Does your love of food lead you to new destinations? Several Virginia cities offer food tours that highlight the best flavors and most memorable dining experiences to be had.
Real Richmond Food Tours are two and a half hours of culinary goodness. Hear from the chefs and owners as you dine and walk the town. Inquire about Lincoln Legs: Brunch & Brushes with History. It’s their latest tour that includes brunch at Arcadia (where Daniel Day-Lewis was photographed dining in full make-up for LINCOLN), as well as a tour of historic sites and filming locations.
DC Metro Food Tours integrate history with great tastes from restaurants, markets and distilleries. Inquire for a wide range of tour locations, including Manassas, Old Town Alexandria and Leesburg. Tickets are $60 or less per person and tours last three to three and a half hours.
Norfolk’s maritime history is incorporated into three days of food exploration. Visit a battleship, enjoy a homemade ice cream cone from the people who invented the ice cream cone, check out a bakery highlighted by Food Network and adored by Paula Deen … the list goes on and on. The “tour” is simply a list of suggestions to sample on your own, so do as much or as little as you like.
Treat your taste buds to some of Virginia’s local cuisine. The Commonwealth has a range of restaurants to experience, but make sure you do not miss out on one of the things Virginia does best – southern food. Many dishes featured in these southern comfort food restaurants are inspired from recipes that have been passed down for generations. Make the most out of your Virginia dining experience with these sophisticated, down-home southern comfort food dining selections.
Lee Ann Whippen of Wood Chicks BBQ in Chesapeake
Whistlepig Bistro – Glade Springs This restaurant stands by a great name with an even greater philosophy – “Real Food, Ya’ll.” The Whistlepig Bistro offers a variety of dishes with a southern twist. Many have enjoyed the juicy burgers and outstanding cornbread, to name a few of their southern delights.
The Virginia Diner – Wakefield You may have tried the Virginia Diner’s gourmet peanuts, but have you tried their warm peanut pie? This restaurant has much more to offer than just peanuts, however. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Virginia Diner has a wide range of southern delicacies to choose from.
Comfort – Richmond This restaurant’s name tells all. Comfort is a place to enjoy traditional southern comfort food prepared from local farm-grown produce and made-from-scratch cooking. Pair any of the southern dishes with an all-American beverage from the fully stocked bar.
Wood Chicks BBQ - Chesapeake – CLOSED
Lynne’s Family Restaurant – Mathews Lynne’s Family Restaurant offers down-home cooking in a casual atmosphere. This is a perfect place for the whole family with many homemade dining options. Not only is lunch and dinner prepared, but Lynne’s also provides a wonderful country breakfast spread.
Smithfield Inn Restaurant and Tavern – Smithfield Offering southern hospitality for over 250 years, Smithfield Inn has been serving up southern dishes to dedicated locals and repeat visitors to the area for years. Not only are the good-eats attractive, but the location is as well. The restaurant provides casual, al fresco, and formal dining experiences.
Mountain Art Works – Haysi Not only does Mountain Art Works serve as a restaurant, but as a gallery as well. Enjoy the homey décor with antiques and memorabilia on display while dining on hand-patted burgers, homemade gravy and biscuits, or your choice of many more southern comfort delights.
Bistro Bethem – Fredericksburg Bistro Bethem has not only been praised for its delicious dishes, but for its dining experience as well. The menu provides seasonal and daily specials, offering an upscale twist on southern comfort foods. The atmosphere is one for the fine diner who desires tastes from the south.
Local Roots – Roanoke Local Roots prides itself on having S.O.L.E.—Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical products. This restaurant provides its customers with farm-to-table cuisine, serving dishes created from the best products from the best farms.
Molasses Grill – Halifax A blend of southern traditions and modern tastes, Molasses Grill serves up amazing dishes to its satisfied customers. The menu consists of fresh dishes from the sea and land, with many options for vegetarians too. The daily specials, homemade baguettes, and freshly made desserts make this a culinary hot spot.
There are many more Virginia restaurants that feature southern delicacies. Find them at www.virignia.org.
Virginia is well known for its peanuts and ham, but what about tomatoes, strawberries and even oysters? Come taste the great Virginia flavors you’ve been missing out on.
Highland Maple Festival
The food festivals of 2013 kick off in Highland County (Virginia’s “Little Switzerland”) with the Maple Festival. Take a tour and see the trees tapped with buckets collecting the sweet goodness. Pancake breakfasts and much more make this a memorable trip and it all happens March 9, 10, 16 and 17.
Virginia’s oyster industry is experiencing a re-birth. On the Eastern Shore in Machipongo, the Barrier Islands Center is hosting an oyster roast on February 23. It’s fresh-from-the-sea goodness with live music, wine and beer. Later, travel to the little town of Urbanna the first weekend in November and you’ll be treated to oyster shucking contests and this succulent of the sea itself, cooked (or uncooked) anyway you like it.
Tour the town by your taste buds when Blacksburg rolls out its annual Fork and Cork festival April 27. More than 20 wineries and delicious foods from local restaurants will make this a one-day smorgasbord.
Sweet strawberries are the highlight of the Delaplane Strawberry FestivalMay 25-26. It’s a day of fun for the entire family with kids’ games, hay rides, fantastic food and delicious strawberries.
Hanover tomatoes ripen with the warm Virginia summer sun, and on July 13, you’re invited to enjoy the season’s yield and watch cooks compete with their tomato recipes. 35 years and still going strong.
August is peach season in Virginia and the Peach Festival at Marker Miller Orchard in Winchester promises the cream of the crop. Live music, a cow train for the kids and plenty of peaches in pie, ice cream or cobbler form await you on August 10.
You can’t be in two places at once, so October 10-12 will be a hard time for those who love Brunswick stew and shrimp. Go with the one you love the most – Suffolk on October 10 for shrimp or Alberta on October 12 for stew. Either choice is a win.
Dig into our calendar to find more food festivals to fill up on.
Celebrate some of Virginia’s best chefs when you partake of their special “restaurant week” offerings.
Catch 31 is a participating restaurant for Virginia Beach Restaurant Week.
January 13-19:Blacksburg Restaurant Week highlights all of the diverse cuisine this college town has to offer. Expect to find great dining deals rather than flat rates.
January 13-20:Virginia Beach Restaurant Week yields the fresh seafood one would expect to find along the coast, but with 60+ participating restaurants, there’s something on the menu for everyone. Two-course lunches available for $10 or three-course dinners available at $20 or $30.
January 18-27:Alexandria’s Restaurant Week has a presidential flare this year as its right in the mix of President Obama’s Inauguration (January 21). More than 50 dining establishments will be offering three-course dinners for $35 or a dinner for two for the same price.
January 20-27:Downtown Norfolk Restaurant Week makes a promise to those who are hungry – “There’s an app, entree and dessert for that.” Select restaurants are offering a two-course lunch for $10 while more establishments have three-course dinners for $20 or $30.
January 21-26:Downtown Roanoke Restaurant Week boasts $10 lunches and $20 or $30 three-course dinners. Choose from comfortable familiars to fine dining, adventurous eclectic and authentic ethnic.
January 28 – February 3:Charlottesville Restaurant Week, take one! The January and July editions of this popular dining event showcase three-course dinners at the finest restaurants for $26. Go ahead and jot down July 8-14for take two.
Boar's Head Inn is a participating restaurant for Charlottesville Restaurant Week.
February 4-10:Northern Virginia/DC Restaurant Week gathers the best establishments from Alexandria, Arlington, Clifton, Fairfax, Falls Church, McLean, Reston and Vienna for a gourmet dine-around. Lunches are $20.13 and dinners are $35.13.
March 2-9:Downtown Hampton and Coliseum Central Restaurant Week delivers when “Good Taste Matters.” Two-course lunches for $10 and three-course dinners for $20 or $30 in a variety of restaurants between Downtown Hampton and Coliseum Central/Peninsula Town Center districts. Spread out and eat well!
March 16-23:Suffolk Restaurant Week lets you choose your price point – deluxe or premier. Deluxe lunch and dinner are $10 and $20, respectively. Premier lunch and dinner run $15 and $30, respectively. The participants and menus are still being worked out, but you’re promised a savory blend of the city’s signature flavors. Don’t miss it!
Mark your calendar for these dining events now so you won’t miss out, plus keep an eye out for those that are annual favorites but the dates have yet to be announced.
June 22-29:Lynchburg Restaurant Week is a cultural event spotlighting the city’s independent restauranteurs. Watch for special deals and prix-fixe menus.
Sure, the grocery store might have what you need for the holiday dinner, but what fun is that? Get out of town or at least support the local shops for some great Virginia-made products.
Is ham on your list? There’s no place to go but Smithfield for the real deal. Right on Main Street you’ll find Taste of Smithfield, a restaurant and store. Sample the wares, enjoy a nice lunch and bring home the bacon. Yep, they have that, too.
Woodson's Mill white cornmeal
Flours are a necessity for baking and you can purchase it freshly ground from local millers like Jim Young at Wade’s Mill in Raphine or Steve Roberts at Woodson’s Mill in Roseland. Gift sets are available from each mill as well.
Virginia peanuts are renowned and you can get them from a few places. They’re perfect for gift-giving and pre-dinner munching.
Virginia is experiencing an explosive re-birth of its oyster industry and has been dubbed the Oyster Capital of the East Coast thanks to being the largest farm-raised oyster producing state in the country. Lovers of the succulent delicacy can choose from seven salinity regions and get their take fresh from the water.
If you find yourself expanding the menu for more seafood than just oysters, let it be known that Wachapreague is the Flounder Capital of the World.
Foggy Ridge Cider apples
On to the beverages!
Apple cider is a favorite holiday treat and Virginia has a burgeoning cider industry – both hard and not.
In the Blue Ridge Highlands you can visit Foggy Ridge Cider, the 2012 Cooking Light Taste Test Award Winner. Growing American heirloom apples as well as French and English cider apples, the cidermaker, Diane Flynt, manipulates the harvest as little as possible to create three ciders and a cider + apple brandy blend.