Next Great Neighborhood: Downtown Roanoke

November 15, 2013 | By | Comments (32)
Photo by Scott Suchman

Photo by Scott Suchman

Situated West of the Blue Ridge and east of the Allegheny Mountains, Roanoke, historically known as the cultural hub of southern Virginia, is experiencing a resurgence downtown. A burgeoning medical and education sector has helped fuel the district’s evolution as young professionals choose to live in lofts within walking distance of galleries, parks, and a seven-days-a-week farmers’ market.

Locals aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits, though. This year, the Center in the Square—home to the Science Museum of Western Virginia, Harrison Museum of African American Culture, and others—has reopened after $30 million in renovations, attracting visitors from across the region. Here’s a quick guide to the flourishing few blocks.

Photo by Scott Suchman

Photo by Scott Suchman

1. Lucky
The perfect date spot with mood lighting and an impressive mix of shareable French-Southern dishes, this neighborhood restaurant features the best of Virginia’s bounty. Don’t miss the regional cheese plate ($12), oysters ($26/dozen), and, if you dare, an absinthe-infused Death in the Afternoon cocktail ($9).

2. Jacks
This old-fashioned barbershop, tucked away inside Davidsons, a menswear institution that caters to dapper downtown men, features classic services such as hot shaves ($30), plus more modern treatments like pedicures ($30) and facials ($25).

3. Taubman Museum of Art
The steel-and-glass building houses more than 2,100 pieces, with a focus on American art. Don’t miss the sizeable collection of Southern works, including paintings by folk artist Howard Finster and wood carvings by Fred Webster. Now through January, Beatles fans should check out the Imagine Peace exhibit with art made by John Lennon in the 1960s, and multimedia works by Yoko Ono.

4. S&W Market
Shop from Virginia-made products, like Duchess Dairy milk from Rural Retreat ($5/gallon) and Bread Craft’s sourdough ($3.50/loaf), at owner Mark Linson’s specialty store that opened last year, but be sure to save room for a Toscana pizza ($9 and up) and a glass of malbec ($6) from Cork & Crust, his new wood-fire pizza bar, inside the market.

5. The Inn on Campbell
Keith and Cindy Hummer opened this charming four-suite inn two years ago to provide a resting place for the growing downtown tourism scene. Start your day with the house-made gourmet breakfast of fresh-squeezed juice and bananas Foster waffles. And check back in the afternoon for the complimentary (and bottomless!) cheese and wine reception served at 5 p.m. every day. Rates from $189.

Photo by Scott Suchman

Photo by Scott Suchman

6. Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op
The new neighborhood grocer has 800 square feet of free-range eggs, locally grown produce, prepared lunches, and fresh-cut flowers from Heritage Point, the largest urban farm in the country run by a co-op.

7. Penny Deux Lounge
This historic watering hole in the former Patrick Henry Hotel (now luxury apartments) is the happy hour spot for hip thirtysomethings. Find a spot at the handsome wooden bar, modeled after the hotel’s original front desk, and order the signature Penny Deux cocktail, with bourbon, peach preserves, mint, and simple syrup ($8).

8. 310 Rosemont
Stocking his-and-hers contemporary fashions, the rustic, brick-walled boutique on Market Street is the locals’ go-to for handsome Southern Tide button-downs ($99.50) and Collared Greens bow ties ($55), and, for the ladies, Tory Burch tunics ($295), Michael Kors handbags ($195), and classic Hunter rain boots ($140). You can even schedule a private shopping event for you and your friends—the salespeople will help you all choose an outfit.

Have any additions to our itinerary? Tell us your favorite spot in Downtown Roanoke.


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  3. larry Thomas Black

    Thank you Ms. Shaw for an excellent article about Roanoke and it’s many fine restaurants. I would encourage you to visit the Historic Roanoke City Market in the spring when the Market blooms with flowers, vegetables and fruit. At 120 years It is the oldest outdoor Market in Virginia and among the oldest in the the United States. You may also find an amazing array of vendors in the Historic Market District during Dickens of a Christmas. You must be careful, however. Roanoke has a reputation for causing visitors to become residents rather quickly. We, in Roanoke, would welcome you here.

    November 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm
  4. Nicole Moore

    Jason is right! Downtown Roanoke has so much more to offer. Poorly researched article, 4 out of 8 are non entities and probably will not be around in a year or two. To leave out Blues BBQ, Blue 5, Alexander’s, The Quarter (Cajun/Creole), Billy’s and Table 50 is disappointing since they are all for the most part southern inspired. The biggest gaffe is the omission of Hotel Roanoke, really?

    November 25, 2013 at 8:48 pm
  5. Jim

    Roanoke is awesome but Smith Mountain Lake, about 20 miles away is even better. It has over 500 miles of shoreline and nestles the Blue Ridge. Great golf, and the best place to retire in the Southeast.

    November 23, 2013 at 9:32 am
  6. Molly

    Don’t forget the Texas Tavern for a bowl with and a Cheesy Western or Hot Dog! A true classic and Roanoke icon, the Texas Tavern hasn’t changed and has been owned and run by the Bullington Family since it opened in 1930.

    November 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm
  7. Babs

    You didn’t list the farmers market??? I could spend a Saturday wandering around, shopping and dining. Usually at On The Rise for sandwiches and Upcycled Gifts for great re-purposed items! Martin’s Downtown on 1st Street has great food and music.

    November 22, 2013 at 9:22 am
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    November 22, 2013 at 8:00 am
  9. Gary

    The Virginia Museum of Transportation at the west end of downtown has trains, planes, and automobiles. It also draws more out of town visitors than any attraction in the Roanoke Valley.

    November 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm
  10. E. Duane Howard

    Surprised our number one icon was left out, the largest man made neon Star in the World atop our great Mill Mountain located completely within the city limits. Can be seen as far away as 60 miles on a clear night, built in 1949. Hotel Roanoke is simply the place to stay downtown or the King George Inn in Historic Old S.W…Train lovers will love the Virginia Museum of Transportation with two of the most historic steam engines in the world, built right here in Roanoke on display.

    November 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm
  11. Melissa

    What a great feature on Roanoke! I’ve in the valley since 2004, and it’s been great to see the city grow and evolve.

    November 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm
  12. Amanda

    The Farmer’s Market for food, La de Da for clothes, and the wonderful rediscovered art deco facade of the old Grand Piano building on Campbell, now downtown apartments.

    November 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm
  13. Jason

    Jake??? Seriously??!? You think AWFUL ARTHUR’S has the best seafood in town?!?

    November 19, 2013 at 9:42 pm
  14. Jason

    So much good food downtown and lucky is the only one listed? I had the worst dinner ever on a first date no less. So much more to represent in Roanoke than what’s on this list.

    November 19, 2013 at 9:40 pm
  15. Rick

    Many turn of the century and early 20th century buildings in downtown and warehouses nearby have been restored for apartments, condos and offices. I’m always glad to see the historical architecture and character of an area restored as opposed to new anywhere buildings. People are very laid back and friendly, which is not always the case in Virginia.

    November 19, 2013 at 9:00 pm
  16. Lindsay

    There is so much more downtown, I love Blue 5 and Martin’s as well. Great food, amazing atmosphere.

    November 19, 2013 at 6:53 pm
  17. Jake

    Roanoke is a bustling metropolis with LOTS TO DO! Awful Arthur’s Seafood is hands down the best Seafood in the City. They also show most if not all the major sporting events on countless HD Flat Screens and have LOTS of varying live music to round it all out! Highly recommend it!

    November 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm
  18. Lynn J

    I love living in the Roanoke Valley and downtown has so much to offer. If your looking for a great dining experience Wasibis is the place to go. The ultimate in fresh sushi. Pleasant atmosphere and great staff. It’s a must.

    November 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm
  19. Sarah

    Love my hometown! Thanks Southern Living.

    November 19, 2013 at 9:52 am
  20. Mike Sparacia

    I just moved in to downtown! It’s a great place!

    November 19, 2013 at 7:09 am
  21. mb wilkinson

    Pop’s in the Grandin Village is a must-see in Roanoke! Sample the ice-cream or indulge in a grilled cheese with gourmet popcorn on the side.

    November 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm
  22. Salsa Noke

    We love being part of culture we bring with the music and Latin dance lesson’s on Wednesdays at Habana Cafe in the Market Building making Roanoke more eclectic. Love Roanoke!

    November 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm
  23. Jackie

    Must visit: the original cemetery as it was when this town was called The Magic City and Big Lick located on Tazewell Ave Se. in the heart of the Belmont neighborhood. A lot of work going on to restore it!

    November 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm
  24. Julie

    Love our city, and a must see is Black Dog Salvage on Memorial, now featured on DIY.

    November 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm
  25. Marty

    Great article about the Star City. A must do is the new Roanoke Food Tours, a 3 hr. walking, historical, culinary delight.

    November 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm
  26. Laurie Platt

    As a native Roanoker, I think the Market area is great, but I do wish the city would fix up Campbell Ave and Jefferson St. I would love to see it as a busy Saturday afternoon for shopping and dining.

    November 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm
  27. Carolyn Johnson

    Great article and Lucky is a great restaurant. Food and drinks are spectacular.

    November 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm
  28. Fran

    My husband and I are loving Roanoke as our 2nd home It’s just big enough of a city for us at this point in our lives. We spent 25 years in the D.C. metro area. Love all the trains coming thru and the railroad yards….all the old historical homes…you can just drive around in the old neighborhoods right on the outskirts of downtown and see that the revitalization is about to explode!

    November 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm
  29. Erika

    Love Awful Arthur’s Seafood Company pictured on your main feature image at the top of this article!! Best seafood in Roanoke! I also love the City Market Building right next door. Roanoke is such a great city.

    November 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm
  30. Kim Sutliff

    Love The Market Gallery right near The Taubman Museum!

    November 18, 2013 at 10:13 am
  31. shaineaml883

    as Michelle responded I didnt know that a mom can get paid $4267 in four weeks on the computer. see this website ……….

    November 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm
  32. Carla Laseter

    Glad to see this feature on Roanoke. It’s a city on it’s way up!

    November 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

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