Port & Main editors Rachel Dozier, Elizabeth Baugh and Seth Binsted sampled food from eight local restaurants that agreed to participate in the magazine’s Restaurant Wars event. Each restaurant was responsible for selecting its signature or most popular dishes. The editors judged the restaurants and their dishes against each other in order to pick a winner in each category. Restaurants were separated into fine dining and casual dining categories to ensure a fair competition. See who won this year.

Fine Dining

Competitors: Beyond, Joshua Wilton House, Local Chop & Grill House

Best Appetizer

Seared Scallops with citrus fennel slaw and roasted tomato gazpacho

Local Chop & Grill House
Other favorite: Prince Edward Island mussels (Joshua Wilton House)


Best Presentation

Sorbet Palette with mango, mandarin and peach sorbet on a wafer artist’s palette with a wafer paintbrush

Joshua Wilton House
Other favorites: N.Y. Strip (Local Chop & Grill House), Pan-seared Sea Bass (Beyond)

Best Place To Go With Parents

Joshua Wilton House is definitely the place to go if your parents are covering the bill. While a bit pricey for students, the gourmet dining is worth a trip. Some of our favorite dishes were the Prince Edward Island mussels appetizer, the grilled lamb loin entrée and the famous créme brulée dessert. We were impressed with the dedication to local products and inventive meals offered. So for special occasions, get your parents to take you to Joshua Wilton House.

Best Experience

Local Chop & Grill house was a pretty life-changing experience for all three editors. From the moment we arrived, the accommodating staff was prepared with a series of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Every item served was not only delicious, but accompanied with a detailed description of its ingredients and preparation by our server, Aaron (pictured). Local Chop & Grill’s dedication to local products and perfected flavor combinations were a hit with our group. If you’re looking to treat yourself, dine at Local Chop & Grill House and make an evening of it.

Best Entrée

Shrimp and Grits with spicy chorizo, cajun seasoning and bacon

Other favorites: N.Y. Strip (Local Chop & Grill House), Grilled Lamb Loin (Joshua Wilton House)

Best Dessert

Chai Latte Mousse Cup Dark Chocolate Cup filled with white chocolate chai latte mousse, served with chai spiced almond cookies

Local Chop & Grill House
Other favorites: Créme Brulée (Joshua Wilton House), Salted Caramel Ice-Cream (Local Chop & Grill House)

Casual Dining

Competitors: Cally’s Restaurant & Brewing Co., Dave’s Taverna, Finnigan’s Cove, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint, Union Station

Best Experience

Union Station was the first restaurant we went to, and it surely set the bar for every other location. Co-owner Dave Gordon had a set menu and friendly server (Erica) ready for us. After our meal, Dave showed us around the restaurant and shared some of its rich history. Dave, his fiance Cassandra Baker and her sister Sirena Baker all own Union Station and were interested in preserving Harrisonburg’s history in the restaurant. Framed photographs lined the walls with images of Harrisonburg’s past. Dave’s passion for our town’s history and hospitible demeanor on top of our delicious meal and great service make Union Station this year’s winner for Best Experience.

Best Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Crab homemade by owner Donna Finnigan.

Finnigan’s Cove
Other favorites: Mulligatawny (Union Station), French Onion (Union Station)

Best Burger

The Elvis cheeseburger with peanut butter, mayonnaise and smoked bacon.

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint
Other favorites: The Cannonball Burger (Union Station), the regular cheeseburger (Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint)

Best Date Spot

Union Station wins again. The restaurant has a working elevator shaft which currently serves as private seating. The night we went, a couple was dining in the elevator shaft when a chocolate cake with strawberries was placed in front of the girl with the words “will you go out with me?” Of course the girl said yes and also helped to secure Union Station’s win for Best Date Spot.

 Best Entrée

Barbeque Ribs award winning baby back ribs served with cole slaw and a vegetable medley

Cally’s Restaurant & Brewing Co.
Other favorites: Mediterranean Pizza (Dave’s Taverna), Chicken Paillard (Cally’s Restaurant & Brewing Co.)

Best Dessert

Cheesecake homemade with a sour cream, honey and vanilla base.

Dave’s Taverna
Other favorites: Monster Pie (Cally’s Restaurant & Brewing Co.), Fried Oreos (Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint.)