If you (especially newbie visitors) think the best or only places to eat lunch in Staunton is in its bustling downtown on Beverley Street or in the Wharf, let me give you the local low down.
In fact, other than the former down-home and low-cost comfort spot known as The Beverley (now shuttered), there’s actually no place downtown for lunch that will make a real foodie swoon. You can get lunch food, sure — Shenandoah Pizza, Baja Bean, Pampered Palette, Cranberries — which are all totally fine for a bite, but none are show-stopping from a culinary perspective.
But what’s great about his new place — Mike Lundch — is the ability to get a truly inspired, food-flavors-floating-off-the-plate at lunch time four times a week (Tuesday through Friday) in lil’ ole Staunton, VA.
The quick take
Mike does dining room and take out box service Mon-Fri from 10am-3pm and it’s all counter service, no waiters, though the cooks do bring your order to the table once prepared. You can also get boxed dinners ordered on Thursdays with pick-up until 6pm, and for that you’re advised to pre-order (great for picnics, trips to wineries/breweries, or when you’re too derned tired to cook!
There’s very limited alcohol — some beer, hard cider, like three vintages of wine, that’s it. I didn’t have any when I went, so I don’t know really what he carries, but just think minimal and I think local.
This is by far the absolutely best lunch in Staunton in my opinion if what you want is of the farm-to-table variety and truly, truly inspired cooking. Plus no TVs which for me is a sign of a place worth visiting — do we really need so much stimulation in every single eatery?
I’ve been to Mike’s many, many times now and every time it’s been wonderful.
Oh, and bonus points for having a clean-looking, easy to navigate, mobile-responsive website with that week’s seasonally changing menu promptly updated on Mondays.
My first experience at the new Springhill Road location, I had ordered two of the box lunches to go, not for lunch, but to save for New Year’s Eve that night when I was going to a cabin that only had a microwave.
That day we pre-ordered (which is what I think you have to do for all takeout) and picked it up before taking off to our rural retreat. We nuked it that night to mouth-watering delight.
The dish was pork schnitzel with braised collards, black-eyed peas, poached egg, and Tete du Cochon Terrine. We also ordered a spinach salad with walnuts, golden raisins, pickled red onion, and shaved apple with a pomegranate dressing.
All of it traveled well and reheated wonderfully.
The one difference I might have done is ask for the salad dressing on the side since I was eating it later — but how was he to know since I didn’t say so?
But let’s be clear that it’s amazing to get a boxed gourmet meal of this level for the price in the Shenandoah Valley ($14 ea for the schnitzels and $7 for the hefty 1/2 size salad) and be able to heat it up at a rustic cabin and be wowed at the perfectly melded flavors and presentation.
Obviously this packed-up culinary excellence bodes well for anyone wanting to pick up a top quality pre-made picnic to take on the Blue Ridge, to your hotel room, or to one of the nearby breweries or wineries that allow you to bring your own food (most of them do, but not all, so check in advance).
Another time I ate in and since I had eaten a late breakfast, all I got was a 1/2 size tortilla salad and my friend got the fish tacos. My salad had an avocado-mint vinaigrette that conjured every subtle sensation of bright greenness of that emerging spring day. It offered a perfectly light yet rascally tangy flavor profile, available in every bite.
My friend Tracey’s Fish Tacos were hefty, warming, and nourishing — plus a big serving, she got to take some home. She had ordered a box lunch for her hubby, too, so I think they would get to have a re-do over dinner at home without having to cook.
Most recently my hubby and I went for lunch this summer. He had a House Cubano sandwich with Surryano Ham, Aged Provolone, Hot Pickles, Mustard-Q, with Chili Black Beans on the side. Hubby’s not a big sandwich fan generally speaking, but these flavors spoke to him and he was looking forward to a hot meal. Happily he really dug it, saying it had punchy flavors without too harsh a spicy bite. There was plenty of the food, and he brought some home.
I opted to start with the hot version of their Potato Leek Soup which was just the thing I needed that day — warmth, subtle but piquant flavor, and a comfort food fave.
I followed it with a Half Salad (love that choice) with greens from our local Alleghany Mountain Institute/Virginia School for the Deaf and The Blind Urban Farm, Deviled Eggs, House Lardons, Mountain View Farm Marmac, and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette. It just sounds good, right? Well it was super fab — ’nuff said!
For non-locals the most important thing to know is this is not downtown and only walkable if you don’t mind walking a mile or so from downtown (personally, I walked from my downtown area house very happily on a nice day, not a long trek at all).
Mike Lund Food is near Gypsy Hill Park and across from Queen City Brewery (one of our local breweries). It’s worth the walk, or a super easy bike ride, and it’s quite literally the best lunch you will get in Staunton Mon-Fri hands down.
The dining room is light, bright, airy, and inviting, with plenty of space to find your own place and not be on top of others. There are lovely church pews acting as back booths, and comfortable chairs for all sizes of parties all around. The food was quick enough without being super fast — it is prepared by the order and is no burger joint after all.
A couple of interior points. On our most recent visit there didn’t seem to be air conditioning, which is great from an environmental point of view, but I did wonder how the place would fare on a hotter day.
I also noticed that the acoustics in the place can be a bit jarring — some hanging sound mufflers might be a nice addition for diners.
Apparently Mike occasionally has in-house dinners in non-peak catering season and occasionally has brunches (I can’t wait for those, I’m so there). He also can make the dining room available for a private event, which for my money sounds like a pretty awesome combination of space and food.
He also caters off-site — I had him cook a goose for me and my guests that my friend Scott had bagged. He prepared them three different ways as small plates, and then made little menus for each course — delicious and delightful!
— Lindsay Curren, Girl Goes Virginia
Mike Lund Food | Mike Lundch
835 Springhill Rd.
Staunton, VA 24401
(540) 649-GRUB (4782)