With many off-campus residents remaining in the Harrisonburg area and the support of local townies, downtown has continued to be a buzz of activity even with COVID-19 restrictions. As some studies have shown a decreased risk in contracting the coronavirus outdoors, many of the ’Burg’s best restaurants have expanded their seating to accommodate more patrons outside.
Here are just a few of the restaurants making the most of the pandemic by offering a premium dining experience in the great outdoors.
Beyond Restaurant & Lounge
This hip and artsy downtown restaurant brings Asian fusion flavors to the ’Burg, offering 17 sushi options, fragrant bowls of Vietnamese pho, classic American Chinese like orange chicken and more. Don’t forget to try the Asian-inspired cocktails. One can dine on its balcony seating that overlooks the water underneath strings of fairy lights and flowers.
A newer addition to the downtown restaurant scene, Magpie Diner has a spacious outdoor patio with heaters for each table on colder days. It specializes in weekend brunch, plus breakfast and lunch every day. One should bear in mind the shade that the tall building throws over the patio in the morning in case one’s sensitive to cold. However, as the afternoon rolls around, the patio is warmed by the sun in time for lunch.
This classic downtown restaurant has always had a beautiful patio in the back, but it’s now been extended to offer more opportunities for diners to enjoy their meal al fresco. The patio is secluded behind the building, sheltered from the noise of the street and surrounded by lush greenery. One can still enjoy a drink with friends or dinner with loved ones while basking in the crisp fall air at Clementine’s patio.
Billy Jack’s and Jack Brown’s
Yes, one can still get their iconic sticky nuggs and Greg Brady burger. Billy Jack’s and Jack Brown’s are downtown staples and transformed their parking lot into a space for outdoor patio seating. There are hosts and hostesses waiting outside if one doesn’t feel comfortable going indoors. When it starts to get chilly, these restaurants will bring out heat lamps and blankets.
Taj of India
On the other side of Billy Jack’s is the Taj of India, a fine dining restaurant that offers Nepalese food as well as Northern and Southern Indian cuisine. Here, one can get their fix of samosas, authentic curries and buttery naan. The Taj of India brings its elegant touch outdoors by using its ornate silverware, plates and glasses.
If one’s looking for a great southern meal with a side of whiskey, Jimmy Madison’s rooftop is the place to visit. Right in the heart of downtown, this restaurant provides a special view of Harrisonburg and the surrounding area from its rooftop dining area located three stories above Main Street.
Magnolia’s Tacos & Tequila Bar
Well known for its wide selection of tacos and delicious variations of tequila drinks, Magnolia’s offers both patio seating at the street level and, like Jimmy Madison’s, a rooftop experience. Whether one’s sipping on a watermelon margarita or chowing down on an al pastor taco, they can marvel in the sights of downtown and enjoy a view of the stars above at night.
This Korean-inspired cuisine is built on its buns — specifically, made-from-scratch steamed buns topped with a protein of the customer’s choice. It offers seasonal specials as well as Korean favorites like bibimbap, kimchi stew and kimbap. There's something for everybody, and three signature sauces that vary in spice level. There's limited porch seating, but if it's filled, customers can take their meals out to the park just a few steps away.
The Golden Pony
Previously a hot spot for live, local entertainment, The Golden Pony has expanded their restaurant space to include outdoor seating to continue allowing its guests to dine in comfort. The restaurant offers delicious American-style cuisine and is well known in Harrisonburg for its weekend brunch.
Union Station Restaurant & Bar
Just a block off of Main Street, Union Station Restaurant & Bar has also added outdoor seating to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. Although the restaurant is currently offering a limited menu, one can still find some of their favorite southern comfort foods and cocktails to enjoy.
If one’s looking to continue supporting local businesses but is tired of ordering the same old takeout, consider venturing downtown to experience all that Harrisonburg’s outdoor dining has to offer.
Contact Kailey Cheng and Ryann Sheehy at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts, and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Culture.