King’s Arms Tavern at Colonial Williamsburg
The King’s Arms Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg is a throwback in time to the elegance and excitement of the 18th century. The reproduction Chippendale and Queen Anne furniture, and the maps and other prints on the painted wooden walls of the Tavern’s tightly packed eleven rooms, represent styles favored by the well-off planters and other ladies and gentlemen in the very stratified society of colonial Virginia.
Seated at a wooden table, I pick up the pewter salt cellar. It feels cool and slightly gritty to the touch, and sounds a soft clap when replaced on the table.
The King’s Arms opened in 1772, although during the War for Independence its name was changed to Mrs. Vobe’s, after its owner, and later to Eagle Tavern. Today it operates under its original name, and offers a comforting continuity in Colonial Williamsburg.
Taverns like the King’s Arms, as well as coffeehouses, figured prominently in the birth of the American republic. Mrs. Vobe’s provided food, drink, and lodging to American soldiers. George Washington sometimes dined there when visiting Virginia’s capital.
They also provided venues for men catch up on the news and debate events of the day. In the 21st century, servers in period costume bring baskets of bread lined with reproductions of the Virginia Gazette.
The Tavern offers 18th-century menu choices including peanut soupe, fried chicken, and game pye, which features venison, rabbit, and duck. They have a daily pasta dish, and call it macaroni. The meaty fare smells hearty, and it is–soft comfort food whose flavor comes from its main ingredients rather than blends of spices and herbs.
Baron von Steuben once ran up a bill of 300 Spanish dollars for food, drink, and lodging there, and it’s not hard to imagine how. But like Mrs. Vobe’s clientele, today’s visitors are paying for the atmosphere and the location near the Capitol.
And travellers who want to include an 18th-century dining experience in their Williamsburg visit may well find it worth planning for a meal at the King’s Arms Tavern.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, click here.
What to Know Before You Go to the
King’s Arms Tavern
in Colonial Williamsburg
The King’s Arms Tavern is located at 416 East Duke of Gloucester Street, a short walk from the Capitol.
The King’s Arms is open on Thursday-Monday for lunch during 11:30-2:30 and dinner during 5-7:45. On crowded days, I recommend lining up around 11:15 for lunch and making reservations for dinner.
The Tavern has no official dress code. I recommend nice casual attire.
Would you like to try the King’s Arms recipes for Sweet Potatoes or Chicken Pot Pie at home? Check out The Williamsburg Cookbook. I keep my copy handy on the breakfast bar!
For two decades, I worked at political jobs. Then my parents got sick, and I went home to help care for them, and they died, fourteen weeks apart, in their late 60s. And I decided that life is too dear, and too uncertain, to fritter away in political offices. I fought back the sorrow with travel, and started this blog. I believe that passions are more fun when you share them with others, and my hope is to share my passions for travel and culture with you. Welcome! Read more …
I love visiting historic sites and I love reading about them when I cannot go myself. Your writing makes me feel like I am right there taking the sites and smells along with you. Keep up the good work!
Thanks so much, Alice, I’m glad the post gave you a little vacation.
I truly enjoyed reading this! Considering my family and I love travelling and touring areas that played a part in the Revolutionary War, I will be putting this place on my list of places to see! My son, who is 11, absolutely loves American history, especially surrounding the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. He will be thoroughly excited to visit such a place as The King’s Arms.
Thanks, Ina, it sounds like your family would love Colonial Williamsburg!