By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
There are certainly LOTS of reasons to visit Wild, Wonderful West Virginia! People may want to step back in time and visit some of the state’s historical sites … or attend some of our fairs and festivals … or tee off at some of West Virginia’s luxurious golf courses … or take to the slopes at some of our popular ski resorts … or those who like outdoor adventures may opt for whitewater rafting or zip lining. Maybe outlet or antique shopping is more suited to visitors’ taste … or checking out some of the wonderful Tamarack artisans. Some visit to fish in our streams or visit our lakes; and still others may enjoy a vacation at one of our state parks. And, yes, many times the call is simply to delight in the Mountain State’s picturesque landscape that offers postcard perfect scenery throughout the year.
Whatever the occasion to take to our country roads, along the way, visitors will get hungry. And one thing that makes a visit complete is finding a wonderful place to eat! That is why the Department of Tourism puts together a pocket guide called “101 Unique Places To Dine”.
The latest edition of this guide was just released last week in Morgantown by Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. Published every two years, this is the 3rd edition of the dining guide that organizes the winning establishments by region and includes a list of West Virginia culinary events and local craft drink pairing suggestions.
“We’re spreading the word that West Virginia has some of the finest culinary artists on the East Coast,” Commissioner Ruby said. “West Virginians don’t have to leave the state to find an authentic and delicious dining experience, and I know visitors will be blown away by what our growing community of unique restaurants has to offer.”
To be eligible, restaurants must be located in West Virginia. National chains are not eligible unless the first location is in West Virginia and only the original location is eligible. The list of the top 101 distinctive and delicious culinary destinations around the state is voted by the public.
It is interesting to note that although there are 55 counties in West Virginia, eight of those appearing in the “101 Unique Places to Dine” are in Harrison County!
Making the list (alphabetically) from Harrison County are: Gourmet Café, Julio’s Café, Meagher’s Irish Pub, Mia Margherita Coal Fired Pizzeria, Minard’s Spaghetti Inn, Oliverio’s Ristorante, Provence Market Café, and Twin Oaks Restaurant. So, even if travelers are just passing through, there are at least eight good reasons to stop in the local area! People who have a great dining experience typically talk about it afterwards … which extends an invitation for others to stop in our area as well!