A Taste of Williamsburg: A Law Student’s Guide to Food

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A good time at Amber Ox

Williamsburg might not seem like a foodie’s mecca, but for a typical college town, it packs a punch when it comes to culinary options! Vegan or vegetarian? Hankering for Thai or Vietnamese? Best places for a quick bite and local brew? This list will have you covered!

Williamsburg Musts

Here for a quick trip? These are my go-to recommendations for when I have friends or family visiting for a short time.

The Cheese Shop – This is the hot spot in town for our alums and visiting students. Great sandwiches, great price, and great vibes! The Cheese Shop is a favorite for Williamsburg tourists (and locals!). The House Dressing they serve with their food is amazing and tastes good on just about everything. Fair warning – on a nice Spring day there is always a line out the door. I am telling you, they have the best sandwiches in town. Downstairs is also the Wine Cellar; their experts will give you a great option for a glass if you’re so inclined, or you can take a bottle upstairs to the cheese counter, and the cheese mongers will make you a custom cheese plate based on the wine you bought!

Aromas – A cute coffee shop in Merchant’s Square (the downtown shopping center of Colonial Williamsburg) with many yummy lunch items. It is only a 10 minute walk from the law school. They also have great vegetarian options! My recommendation for coffee is the William’s White – a white mocha! For lunch, I like the Thai Vegetarian Wrap. There’s also an Aroma’s in Swem Library on Main Campus in case you need a different studying atmosphere!

Blue Talon – Best brunch in town is Blue Talon! If you are looking for a place a bit more “colonial”… they even joke that they have the best colonial water. The French Toast is my favorite choice! Again, it gets busy so schedule a reservation ahead of time. Brunch aside, on Thursday nights, they do “Tribe” Thursday, which for William & Mary students is a dinner entree for $10 and wine for $3 a glass. I did not find this out until my 2L year… so giving you all the heads up now. They also have a special menu for W&M students on their birthdays!

Law Student Favorites

We polled, and these are our favorite places to hangout, grab food, a drink and relax outside of the classroom. And they’re all super close to the Law School!

Precarious Beer Hall – Tacos, beer, a five minute walk from the law school. What else could you ask for? Precarious is a new spot that just opened this summer, and the law students already love it. Inside is Electric Circus Taco Bar; have a ton of different taco options, nachos, and churros! I personally think the Korean Pork is delicious – the perfect amount of spicy. Also, highly recommend the chips and dips (yes, you get multiple dips)! Precarious was built to be a barcade, so aside from the great food and local brews, there are also classic games like skeeball, basketball, Street Fighter, pinball, and air hockey!!

Amber Ox – Hands down my favorite food in Williamsburg. Their food is made fresh everyday and they are always changing their menu items. The AO burger is a classic and the pimento cheese is one of my favorite go-to appetizers. The Virginia Apple salad is my go-to choice here. They have great outdoor seating. Come on a Thursday night, and you will be sure to catch a group of law students outside hanging out. Fun fact: Precarious Beer Project started out of Amber Ox very soon after they opened; while the barcade is not connected to Amber Ox, they’re still a part of the same family and so you can find a lot of the same beers at each location. If one doesn’t have your favorite on tap, try the other!

New Pauls – As my Dad found out earlier this semester, the name of the bar is not actually “New Pauls”. It the NewTown location of Paul’s Deli, a Williamsburg staple for the last few decades. The original Paul’s Deli is on the corner of Scotland and Richmond, just across from the Sadler Center, and is a frequent haunt of most undergrads. Aside from their delicious cheesy fries, New Paul’s has a great outdoor space with fire pits (noticing a trend here?). They have good entrees, good happy hour deals and live music. Did I mention they give away free cannolis at closing time?

Breakfast_Food

Breakfast at the Blue Talon

Fine Dining

For when the family is in town and you want to go somewhere nice. For each of these restaurants you’ll need to make a reservation ahead of time!

Opus 9 – A steakhouse with a number of delicious land and sea options. It’s located in NewTown, so about 10 minutes from the law school. They also have very great happy hour and brunch! The desserts are incredible. Chocolate cake – yes please!

Le Yaca – The most classic French restaurant in town (Blue Talon has a French flair, too). The french onion soup is a must! Le Yaca is a favorite among the law school professors.

Fat Canary – The go-to “parents came to visit me” Williamsburg restaurant for most William & Mary students. Very much a treat for special occasions! Their menu items change frequently, but if they have it, I highly recommend the Sea Bass — it is out of this world. I also like to sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine. It’s conveniently connected to the Cheese Shop as well, so you can always snag an after dinner drink at the Wine Cellar downstairs!

Have a dietary restriction?

Great vegan options in town include Food for Thought, Culture Cafe, and LOKAL – guaranteed to find something delicious, and you may not even know it’s vegan! If you’re gluten-free, most places in town have a ton of gluten-free options, including Mellow Mushroom and Blaze Pizza. Williamsburg is pretty well known for being the breakfast capital of Virginia, and if the best pancakes in town can be gluten-free, you know you’re in the right place!

If you’ve made it this far, we appreciate your dedication! By no means is this list exhaustive, but it’s a good example of the MANY places to eat, relax, and hang out with friends in town. We’ll be back with more foodie haunts on our Instagram in the next few weeks, so make sure to check it out!

Life in the ‘Burg

For a prospective law student, there is a lot to consider when choosing where to study. Just as important as bar passage rates and employment data is the quality of life! Williamsburg has some of the best features of a small college town and a big city – enough that the New York Times named it one of 52 Places to Go in 2019! 2L Briana Jackson offers some of her experiences living and studying in Williamsburg as a law student.

Briana Jackson gives tips on law school research

Briana Jackson, 2L

Williamsburg is a charming city with deeply rooted history. When walking through Colonial Williamsburg, you will see beautiful horses, cobble stone walkways and historical interpreters in costume depicting daily Colonial life! Beyond the history and museums, Williamsburg and the surrounding area offer many places to eat, have fun, and relax.

There are countless restaurants, from mom and pop restaurants to chain-food eateries. A quick walk from the law school is Merchants Square, which houses some staples in the William & Mary culture – Cheese Shop and Aromas will forever be two of the most popular locations to grab some food or study for a few hours. Breads ends and House from Cheese Shop is highly sought after by current students and alums alike. Regardless of what you’re craving, Williamsburg probably has something that will hit the spot!

The Cheese Shop in Merchants Square is a university staple

The Cheese Shop in Merchants Square is a university staple

Beyond the surplus of food options in the area, there are many ways to unwind and take a break from the books. If you are an adrenaline junky or just like to enjoy the food and drinks at an amusement park like myself, Busch Gardens is just a short drive away. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is European theme with nine villages centered around six countries to visit. The park offers roller coasters, rides, and games. If you like being by the water, Williamsburg is about an hour and fifteen minutes away from Virginia Beach and forty-five minutes away from smaller beaches in Newport News! If you are looking for a getaway weekend, Williamsburg is also near Richmond, Virginia. In an hour drive, you can be surrounded by the business of city living. Long weekends could put you in Washington, D.C., the Blueridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, or the Eastern Shore really quickly!

While there are many neighboring cities to keep William & Mary students busy, most students spend their weekends locally in Williamsburg. A typical weekend in Williamsburg for me involves going to the Movie Tavern with some friends or staying in and watching Netflix. On Saturday mornings I go to the Farmer’s Market in Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchant Square to pick out fresh flowers. Saturday evenings I typically hang out at Green Leafe Café or the College Delly on Richmond Road. This area is an excellent place to hang out with fellow law students and meet other students at William & Mary graduate and undergraduate campuses. Williamsburg is a close-knit and welcoming community!

Briana Jackson is a 2L from Leesburg, Virginia. She graduated from Christopher Newport News University in 2016 with a degree in Political Science. At the law school, she is involved with the Black Law Students Association, the Public Service Fund, and the Women’s Law Society; she currently serves on the staff of the Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice (formerly the Journal of Women and the Law), and spent last summer working at the Fairfax County District Court office.