Foodie Travels: Day Trip to Southern West Virginia

New River Gorge

The allure of West Virginia’s beautiful New River Gorge attracted us to visit. And while the gorgeous outdoor experience left an impression on us, we came home to North Carolina talking just as much about the delicious food we ate.

I’m not certain that’s only because we’re foodies. The area surrounding Fayetteville, W.Va., offers a broad menu through a deep roster of restaurants for a small town. Food must have factored into Fayetteville earning several honors as one of America’s “coolest small town” designees in the past decade.

I will go ahead and divulge that there are more restaurants we didn’t try in a single day in West Virginia’s southern mountains than what we did experience. There’s Pies & Pints, a well-known pizza and craft beer spot. There’s Vandal’s Kitchen, a delightful-looking take on Southern cooking. And there’s Gumbo’s, a cajun and creole option. Oh, and the temptation also includes West Virginia-based Tudor’s Biscuit World. Just look them up online and let your mouth start watering if you’re a biscuit and Southern food lover.

Those restaurants didn’t make our one-day cut in what was an extremely hard choice during a short visit. (Also keep in mind that as a travel tip we often surround our meals at delicious local restaurants with snacks from home and cheap breakfasts or lunches in between.) But we urge you to consider them if you travel U.S. 19 through Fayetteville. Here’s more about where we did eat, with a little bit about what we liked most at those spots.

Cathedral Cafe

Cathedral Cafe

This coffee shop, cafe and book store is located in an old historic church right on the main street through town. The building’s past and the eatery’s present offerings were what drew me to it during an online search of Fayetteville dining spots.

During our visit, we shared brunch for a nice light meal between a long drive and a hike to Long Point for a breathtaking view of the famed New River Gorge Bridge.

For drinks, we shared an Almond Joy iced coffee (which was so strong but also tasty) and an iced tea, which was less sweet than we’re used to in the Carolinas.

Since we were already past the breakfast menu, we decided to share a pair of appetizers: the chips and salsa and the salmon pita pizza. The chips were nice and salty and warm, and the salsa had a nice homemade feel that offered a tasty mix of restaurant-style and chunky.

The pita pizza was the star of the show here. A nice warm pita was topped with vegetable cream cheese, fresh salmon, greens and incredibly flavorful capers.

We made a good choice as the meal didn’t weigh us down on our long gorge hike, and we spent less than $20 combined for enough to fill us with energy for our hike. And, although the books were difficult to access with seating so close to them, we enjoyed the atmosphere in the Cathedral Cafe. The place even offers a small store upstairs.

Pita Pizza

Secret Sandwich Society

Photos of the most notable American presidents line the walls. A delicious American diner smell fills the air. A line of people stretches out the door throughout the afternoon and evening.

Secret Sandwich Society is not so secret, and that’s a good thing. This place has perfected the customer service end of the waiting list. Not only do they put your name on a Yelp list and then text you when your table is ready, they also offer a lounge upstairs that offers drinks (including sodas), music and a variety of seating where you can stay cool (or warm in the right season) while you rest and await your meal. We were very pleased with our accommodations during a 45-minute wait that started with our arrival around 4:45 p.m. By the way, that wait had stretched to an hour and a half by the time we finished our meal around 6:30 p.m.

When you make your way downstairs, you can sit inside or outside on the porch. If it’s hot, I absolutely recommend a table indoors.

Secret Sandwich burger

The menu is just what you’d expect from the name: sandwiches. But these sandwiches all come with a special blend of toppings, a home on a delicious fresh-baked bread and a unique name to boot. The burgers all have a tasty blend of well-seasoned beef that carries a signature name. The juicy chicken, roast beef and other meat options are accompanied by yummy toppings and the names of American presidents and other national and international leaders from the past.

Bring an appetite here, which is not difficult to do with all of the outdoor adventure sports in the area, because there’s plenty to eat. Along with our sandwiches, we enjoyed seasoned fries and our Cokes from the lounge. To top off the meal, we split a piece of Key Lime Pie, which I will remember for its very flavorful cashew Graham cracker crust.

This place was a hit for us, to the tune of what is probably one of my 10 or 15 favorite burgers in the southeast. And we were very pleased with the value for the $30 we paid.

Secret Sandwich Society

For more about the adventures awaiting you in Fayetteville, W.Va., click here.

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