• Cheré Dastugue Coen

Virginia is for Tater Tot Lovers

Updated: Oct 31

A trip to Smyth County uncovered some unique potato dishes.

sisters cafe
Big Al's Loaded Waffle Tot at Sister's Cafe in Marion, Virginia

On a recent visit to Smyth County, Virginia, a haven of natural beauty located in the southwestern region of the state, a pattern developed.


Tater tots kept appearing on the menus.


For those unfamiliar with this type of spud, tater tots are potatoes that are grated, massaged into tiny cylinders and deep fried. The side dish is used throughout the country as tater tots but the name is a registered trademark of Ore-Ida, who makes and sells the little tubers in grocery stores.


In Marion, Virginia, tater tots appear to be a signature item on menus. And sometimes, the potatoes are elevated to gourmet status.


Sister’s Cafe and Gifts

212 E. Main St., Marion, Va. 24354

(276) 783-9244 Sister’s Café serves up unique menu items such as the rosemary grits bowl topped with greens or the crème brûlée breakfast consisting of yogurt, fruit and granola complete with a sugary crust. But don’t miss Big Al’s Loaded Waffle Tot, a host of tater tots placed in a waffle iron and pressed, then topped like a waffle with cheese, bacon, green onions, sour cream and an egg. The unique dish is named for a local Presbyterian minister named Al who came to Sister’s for a morning Bible study. Talk about good!


Breakfast at Sur 81

1050 VA-16, Marion, Va. 24354

Sur 81, with its cute dining room laced with succulents and a full bar, serves up interesting and inexpensive breakfast and lunch dishes. And that includes tater tots. Their vegan breakfast burrito, shown at left, combines spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion and mushrooms, along with tater tots, wrapped in a flour tortilla and cut in half. The combination marries all the right flavors.






Yummy Yummy Japanese

232 E. Main St., Marion, Va. 24354

This Marion institution serves up sushi and hibachi, but guess what’s on the menu as a side dish? You got it. Tater tots.


Naturally, we didn’t get around to checking out all the restaurants in Smyth County, but one thing’s for sure, they love their tater tots. And in honor of this dedication to the American potato, and the fact that Virginia’s tourism slogan is “Virginia is for Lovers,” we created this poster at The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Art. Director Catherine Schrenker leads classes in printmaking on vintage letterpresses, and along with she and others the school offers instruction in lutherie, dulcimer, pottery and quilt making, among many others.

203 N. Church St., Marion, Va. 24354.









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