Danville, VA Food Overview
Delicious food combined with history and dedication is the recipe for success in Danville and Pittsylvania County. Two businesses that exemplify this success are Mary's Diner and Midtown Market.
When Mary Williams opened her one-room diner in 1951‚ she had one goal: serve good‚ home-cooked meals in a Christian atmosphere. A couple of relocations and several expansions later‚ the second, third and now fourth generations of her family are carrying on that tradition.
“She started out in a humble little place‚ and she always said that you give the customers the best food you can give them‚” says Elene Farlow‚ Williams’ daughter. “They know when they come here to eat‚ they’re always getting the same; there’s no changing everything from one month to the next.”
Mary’s Diner quickly outgrew its original location‚ which only seated 25 people. The family moved the business to another location and‚ in 1956‚ constructed a new (and its current) building on Piney Forest Road in Danville where its cafeteria-style serving system was instituted.
“I remember thinking that it wasn’t going to work‚” Farlow says. “I figured when people went out to eat‚ they wanted to sit at a table and have someone wait on them. I didn’t think people would like it‚ but Mother had a vision. Little did I know.”
Customers have so enjoyed Mary’s over the years since that the kitchen has been upgraded completely three times in this location. But regardless of the kitchen or building‚ the food and its preparation stay the same.
This quaint shop has served up some of the freshest meat, produce and specialty items since opening its doors at 7 Chamber Street on Dec. 21, 1921.
The market has been in the family of owner/manager Jan Grant Harris since 1952. Brother Gary Grant says the shop’s longevity can be attributed to excellent customer service and a reputation for providing high-quality products.
“We’re always on the lookout for the freshest and the best,” Grant says. Customers to the Midtown Market find a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, a full-service meat department and specialty items like pimento cheese, boxed lunches, and fruit and hors d'oeuvre trays.
However, it’s Midtown’s chicken salad that has earned the shop fame. Following a recipe created by Grant’s father more than 40 years ago, the Market prepares and sells 300 pounds of chicken salad each day.
Tourism officials joke that they receive enough phone calls about where to find the Midtown Market’s chicken salad to justify designating it an official attraction.
Danville Farmers Market
Danville farmers know a thing or two about farm fresh, and every spring and summer they pool their knowledge at the Danville Farmers' Market. Open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the market features the freshest of the farmers' stock, including everything from locally grown fruits and vegetables, beef, pork, fresh baked goods and more. Saturday sees master gardeners on hand to give free advice, and the market opens sporadically throughout the holiday season for special holiday-themed markets.
Read more about Danville's food scene.