Old Chickahominy House sign

Where to eat in Williamsburg with (and without) kids

Given the small size of Williamsburg, there is a surprisingly large number of restaurants to choose from. Thanks to the excellent advice of a friend who attended the College of William and Mary (Thank you Sarah!), we made no bad dining choices.We avoided the on-site taverns, which are big on 18th-century atmosphere but less appealing in terms of menu and price. All of the restaurants we ate in were family-friendly, making Williamsburg an excellent place to enjoy some great food while traveling with your kids.

Old Chickahominy House

My first recommendation is to have breakfast at the charming Old Chicakhominy House, home of fast, friendly service. Here it will behoove you to order any kind of breakfast meat whether it be bacon, sausage, or ham. You also might enjoy, as I did, Miss Melinda’s pancakes.

Old Chickahominy House pancakes But I can say without reservation that the number one item here is the creamed ham on square, salty, flaky, biscuits.

Oh yes! Old Chickahominy House creamed ham on biscuits And yes, that fried egg is a little superfluous.

(I did notice on the menu that the Brunswick Stew here is for sale by the quart. I’m thinking a return for a lunch of it with some biscuits might be in order.)

The Cheese Shop

Virgnia ham, cheddar cheese, French bread, house dressing, and roasted tomatoes from the Cheese Shop We were told by everyone who’s spent time in Williamsburg that we must try the Cheese Shop for lunch and indeed, this was an excellent recommendation. They have a very simple and expert system – you choose what meat, bread, and cheese you want and whether you want that served with the tangy house homemade dressing (you do – and you also want some of the roasted tomatoes – don’t argue!) and then order. A sign over the counter tells you how long you’ll have to wait for your sandwiches. Once your order is placed you can peruse the extensive selection of beverages and also pick up some chips or a dessert bar (lemon is a good choice).

It seems that the Cheese Shop is always super busy, although we had no trouble finding a table outside. There are also lots of benches in the area where you can sit and eat your food. Locals in the know call their orders in and pick up the sandwiches at a side window.

The Trellis

For a higher-end meal, try The Trellis, which has no children’s menu but will prepare anything in half portions. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll seat you underneath the impressive collection of bird cages that’s hung from the ceiling in the middle of the restaurant.

The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg is decorated with birdcages We loved the bread plate, which include creamy cornbread and big hunks of homemade soft pretzel with sides of mustard and honey butter.

Bread plate at The Trellis restaurant My watercress salad came shaped like a bouquet and topped with dates, buttermilk blue cheese and candied almonds.

Watercress salad at the Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg We also enjoyed seared scallops, shrimp and grits, pork tenderloin and braised pork belly, and fried cod – all with their own interesting touches like a root beer infusion on the pork and bok choy with the shrimp.

Tommy and I shared the restaurant’s most famous dessert – “Death by Chocolate” – and lived to tell the delicious tale.

ath by Chocolate" at The Trellis restaurant in Williamsburg Wythe Candy and Gourmet

And what goes better after a meal of scallops and roasted chicken than a dessert of jelly beans? If you find yourself hankering just such a combo, do as Teddy did and head across the street from Trellis (and next door to the Cheese Shop) where you’ll find Wythe Candy and Gourmet.

Candied apples at Wythe Candy and Gourmet in Williamsburg I was almost tempted to try these chocolate-covered Twinkies at Wythe Candy and Gourmet - almost. Should you prefer an enormous candied apple or some chocolate covered Twinkies, you’ll also do just fine.

The Blue Talon Bistro

I’ve saved the best for last. The Blue Talon Bistro has everything going for it. For one thing, there are roosters and chickens everywhere, which delighted our chick-loving boy.

Chicken painting at Blue Talon Bistro in Williamsburg Chicken are everywhere at Blue Talon Bistro in Williamsburg Little Chick found his peeps at Blue Talon Bistro in Williamsburg For another, the television over the bar shows a loop of old Julia Child TV programs (and I mean the old ones – black and white and everything). Oh, and then of course there’s the food. You really can’t go wrong with this menu, from the uh-mazing macaroni and cheese (served with a side of salty, smoky Virginia ham) to raclette that all four of us ate greedily to some beautiful composed salads including one with lardons and a softly poached egg.

Raclette at the Blue Talon Bistro Asparagus salad at the Blue Talon Bistro They also serve a trencher of meatloaf to unsuspecting nine-year-olds who simply must order off of the adult menu to show how different they are from their brothers.

Meatloaf at the Blue Talon Bistro And let’s just say, hypothetically of course, that you should order the chocolate mousse. When it arrives, it will do so as follows:

Chocolate mousse being served at the Blue Talon Bistro But the very best thing food item here (and also at Trellis, because they have the same executive chef) is the burnt sugar ice cream. If you eat nothing else during your entire stay in Williamsburg, if you are on a purity fast and are drinking only water, make sure that you get your hands on some burnt sugar ice cream. And that’s all I have to say on the matter

The Chickahominy House is just outside of the downtown area on Jamestown Road – we hopped in the MDX that Acura loaned us for our and drove out there on Sunday morning before heading to Water Country USA. And nary a wrong turn did we make with the excellent built-in GPS to guide us! All of the other restaurants are located in the Merchants Square area, which is walking distance from all of the Colonial Williamsburg attractions. I recommend reservations at the fancier ones.

For Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick. If you’re still hungry after this post, you’re sure to find some more yummy food writing there.

Many thanks to Acura, who paid for all of this wonderful food along with our other expenses. A proper thank you would really be to send them a bowl of that ice cream, but they’ll have to settle for this: Burnt sugar ice cream at the Blue Talon Bistro

Reader Responses

7 fellow travelers had this to say

  1. When your family takes the Cabot Trail road trip on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia (and you WILL!) you’ll love the Clucking Hen restaurant (based on comments above.) If your comments allowed pictures, I’d fire one off to you, but maybe I’ll e-mail them to you anyhow.

  2. Ah, Williamsburg! I haven’t been there since I was kid. Every summer on our way to Virginia Beach we would stop at Williamsburg. Not sure when I’ll make it back, but when I do it is nice to have an inside scoop.

  3. So glad you had a delicious trip1 And, I’m very pleased to hear you made it to Wythe’s- Art was horrified that I had not included it in my recommendations.

  4. Thanks for all of the suggestions! In our 4-day trip to Williamsburg, we made it to the Blue Talon for lunch, Wythe’s for after-Easter-chocolate shopping, and the Cheese Shop twice. All delicious!

  5. I could not disagree more about dining in the Taverns. You really missed out on great food, history and atmosphere. (We travel extensively too with our 3 little ones as my husband is a pilot for a major airline. )

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