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August Virginia Craft Beer Month Starts NOW!

by Casey | Posted on August 1st, 2013

In honor of the second annual August Virginia Craft Beer Month, we sought local input on the best places to get Virginia craft beer on tap. The response was passionate and inspiring. Get behind this homegrown initiative and take the “shop local” idea further with “drink local.” Where to do so? Read on, friend.

First, the Breweries

Devil's Backbone Brewing Company

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company and Restaurant in Roseland received tons of love from the locals. A few of the remarks …

- “Great variety of brews on tap. Eight Point IPA is my personal favorite.”
- “Their Vienna Lager is a 2009 Great American Beer Festival silver medalist and a 2012 World Beer Cup Gold winner, and to my taste, the best representation of Vienna Lager I have ever had.”
- “Best beer in Virginia, bar none! Beyond the beer, the food is fantastic and the atmosphere is 100% Virginia!”
- “If you have not experienced the outdoor dining, then you must come as the sun is setting behind the ridge line.”

Blue Mountain Brewery

Blue Mountain Brewery

Blue Mountain Brewery and Restaurant in Afton is another top pick for enjoying Virginia craft beer. A few comments …

- “Great variety and everything is good. I especially like their Classic Lager.”
- “Great array of beers in their sampler, often times including nine beers plus a Virginia cider from down the road.”
- “Huge patio, porches and pergolas with the best mountain views east of the Mississippi.”

Three Brothers Brewing Company in Harrisonburg is new on the Virginia craft beer scene, but getting good acknowledgment nonetheless. See what’s up …

- “10+ taps … local food trucks present … huge event planned with three bands, foods, games and more on the 17th.”
- “Great and varied tastes across their lineup, best is either Hoptimization or Great Outdoors.”
- “The brewery works hard to give back to the community, hosting weekly “Cask for a Cause” events and giving excess grains and yeast to local farmers.”

Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nellysford  did well in the brewery round up with these helpful points …

- “Awesome location, awesome brews — love the Blonde Hunny.”
- “Be sure to try the signature fried chicken and fried Oreo cookies!”
- “Offering gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian menu options … dog and kid-friendly … live music three to four nights per week on the patio.”

Champion Brewing Company in Charlottesville is also a newbie, but beer connoisseurs know a good brew when they taste one.

- “Small batch, amazing beers. Best IPA I’ve ever had. Amazing Kolsch.”
- “Over 30 styles brewed, six rotating taps, neighborhood bar feel with a booming truck scene.”
- “The Missile IPA and Pacecar Porter are excellent.”

These breweries also received nominations as great places to enjoy Virginia craft beer:

Second, the Restaurants

Of course it makes sense to enjoy Virginia craft beer where it’s made, but several restaurants are stepping up this month, allowing “tap takeovers” to serve you some of the finest Virginia craft beer with your meals. Get started with these:

Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint

Harrisonburg LOVES Virginia craft beer. Not only did we receive many nominations for their Three Brothers Brewing Company, but their restaurants are hip on the scene, too.

Beyond Restaurant and Bar offers an “Asian fusion” menu for sophisticated palates. Of note to you, craft beer lover, is this tidbit:  ”… James River Brewery tap takeover [the] second week of August.”

Billy Jack’s Wing and Draft Shack promises “fresh, never frozen chicken wings and ‘leghorns.’ It’s a hometown bar environment, so just be yourself. One local appreciates the neighborly vibe, writing, “Billy Jack’s participates in most Harrisonburg community events, usually providing music and fantastic choices of craft Virginia beer.”

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint is just what it claims to be – a beer and burger joint. If you see the longhorn steer on the sign, you’re in the right place. Notable quotables …

- “… has a craft beer appreciation club and takes its members on field trips to craft breweries.”
- “Four rotating drafts, and over 100 bottles in stock!”
- “… if you reach 100 craft beers over your visits at JBs, you become what the restaurant calls a “notcher,” continuing to get rewards as you hit larger goals … prizes for drinking craft beers? Now that’s a draw.

Blue 5

Blue 5

Roanoke’s Blue 5 is a Blues and Jazz themed restaurant and nightclub, where the mission was to create a five-star restaurant with world-class craft beer and exceptional Southern cuisine. Mission complete. Craft beer rules the 46 taps – the largest selection in Southwest Virginia – and live music reigns four to five nights per week. Blue 5 “has featured most Virginia breweries, rotating frequently … currently three from the state.”

Capital Ale House has a presence in Richmond, Glen Allen, Midlothian, Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg, and has always been a go-to for “the avid beer connoisseur.” It is “one of the original places in Virginia to have a large selection of craft beer,” and of course that includes Virginia craft beer. Interested in how craft beer tastes as it ages? Each location highlights a keg-of-the-month. One keg from August 2012′s keg-of-the-month was reserved, so that NOW, one year later, you can sample aged Hardywood Mocha Belgique in Richmond and Starr Hill Cryptical in Harrisonburg. Get a glass while they last!Click here for a map of Virginia craft breweries.

The Blue Toad in Afton is situated very nicely among the cluster of craft breweries in Nelson County. What’s more, they are proud to serve the wares of their neighbors. Nightly dinner specials include crab and shrimp, prime rib, and even bison burgers on the weekend. Don’t miss Pint Night. Pint Night includes the hand crafts from everyone along the Nelson 151 Trail and the Brew Ridge Trail.

Boar’s Head Bistro in Charlottesville loves their local beverage scene. These special pairings speak for themselves …

- Starr Hill Jomo Lager paired with Boar’s Head Sirloin Burger
- Bold Rock Hard Cider paired with the Bistro 1834 Burger
- Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager paired with Boar’s Head “SINN”

 Additional restaurants receiving nods from the craft beer-loving public:

  • Black Bear Bistro, Warrenton – Featuring “Devil’s Backbone, Three Brothers, Lost Rhino, Starr Hill”
  • Bonefire Smokehouse, Abingdon
  • Chowning’s Tavern, Colonial Williamsburg – “A true eighteenth-century alehouse, Chowning’s Tavern serves Old Stitch, a delicious English Brown Ale developed by Colonial Williamsburg and Williamsburg AleWerks.”
  • The Tavern, Abingdon
  • Union Jack Pub & Restaurant, Winchester – Don’t miss Devil’s Backbone Pint Night, August 16

So? How’s that for kicking off August Virginia Craft Beer Month? Print it, share it, save it as you have a lot of ground to cover and only a short while to do it. Cheers!

>> Brewery Map and Events



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10 Virginia B&Bs with a Notable Breakfast

by Casey | Posted on July 30th, 2013

Recently we rolled out 22 Great Breakfast Spots in Virginia - as nominated by locals – and the response has been fantastic. In that same spirit of morning delights and food that’s worth the drive, we present to you 10 Virginia B&Bs with a Notable Breakfast.

Innkeepers Sam and Sharon Elswick in the kitchen at Holladay House B&B.

Innkeepers Sharon and Sam Elswick in the kitchen at Holladay House B&B.

The innkeepers of Holladay House Bed and Breakfast in Orange take their breakfast seriously. Organic, locally-sourced ingredients are key to their morning preparations. The innkeepers are dedicated to supporting local farms and businesses, and you’ll find a list of their food partners here. In addition to the freshest breakfast possible (and made to your dietary specifications), Holladay House serves Holladay House Signature Coffee in cooperation with Orange County Coffee Roasters. It’s a custom roast that you can take home.

Chestnut Cove B&B in Farnham is your choice bed and breakfast for hands-on stained glass creations, but don’t stop there. Guests have raved that the “scones at breakfast are worth the drive alone,” and that the innkeepers offer an “absolutely yummy breakfast burrito with beautiful presentation.”

Ivycrest Inn B&B in Christiansburg is a grand Victorian with multiple spaces in which to enjoy your buffet-style hot breakfast each morning. One guest wrote of Ivycrest, “… woke up to a wonderful smell. We had a breakfast casserole and apple dumplings.” I’m imagining those hot apples on the porch during fall, myself.

*Holladay House, Chestnut Cove and Ivycrest Inn were all nominated to be included in the 22 Great Breakfast Spots in Virginia post, but we felt this post was a much better place for you to find them.

Channel Bass Inn on Chincoteague Island was recognized in May 2013 by The Daily Meal as one of the Top 50 US Bed and Breakfasts for Food. Fresh baked breads, fruits, warm compote, farm-fresh eggs and then some make the Channel Bass breakfast a “very full breakfast.” After you’ve enjoyed a great breakfast and whiled away the day, a three o’clock four-course tea affair awaits you, complete with scones and quite a variety more.

The Magnolia House Inn in Hampton received attention from Essence in 2010, as innkeeper Joyce Blair’s Croissant French Toast was highlighted in a healthy living article. The intro to the article reads, “Four innkeepers at African-American-owned B&Bs share delectable recipes that will have your brunch guests wanting to stay the night.” Why not stay with Joyce, enjoy her french toast to see how it’s really supposed to taste, and then whip them up at home?

Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles has a farm-to-table philosophy for their breakfasts, making the preserves and jams from scratch, and serving a delicious meal using backyard and local ingredients. In addition, Bay Haven serves a personalized, micro-roast coffee by Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company. If available, ask for their signature sweet potato biscuits with Virginia country ham!

Bay Haven Inn's signature sweet potato biscuits with Virginia country ham.

Bay Haven Inn’s signature sweet potato biscuits with Virginia country ham.

At the Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lynchburg, you can expect a wide variety of three-course breakfast offerings, but also a special of the month. As fall approaches, let the idea of pumpkin waffles topped with apples and walnuts dance in your head, or maybe a gingerbread waffle in December? Dietary restrictions can be met with 48 hours’ notice.

Cedar Springs Inn in Charlottesville boasts beautiful porch seating with expansive mountain views for their big country breakfasts. Each guest is served a personal loaf of coffeecake or sweet bread, plus fruit, choice of meat or fish, and choice of two savory and one sweet entree. There’s no reason to skip this breakfast.

The White Pig Bed and Breakfast in Schuyler specializes in vegan breakfasts and is an oasis for rescued animals. White Pig has been honored as a winner of the Veggie Awards (2004) by VegNews, and by PETA with a Proggy Award (2004). Expect to find delicious offerings on their breakfast menu, including organic Belgium waffles with fresh strawberries.

Williamsburg Sampler Bed and Breakfast in Williamsburg was honored with a proclamation from the Mayor of Williamsburg in 2008 in part for their US Registered Trademark SkipLunch® Breakfast. That term came to be, as their website explains, when the innkeepers were worried a guest who happened to be a college football player with a big appetite wouldn’t be satisfied with his breakfast. They served him a hungry man’s style breakfast and the player said, “Thanks for the Skip Lunch Breakfast.” And the breakfasts at Williamsburg Sampler have never been the same.

Without a doubt there are dozens more amazing B&B breakfasts in Virginia and we want to hear about them! Simply leave a comment so we’ll know and others will, too.

In the mean time, head over to Virginia.org to find more bed and breakfast inspiration to plan your next trip. LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers!

RELATED: 10 Acclaimed Virginia Inns



Food, Locals | 5 Comments

22 Great Breakfast Spots in Virginia

by Casey | Posted on July 18th, 2013

You’re traveling through or vacationing in Virginia and you’re looking for the best breakfast in town. Who might know where to find it? The Locals. When we decided to create a list of the best breakfasts in Virginia we asked none other than … the locals. With that, we present to you 22 favorite breakfast hangouts across Virginia.

 

Shenandoah Valley

Little Grill Collective is a 1940s Harrisonburg mainstay that has been worker-owned since 2003. Their menu is diverse with the usual breakfast options plus vegan and vegetarian delights, too. Little Grill has been voted the best breakfast in Harrisonburg six times over. One local suggests, “Try their breakfast burrito or their made from scratch pancakes. They have a new seasonal pancake flavor every month!” Another local said, “Best pancakes – especially the chai.”

The Roanoker Restaurant's famed biscuits.

The Roanoker Restaurant’s famed biscuits.

How well-known is Roanoke’s The Roanoker Restaurant? Both Southern Living and The Today Show have recognized The Roanoker for making some of the best biscuits in America. Our insider said, “The ham biscuits and biscuits & gravy are two very popular dishes among locals.”

We’re creatures of habit and like to hold onto our great finds. This is true for a Front Royal local who loves L’Dee’s Pancake House. He wrote, “I have tried their omelets, pancakes and waffles (both w/pecans) and have become a regular visitor. Since 1988 L’Dee’s has been a staple in the community and they treat their patrons like an extended family.”

Stauntonians love Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery - a certified gluten-free restaurant that uses locally-sourced ingredients. Of note on the menu is the waffle delight, which one local described as “topped with fresh fruit and real whipped cream, it is delicious and nutritious!”

Additional Recommendations:

Harvest Table Restaurant, Meadowview, VA

Harvest Table Restaurant

 

Blue Ridge Highlands

Some of our local insiders refuse to dance around the subject of favorite breakfast destination. Rather, they come right out and challenge you to challenge them. An example is the local who suggested Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview. Of this restaurant he said, “The Harvest Table has the most fresh brunch menu in Southwest Virginia. They have a small menu, but everything is great! One of their best creations is the Quiche of the Day, usually featuring mushrooms, sweet onions, goat cheese and meat from a local farm.”

The Blue Ridge Restaurant in Floyd offers a traditional country breakfast with homemade biscuits and gravy.  The biscuits are so phenomenal, in fact, that one local insists The Blue Ridge Restaurant has “the best biscuits in the state!”

Abingdon’s Babycakes Cupcakery and Dunk and Deli received nods for their breakfast wares. The waffles at Babycakes are made with cupcake batter and you can choose whichever flavor you like. Donuts are an art and well made homemade donuts simply can’t be overlooked. Head to Dunk and Deli where one local says their donuts “are the best around!”

Mabry Mill Restaurant's buckwheat pancakes.

Mabry Mill Restaurant’s buckwheat pancakes.

If you’ve ever traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway (and probably, even if you haven’t), you’ve heard of Mabry Mill. It is, after all, the most photographed site on the Parkway. That aside, the Mabry Mill Restaurant has an appeal all its own, and one local shared her favorite breakfast: “Buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup, country ham and all the fixings.”

Additional Recommendations:

 

Central Virginia

Millie’s Diner is a locally owned restaurant in Richmond. One dedicate patron gave us a great commercial for Millie’s stating, “It has built a long-standing reputation on the goodness and variety of its menu.” So what’s good to eat at Millie’s? “What’s not?” might be the better question. Their brunch is renowned. Go for an open-face omelet smothered with goodness. They call it Devil’s Mess and you can even get it veggie style.

Another diner Richmonders flock to is Perly’s. Plain and simple, our local said, “Awesome breakfast. From Grandma’s hearty oatmeal with raisins, nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar to create-your-own three-egg omelet, you can’t go wrong.”

Additional recommemdations:

 

Coastal Virginia

If you love breakfast all day, any time of the day, d’Egg Diner in Norfolk is for you. The local we heard from weighed her favorite menu items, stating, “As far as a favorite dish, there are just too many to choose from. The traditional eggs cooked to order with all the sides or a grand omelet” are her picks.

 

Northern Virginia

Baby Jim’s Snack Bar in Culpeper has been serving breakfast and lunch since 1947, and they’re well known for their breakfast sandwiches. A cool addition to the food is the original red, white and blue steel neon sign that points the way.

Let YOUR voice be heard. Leave a comment to tell us (and the world!) about your favorite Virginia breakfast hangout.

Upcoming: Great Virginia B&B breakfasts!



Food, Locals | 25 Comments

Favorite Virginia Ice Cream

by Casey | Posted on June 26th, 2013

It’s summertime and that means, well, quite a few things, but today it means ICE CREAM! We asked our Virginia travel and tourism partners to name their favorite ice cream parlor (for the benefit of our readers, of course), and nearly 40 recommendations rolled in. To get you started on your summer brain freeze tour, we’ve compiled a list of the parlors most frequently mentioned by locals in the know.

Kline's Dairy Bar

Kline’s Dairy Bar

Kline’s Dairy Bar rose to the top with local ice cream lovers, and it doesn’t hurt that this homegrown establishment dating to 1943 has several locations:

Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue is located in Norfolk, and is the home of the world’s first ice cream cone (1904). Those traveling through Coastal Virginia will want to make a bee-line to 1919 Monticello Avenue for homemade ice cream and cones.

Carl's Frozen Custard

Carl’s Frozen Custard

Carl’s Frozen Custard is a Fredericksburg mainstay, serving fresh, made-today custard for more than 50 years. Food Network has acknowledged that Carl’s has some of America’s Best Ice Cream.

Island Creamery on Chincoteague Island handcrafts their small batches of ice cream daily to ensure the best products possible. The staff has been creating fresh waffle cones, ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt and more since 1975. A true labor of summertime love!

Muller’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor is also located on Chincoteague Island and serves Bassett’s ice cream, America’s oldest ice cream. Their claim to fame, however, is the fresh, homemade Belgian waffles with ice cream, fruit and homemade whipped cream.

Moo Thru in Remington offers ice cream that really doesn’t get any more fresh or homemade. The milk comes from their own grass-fed Holsteins and the rest of the ingredients are sourced as close to home as possible.

The Split Banana in Staunton is known for its homemade, fresh-daily ice cream, sorbet and gelato. Split prides itself on all natural ingredients – fruit, milk, sugar and cream. Why complicate what isn’t complicated?

Short Lane Ice Cream Company in Gloucester is celebrating their tenth anniversary this summer! Celebrate with them by enjoying homemade ice cream, cookies, gelato, custard, coffees, sundaes, floats, shakes …

Pop's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Company

Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Company

Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Alexandria boasts 63 homemade flavors of ice cream. Located in Old Town, it’s the perfect destination for lovers of cobblestones and nostalgia.

Additional shops and parlors receiving nods from the locals for their chilly treats:

Don’t see your favorite ice cream shop on this list? Chime in by commenting below!

 



Food, Locals | 16 Comments

17 Virginia BBQ Joints You’re Going to LOVE

by Casey | Posted on May 31st, 2013

We’re always on the hunt for the best of Virginia – everything from hikes and drives to wines and eats. The list that follows includes 17 20 great BBQ joints for those who travel with their taste buds. Note that these are not ranked, but numbered, and we invite you to leave a comment below to give a shout-out to your favorite.

The Checkered Pig

The Checkered Pig

1. In Virginia’s motorsports hotbed sits the family owned and operated Checkered Pig Barbecue. You might have seen this Martinsville gem on Food Network, the Travel Channel or Versus, or tasted their award-winning ribs and sauces at a festival. No? Consider this the drop of the green flag for you to put your pedal to the metal.

2. Saucy’s Walk-Up BBQ is a deceptive delight. A converted shipping container sits on the corner of 5th and Bollingbrook Streets in Petersburg. It’s there that you’ll literally walk up and order some of the most delicious homemade barbecue pork, chicken and ribs in Virginia. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Southern Living found it to be noteworthy, so …

3. Hailed as the best pulled pork, chicken, ribs and brisket in the New River Valley, Due South BBQ in Christiansburg is indeed an award-winning establishment with quite a few first place claims to fame. Don’t miss out on their Tuesday night all-you-can-eat deal or their Wednesday night “kids eat free” opportunity.

The BBQ Exchange, Gordonsville

The BBQ Exchange, Gordonsville

4. The Northern Virginia and Washington, DC crowds LOVE Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company with their Alexandria and Arlington locations. Rocklands uses red oak and hickory to smoke their meats – a little cooking strategy that has garnered them “Best of DC” acknowledgements five years in a row.

5. If St. Louis style ribs and Memphis style BBQ are your weakness, The Galax Smokehouse in Galax is the place to be. In fact, everyone wants to be there. It didn’t take long after its 2003 opening for this BBQ joint to become a magnet for locals and tourists alike. When you’re good, you’re good.

6. Old-school, slow-cooked, open-flame barbecue-you’re-going-to-LOVE comes from BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville. The Hartman’s have spent more than 30 years perfecting their hickory-smoked pork and chicken. You’re in for an amazing treat when you look up this whitewashed gem in Orange County.

7. Dixie Restaurant - A 1920′s mainstay in Old Towne Petersburg and home of the Spiel Burger.

8. Smitty’s Better Burger - An authentic 1950′s drive-in and Hampton Landmark.

9. Dixie Bones - Named one of the Top 100 Restaurants by Washingtonian Magazine. Woodbridge

10. Log Cabin Barbecue - Enjoy your down-home barbecue in a 200 year old log cabin in Elkton.

11. Buz and Ned’s Real BBQ - Man v. Food and Throwdown with Bobby Flay have embraced Buz and Ned’s in Richmond.

12. Cuz’s Uptown Barbeque – An old dairy barn houses Cuz’s in Pounding Mill – perfect for rural Virginia and barbecue.

13. Monk’s BBQ - Have a little Corcoran craft brew or wine with your southern-style barbecue in Waterford.

14. Q Barbeque - “So good it won barbecue competitions across the country.” We’ll take that as good. Find it in Midlothian.

15. Pierce’s PITT Bar-B-Que   - Pierce’s hickory-smoked, Tennessee-style Bar-B-Que made with “Doc” Pierce’s Original Bar-B-Que Sauce brings you the flavor and taste that’s a true American original. Located in Williamsburg

16. Wood Chicks BBQ - Closed in July, 2013. Owner moved.

17. The Barbeque Grill - “Ribs must be served fresh from the smoker,” is the philosophy of this Vinton joint, so come get a fresh, hot rack Fridays after 5.

18. Allmans BBQ in Fredericksburg – Serving BBQ since 1954. Vicki says “I have never found any better than Mama’s pulled barbeque – as well as her slaw – yum! and the sauce – oh my!”

19. Alamo BBQ – Alamo specializes in authentic Texas style BBQ, including an award winning beef brisket. Southwest influenced. Try the jalapeno mac-n-cheese!

20. Extra Billy’s Smokehouse – Great barbecue and an on site brewery!

Go ahead and start your food tour this weekend.

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Food, Locals | 23 Comments