A pictured of the Stewed Beef, asparagus & mashed potatoes, which you can order at Chowning's Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia

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My family loves visiting Williamsburg, Virginia.  We love visiting Busch Gardens theme park and of course, we love visiting Colonial Williamsburg.  We love everything about the experience of Colonial Williamsburg.  It really feels like you’ve stepped into a different era.

You can keep that feeling going during your day by eating at Chowning’s Tavern.  Chowning’s Tavern is located right in the middle of Colonial Williamsburg.  It is open for lunch and dinner.  They promise hearty, Colonial-inspired pub fare that is served in an authentic alehouse atmosphere.

So when my family visited during Memorial Day weekend, we decided to try this restaurant.  And then we decided to tell you what we thought of it!

Waiting for a Table

We showed up a little after 12:00 PM so we could ask about reservations.  We were told that they do not take reservations.  Instead, you get seated on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The restaurant opens at 11:30 AM so I would say you want to get there to ask about reservations closer to 11:30 rather than later.

We were told it would be about an hour’s wait.  I gave my phone number and I was told when the table was ready, I would get a text.  This was 12:13 PM.

But a great thing about this is that we did not have to sit around waiting.  Instead, we could walk around Colonial Williamsburg and enjoy it during our wait.

See, I was told when I got the text, I could reply yes if I still wanted the table and no if I didn’t.  Then I could make my way back to the table.

So we stayed pretty close by to the restaurant.  I was able to walk around and do some shopping and look at some of the nearby attractions.  It is located on Duke of Gloucester Street so it’s in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg.  There was an auction going on nearby at 12:00 PM so if that’s happening when you are there, you can watch (and maybe even participate in!) the auction while you wait.  You could also stop by the courthouse, one of my family’s favorite parts of Colonial Williamsburg.  There’s a lot to do.

Just keep checking your phone.  Because my wait was not an hour.  I got a text that my table was ready at 12:45 PM!  I texted yes and then made my way to the restaurant.

Seating & Atmosphere

We were seated indoors, but I did hear that there is seating outside.  I personally prefer the indoor seating since it is air-conditioned.  But I would imagine sitting outside would also be a great experience.  Then you can enjoy the atmosphere of Colonial Williamsburg and the horses and carriages going by.

I really loved the atmosphere inside the restaurant.  I loved the decorations around the restaurant.  It really makes you feel like you stepped into a bygone era.  The servers are dressed appropriately, too.

Even the servers are in the right costumes at Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg

Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg makes you feel like you are eating a restaurant in the 17th or 18th century

Even the tables are perfectly decorated, too.  I love the candles and salt, pepper, and sugar shakers.

I love how each table is decorated with a candle and handcrafted salt and pepper shakers at Colonial Williamsburg's onsite restaurant, Chowning's Tavern

And I love the glasses.

Even the glasses are decorated at Chowning's Tavern, a wonderful restaurant experience at Colonial Williamsburg Virginia

But perhaps the best thing to put me in the mood was the live entertainment that happened while I was there.  A musician walked in to play music for all of us!

Lunch or dinner at Chowning's Tavern is worth it just for the live entertainment and atmosphere alone

The musician played both the recorder and guitar.  He played music from the 17th and 18th centuries.  He was very good – and funny, too!  His performance fittingly ended with Yankee Doodle, which was great for Memorial Day Weekend.

Food Review

I am sure you would also like to know how we liked the food.  We’ll start with the Chicken Hash.

My family had mixed reviews of the chicken hash at Chowning's Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia. See our website for our full review.

We had mixed reviews of the Chicken Hash.  The main complaint of it was that there is a lot of milk in it, which is not mentioned in the write-up of the dish.  So if you have someone in your party allergic to milk (we did), they will want to try another menu option.

I tried To Stew a Duck the French Way from the Martha Washington Cookbook.

Read what we thought of the Martha Washington duck recipe menu item at Chowning Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia

I had never had duck before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But I went thinking it would taste like chicken because, you know the saying, everything “tastes like chicken”.  And it did taste like chicken, but it also tasted a bit like turkey.  I like chicken more than turkey so I probably would have preferred for it to taste more like chicken, actually, but most of it was very good.

The side I had was mashed potatoes and asparagus.  The mashed potatoes were delicious!  Some of the best I have ever had from a restaurant.  The asparagus, unfortunately, was a bit disappointing.

And finally, I’ll leave the best item for the last.  And that was the Stewed Beef.

A pictured of the Stewed Beef, asparagus & mashed potatoes, which you can order at Chowning's Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia

This was a recipe sighted to be from John Farley in 1787 in The London Art of Cookery.  It has stewed beef, mushrooms, onions, and gravy, and is garnished with horseradish.  It also came with asparagus and mashed potatoes.

The onions were especially good.  The mashed potatoes were excellent and tasted good with the gravy.  But the whole meal, in general, was great.  That is the meal we recommend if you come to the restaurant.

Final Thoughts

The food was a bit mixed but mostly good.  It is expensive, and we can’t say it is the best food in Williamsburg.  If you want to get better food for a bit cheaper of a price for lunch, for example, we recommend Capitol Pancake House (please note this restaurant is not open for dinner).

Having said this, we still recommend going to the restaurant.  The food still is great, especially the Stewed Beef.  And you can’t beat the atmosphere.  It really makes you feel like you’ve time traveled.  And the location in Colonial Williamsburg is so perfect.  It is a great place to go to lunch after you’ve spent the morning there and before a fun afternoon there.  It is the experience of eating here that you will remember for years to come – and the restaurant is worth it for that alone.

Colonial Williamsburg Ticket Information

Now, one good thing about Chowning’s Tavern is that you do not need a ticket to Colonial Williamsburg to visit Chowning’s Tavern.  If you don’t have a ticket, you could park in a parking garage in the Merchant’s Square area and walk over to Chowning’s Tavern.

But if you do this, you won’t be able to visit some of the parts of Colonial Williamsburg while you wait, such as the Courthouse.  And you might feel a bit disappointed to be in Colonial Williamsburg while you can’t do everything at Colonial Williamsburg.

So if you do want to buy a ticket to do everything at Colonial Williamsburg, you can click here to buy tickets.  You can also consider getting a Bounce Pass, which is one pass that gets you admission to both Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens.

And speaking of Busch Gardens, check out our Busch Gardens guide.  Spoiler: you can find out how to save money on tickets there in the guide, too!