Vegan Options at Happy Trails Café, Alvarado Station on the Virginia Creeper Trail!
Abingdon VA 24211
Reviewed by Danielle Bussone
Happy Trails Café in Alvarado Station, Virginia is smack dab in the middle of the Virginia Creeper Trail between Abingdon and Damascus, VA. The famous Virginia Creeper Trail is named after a railroad that ran between Abingdon, VA to Whitetop Mountain in North Carolina, spanning three states on what is now 34 miles of biking, hiking and horseback riding trails.
What is unique about Happy Trails is that they offer vegan options! Since there isn’t a single place in Abingdon or Damascus where we can find a plant-based meal, it is rather astonishing to find something to eat in this out of the way diner. The owner, Gwyn Hill, is a darling. Her partners/co-workers are her husband, Travis and her son, Logan, her parents, Loretta and Harvey Johnston, and her mother-in-law, Fran Hill, making it truly a family affair.
There are several plant-based options on the menu and Gwen often offers vegan specials. The first thing I noticed was the sign for boiled peanuts. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’m a boiled peanut fanatic. Rich and I scarfed down an order while awaiting the rest of our meal.
We couldn’t think of celebrating the Fourth of July without the traditional hotdog, vegan of course, with relish and sweet onions and a side of fried chips.
We ordered the Big Honkin’ Veggie Wrap, a flour tortilla layered with house-made hummus and stuffed full of fresh vegetables from local farmers and dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.
On a subsequent visit, I discovered I could replace the chips with a fresh side salad for a healthier version.
Rich and I also shared a Loaded Veggie Wrap, which is wrapped in gluten-free rice paper, stuffed with fresh veggies and served wit a lemon-vinaigrette. This wrap is made surprisingly sweet by the house-made sweet onions prepared by Gwen from a prized family recipe. It really is something special.
On our next visit we tried the Veggie Quinoa Salad, crisp, garden fresh vegetables topped with the now famous pickled sweet onions.
We enjoyed our meals in a small dining area next to the kitchen. Outside are plenty of tables underneath a sunscreen as well as numerous bike racks and plenty of parking. Across the street is a public park next to a lovely stream. There are pavilions with tables for dining and even swings to relax in underneath.
This day’s veggie special was a veggie burger which comes with two sides. The menu board also features a delicious juice of beets, apples, carrots and ginger. I watched as one customer’s eyes popped open wide as took a sip from her friend’s glass. She immediately ordered one for herself.
Happy Trails Café is perfectly located and is a welcome oasis in the middle of our 17-mile bike ride. Rich and I are becoming regular customers and, so far, Gwyn and her charming family do not disappoint.