings Arms.
Like Us On Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OutpostUSA/) To Receive Daily Outdoor Adventure News and Notes And To Comment
This Year's Unique Visitor Tally : 1,003,492 Contact us at Omlordw@aol.com Meet our writers at Staff