Since living in California, I’ve realized how much of a disconnected bubble I lived in before moving here.  I used to think of it as “just a small town”, but there are people that actually think West Virginia is the western part of Virginia!  The area I am from is that disconnected, that some people don’t even realize it exists!  I could be ashamed or embarrassed or even start to deny that I am from this disconnected bubble of the United States, but I can’t!  I love where I am from!  I spent so much time, growing up, planning my grand exit from that small town, and now that I’m gone I can’t wait to go back!  Theres just a charm and a comfort in that small town bubble, and a lot of lyes in the small business.

Family owned restaurants!  (You knew I would talk about food!)  The Mid-Ohio Valley might not be an epicenter for culturally diverse food, but they have a handful of places that will keep you satisfied!  Just keep them all in rotation, and always try the specials!  My ultimate favorite restaurant is in Marietta, Ohio.  The Buckley House Restaurant.  It’s  a restaurant that hasn’t done any advertising since moving into the neighborhood, and is so busy on any given weekend that reservations are recommended.  Intimate tables fill the downstairs of the historic Buckley House, formally a B & B, and in the warmer seasons there are tables hidden amongst the brick paths of the garden area out back.  So gorgeous that I even held my wedding there!  The menu, mostly Mediterranean influenced, is awesome, but the real stars are the daily specials!  There is one thing that is a “must order” when you dine here.  Seafood Phyllo Baskets (Top Left)  They are to die for!  Kind of a sophisticated twist on a cream cheese wonton, and definitely one of my favorite things!

On my most recent visit back to my hometown, I visited a “new” place.  Mango’s Latin Bistro.  Situated on the corner of Market Street in Parkersburg, WV.  An open “hallway” style restaurant, featuring local art, and a few tables outside.  It was a cute and trendy place with a great Cuban Sandwich (Bottom Left).  I ordered the boneless Mango Barbecue Wings (Top Right), and couldn’t resist tasting the homemade Guava Pasty (Bottom Right) for a lunch time dessert!  Check the hours before heading over to this place, because they aren’t open normal restaurant times!

You can’t make a trip to the Mid Ohio Valley without stopping at Holl’s Chocolates!  My mouth starting watering just remembering my last visit.  Located in Vienna, WV the store displays the chocolates in glass cases, almost like expensive jewelry.  They hand craft pure Swiss chocolates.  A family business Started by Fritz Holl in 1986.  (Who doesn’t love the name “Fritz”?!)  They always offer a sample chocolate when you visit, and if your not sure what to try, get the truffle of the month!  They feature limited edition truffles that usually reflect a seasonal flavor.  The best news about this place is that you don’t have to visit West Virginia to taste their chocolate!  You can order it and have it shipped, even to California!  (  Believe me, I’ve done it couple times!  It’s totally worth a try!  Holl’s definitely makes my list of favorites!

But the ultimate, favorite thing about the Mid-Ohio Valley is friends and family.  Getting together to grill out, even if it rains, and goofing off after a couple beers.  You just can’t beat that.  There might not be a Starbucks in sight, and the chances of a “celebrity sighting” are just as slim… but you never know what other “simple” things you might see that will still bring a smile to your face, and become a favorite thing.