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Roanoke is one of Virginia's more interesting dining scenes. While you can still get good country cooking here (including my favorite biscuits), young chefs are using flavors their Southern ancestors never imagined, much less tasted.

Downtown Restaurants

Market Square is Roanoke's dining center, with the 3 blocks of Campbell Avenue between Williamson Road and Jefferson Street, and the contiguous block of Jefferson Street, offering a host of restaurants catering to many tastes and all pocketbooks. Most post their menus outside, so take a stroll and see what's happening.

A très cool bistro and wine bar, 202 Market, 202 Market Sq. (tel. 540/343-6644), competes head-to-head with Metro! as coolest downtown restaurant. The Market Square branch of Awful Arthur's Seafood Company, 108 Campbell Ave. (tel. 540/344-2997), has surprisingly good fish, is open on Sunday, and has sidewalk tables during warm weather. Despite its French name, the casual but refined Le Bistro, 125 Campbell Ave. (tel. 540/206-2611), roams the globe. For something more down home, The Blues BBQ, 107 Market Sq. (tel. 540/344-5683), specializes in the vinegary North Carolina version.

A block to the west, Frankie Rowland's Steakhouse, 104 S. Jefferson St. (tel. 540/527-2333), is Roanoke's swankiest purveyor of tender beef. It's across the street from Alexander's .

I check my e-mail and get my caffeine fix at Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea Co., 117 Campbell Ave. (tel. 540/342-9404), which has fresh salads and deli sandwiches for lunch. When my arteries were younger, I took my morning lard at Ernie's, 210 Market St. (tel. 540/342-7100), which opens at 6am Monday through Saturday. Ernie's does not accept credit cards.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.