Living in central Virginia and making frequent trips to the Eastern Shore as well as to Nags Head, travelers like myself are faced with the big decision – I-64 or Rt. 460. It’s shorter, as the crow flies, to go 64, but when there is a speck of traffic at Hampton or around Norfolk, agonizing delays occur for the Interstate traveler. Plus, there is this mysterious place on I-64 below Richmond and around the Williamsburg exits where traffic just comes to a stop. For no reason. It just stops. It’s as if a thousand motorists each decide at exactly the same time to stop a bit and rest in the middle of the highway. Just as mysteriously, the traffic suddenly picks up steam and moves along at a normal rate. Go figure.
Rt. 460, on the other hand, is steady as she goes. The speed limit is around 60 and that’s fast enough. It’s a four-lane highway, but barely. Those lanes are narrow. Still, the traffic always moves along on Rt. 460, and for that reason, I take that route when heading to the beaches in either Virginia or North Carolina. There are three other reasons I enjoy Rt. 460 and all involve food. We have discovered three great places to eat along the way.
In Waverly, just below Petersburg, barbeque aficionados will find their Nirvana. Cowlings Bar-B-Q. I rate it in the top 5 of all barbeque restaurants in Virginia. Hickory smoked on a daily basis, the succulent pork at Cowlings makes it a genuine pleasure to take Rt. 460. They have creamy, good cole slaw and hand cut fries, but the barbeque platter is out of sight. The old fashioned, country restaurant is located at 7019 General Mahone Highway (Rt. 460). If you like barbeque, give this place a try next time you’re even close to Waverly.
A little further down Rt. 460, travelers will find one of Virginia’s great and enduring restaurants, the Virginia Diner. The historic restaurant opened its doors in 1929, just as America was headed for the Great Depression, but it survived the lean years and is now a must-visit destination. Like Cowlings, they have great barbeque, but I am a fan of their fried chicken – spectacular. Everything I have tried on their extensive menu has been a delicious, and best of all, especially, for travelers, is the service – fast, efficient and friendly. They have quick buffets, but even when you order off the menu, the wait is seldom more than five minutes. And when you check out, make sure to pick up a can or two of their Gourmet Salted Peanuts. You won’t find fresher goobers anywhere. Virginia Diner is conveniently located about halfway between Petersburg and Suffolk at 408 County Drive North (Rt. 460).
Heading towards Suffolk, if you’re still hungry or haven’t stopped yet, there is a small, country restaurant in Windsor called Checkers. It’s comfort food personified. Liver and onions, homemade meat loaf and pies, fresh fried fish, cornbread, great soups and sandwiches – you’ll find it all at Checkers. When heading south towards Suffolk, Checkers is on the right, but watch for it. It’s easy to miss. The address is 9516 Windsor Blvd. (Rt. 460).
When you’re on a Road Trip heading to the beach, go Rt. 460. It may take a bit longer, but you’ll eat like a king.