Front Royal, Virginia, aspires to be more than the entrance to Skyline Drive and the last exit before you get to Highway 81. To this end, the city has developed a little downtown area, and that in turn has attracted an interesting restaurant, the Soul Mountain Cafe. It comes complete with family photos and back story on the wall as well as a promise of the world's best barbecue. My family appreciated the short ribs a lot more than the chicken BBQ, possibly because the chicken was only lukewarm. My Maryland crab soup presumably came from one of the owner/chef's grandmother's recipes. It was satisfyingly spicy, but it too came lukewarm. Service was slow, but everyone seemed friendly and eager to please. When we asked for their signature corn muffins after 10 or 15 minutes of waiting for something to develop, we got order after order for the rest of the meal. They were sweet enough to make dessert seem unnecessary. We walked out satisfied. It's an interesting place with real food and their heart certainly seems to be in the right place. It's a welcome break from exit ramp chain restaurants and local pig-out places. And at one hour's drive west on Highway 66 from Washington, it's a great addition to one day outings to the mountains. And reasonably priced!
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