The 10 Best Restaurants in Roanoke VA (Virginia’s Blue Ridge)

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[Updated 1/12/2022]  The city of Roanoke VA has no shortage of great restaurants to choose from.

With a population of around 100,000 people– the largest of the many mountain towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway– there are eateries of every ilk to satisfy any possible craving you could have.

My wife Emma and I have been devoted vegans for 8+ years now, with decades of vegetarianism preceding that. So eating out when traveling in the Southeast has felt challenging at times.

But thankfully there were plenty of vegan-friendly Roanoke restaurants for us to visit. We managed to stay well-fed for days without repeating restaurants, or even types of cuisine. We even found some top-notch vegan ice cream!

BRMTG co-founders Bret Love and Mary Gabbett also managed to help out by sampling a few of the great restaurants in Roanoke that we missed during our first visit. 

Whatever your culinary preferences may be, there are a slew of excellent options awaiting any foodie who visits Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Read on for our rundown of the best restaurants in Roanoke VA, including lots of different options for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Roanoke VA

 

Best Restaurants in Roanoke VA Guide 

  1. RND Coffee Lounge (Coffeeshop)
  2. Little Green Hive (Coffee/Juice Bar)
  3. Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje (Mexican)
  4. Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery (Gastropub)
  5. Mellow Mushroom (Pizza/Subs)
  6. Taaza Indian Cuisine (Indian)
  7. Falafel House (Middle Eastern)
  8. Rockfish Food & Wine (Fine Dining)
  9. Blue Cow Ice Cream Co. (Ice Cream)
  10. Bubblecake (Bakery) 
Roanoke Restaurants - RND - Breakfast in Roanoke VA
RND Coffee Lounge, photo by Emma Gallagher

Breakfast in Roanoke VA

A good breakfast out usually revolves around specialty omelets or egg dishes, buttery biscuits (at least in the South), and a strong cup of coffee.

But even though our diet is entirely egg- and butter-free, we still found some awesome places to eat in Roanoke every single morning we were there. 

1. RND Coffee Lounge (Coffeeshop)

1114 Main St SW • No Phone • roanokecoffee.com

HOURS: 7:00am to 6:00pm Daily

RND, a.k.a. Roasters Next Door Coffee Lounge, serves up some of the world’s best coffee varietals in a laid-back, cozy neighborhood setting.

They also manage to serve some tasty nibbles alongside that locally-roasted morning brew.

RND definitely has the feel of a local coffee shop. The place has more character than those big-name coffee chains, but also offers the quality and flavor that appeals to true java aficionados.

Breakfast-wise, we were able to sample two awesome vegan treats: a Lemon-Blueberry Poppy Seed Muffin and Vegan Chickpea Toast. Both hit the spot, and helped to fuel us for hiking up McAfee’s Knob.

Other appealing menu offerings here included Cherry Banana Bread, Avocado Toast, Cinnamon Raisin Coffee Cakes, and a variety of bagels.

READ MORE: Things to Do at Center In The Square in Downtown Roanoke VA

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Roanoke Restaurants - Little Green Hive
Little Green Hive, photo by Emma Gallagher

2. Little Green Hive (Coffee/Juice Bar)

16 West Marketplace at 16 Church Ave SW • 540-400-7890 • littlegreenhive.com

HOURS: Mon to Fri 7am-5pm; Sat 8am-5pm; Sun 8am-4pm

Proudly woman-owned and family-operated, Little Green Hive serves fair-trade, organic, locally-roasted coffee, as well as ridiculously delicious smoothies and juices.

In addition to their Grandin Village and Downtown Roanoke restaurants, they also have a third location in Daleville, about 13 miles north of the city. 

The one we visited downtown had an awesome book exchange, where I found a great tome on unusual edible trees.

As for smoothies, Emma went with the Peaches & Cream (with peach, banana, vanilla, and almond milk), while I opted for the guiltier pleasure of Peanut Butter Cup (banana, cocoa, peanut butter, and almond milk). We both felt like winners!

On top of that, the Little Green Hive menu includes café fare such as wraps, paninis, and grilled cheeses, each with a flair for flavoring that seemed miles beyond something we might throw together at home.

READ MORE: Exploring the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke VA

Roanoke Restaurants - Tuco's Taqueria Garaje - Lunch in Roanoke VA
Tacos at Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje

Lunch in Roanoke VA

We’re normally light lunchers, treating the meal more or less as a snack to keep us from getting hungry between a substantial breakfast and a sleep-inducing dinner.

In this case, we just needed something small, tasty, and hopefully fun. And that’s precisely what we got!

3. Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje (Mexican)

416 Salem Ave SW • 540-682-8636 • tucostaqueria.com

HOURS: Sun to Thu 11am-9pm; Fri 11am-10pm; Sat 11am-10pm

Another fine Downtown Roanoke restaurant, Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje skillfully walks the line between fast food and upscale Mexican cuisine.

Their menu is fairly simple and standard, with typical dishes such as tacos and burritos.

But because they use creative ingredients such as roasted corn relish and fried chicken, their food seems packed with personality.

We got the Veggie Tacos (with marinated portabella, squash, roasted peppers, onions, and salsa) with guacamole instead of avocado cream.

Another element that elevates this place above, say, Chipotle is the fact that Tuco’s has happy hour specials and pitchers of margaritas.

There’s also a comfy outdoor seating area to go with a proper sit-down-and-be-serve interior.

Tuco’s is located within a stone’s throw of two popular Roanoke breweries. Lots of folks go to Big Lick Brewing Company across the street and order their food from Tuco’s to pair it with our #2-rated brewery in Roanoke.

READ MORE: The 8 Best Breweries in Roanoke VA, the Heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Roanoke Restaurants - Three Notch'd
Three Notch’d, photo by Emma Gallagher

4. Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery (Gastropub)

24 Campbell Ave SE • 540-492-5005 • threenotchdbrewing.com

HOURS: Sun to Mon 11am-6pm; Closed Tue; Wed 11am -8pm; Thu to Sat 11am-10pm

Our top-rated brewery in Roanoke is Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen, which is HQ’d in Charlottesville VA.

Aside from their fantastic beers, the food here also has enough pizzazz to make lunch a special occasion.

Their Roanoke location is right in the happening heart of Downtown, at the corner where the open-air market and Center In The Square collide to offer all the culture and local synergy a place can muster.

The outdoor patio at Three Notch’d seats you right next to all the action, making it a great place for people-watching while you drink and dine.

Inside, there are all the accouterments of a hip microbrewery, including huge casks behind a glass wall, a trendy-looking bar with quippy stuff written everywhere, and a slick loft seating area.

The menu offers many gastropub mainstays, such as jazzed-up tater tots, pretzels, dips, and an array of gut-busting burgers and sandwiches.

We got a Garden Veggie Burger on pita bread with fries, as well as a hearty salad.

The waiter threw in a side of spicy relish that kicked it up a notch, making it crystal clear that this place is worth another trip on our next Roanoke visit.

READ MORE: Things to Do at Center In The Square in Downtown Roanoke VA

Mellow Mushroom Pizza restaurant in Roanoke VA
Mellow Mushroom Pizza, photo courtesy Rather-Severe.com

5. Mellow Mushroom (Pizza/Subs)

2239 Franklin Rd SW • 540-512-9822 • Official Website

HOURS: Mon to Sat 12pm-9pm; Sun 12pm-8pm

I’ll admit a bit of a personal bias here: I worked my way through college at a Mellow Mushroom offshoot in Atlanta, and later managed one of the oldest Mellow Mushroom locations there. 

Their first location opened in ATL in 1974, and by the 1990s Mellow Mushroom Georgia’s largest homegrown pizza chain. They’ve always used high quality ingredients and had a cool, retro-hip vibe to their restaurants.

Their funky style made them a perfect fit for cities like Asheville and Roanoke, with the Franklin Rd location opened in 2016.

The killer mural work by Travis Czekalski and Jon Stommel (collectively known as Rather Severe) is a perfect representation of the colorful brand, which is rooted in ’60s/’70s psychedelia. 

Their hand-tossed, stone-baked pizzas are obviously the star attraction on the menu, including personal favorites such as the Backyard BBQ, Kosmic Karma, and the House Special.

But their sandwiches (particularly the classic Steak & Cheese, Italian, and Meatball subs), pretzels, and salads also have a huge fan base, and their twice-baked wings have grown increasingly popular in recent years. 

In our opinion, this place has the best pizza in Roanoke VA. 

READ MORE: The 20 Most Beautiful Wildflowers in Virginia (& Where to See Them)

Roanoke Restaurants - Taaza
Bar at Taaza Indian Cuisine, photo by Emma Gallagher

Dinner in Roanoke

With so much afternoon beer and snacking elsewhere, we generally stayed full enough to skip dinner.

But since you’re only in Roanoke every so often, why not make the most of the area’s diverse foodie-friendly fare?

6. Taaza Indian Cuisine (Indian)

1910 Memorial Ave SW • 540-342-4773 • taazaroanoke.com

HOURS: Mon to Fri 11am-10pm; Sat to Sun Noon-10pm

Found in the Historic Grandin Village complex (right around the corner from the Grandin Theatre), Taaza is a great place to get Indian food, particularly as a vegan.

This was the first Roanoke restaurant we chose for our visit, mainly because there was an entire vegan and gluten-free entrée section on the menu.

We actually got to choose from nine different entrees, which never happens!

Both of our dishes— Okra Fritters and a saucy cauliflower, potato, and pepper dish called Aloo Gobi Capsicum—were delicious, served with the ubiquitous (and tasty) side of basmati rice. 

Note that the Okra Fritters are sized more like an appetizer than entrée, which was perfect for our appetite. 

Taaza has a rather upscale interior design, with a bar and soft-lighting, so it would make for a romantic date night place.

But we couldn’t resist sitting on the patio area and watching the eclectic traffic of Grandin Village’s T-intersection cruising by.

READ MORE: The Best Things to Do at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve in Roanoke VA

Roanoke Restaurant - Falafel House
Stuffed Grape Leaves at Falafel House, photo by Emma Gallagher

7. Falafel House (Middle Eastern)

1329 Grandin Rd SW • 540-206-2391 • Falafel House on Facebook

HOURS: Tues to Sat 11am-9pm; Sun 11am-8pm; Closed Monday

Some might argue that the exterior and interior decor of this Downtown Roanoke restaurant lacks charm, because it seems more focused on function than style.

But our experience at Falafel House quickly took us back to our years spent in the Middle East.

The kitchen, which was located right at the entrance, was being operated by a chef who was obviously the owner.

Although he was diligent, he was obviously in no rush to serve food that wasn’t up to his standards.

From our table, while snacking on a couple of free Falafels he passed our way, we watched as he went through the intricate motions of putting together your basic Falafel Sandwich with French Fries.

He carefully applied pinches of seasoning, smatterings of tahini sauce, and scoops of tangy house-made pickles.

The meal, though rather traditional in nature, was totally reminiscent of the falafel stands we visited in Turkey, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. He even jotted down our order in Arabic!

READ MORE: The Best Restaurants in Lexington VA & Natural Bridge VA for Foodies

Tomahawk Pork Chop at Rockfish Restaurant in Roanoke VA
Tomahawk Pork Chop at Rockfish, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

8. Rockfish Food & Wine (Fine Dining)

1402 Grandin Rd SW Ste 101 • 540-904-5454 • RockfishFood.com

HOURS: Wed-Sun 5:30pm-9pm

Located on a busy corner in Grandin Village, Rockfish Food & Wine was easily the most romantic restaurant in Roanoke we visited.

The lovely interior decor suggests a somewhat casual fine dining bistro, with wood floors, white linen tablecloths, tasteful art, and a full bar. 

But we chose to sit on the small outdoor patio, which offered excellent opportunities for people-watching in the bustling historic neighborhood. 

We started with a delicately breaded Calamari with a spicy marinara sauce and a Cheese & Charcuterie platter with house crackers, pickles, and an intensely flavorful whole grain mustard.

Both were delicious, pairing perfectly with the wines our server recommended. 

Mary adored her Pecan-crusted Trout over grits and succotash (one of several daily specials), which had a wonderful sprinkling of paprika.

But the tastiest, most eye-popping entree was my massive Tomahawk Pork Chop with sage butter, which was tender, succulent, and served with a delectable butternut squash risotto. 

READ MORE:  The 15 Best Lakes in the Virginia Mountains to Visit

Roanoke Restaurants - Blue Cow
Blue Cow Ice Cream, photo by Emma Gallagher

Dessert in Roanoke

In our eyes, it’s almost always worth hopping in the car to get dessert in a spot that deals an ace every time.

But it’s a special treat to find those places where the line winds out the door, simply because locals know the reward is worth the wait!

9. Blue Cow Ice Cream Co.

1115 Piedmont St SE • 540-400-8558 • bluecowicecream.com

HOURS: Mon to Thu Noon-10pm; Fri 11am-10pm; Sat to Sun 11am-10pm

With three locations in Virginia, the Blue Cow Ice Cream Co is to ice cream what micro-breweries are to beer. This little ice cream shop makes small-batch ice creams, with some creative spins on classic flavors.

Even better for us personally, they keep two different vegan options on the menu at all times.

We got to dig into their ever-popular Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream– a rich version with hints of coconut– and Salted Caramel, one of their rotating flavors.

In Roanoke, Blue Cow is located right at the foot of Mill Mountain, on route to the Roanoke Star. So it pairs beautifully with a trip up to watch the sunset over the city.

Right down the steps from the one of our favorite restaurants in Roanoke is the town’s River Greenway. I’m fairly certain our dessert tasted even sweeter because we were strolling along the picturesque river as we ate it.

READ MORE: Camping and Hiking in Grayson Highlands State Park, VA

Sweet Treats at Bubblecake Bakery in Roanoke VA
Sweet Treats at Bubblecake, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

10. Bubblecake (Bakery)

Tower Shopping Center, 2073 Colonial Ave • 540-343-2253 • Bubblecake.com

HOURS: Mon to Thu 10am-8pm; Fri to Sat 10am-9pm

Remember the famous scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory where they walk into a sweet-lover’s paradise, where all the flowers, grass, trees, and everything else you see is edible? 

That look of rapturous wonder on the kids’ faces is pretty much how we felt when we first laid our eyes on the counter filled with colorful confections at Bubblecake. 

This popular Roanoke bakery is located next to Bobby’s Hot & Cheesy in the Tower Shopping Center, and offers just about every type of cake, pie, or cookie you could possibly want (including gluten-free varieties). 

Their specialty is the self-proclaimed “Best Cupcakes on Earth,” which come in fantastic flavors ranging from Classic Carrot and Drunk & Pumpkin to LOL (Lots of Lemon), Peanut Butter Cup, and Pineapple Upside Down.

To say they’re delicious would do them a disservice, and they’re so massive we shared one and were still stuffed!

We can also highly recommend their Creme Brûlée Cookies, Macarons, and the best damn Salted Caramel Cookie Sandwich I’ve ever tasted.

This was only the beginning of our exploration of the restaurants in Roanoke VA. Though we returned home just a few months ago, we’re already anxiously planning our next visit.

There are lots of places serving up local favorites of the greasy spoon variety, and the gastropub scene is roaring all around the city. It reminded us a bit of the River Arts District in Asheville NC, where great beer, cuisine, and culture collide. 

The historic Roanoke City Market is full of fresh produce from farms in the surrounding countryside, most of which are less than 25 miles away.

In short, the Roanoke restaurant scene has a winning combination of tradition and trend that keeps you at ease while also offering opportunities for culinary exploration.  –by Jonathon Engels and Bret Love; lead photo of Rockfish by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

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We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

After visiting the Western North Carolina for the first time, Jonathon Engels and his wife Emma spent two years looking for a few acres of property there to establish a permaculture homestead. During that search, he explored the Blue Ridge Parkway, surrounding towns, and parks. He has taught at both Blue Ridge Community College and Surry Community College, is a member of a long-established land conservation community near the town of Dobson, volunteers at the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, and continues to explore the Blue Ridge, a place he now lovingly calls home.