Thomas House: Real Country Cooking

They don’t have a website.  They don’t really do much marketing, and when they do they surely don’t tout superlatives like “finest” and “freshest”.  They really don’t have to.  They just make seriously good, authentic home cooking.  Their listing on the Virginia Tourism website states, “Country food prepared fresh daily in downtown Dayton. Where home cooked food is always the priority and where you feel so at home you almost forget that you don’t have to do the dishes here!”

I stopped in recently for lunch and was a couple minutes early.  They stop serving breakfast (delicious) at 10:30 and reopen for lunch at 11am.  For breakfast you can just grab a table and a friendly server will stop by your table.  Lunch service, however, is cafeteria style…but not the food, the food is unlike any cafeteria I’ve ever visited.  Imagine grabbing a tray and a plate at a cafeteria, only the cook is your grandmother and the kitchen is her kitchen, apron and all.  Since they were still setting up the counter with pies and such, I waited just inside the dining room.  The air was warm and sweet like the perfect little corn muffins being pulled from the oven in the back kitchen.  The cook was popping each one out into a basket.  When later asked which kind of bread I wanted with my meal, it was an easy answer.

For lunch you have to look up to a whiteboard with handwritten lists of daily items and choose from the options for your meat and sides.  You can also do an all sides meal if you want to skip the meat.  There really isn’t a bad choice on the menu, but this time I choose baked chicken with scalloped potatoes and squash casserole.  After giving my order to the cook who hurries around scooping up my choices, I scoot my tray down the aisle and answer “sweet tea” for my beverage.  It is seriously hard to not pick up a slice of apple pie, peach cobbler or lemon meringue pie.  In no time I’ve got my meal and I’m happy to pay the nice Mennonite woman in the little booth.   It’s cash only.  My meal cost $8.

Here’s where I can get all food snobby describing my meal, but I won’t.  It’s simple food made very well, from scratch, with good ingredients.  I’ve never had a bad meal here.  It’s always as good or better than my mom’s or my granny’s cooking (sorry mom).  There’s nothing pretentious about the décor, the attitudes of the people working here, or the food.  It’s easy to feel at home, because for these few minutes of the day you’re being taken care of.  And you don’t even have to do the dishes.

Strong recommendation: be nice to people the whole time you’re in here.  You’ll get it right back.  Don’t try to find a menu online.  Just show up one day for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  They open at 6am and close at 8pm.  Except Sundays.  They’re definitely not working on Sundays.

Thomas House  222 Main St, Dayton, VA 22821  (540) 879-2181

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One Comment

  1. Dale says:

    I just ate there last night. I’m kind of a regular. You get a better meal for what you’d pay for fast food burger and fries. Drinks are re-filled for free and the wait staff are awesome (my personal fav and friend is Bridget. I just go to see what she’s wearing. She’s such a glamour puss.)
    Glad to see they are getting some attention, but hopefully not too much. It’s a seat yourself whenever a table is available style.

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