Story and Photo by Aubrey Martinson
My sincerest apologies to your grandmother, but I believe I have found the best sweet tea, biscuits, and gravy in the universe. This meal goes beyond tasty food – it is a unique, all-American experience.
The Mabry Mill is tucked away along the Blue Ridge Parkway and rooted in Virginian history. The only way to get to this historic site and restaurant is along the parkway, a scenic highway built in 1935 as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, giving awe-inspiring views of the lush, grand mountains of Virginia. The gristmill – a place that grinds grain into flour – was built by Edwin Boston Mabry in 1910 and includes a blacksmith shop, a one-room cabin, a bark mill, a sorghum mill, and an old-time whiskey still.
Not only can you geek out about its history, but you can also enjoy what the restored and fully functional gristmill has to offer: carbs! A minute’s walk away from the mill is the Mabry Mill Restaurant, which offers homemade southern comfort food freshly prepared from mill’s products.
You may be enticed by the cornmeal, buckwheat, and sweet potato pancakes– as you should be – but what you really should go for are the biscuits and gravy. You’ll get two homemade, fluffy, buttery biscuits with flour from the gristmill, bathed in plenty of creamy, peppery gravy that perfectly compliments a pile of seasoned, savory sausage. The only drink that matters in the South is sweet tea, and here you can guarantee a tall, sugary, freshly brewed glass to wash down the goodness of your biscuits and gravy. You’ll leave with a full stomach and a full mind of American industrial history.
This story appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Baedeker.