ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – After Abingdon, Virginia earned USA Today’s top spot for Best Small Town Food Scene in 2021, I decided to take a quick tour through some of the unique offerings that have the town punching well above its weight class when it comes to food.
A quick disclaimer before we start: In no way is this list exhaustive, and the order in which businesses appear is not a ranking or reflection of their quality. Abingdon won nationwide for a reason, and if you don’t see one out of this list that calls to you I still greatly recommend giving the town a shot.
Jack’s 128 Pecan
To say that 128 Pecan’s founder and operator Jack Barrow is a food industry veteran is an understatement, and to say that he’s had an impact of Abingdon’s food scene is as well.
“I started cooking with my grandmother when I was old enough to stand at the table, and I learned early on if it didn’t have a stick of butter in it it wasn’t cooked,” Barrow said. “And an onion, of course.”
Barrow was in the kitchen from the very beginning of his life, and he started his first restaurant at 26 years old.
“Through all my years in the business, I’ve done every aspect of it. I started out washing dishes in 1984-ish, 1985-ish.”
Barrow has settled in a 1940s blockhouse for his focus of the last 10 years, 128 Pecan.
Located on the titular Pecan Street, the home had been converted into a kitchen before Barrow arrived on the scene. That said, the building wears his and his family’s fingerprints proudly from the framed family portraits to the regional Americana competing for wall space with awards for best oysters, best seafood and many more.
The atmosphere is cozy without smothering and quirky without overwhelming the eye. Your average table is a 4-top inside, but at peak season, Barrow said the restaurant regularly clears 300-400 guests a night.
Pecan’s menu focuses on American fare with a twist, and Barrow said his main goal was to make sure residents could get out and enjoy dinner without breaking the bank.
“Sometimes you want to eat out,” Barrow said. “But you don’t want to have buy the restaurant to do it.”
Smash burgers, old-school French fries and an impressive selection of fresh seafood leaves your options open for several return trips. You can find the full menu here.
The bones of the restaurant were there when Barrow bought it, but he’s kept busy during its 10 years of operation. An outdoor patio has been closed in for winter seating, and what was previously the bartender’s bedroom has been opened into an additional seating area for guests.
Your main challenge with 128 Pecan might be parking at peak hours, but multiple local public lots make this down-home gem well worth it.
This is only one part of a larger Abingdon Eats series. Make sure to visit other Abingdon Eats stories throughout the week for more recommendations.