ECW Weekender: The Depot Grille – Staunton, Virginia

Looking for some good food and a great dining atmosphere in Staunton, Virginia? Let me recommend The Depot Grille which is actually located in the Civil War era train station right next to the tracks in the downtown, historic district of the city.

A plaque on the building of the restaurant dates it the Civil War era.

In 1854 the railroad tracks came to Staunton – the seat of Augusta County – linking this Shenandoah Valley town to the rest of the state’s modern transportation network. Railroads were important to the Valley since it offered another way for farmers to move their harvested crops or livestock to outer markets. In Staunton, the advent of the trains launched the town from a small village to the major commerce center in the middle of the Valley region. A commercial district grew around the station and a large warehouse that reached the cars by gangplanks. Because of these gangplanks, the station area became known as “The Wharf”, even though Staunton is far from the seaside. The freight depot structure where the restaurant is located dates back to around 1860.

During the Civil War, Staunton became a major center for transportation, logistics, regional defense, and a hospital network for the Confederacy. Many Union campaigns aimed for the city and railroad in their attack objectives. At the train station, good-byes were said, wounded soldiers brought home, supplies sent to the armies, and logistical problems solved. In June 1864, Union General David Hunter arrived in Staunton and during the short occupation, the Yankees destroyed the station and wrecked some of the tracks. The Confederates regained the town, only to have it reoccupied in the autumn of 1864 and chance hands again. In March 1865, Union General Sheridan took the town on last time, and Staunton’s Confederate history ended and morphed into memory history.

The Depot Grille is in this historic building

Around the turn of the century, a railroad accident destroyed Staunton’s main train station which was rebuilt in 1902 and used until the 1960’s by the Cheasapeake & Ohio Railroad. Though abandoned, Staunton’s historic train station recovered with the aid of the Historic Staunton Foundation and now the location is preserved and used for dining and retail in the downtown district.

Inside The Depot Grille, you’ll find a wealth of local history housed on this historic location with Civil War echoes. The large bar originally came from from a turn-of-the-century hotel, and the seating arrangements in the main dining room feature old pews rescued from a local church.

Dinner at the Depot!

The food is amazing and affordable! The first time I went to The Depot Grille I was travelling on my own during a research trip and they graciously accommodated my shy request for a “table for one for dinner” without any awkward looks that I’d been getting at other places. That evening I sampled a beef medallion skillet dinner. (Now, I’m hungry just thinking about it!) After the good service, wonderful cuisine, and historic atmosphere, The Depot Grille was added to my “favorite restaurants in Virginia list.” Earlier this spring when I took my mom to the Shenandoah Valley, I told her we had go to this restaurant in Staunton. I think she was a little skeptical, but Sunday brunch at the Depot made her a fan, too.

Standing by the tracks and looking at the historic “Wharf” district

If you dine at the Depot, be sure to check-out the historic structure and walk to the track’s platform. Although the main station has been rebuilt since the Civil War, you can still remember the troops and civilians who passed along here during the conflict.

If you have time in town, pick up a Staunton historic tour brochure at the Augusta County Historical Society, the visitor center, or local library. Many buildings in town date back to the Civil War era. Located several miles outside town, Frontier Culture Museum offers wonderful history about the Valley’s architecture styles and early settlers through an interactive, outdoor museum.

Visit The Depot Grille’s website for dining hours and current menu selections.

The Depot Grille – 42 Middlebrook Ave., Staunton, VA 24401

540-885-7332

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, editor, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
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5 Responses to ECW Weekender: The Depot Grille – Staunton, Virginia

  1. Janet Chase cell phone # 614-264-2667 says:

    I enjoyed your review of the Depot Grill. Although I’ve been to Staunton several times, I was not aware of this restaurant. But next time I’m there, I will definitely visit. Did you stay at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel? I hope one day to stay in that historic hotel.

    • Sarah Kay Bierle says:

      I have not stayed at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, but it certainly looks very nice. Maybe someday! I’d also like to see a Shakespearean production at the theater in Staunton; they just haven’t had one of my favorites on stage when I’ve been in that town.

  2. John Pryor says:

    Sarah, I’ve seen two of the productions during the last two spring breaks, one of Julius Caesar, one of Romeo and Juliet. Both were among the best I’ve ever seen. The venue is phenomenal. I would also recommend the Mill Street Grille for dinner. Thank you for the post!

  3. Chris says:

    I have a much different opinion of this restaurant, and actually reported it to the health department because moldy fiberglass insulation was falling from the covered porch into my disgusting hamburger.

    As a regular visitor to Staunton, The Depot Grille is the one restaurant I would warn people not to visit. The Shack and Byers Street Bistro are much better, though they are not directly on the railroad tracks.

  4. Pingback: Civil War Railroads – Conclusion | Emerging Civil War

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