Ramps are here, and in case you didn’t know – they are a big deal in Randolph County, West Virginia. These wild leeks, or spring onions, tend to pop up early – mid April. Ramps are a wild vegetable that are as well-known for their strong odor as they are for their garlicky taste. Ramps have been harvested for personal and community use in West Virginia for generations. If you don’t have the inkling to go and forage for ramps yourself, you can almost always find a local restaurant featuring ramp inspired dishes or a specialty shop that has an item with ramps as an ingredient.
Beanders Restaurant and Tavern is located in downtown Elkins. It’s a place where locals and travelers alike love to go. During ramp season, Beanders features items like their award winning Ramp Dip and Hillbilly Philly. Salty chips and savory spicy salsa with a hint of diced ramps pair well with the melted provolone, sautéed ramps, onions, and peppers, and thinly sliced steak sandwich. If you or your group want something different, Beanders offers a full menu of appetizers, fresh salads, homestyle sandwiches and soups, and delicious entrees.
Appalachian meets Venezuelan. Everything blends together at El Gran Sabor in April and every other month of the year. Located in a quaint, yellow house in downtown Elkins, you’ll find your stomach growling with the desire to have traditional pan-Latin cachapas. El Gran Sabor highlights this most-famous dish by combining ramps and cheese with your choice of beef, chicken, pork, ham, black beans, or grilled veggies stuffed in a thinly wrapped corn pancake. El Gran also has ramp burgers available during this time of year among their various authentic entrees and full bar.
Still not comfortable eating indoors? That’s okay! You can still enjoy ramps at Jimmy’z Food Truck Mall just outside of downtown Elkins on North Randolph Avenue. Looking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner options? Vendors at the food truck mall are featuring a ramp breakfast platter with eggs, bacon, sausage, and of course, ramps on Saturday mornings from 7am to 11am. The food truck mall is open on Friday’s and Saturday’s from 11am to 7pm and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Lunch and dinner options include Ramp Burgers, Ramp Chili Hotdogs, and New York Strip Steak Ramp Hoagies.
Other restaurants that normally have wild-leek features are Vintage Restaurant and Wine Bar with their ramp pizza, ramp gnocchi with garlic sauce, or ramp macaroni and cheese, Smoke on the Water ramp egg rolls, 1863 Appalachian Bistro wings with parmesan ramp butter sauce, ramp wontons, or bacon-wrapped ramp sliders, and delicious ramp pesto and other locally sourced items like wild morel mushrooms and fresh-caught trout at the Forks Inn. It’s best to call the featured establishments ahead of time to see if they are offering these dishes. Bobbie’s in Beverly combines a West Virginia specialty, the pepperoni roll, and stuffs ramps in it, calling it the ramperoni roll.
Additionally, ramps can be found at a few specialty shops in downtown Elkins during the entire year. The local honey shop, S&T’s Bees, carries a unique item similar to summer sausage called Venison (deer) & Ramp Hot Pepper Cheese Bologna and throughout the month, you can buy freshly baked homemade beer bread blended with ramps and cheese. Both S&T’s Bees and The Delmonte Market stock up on ramp jam which is a variation of green onion jam. It isn’t exactly a “jam” you would expect, but it’s definitely savory and goes well with toast, crackers, or used as a condiment on meats, cheeses, and sandwiches. Pickled ramps can also be found at The Delmonte Market year-round.
The Ramps & Rail Festival held at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center is unfortunately cancelled for 2021 and is scheduled next year on April 23, 2022. It’s always held on the last Saturday of April. If you want to dig and prepare this delicacy yourself and need inspiration, buy the Randolph County Ramp Cookbook available at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. The cookbook is $7 if picking up, or can be mailed for $7.50. Call 304-635-7803 to order – cash or check only.
Note: Ramp dishes are subject to change depending on availability. Please contact establishments individually to ensure the dish is still available.
Check out our other blogs highlighting this seasonal Appalachian delicacy: