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Virginia Restaurants

Chowning's Tavern
109 E. Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg , Virginia
23185
Tel: 800 828 3767 (toll-free)
Tel: 757 229 2141
www.history.org/visit/diningExperience/chownings/index.cfm

Next to the courthouse, this is the rowdy one, complete with balladeers in the evening and interactive entertainment. From 5 pm on, expect to be roped into games and sing-alongs—sort of Revolutionary karaoke. It's the best place for families, with its draft root beer and casual food barely trying to be authentic (Brunswick stew and Smithfield ham biscuits are as 18th-century as it gets). After 8 pm, though, the entertainment takes a turn for the bawdy. During the day, Chowning's is a BBQ joint serving "Gunpowder Chili," dogs and burgers (also in kids' sizes), beef brisket, and pulled pork, either inside or from speedy garden and cider stands.

Snack bar open daily 11:30 am to 5 pm ; cider stands open 10 am to 6 pm, weather permitting; dinner 5 to 9 pm daily.

Christiana Campbell's Tavern
101 S. Waller Street
Williamsburg , Virginia
23185
Tel: 800 828 3767 (toll-free); 757 229 2141
www.history.org/visit/diningExperience/christianaCampbells/

Installing her tavern in the spot Jane Vobe abandoned for the King's Arms was a good move for tiny, rotund Christiana Campbell—hers became George Washington's favorite place. The tagline on the "Bill of Fayre" is "Giving Satisfaction to TRAVELERS and TOWNSPEOPLE with a Taste for SEAFOOD," which means the way to choose between this and the King's Arms is by what you feel like eating: You get a similar experience at either. The $35 "Waterman's Supp'r" includes clam stew, herb-crusted codfish, and ice cream. Oyster dishes are the only ones to be avoided. As at Mrs. Vobe's, a stack of sides comes free; here it's cabbage slaw, spoon bread, biscuits, and sweet-potato muffins.

Open daily 5 to 9 pm.

King's Arms Tavern
416 E. Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg , Virginia
Tel: 800 828 3767 (toll-free); 757 229 2141
www.history.org/visit/diningExperience/kingsArms/

While the food may not exactly be considered haute cuisine, this chophouse that Jane Vobe opened in 1772 is still a superior establishment vying for the top spot among the local nobs and snobs. The menu, headed "VICTUALS Pleasing to the PALATE expeditiously served after the Best MANNER," mixes dishes you can believe are based on period receipts ("Colonial Game Pye: Braised Venison, Rabbit, Duck, Vegetables and Bacon Lardoons in a Port Wine Sauce baked under a flakey Pastry Crust") with ridiculous anachronisms ("Romaine Hearts Salad with Tomato, Parmesan Cheese and Pepper Dressing")—but really, who's keeping score? Just as it was during the Revolution (when the "King" part of the name was dropped and it was called Mrs. Vobe's), this is still positioned as the top-dog tavern and the one for big meat eaters.

Open 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 9 pm.

Shields Tavern
422 E. Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg , Virginia
23185
Tel: 800 828 3767 (toll-free); 757 229 2141
www.history.org/visit/diningExperience/shields/

Evidently, the powers that be decreed four full-on taverns with a large "Bill of Fayre" to be overkill, so Shields has become a coffeehouse instead. While lamenting the demotion of the magnificently cranky host, James Shields—a scenery-chewing part that allowed actors large portions of ham—one has to admit this is useful (and besides, Shields still makes an appearance). During the day, you sit down with assorted interpretive staff over a beverage and chicken salad or a cheese plate and slice of pie. At dusk, the place drops the genteel act and turns into something closer to its original calling. You can have an aperitif or digestif or dine light on Welsh rarebit, pasties, and pâté.

Open daily 8:30 am to 5 pm.

Trellis
403 Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg , Virginia
23185
Tel: 757 229 8610
www.thetrellis.com/

In Merchants Square—the mall at the beginning of Colonial World—this froufrou contemporary place is styled like a greenhouse, with pine beams and bentwood upholstered chairs. Since 1980, it's been where parents take their William & Mary offspring—and where tourists reenter the 21st century. The seasonal food is very likable (sautéed flounder over white corn and baby bok choy; seared pork tenderloin medallions; crab cakes with grilled asparagus and toasted macadamia nuts), but it's dessert that everyone's waiting for. This is chocoholics' heaven, with at least five different extravaganzas, including the signature seven-layer cake filled and topped with matching mousse and meringue. Inevitably, it's named Death by Chocolate.

Open daily 11 am to 3 pm and 5 to 9:30 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.