Upstairs at the Cellar
Blacksburg, Virginia

By Patricia B. Mitchell, 2005.

The Cellar

Every college village probably has (or needs) a hangout similar to the Cellar, which is billed as “Blacksburg's Original Underground Tavern” (see their website). The downtown location at 302 North Main places it conveniently close to the Virginia Tech campus, so that students can get a bite to eat, enjoy the libations, and hear local bands — assuming they want to do this between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. (Motherly advice: you might want to take along earplugs, just in case.)

In March, when my husband and I and two of our children ate at the Cellar, the noise was almost intolerable. A few college students had evidently been raising their decibel level minute by minute since an early happy hour. (In the old days, back when WE were students in Blacksburg, loud customers would have been asked by the management to pipe down or leave!) Anyway, everyone else in the restaurant was having to shout to be heard over the noisy group and the recorded music, so the sound level just kept escalating. Nevertheless, we stuck it out. (The basement seating area was just as loud, and smokier than upstairs.)

We had heard that the food was good and reasonably priced. We also wanted to eat there for nostalgic reasons. As Virginia Tech students, we had often dined at this Main Street eatery, back when it was called the Greeks. (The restaurant's origins date back to the 1920's, when it was opened by Nick Kappas.)

Anyway, after an extremely long wait, we got our food. (Some of the silverware showed up a little later.) Three in our group had the small tossed salad (fairly good) with blue cheese dressing. For an entree, husband Henry ordered the Greek Spaghetti, which he liked pretty well; and I had the Greek Spaghetti with veggies. It was very good. Daughter Sarah enjoyed a Pita Pizza topped with chicken, mushrooms, and feta cheese (as well as the basic pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese). Son Jonathan did not especially like his Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich (which had blue cheese dressing on it!).

Still, the price was approximately $8.00 per person. Not bad these days!

Pita Pizza

The Pita Pizza with chicken, broccoli, and onion.

Two months later we returned on a Thursday night — much less noisy. (The previously-described visit occurred on a Friday.) After a terribly long wait, our meal arrived — or most of it. The mushrooms had been left off Sarah's Vegetarian Greek Pita Melt ($5.50). After we pointed out the omission, much time elapsed before the waitress brought a little bowl of the omitted ingredient. (Sarah had almost finished, even though she ate really slowly, hoping the mushrooms would arrive before the Melt got cold.) Sarah had also ordered a bowl of excellent “Soup of the Day,” Creamy Saffron Broccoli Bisque ($2.75), which she enjoyed before the Melt.

I ate a Pita Pizza ($4.50) with chicken, broccoli, and onion. It was very good and filling.

Henry thoroughly enjoyed a big Greek Salad ($7.50). Fresh greens, pepperoncini peppers, tomato, ripe olives, etc., and even anchovies upon request added up to something delicious.

Jonathan and son David both thought their entrees were too cheesy (a rather surprising conclusion for a teen and a post-teen). Jonathan had the Baked Manicotti ($7.95) and David had the Ricotta Calzone with chicken ($7.75). No one had room for dessert, plus it had taken so long to be served that it was getting quite late.

This meal happened to cost a little more per person than our previous visit. Nevertheless, the price was low enough, the quantity generous enough, the taste good enough, and the atmosphere groovy/funky enough, we will go back.