White Hall Is Bustling With Activity – And Great FoodApril 10, 2018
Welcome to another installment of adventure and discovery! We’re combing through all the towns and hamlets Marion has to offer to prepare for summertime fun.
In exploring Marion County, there is a lot of ground to cover – quite literally.
Incorporated in 1989, there are some under-informed people who seem to view White Hall and Fairmont as the same place. But that’s not true. The two are distinct and full of independent character, even if the town delineations are a little fuzzy.
Talk about fuzzy! We’ll drive to White Hall by taking Fairmont Avenue. Ironic, isn’t it? Anyway, this means your first stop is … delicious.
It’s Muriale’s! The fanciest Italian restaurant around. Just to start, have some bruschetta and fried calamari. Then, go healthy with Papa Frankie’s Asparagus Salad. For the main course, get fancy with veal Parmesan or linguine with white clam sauce. (For the side? It should always be the mozzarella garlic toast. I think the reason is pretty self-explanatory.) I haven’t taken a poll or anything, but Muriale’s most popular dishes would have to be the classics: lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs. And for dessert, try to choose between cannolis and Italian Almond Cream (plus all the specials of the day). You can’t go wrong and they certainly don’t.
Keep driving up the road and you’ll notice a clue as to what our next stop will be. The beautiful, winding river with plenty of docks spans the majority of Fairmont Avenue. Adventures on the water, anyone? Wood’s Boathouse is how you can make it happen. Rent or buy just about anything that floats! Wood’ is perfect for those non-committal types. Rent a pontoon boat, some dock space, and you’ve got yourself a good time. Don’t forget to buy a lifejacket! And a wakeboard wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Drive up the hill and turn right on NASA Boulevard. This next stop is solely for the purpose of seeing something awesome. Technology Park is full of high tech architecture. The Robert H. Mollohan Research Center, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are situated here in the more than 400-acre park. Electronic Warfare Associates, Inc. and the National White Collar Crime Center operate here. Along with NOAA’s Environmental Security Computing Center, the campus also has NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – R Series (GOES-R) program and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) program. Yeah, science. This is a perfect site to see.
We’ll loop out of there and go up the hill to something less technological but still a town landmark: the Middletown Mall. It’s filled with murals and surrounded by incredible places like El Rey. They’re really into food combining. Mexican sidewalk tacos are filled with seven different meats; then there’s Choriqueso, Charro Beans, and the best combination, the West Virginia Burrito. The Mexican and American pride is palpably felt. Aside from offering a jumbo size for many dishes (like the WV Burrito), they have one thing no one else in the county has.Mole! (Not the animal. Pronounce it like you speak Spanish.) The sauce is the pride of Mexico. It’s like a chocolate chili sauce that makes life wonderful. (Don’t forget a mixed drink!)
The Grand China Buffet is more than accurately named. Why? Well, number one, it’s a buffet full of all the Chinese food you could want. Tell me where you can eat crab legs, sushi, coconut shrimp, General Tso’s, fried rice, wontons, lo mein and kung po all at once for one price? The answer is unequivocally nowhere. There are even fruit and typical American things to mix it up a bit. You know what’s even better? The best of both worlds: Bacon wrapped shrimp. Enough said.
Drive to the back of the mall, which is where you’ll find some hidden treasures. Colasessano’s is all about pizza and everything Italian. Start with Italian Wedding Soup. Consider crab ravioli or roasted red pepper tortellini as the entree. However, Colo’s (as the locals call it) is famous for their pizza and buns. Get pizza with Italian sausage, pepperoni, cheese, and peppers. Or, try a pepperoni bun (much like a pepperoni roll but bigger) filled with meat sauce, provolone, and peppers. But if you don’t want to fill up a bun, the shells and peppers are already stuffed! Lastly, end the meal with any number of flavors of gelato! (There’s also a full bar.)
Right next to the deliciousness is Spa Oasis. This is one of two spas in Fairmont and one of the only spas in the state to offer Floatation Therapy. It’s magical. Float in a closed pod filled with Epsom salt for a gentle detox and an incredibly peaceful experience. The salt makes the body float and ironically creates a sense of sensory deprivation. You feel like your body just doesn’t exist. Pain ceases, and better, is being healed. You can also get your facials and massages here. On your way out, choose a Himalayan Salt Lamp to maintain that peaceful state!
Driving out of the Middletown Mall, we’ll go right across the street to White’s Fine Jewelry. White’s carries the newest trends and the prettiest jewelry. There’s Pandora for the ladies and Benchmark for the men. Go bold, go simple or go with West Virginia-inspired designs. Not into diamonds? Get the newest trend in marital jewelry: silicone rings. They’re meant to stay with you through thick and thin, the mud, the hiking and all the adventures of marriage.
And now it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for: hot dogs! Hometown Hot Dogs is a literal hometown favorite. Get a dog with slaw and french fries with blue cheese. There’s always a pepperoni roll as an option, plus all the sandwiches you could want!
We don’t have to drive far to find Rustic Woods. Actually, we don’t have to drive at all. And no, this is not a forest but a furniture store right next to This n’ That. And it is full of unique pieces. Why so unique? They’re hand-crafted right here using good ol’ West Virginia wood. Get bed frames, tables, benches, hutches and cabinets. Fill your home with country livin’ or mix up your modern design with some natural pieces.
Now, we’ll drive back up to the main road and go north. And by north, I of course mean up the hill. Mi Pueblo is Fairmont’s oldest Mexican restaurant with a tried and true history of beans, cheese and Spanish. The queso is to die for and the Mexican burger con papas is perfection. Not only does Mi Pueblo specialize in your typical Mexican dishes like burritos, chimichangas and huevos rancheros, but like the burger, they’re thinking outside the pueblo. Shrimp and crab quesadilla? Yes, always yes. (Don’t forget to add pineapple to your fajitas!) Last but not least, get some Mexican beer, a margarita and/or a daiquiri (probably go with the second conjunction).
Go north a little more to get to the Tygart Valley Commons.
Across from the Commons is the Tygart Valley Cinema. If you’re in the know (as I am), Tuesday nights are the best time to go. You’ll pay a literal rate of less than half of what it costs anywhere else. Plus, their popcorn is the best, and that’s based solely on an objective rating scale compared among various other regional theatres. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
Here we go! Leaving the theatre, you’ll see Dutchman’s Daughter right in your line of sight. And soon, they’ll be right in your line of taste. I guarantee you that you will not find a German hoagie anywhere else in this Italian county. But they do offer Italians the choice of their heritage, too, with spicy Sicilian-style shrimp pasta (among other dishes). There is, of course, the southern preferences like honey dipped fried chicken, beef liver and ham steak. And they haven’t neglected that Appalachian palette, either. Get soup beans and ham, or chicken and dumplings; don’t forget to end with some pie or blackberry cobbler. Did I forget to mention it’s all homemade? Oops.
Now, it’s time to get active at Apple Valley Golf Course. Take in the beauty, the serenity and the possibility of winning. Apple Valley could be the most beautiful shade of green around (and that’s saying something because, you know, we’re in West Virginia). Sometimes the green really is greener on the other side (talking to you, Virginia).
Next, get your golfing game up to par at White Hall Driving Range. Practice makes perfect, but so does a personal trainer. Sara Yost is a PGA teaching professional for individuals or groups. So bring a friend and let the training begin!
Don’t lose that shopping spirit yet, we still have to hit Pawntiques Emporium. This pawn shop specializes in only two things: the antiquest of antiques and the coolest of guitars. Not into guitars? Find the vintage version of many other instruments. Create in a different way by giving your house a makeover. Go ahead and get those vintage Coca Cola and 7 Up signs you’ve always wanted. Better yet, have some Fairmont pride with a Fairmont Imperial Ice Cream sign? (It’s a very old time company that once served the area with delicious lactose treats.)
Continue in the direction of what may or may not be north until you get to a tiny hamlet called Colfax. All the baked goods and ducks you could want are in Colfax. Every summer the town hosts a community fundraiser that includes a bake sale, music, a silent auction, hot dog sale, which is all centered around the famed Colfax Community Duck Race!
Maybe ducks aren’t your thing, though. In that case, head to Guyses Run Fishing Park (also in Colfax). Cast your line and see what bites: trout, hybrid bluegill, catfish, largemouth bass and hybrid striped bass. Don’t worry if nothing does because the beauty of the land is definitely enough.
We’ve come to then end of yet another incredible discovery in Marion County. There was so much to do and see in White Hall (not Fairmont). So far, even as a native Marion Countian, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by everything our little nooks and crannies have to offer. And there’s still more!
What’s your favorite spot in White Hall?