Fifteen Virginia Foodie Towns to Try – Part 2 of 2

by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted: Apr 21, 2015 | Updated: May 11, 2016

Comments: 35 Comments

Part One of our Fifteen Virginia Foodie Towns to try in the new year was very well received, and we’ve heard from you that you are hungry for more.

We’ve spent some time eating and drinking our way across the state the past month or so preparing for Part Two, and here it is.

You are warned to read this with a napkin handy, as you may start to drool in anticipation of visiting these foodie finds.

We’ve got one, though, that you’re sure to make happen: explore some of the tasty offerings across the state.

This is the second of a two-part article. 

These are just some of our favorites from our journeys across Virginia to whet your whistle – please list your fabulous food findings as you make your way across the Old Dominion in the comment section below. 

 

— MIDDLEBURG —

The Vibe:

This tidy village would be as at home in the English countryside as it is the rolling Virginia Piedmont. Graceful, historic buildings in town host boutiques, beds-and-breakfasts and eateries; the surrounding landscape is the true Virginia horse country. Locavore plates with high-end appeal abound.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Salamander Resort & Spa

– At Salamander Resort & Spa take a class in the Cooking Studio where visiting chefs interact with students to create a full range of dishes in a gorgeously-appointed kitchen.

Goodstone Inn & Restaurant

– You are in for a treat when dining at Goodstone Inn & Restaurant. Farm-to-table ingredients from nearby growers as well as the inn’s own organic herb and vegetable gardens are crafted into French Country cuisine.

Home Farm Store

Home Farm Store is a beautiful gourmet food hall with a butcher shop featuring meats from nearby Ayrshire Farm (we love that the beef, pork, veal, chicken and turkey are Certified Humane and Certified Organic). The store also features many Virginia artisan edibles, like wine, cider, honey, ham and more.

Boxwood Winery

– Visit Boxwood Winery and taste a flight of the award-winning wines or purchase by the glass, bottle or case. Four wines are offered, and while all are favorites, we especially love the dry Rose’, perfect for light fare and enjoying out on the porch.

Red Fox Inn Restaurant

– The prix-fixe Sunday brunch at the 1728 The Red Fox Inn Restaurant is a great way to ease into the day. Celebrate horse country with the Hunt Country Breakfast with cornmeal crusted pan-fried trout, scrambled eggs, smoked bacon and home fries.

 

— NORFOLK —

The Vibe:

The urban heart of Hampton Roads, Norfolk was site to the region’s first “restaurant” (1693) and Restaurant Row along Granby Street in the 1990s. Look for sophisticated offerings across downtown and Ghent from seafood-centric dishes to omnivore-pleasing vegetarian plates.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– In Ocean View, we love Captain Groovy’s, a funky oyster bar with great food, from fried clams to oysters on the half shell, Voodoo wings (a must-try) and ice cold Red Stripe beer. Sit on the patio in warm weather.

Doumar's Cones and Barbeque

– It’s still the 50s at Doumar’s, venerable drive in which has feed the hearts and stomachs of locals for decades. Sit in your car and have hot-from-the flattop burgers, dogs and thick shakes brought out by rollerskate-clad servers. Enjoy an ice cream in a cone made on a 100-year-old machine – reportedly the first-ever.

O'Connor Brewing

– Enjoy a brew, or two, at the urban-chic O’ Connor Brewing Company tasting room smack dab next to their production line. Find your favorite, but we love the Green Can.

Todd Jurich’s Bistro has long embraced sourcing local ingredients for menu options at this downtown fine-dining eatery. We love the pumpkin and oyster stew as a start to most any meal as well as cocktails from master mixologist Rob Ashbury.

Taste

– Founded in 1973, family-owned Taste operates six specialty food shops (which also offers upmarket sandwiches and take-home bistro dishes) across the region, including Norfolk. Wander in and sample Virginia peanuts, grab a glass of wine from the Old Dominion, enjoy a chef-prepared bite and maybe sign up for a cooking class.

 

— RICHMOND —

The Vibe:

Virginia’s capital is on fire on the national food scene right now, and rightfully so. Chef-driving restaurants across the region offer a wide assortment of menu options, from fine to informal, global to New American – and each seemingly delightfully delicious in their own way.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Thai Corner. Real Richmond Food Tours

Real Richmond Tours takes it to the street: these well-crafted walking tours are a perfect way to get grounded in RVA and sample some of the wonderful culinary offerings around town.

The Dog and Pig Show had us at their Shrimp & Grits (a shame to call something so wonderful such an overly simplistic name) but they grabbed us and didn’t let go at – are you sitting – homemade Moon Pies. Yes. Thank me later.

Heritage may well set the standard in brunch. The tragically hip dining room sets the stage for approachable-but-fabulous dishes. We adore the Raman Bowl, a big handcrafted bowl (made by one of the servers there) of umami-laded broth stuffed with braised pork belly, nori, kim chi and adorned with a poached egg.

The Roosevelt

–  Cocktails at The Roosevelt never disappoint; from the simple to the sublime, we love to start off dinner with an imbibe, or have a drink here before dining elsewhere. We recently had The Seersucker: Maker’s Mark Bourbon, sweet tea syrup, Angostura bitters and charred lemon cube and fell deeply in love with the drink.

 

— ROANOKE —

The Vibe:

Roanoke is called the Star City, and in our books it goes beyond the neon structure on the summit of Mill Mountain. From the charming century-plus old market downtown to down home cuisine from greasy spoons to citified eats, this city shines in western Virginia.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– Named for the national treasure that is the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, Parkway Brewing honors the asphalt ribbon and the beauty of surrounding southwestern Virginia with quaff like Bridge Builder Blonde, which we love.

Roanoke Farmers' Market

– Since 1882, the Roanoke City Market has been a place for area growers and specialty food producers to connect with consumers with delicious results. Walk around this historic market, grab a bite, and talk shop with a farmer.

The Regency Room

– To see how Old Virginia dined, visit the Hotel Roanoke’s The Regency Room, a delicious reminder of times gone by. You have to get the peanut soup; the version here is hailed around the globe.

The River and Rail Restaurant

– Culinary rockstar Chef Aaron Deal’s River and Rail is a wonderful bistro that offers modern, upmarket versions of southern classics. I hate this phrase, but you must save room for dessert – the banana pudding will change your life.

 

— STAUNTON —

The Vibe:

About mid way down the Shenandoah Valley, chefs in this little Rockwell-esqe town draw from the farms and fields around to craft highly-acclaimed dishes reflecting new, modern interpretations of many Old Dominion favorites.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– The oh-so-cute Ox-Eye Tasting Room is a must-stop to try a number of vintages from this Virginia farm winery. The Riesling would be a perfect quaff for spring.

The Shack

– Call us a bit sentimental, but our heart swells here in Virginia when national media like Esquire magazine and The Washington Post wax poetic over chef/owner Ian Boden’s The Shack. We concur.

Zynodoa. Photography by Sera Petras Photography.

– One of our favorite ways to start – or end – a good meal is with a cheese plate. At Zynodoa, a succinct offering of Virginia fromage includes Caromont aAmond-Crusted Chevre, Mountain View Lusk and Meadow Creek Grayson.

– We came for the wine, we stayed for the grilled cheese. Yelping Dog Wine, Cheese and Charcuterie gourmet shop offers an assortment but we really grooved on the Pimento: pimento cheese made in-house with fresh chopped celery on brioche.

Cocoa Mill

– From an assortment of decadent delights, we love Cocoa Mills Chocolatier’s chocolate bark, which includes such indulgences as milk bar, bittersweet bark, cranberry bark and Oreo bark.

 

— Virginia Beach — 

The Vibe:

From city eats to crab pickings, Virginia Beach’s chow locale is plenty diverse. Look for fresh catch at the Oceanfront, cultivated cuisine at Town Center, and straightforward noshes along the Shore Drive and Great Neck corridors. Served up are spectacular views, too, of a New Urbanism downtown, sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, and the deep blue serene waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Waterman's Surfside Grille

– The ocean views from Waterman’s can’t be beat, nor can their seafood-centric menu. But by all means try their signature Orange Crush cocktail; a boozy libation with fresh orange juice and a little bit of magic.

– The charming producer-only Old Beach Farmer’s Market is a sure-bet to stroll, speak with farmers and watermen, sample fresh baked goods, grab some artisan cheese and relish in the foods and foodways of Virginia Beach.

– Some of the freshest, most perfectly-prepared seafood we’ve enjoyed comes from Coastal Grill, an elegant but easy-going eatery serving up fresh shellfish and fin-fish for more than two decades. Must bite: soft shell crabs in season.

– The good folks at Taste Tidewater Tours offers a number of ways to see – and eat – yourself across Virginia Beach (and Norfolk, too) including tours of breweries, oyster houses and more.

Just Cupcakes

– We all need a little treat, and the delicious diminutive desserts from Food Network Cupcake Wars veteran Carla Hesseltine’s Just Cupcakes is literally the icing on the (cup)cake.

 

— WILLIAMSBURG —

The Vibe:

We love the historic taverns in Colonial Williamsburg, but the dining scene here is so much more. One of Virginia’s first celebrity chefs, Marcel Desaulnier (creator of Death by Chocolate) was a pioneer in the state’s farm-to-fork movement more here than three decades ago when he opened The Trellis. Many eateries here are on the forefront of New Virginia cuisine.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– A Merchant’s Square staple, The Cheese Shop never ceases to make us smile. Fabulous fromage, wonderful wines, sinful sandwiches and more is why they’ve been a favorite for four decades.

– The continental surroundings and beyond delicious classic French cuisine at Chef Daniel Abid’s Le Yaca French Restaurant is a place we love to come and get in touch with our inner Francophile. But the three course, $17 lunch is a great offering at a great price. Our fave entrée: Lobster and Shrimp Quiche.

– It’s truth in advertising: the A Very Large Griddled Dog from Chef David Everett’s DoG Street Pub (DoG is an acronym for it’s location: Duke of Gloucester Street) is a wonder weiner. This fabulous frank is griddled and stuffed in a toasted bun filled with stout chili, onions and then topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese.

MAD about Chocolate

– From the Guru of Ganache, Chef Marcel Desaulniers, comes MAD About Chocolate, an adult Willy Wonka-esque chocolate café and art gallery showcasing the amazing work of his wife, artist Connie Desaulniers. Candy, ice cream, brownies – he has it all. We adore Mrs. D’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

 

— WINCHESTER —

The Vibe:

Tucked in the northwest corner of the state, Winchester is a quaint old town – home to the venerable Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and eateries showcasing the food and foodways from this upper region of the Valley. Look for lots of local dishes, from traditional to trendy.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Marker-Miller Orchards

– In season, the place to go is Marker-Miller Orchards to get out in nature and pick tree-ripened apples and peaches. A stop by the farm market bakery for some ethereal apple cider donuts is a must.

The George Washington Hotel

The George Washington Hotel is a grande dame inn, harkening to another time and level of service. Check in your room then check out the wonderful lobby bar. Sit at the curved counter, order a classic cocktail, and watch the comings-and-goings.

– We love to walk through the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley every time we are in Winchester, and one of the things we marvel at are the collection of skillfully crafted ceramic bowls, crocks and more that once stored foods and feed pioneer families here generations ago.

– Ed Matthews of One Block West is a chef that goes beyond the trend of farm-to-table and gets to the real reason: supporting local producers and serving up the freshest ingredients possible. The seven-course (you read that right) Chef’s Whim Tasting Menu is a treat you should indulge in.

– Look for the adults-only offerings from Winchester Ciderworks. The team here craft a number hard cider products from one of this area’s favorite fruits, the apple. The flagship Malice has our tastebuds tapping.

 

Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com

Leave a Reply

35 Comments

Bonnie Steverson says:

Violino Ristorante in Winchester should definitely be on this list! Check it out! Very authentic Italian cuisine made fresh by first generation Italian family. Homemade pasta even, along with local fresh produce. You need to check it out & make your own review.

Loretta Adams says:

Cumberland Restaurant in Cumberland Va. Is a great place to eat if you are looking for great country cooking.

Janet White says:

Ate at Dig Street Pub last night and it was great!

Janet White says:

I meant DOG Street Pub- sorry.

CD says:

Really enjoy your columns. But a lot of these places I wouldn’t call “towns”. Richmond, VA Beach, Norfolk and really Ronoake. Nothing against any of them but don’t come close to meeting the “town” definition or connotation.

Grace Johnson says:

Chateau Morisette on the Blue Ridge Parkway!! My favorite is Our Dog Blue!

Linda says:

You need to try the unbelievable lobster roll at The Accidental Cafe in Stuff Antiques in Staunton.

Brenda Cain says:

Nice but not everyone likes table cloths and brewery. Country style Italian things that everyone likes but where you can dress comfortable Doesnt matter how you look or eat but what you serve for everyone.