Feast your eyes, fill your belly, and get a good night’s sleep at Tari’s Premier Cafe and Inn, a family-run Berkeley Springs institution.
Plenty of businesses claim their employees are “one big family.” But Tari’s Premier Cafe and Inn in Berkeley Springs—located just a short walk away from the historic mineral baths for which the town is famous—can make a pretty good case for that claim.
Some of Tari’s staff have been with the business from the beginning, and others are second-generation employees. “My mother has been with Tari since she opened,” says owner Ashlyn Mcbee as the restaurant fills up for Sunday brunch. “It’s a family business. My sister works here, my dad works here, my brother is back in the kitchen.”
Tari Hampe-Deneen opened the restaurant 29 years ago. At the time, it was a tavern with a small kitchen in the back, but it has expanded over the years to include a main gallery and dining room with a smaller dining area in between. Hampe-Deneen retired and passed the business to Mcbee in 2006.
Devin Lucas has served as Tari’s chef for 18 years. Although he changes the menu two or three times each year, some of the dishes have been here longer than him. The crab cakes have been on the menu since the restaurant opened, and for good reason. “I always tell folks the crab cakes are as good as my grandma’s,” says server Laura Smith, who has worked at Tari’s for 17 years and speaks with the authority of a former Baltimorean.
Lucas tries to incorporate as many local, seasonal products into the menu as he can, including locally grown tomatoes, cucumbers, ramps, and morel mushrooms. The restaurant also features a separate barbecue menu with slow-smoked baby back ribs, Carolina pulled pork with peppered maple butter and a pearl sugar waffle, even BBQ portobello sandwiches topped with fire roasted red peppers, pickled jalapeños, swiss cheese, and barbecue mayonnaise all served on a brioche bun with a side of zucchini fries.
In addition to handcrafted cocktails and happy hour specials, Tari’s tavern offers drink specials featuring seasonal ingredients, like a soft shell crab Bloody Mary in the summertime. The tavern also has its own special menu, featuring crab fries—lump crab, bacon, Old Bay, smoky ghost pepper cheese, cocktail sauce, and horseradish chipotle aioli—along with other unique dishes like Killer Bee Wings and The Crabby Patty.
Tari’s dessert menu includes classics such as cheesecake, chocolate lava cake, crème brûlée, and Derby Pie, which tastes like a warm chocolate chip cookie. “It doesn’t just taste good, it looks good,” Mcbee says of Lucas’s food.
But the beautifully plated meals aren’t the only visual interest in the restaurant. Each room features local art for sale, including colorful prints, stained glass, and metalwork wall hangings. The art sells quickly, so customers enjoy new exhibits every few weeks.
Tari’s has four cozy guest rooms located upstairs from the restaurant. You can book them for single nights or as part of sleep-and- dine packages. The inn also partners with Highlawn Inn and Atasia Spa in Berkeley Springs to offer packaged sleep, eat, and relax deals. “It’s a great community—we like to support local businesses,” Mcbee says.
And locals love to support Tari’s. “We plan to stay open for another 30 years, if we can,” Mcbee says. With a family like theirs, that sounds like an achievable goal.
33 North Washington Street, 304.258.1196, tariscafe.com
written by Aldona Bird