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Best places to find an over-the-top hot dog

by Stefanie | Posted on June 30th, 2014

The hot dog is one of the quintessential American culinary staples. When you think of these delicious franks, nestled perfectly in their bun, ketchup, mustard and relish follow shortly behind. What about some pineapple or guacamole? Check out any of these hot dog joints, and you’re in a unique meat-lover’s dream.

City Dogs

City Dogs

CITY DOGS, Richmond
City Dogs, with two locations in Richmond, offers more than 10 unique dogs on its menu. As one frequent patron boasts, “The Santa Fe Dog, with fresh guacamole, fresh jalapeños and tortilla strips keep you coming back for more. The Honolulu Dog, with pineapple and rich BBQ, and the Carolina Dog with BBQ and coleslaw on top of the dog are also awesome picks. Plus the wait staff is friendly and very helpful.” And to wash down the hot dog, great drink specials are always available to enjoy. After getting your hot dog fix, Richmond offers countless historic excursions for visitors, from the Richmond Slave Trail, to breathtaking Maymont, and everything in between.

DIPDOG, Marion
A rags to riches and rags to riches again, DipDog Stand in Marion has been in business since 1957, powering through redirection of passing roads, management transition and more. The Stand stood the test of time, thriving off their unique, affordable menu. The family-owned business has hosted a number of events and has also had Aerosmith pass by! DipDog has been listed in Southern Living magazine and has also been voted best overall restaurant, best hotdogs, best service, and more. While you’re in Marion, take in a show at The Lincoln Theatre and spend a weekend at Hungry Mother State Park.

THE GAP DELI, Fancy Gap
As you’re making your way through the Blue Ridge Parkway, stop by The Gap Deli and try one of two hot dogs that veer off the beaten path. The General Lee Smack Down Dog is a quarter-pound, all-beef dog, wrapped in cheese and slices of bacon; topped off with chili, red onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, banana peppers, yellow mustard and coleslaw. Feel like a more traditional dog, but with a twist? Try the General Grant Chow Down Dog, topped with tomatoes, dill pickles, sweet relish, banana peppers, red onions, yellow mustard and sprinkled with celery salt. Both are served on a delicious toasted French roll.

Goochland Drive-In

Goochland Drive-In

GOOCHLAND DRIVE-IN, Hadensville
Have you ever heard of this one? The Gooch Dog, a hotdog topped with mac n’cheese, with a special/secret sauce piled on top. The Goochland Drive-In, a family-oriented, classic drive-in establishment, offers its patrons new release movies and unique American concessions, such as the Gooch Dog. It’s worth a visit for a night of family fun.

HAUTE DOG & FRIES, Alexandria & Purcellville
“Keep it simple. Everyone loves a hotdog.” That’s the motto of Haute Dog & Fries, located just outside Washington, D.C., as well as Purcellville. Choose from one of their 15 dogs on the menu, or make your own custom creation (including rainbow sprinkles!). Try out the District “D.C.” Dog, complete with bleu cheese, BBQ sauce, yellow mustard, chopped onions and a dill pickle. Or how about the classic Haute Dog? Dressed with homemade warm house onion relish, yellow mustard, mayo and celery salt. All hotdogs are natural, all-beef franks; as well as gluten, dairy and sugar-free. Pair your hotdog with Haute Dog’s signature fries and you’re good to go!

DOUG’S HOT DOGS, Norfolk
Doug’s Hot Dogs, located in Ocean View in Norfolk, is known for its BBQ hot dog, complete with authentic pulled pork BBQ. Arrays of other topping options are available, including the bacon-cheddar dog and their foot-long. 

Skeeter's, E. N. Umberger Store

Skeeter’s, E. N. Umberger Store

SKEETER’S “WORLD FAMOUS” HOTDOGS, Wytheville
Home of the Skeeterdog, Skeeter’s has served nearly nine million dogs since 1925. As one visitor boasts, “My favorite Skeeterdog is the “All the Way.” The All the Way dog comes buried under chili, mustard and ultra-creamy slaw that’s almost more of a sauce, and super finely diced fresh onions. The buns are steamed behind the counter and arrive at the table nice and soft. Skeeter’s has been named Hot Dog of the Week by seriouseats.com.

DONKEY DAWGS, Virginia Beach
If you’re visiting Virginia Beach, you have to take a stop to Donkey Dawgs, just a few miles from the coastline. Serving hot dogs, Carolina BBQ, burgers, salad, homemade soups and daily specials, there’s something that is sure to please any palate.

 



Food, Locals | 12 Comments

Hot? 26 Places to Chill Out with a Great Milkshake

by Casey | Posted on June 19th, 2014

It’s hot and getting hotter, so where can you find the best milkshakes in Virginia to help you cool off? Our trusty locals have come through again, this time with 26 appealing shake spots across Virginia.

Fenderz

Fenderz

Have an affection for peanut butter? So do our locals, it seems. When evaluating the favorite flavors and specialty shakes offered across the Commonwealth, peanut butter rose to the top. Here’s what our friends had to say …

“Chocolate Peanut Butter- Just the right mix of sweet and salt,” wrote Tonya of Abingon’s Ellis Soda Shoppe. She also noted, “The shop is in an old drugstore and much of Abingdon’s history is told on the original oak shelving and on the tables.”

Stacy’s favorite at Fenderz in Collinsville is the “Peanut Butter Hot Fudge milkshake made with Homestead Creamery chocolate soft serve ice cream and peanut butter hot fudge.”

Brian gives a word of caution, but this shake from George Bowers Grocery in Staunton sounds like it was made especially for men. Or any bacon lover, for that matter. He writes, “Calorie counters be forewarned … The Heartbreaker! Artisan vanilla gelato is blended with local Polyface bacon and Falling Bark Farm hickory.”

Hob Nob Drive-In is located in Gate City. Penny gives a nod to the Nob and her favorite shake, “Reese’s … Thick, rich, and good! The Hob Nob has been a locally family owned drive in since the 1950′s. They are one of the oldest drive-ins in our region. The Hob Nob is THE place to go.”

The Burger Bar in Bristol received several mentions for their milkshakes. Dave, James and Carol all enjoy the Chocolate Peanut Butter shake. Carole wrote, “the almost-sinfully flavorful choices are beyond your imagination and worth every spoonful!”

Gail let us know of Front Royal’s Facebook vote for their favorite milkshake, writing, “Spleunker’s won hands down. Peanut Butter was the favorite.” If an entire town rallies behind a milkshake, you know it has to be the bomb.

Summertime calls for fruity shakes. Oranges and berries are the cream of the crop when considering traditional summer milkshake flavors.

Anne wrote “it tastes like summer,” when describing the strawberry shake at Carl’s Frozen Custard in Fredericksburg.  ’Nough said.

In Kilmarnock, Stevie’s Ice Cream offers delicious fruit shakes, making it hard to choose just one. Susan wrote, “Black Raspberry gets the nod for its fruity taste. It’s so ultra thick, you’ll pull the straw shut getting it out!”

 Noelle has a favorite at Kline’s Dairy Bar in Harrisonburg. Her recommendation? “The best shake on the menu is the Orange Creamsicle. It tastes just like the old days of an orange cream float.” Thomas picked “Black Raspberry. It’s made with a thicker, creamier ice cream is really just to die for.”

Doumar's Cones and Barbeque

Doumar’s Cones and Barbeque

Wright’s Dairy Rite in Staunton has an orange offering of its own. Sheryl wants you to try a drink freeze, which is “your favorite drink blended with rich vanilla ice cream. It’s much like a milkshake but they use soda instead of milk. The Orange Fanta tastes like a dreamsicle.”

Along the same lines, Anthony suggests you try the Orange Freeze at Doumar’s in Norfolk, which also tastes like a dreamsicle. He adds, “All the ice cream is handmade and has been for 100 years.”

Richmond Magazine rated The Dairy Bar as offering the Best Local Milkshake. Julianna wrote, “The Dairy Bar Restaurant uses ice cream from Blue Bell Creameries as the base for their milkshakes, and they offer over 20 different flavors!” Dreamsicle is one tasty flavor, but then also try the Cookies N’ Cream or the Rum-Raisin.

Adult milkshakes. Have you considered one? These might pique your interest …

Station 2 in Richmond has a Girl Scout reference on their shake menu, and Juliana recommends it! She wrote, “For the adults: Naughty Girl Scout – made with vanilla ice cream, Irish cream, creme de menthe, creme de cacao and chocolate chips! Station 2 has fantastic regular milkshakes, but they are really known for their popular ‘adult’ milkshakes.”

Patty had a few recommendations for Lexington’s Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe, but the one that caught our eye (a la Station 2, above) was the Chunky Irish Girl Scout, which Patty described as “Thin Mint cookies mixed with Bailey’s Irish Cream.” Sign me up!

Another suggestion for Kline’s in Harrisonburg is Shami’s favorite, the “Coffee Malt Shake – custard style ice cream without the egg! It’s deliciously good and refreshing on a hot summer day!”

Maureen wrote to us, “Residents and visitors alike flock to the iconic ice cream cone sign at Colleen Drive-In in Arrington.” One of the favorites is the Mocha milkshake.

An anonymous tip was received about Bristol’s Blackbird Bakery‘s milkshakes. Our tipster wrote, “Blackbird Bakery’s new milkshakes are made from over 15 ounces of Homestead Creamery ice cream. Blackbird offers six base flavors and two seasonal flavors, all of which can be turned into one of their fantastic milkshakes … wonderful sauces and syrups [are] available [and] Blackbird’s coffees can be added to your shake.”

Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe

Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe

So what about classic milkshake flavors? Get ‘em here …

Danelle keeps it simple when mentioning Goolrick’s Pharmacy in Fredericksburg. “Chocolate milkshake. [It] has been around since 1863.”

Though we’ve mentioned Doumar’s for their Orange Freeze, Julie loves the chocolate shake in particular. She wrote, “Chocolate milkshake: real milk, real ice cream, plenty of chocolate — yummy!”

Walton & Smoot Pharmacy in Woodstock has a claim to fame, which Barbara pointed out when she wrote, “Jackie O (Onassis) had a chocolate shake there!!” Barbara’s favorite, however is the “Vanilla shake!” Josh also likes Walton & Smoot, but recommends the Strawberry. He adds, “All are good because they come from a vintage fountain.” Heather votes for the Chocolate shake, while Jenna calls it “very nostalgic!!”

Christina found a nostalgic spot in Mathews – Richardson’s Cafe. She wrote, “The best shake on the menu is the Mint Chip! Sweet, cold and refreshing. I love to enjoy it while sitting at the old soda pop counter watching reruns of ‘I Love Lucy’ in this former Rexall drug store.”

In Williamsburg you’ll find Shorty’s Diner and Retro’s Good Eats, both serving delicious shakes. Vivian said of Shorty’s, “Chocolate is my favorite. They also offer their old fashioned malts.” She added of Retro’s, “For me, Chocolate is the best! They also offer their real custard milkshakes in Vanilla, Swirl Chocolate Cherry and Dreamsicle.”

Looking for more great shakes? Consider these as well.

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Culinary Madness Winner

by Tom | Posted on May 1st, 2014

IMG_7636.2

Peanut Butter Bang Sundae from Dippers Ice Cream in Ridgeway – winner of the Culinary Madness Challenge

Congratulations go out today to Dippers Ice Cream in Ridgeway, Virginia. This upstart two-year-old Virginia frozen treat emporium survived the Virginia Culinary Madness Challenge, defeating all comers. Beginning in early April, the field was narrowed from over 70 state wide culinary fan favorites to 16 finalists in a March madness style tournament. Dippers’ Peanut Butter Bang Sundae, an indulgent mountain of custom ice cream flavors and toppings, defeated the equally tasty Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Cyprus Grille in Hampton to take the championship crown.

Dippers represents everything that’s great about Virginia’s culinary scene – small businesses and inspired creativity combined to offer an exceptional experience for local and travelling foodies alike. From humble beginnings selling a pre-made ice-cream brand from a mobile food trailer, Dippers now creates its own treats in small batches daily and prides itself on its customer service and love for its community. The relatively small eatery has come a long way in just a few years. And the winning entry provides a “bang” for sure, with chocolate cake, hot fudge and peanut butter sauces, all combined with Dippers’ own Peanut Butter & Brownie Explosion ice cream.

Not forgotten though are the other three members of the “Flavorful Four”, Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken, the Pimento Cheese BLT from the Horseshoe Diner in South Hill, and the Spring Harvest Virginia Faux at Landsdowne Resort in Leesburg.

Nana's Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Cyprus Grille in Hampton

Runner-up, Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken, from chef Kyle Fowlkes at the Cyprus Grille in Hampton, was inspired by a recipe belonging to the chef’s grandmother. With creamy mashed potatoes, crisp green beans, and perfectly fried light and crispy chicken, there’s no doubt this down-home classic really reflects the commonwealth’s southern heritage. Fowlkes even noted that the Nana’s Chicken creation wasn’t even his first choice. Another fan beat him to the punch entering the contest, but the incredible-sounding bacon-marmalade he mentioned sounds like it could be a tough competitor.

Support was high on social media and in the voting for the Fried Green Tomato BLT from the Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill. Owner and chef Scott Rogers has revived the classic diner in recent years, and the restaurant’s home-made pimento cheese is some of the best anywhere. If you’re up to the challenge, you can upgrade to the Clydesdale burger, a Fried Green Tomato BLT “enhanced” with a huge slab of beef. Not for the faint of heart but really, really tasty.

And last but not least, the Spring Harvest Virginia Faux at Landsowne Resort in Leesburg, represents the best of modern Virginia cuisine. The dish takes it’s name from traditional Vietnamese pho, and includes ingredients like rice noodles, miso, tofu and Sriracha. If you’re a visitor at Landsdowne resort, stop in to the Crooked Billet restaurant and try some of chef Robert Bradley’s interpretation of Artisan cuisine, filled with fresh local ingredients that showcase the region.



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Five Culinary Destinations for B&B Travelers

by Casey | Posted on April 23rd, 2014

Food is not only essential to life, but is often a reason to travel. If your taste buds direct your path more often than the appeal of any other attraction, these destinations known for their culinary greatness should be on your to-do list. How do I know these are great culinary destinations? They each have a food tour, meaning, there’s enough great food to put on tour. Plus, there are beautiful bed and breakfasts nearby that are happy to host you and make your reservations. Good eats, good sleeps, win-win.

Taste of the Town Trolley Tours, Abingdon

Taste of the Town Trolley Tours, Abingdon

Abingdon offers Taste of the Town Trolley Tours once per month. Hop aboard and visit four to five locations that incorporate local ingredients into their menus. Previous locations have included Sisters at The Martha, The Tavern, Wolf Hills Brewery, and Figaredo’s Bistro.

Consider Your Historic District Stay:

 

When on Charlottesville‘s Downtown Mall, look for the orange umbrella. No, it’s not a sign of rain, but a sign of a delicious Charlottesville Food Tour in progress. Buy a ticket for one of two Saturday tours to sample the delights of such places at Hamilton’s at First & Main and Splendora’s Gelato Cafe.

100 South Street Inn, Charlottesville

100 South Street Inn, Charlottesville

Within a Mile of the Downtown Mall:

 

Downtown Harrisonburg is the first recognized “culinary district” in Virginia. Join in the tasty fun when you tag along for the Rocktown Bites! Food Tour in Harrisonburg. Seven sampling locations, such as Clementine, Cuban Burger, Jack Brown’s, and Kline’s Dairy Bar may be on your Saturday or Thursday tour.

Within a Mile of the Culinary District:

 

 

The One Bed and Breakfast, Richmond

The One Bed and Breakfast, Richmond

Real Richmond Food Tours highlights some of the tastiest dishes in Richmond every Saturday, with each tour being a different theme with different flavors. One example is the Spies to Pies Tour in Church Hill that includes The Roosevelt, Proper Pie Co., The Hill Cafe, Alamo BBQ, and other eateries.

Monument and Fan District B&Bs:

  • Grace Manor Inn – This 7500 square foot mansion with a salt water pool is on both the Virginia and National Registries of Historic Places.
  • The One Bed and Breakfast – Another National Registry entry, The One is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the home in 2014.
  • The Museum District Bed and Breakfast – A 1922 home with two luxury suites (one family-sized three bedroom!) and an adorable carriage house for utmost privacy.
  • Maury Place at Monument – This 1916 home has been restored in keeping with more than 100 historic easements protecting it. Featured in Remodel magazine and Small Room Decorating magazine.

 

The promise is that “you’ll never view or taste downtown Roanoke the same again” after you experience the Downtown Food & Cultural Tour. Line up your tickets for a Thursday, Friday or Saturday to taste what’s unique to Roanoke, like Texas Tavern and Hotel Roanoke.

Historic Roanoke B&Bs:

 

Which Virginia town or city is your favorite culinary destination? Leave us a comment to boast and tell us if there’s a fantastic B&B nearby, too!

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Eat Local! 16 Dishes with Fresh, Local Flavor

by Casey | Posted on April 18th, 2014

“Fresh, not frozen” is the mantra of many, but you’re invited to really taste the difference when you dine at some of Virginia’s farm-to-table restaurants. Of note are these 16 locally-sourced dishes that were nominated by locals as their favorite meal. Perhaps one sounds palate-pleasing for your next out-and-about Virginia excursion?

Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.

Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.

1. Traditions, inside the Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg, cooks up a Fennel Dusted Virginia Coast Shrimp and Scallop Dish that utilizes Dave and Dee’s Sedley, Virginia-grown oyster mushrooms, local farmers’ produce, and cured Virginia bourbon bacon.

2. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier is located in beautiful Old Town Alexandria. Just as beautiful is their Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder served with hand-rolled pappardelle, dill, pearl onions, glazed parsnip and a natural jus.

3. In Staunton, try Zynodoa’s locally-sourced Autumn Olive Farm pork entrée, which includes Meadow Creek Dairy’s Mountaineer cheese bruleed cornbread, and Harvest Thyme Herbs’ corn shoot salad.

4. Shrimp is served atop locally-sourced Andouille sausage and stone-ground grits at Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nellysford. Pair this dish-with-a-kick with one of their homemade brews for a divine lunch on the patio.

Gunness Ayrshire Beef Stew. Hunter's Head Tavern.

Gunness Ayrshire Beef Stew. Hunter’s Head Tavern.

5. Upperville is home to the English pub,  Hunter’s Head Tavern, where Ayrshire Farm’s certified organic, humane, heritage-bred beef is the main ingredient in their Guinness Ayrshire Beef Stew. It’s slow-simmered with red wine, stock and Guinness stout, and finished with carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes.

6. New Leaf Pastry Kitchen in Harrisonburg offers a filling Bruschetta that’s perfect for a quick lunch. House-made rosemary focaccia is split and spread with herbed goat cheese before being filled with roasted Portobella mushrooms, onions, Polyface Farms’ sausage, and shredded smoked Gouda. It’s served hot with a Parmesan crisp and Dijon crème fraiche.

Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish. Lemaire.

Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish. Lemaire.

7. Inside the famed Jefferson Hotel in Richmond is Lemaire, where a Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish is a popular local dish. The Rockfish is served with stewed white beans, semi-dried tomatoes, Manakintowne Specialty Growers’ field arugula, smoked Surry County sausage, and truffled mushroom broth.

8. A historical dessert in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the Jefferson Brandied Peaches & Vanilla Ice Cream dessert that you’ll find at the Old Mill Room at Boar’s Head in Charlottesville includes raspberry sauce, meringue, locally-grown peaches, and Jefferson vanilla ice cream. Dessert first? Yes, please!

9. More dessert? You betcha! The Heartwood Cobbler at Heartwood in Abingdon is simply sugar, self-rising flour, Duchess Dairy milk, butter and fresh fruit from the farmer’s market topped with Homestead Creamery vanilla ice cream. Which type of cobbler you find on the menu depends on which fruit is fresh and in season.

10. Created from all local ingredients, the Bratwurst Pizza with Apples and Onions from Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton includes Double H Farms’ bratwurst and local apples. The dough includes Ashland Farms’ whole wheat flour and is infused with herbs, olive oil and Hungry Hill Farm honey.

The Savory Grain, Richmond.

The Savory Grain, Richmond.

11. Roanoke’s Local Roots Restaurant serves a Hollow Hill Farm’s Bison Pastrami sandwich topped with cheddar cheese, house sauerkraut and house barbecue sauce. It’s served atop a Breadcraft Bakery sesame seed bun.

12. Timbercreek Organics’ beef is slow cooked with whole grain mustard spaetzle, roasted Sharondale Farms’ mushrooms, braised red cabbage, and bleu cheese. You can find this fine dish at Fossett’s at Keswick Hall in Keswick.

13. The Savory Grain in Richmond serves a Roasted Quail stuffed with a nine-grain cranberry pecan medley and finished with Bold Rock Cider roasted red pepper and ginger jus. Beautiful and delicious.

14. A perfect farm-fresh egg is served on garlic-rubbed ciabatta and served with mixed baby greens topped in balsamic vinaigrette, Virginia country ham and Parmesan cheese at Foti’s Restaurant in Culpeper.

15. Fresh catfish is served with creamed farro, Surry County sausage, butter beans, hominy, and mustard cream at The Roosevelt in Richmond.

16. Also in Richmond is Rappahannock, serving a beautiful dish of braised Border Springs Farm lamb with a crispy cake of Arborio rice, fregola sarda and lentils, fermented vegetables, pea tendrils, and a blood orange vinaigrette.

What’s your favorite locally-sourced dish? Tell all about it by leaving a comment!

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