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A River Runs Through It

Waynesboro restaurant runs the gamut with creative burger offerings

March 2024

by Peggy Hyland, Contributing Columnist

In the heart of downtown Waynesboro, we stepped into the relaxed atmosphere of The River Burger Bar. The shiplap walls echo the nautical theme, with fishing poles, nets and river photos. The casual, family-friendly atmosphere was as welcoming as the staff.

The creative and innovative menu echoes the nautical theme. The Davy Knot was a huge Bavarian-style pretzel. As it baked, it split itself into a big smiley face, which brought smiles to our faces, especially when dipped in the delicious beer cheese dip. It was divine: zippy, creamy and rich, a perfect complement to the salty pretzel. We also dug into the Reel Wisconsin Cheese Curds, which came with a zesty spicy ranch sauce.

I could not resist the beet salad, which featured mixed greens, earthy beets, dried cherries, Craisins, pumpkin seeds and goat cheese. A delectable balsamic vinaigrette tied it all together beautifully. Beets and goat cheese are a match made in heaven, and the combination of dried fruits and seeds elevated the dish. The mix of textures and tastes was the star of our meal, and my meat-loving companion polished it off before even trying the pretzel.

Since burgers are the house specialty, we both chose from their imaginative offerings. Few Southerners can resist the call of a good pimento cheese spread, and we were no exception.

I opted for the Bacon Pimento Burger, with the patty topped with bacon, pimento cheese spread and grilled onions. My companion chose the Chilito Hot Dish, with the pimento cheese spread, Fritos, grilled onions, jalapeños and housemade chili. The veggie chili was warm and comforting, with just the right amount of spice. The Fritos added a nice crunch, and the fresh jalapeños added a little kick. Our sides were crispy house-made potato chips and onion rings, which were generously battered and fried to crunchy perfection.

The River rotates its desserts weekly, featuring the offerings of local bakeries. The very popular Red Velvet Ice Cream Sandwich was sold out, but we were very happy with the Apple Pie Egg Rolls. Crisp and flaky crusts surrounded the delectable apples, with generous spices and a dusting of powdered sugar. They were made in-house, served à la mode, with a luscious caramel that balanced out the sweetness.

The service was friendly and fast, without feeling rushed. We were there between the lunch and dinner rushes, but the midafternoon is still very popular. There are a few TVs for those interested in sports, but not enough to be distracting to the rest of the crowd. The beer list emphasizes local offerings.

Just minutes from I-64 and the entrance to the Blue Ridge Tunnel, The River would be a perfect place to stop in for a break from driving, a relaxing bite while shopping downtown, or a big burger after a long hike.

The River Burger Bar

137 N. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro, Va.


Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday/Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.


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