Fifteen Virginia Foodie Towns to Try – Part 1 of 2

by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted: Jan 28, 2015 | Updated: Feb 28, 2019

Comments: 64 Comments

It’s a new year, and many resolutions are made, only to go unfulfilled.

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

Here are 15 foodie towns across the commonwealth and a few deliciously researched recommendations to help you make the new year one you – and your tastebuds – will remember.

This is the first 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.



The Tavern

The Vibe:

Abingdon is small town Americana tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia. Look for a mix of gourmet offerings and traditional Appalachia food.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– Visit the Abingdon Olive Oil Company and sample dozens of varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegars. You are bound to buy a bottle or six.

– Take an afternoon to sample wines at Abingdon Vineyard and Winery; we like the Royal Blend, a vintage of barrel-aged Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin.

– We crave the Fried Green Tomato BLT with sweet potato fries at The Peppermill. The piquancy of the tomato, the smokiness of the bacon, the crispness of the lettuce all work in glorious unison.

– The charming The Tavern, around since 1779, has one of the best racks of lamb (served in a heavenly mint-lavender sauce) we’ve enjoyed. We licked our plate. Honest.

– Evenings wind down beautifully in the clubby lounge at The Martha Hotel & Spa sitting in a big leather chair and sipping a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan.


— ALEXANDRIA —Todd Thrasher at PX

PX Lounge

The Vibe:

This charming colonial seaport belies the fact that it is just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. Expect sophisticated offerings with an eye towards international eats but still firmly rooted in Virginia.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Cheesetique, located in Del Rey, is an amazing cheese emporium with countless offerings to grab-and-go for a picnic or party, or sit and relish in the Mac ‘N Cheesetique, named one of the best by Food & Wine

– A stunning cocktail from master mixologist Todd Thrasher at the speakeasy PX Lounge is a great way to celebrate 5 o’clock. Your tastebuds will thank you.

– The Farm Table menu from Chef William Morris at Vermilion delights; offered twice monthly and by reservations only, get it on your calendar

– Stop by for a pint of handcrafted beer at Port City Brewing Company; we love the American Porter, one of neighbor George Washington’s favorites.



The Vibe:

Arlington, located just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., has a fresh, vibrant urban feel. Look for a number of upscale eats and international flavors.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Jaleo– We’ve long loved the exotic, Middle Eastern vibe of Lebanese Taverna; try an assortment of mezzas (small bites) like fried artichoke hearts, lebneh, baba ghanoush and kibbeh

– Celebrity chef Jose Andres’ Jaleo, excites the palate with Spanish flavors. Order one of the paellas. A Spanish wine shop is adjacent to the eatery to enjoy with a meal or to take with you

Barley & Mac  makes diners with a love of whiskey and southern comfort food feel right at home. With dishes like Wagyu meatballs, truffle mac & cheese and chocolate gnocchi everyone is sure to enjoy a meal here

The Liberty Tavern has a vibrant Happy Hour scene to enjoy, relax and drink like a local. We recommend the Wilson Boulevard: rye, Grand Marnier, dry vermouth and flamed orange peel



The Vibe:

Thomas Jefferson stands tall over Charlottesville, and his influence is felt in many ways, including a love of good food and good living. In this quaint college town look for creative, local-centric foods and foodways.

rp_CN13052902U_030.jpgMust Eat/Must Drink:

– Tour Barboursville Vineyards, one of the state’s oldest wineries, and enjoy the bucolic setting and a glass of award-winning wine; the Pinot Grigio is a favorite white, and we love the Octagon, a Bordeaux-style red blend.

– Just outside of town is Crozet Pizza, known far-and-wide for their pies since 1977. Try one and you’ll see. We start drooling at the thought of The Southern Thing: pulled barbecue chicken, bacon and red onion.

Feast! Is a fabulous food store that we love to wander through and look at the specialty foods and extensive cheese and charcuterie offerings. Grab a sandwich and explore the other shops in the Main Street Market.

– We love the large selection of oysters on the raw bar at Public Fish and Oyster.

The Ivy Inn Restaurant serves up understated elegance along with their changing, seasonal, local American menu.



The Vibe:

A bit like Alexandria, Fredericksburg is a mix of old (as a colonial town) and new (as a vibrant part of Northern Virginia). The cuisine scene reflects that, too, with quaint dining spots and sophisticated eateries all in the same zip code. 

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Hyperion– We like to get caffeinated at Hyperion Epresso, a creative downtown java joint. The White Chocolate Mocha is a decadent treat.

– Browse the well-stocked gourmet store The Kitchen at Whittingham for everything from small appliances to cookware to gourmet foods to utensils and take a cooking class at the in-store kitchen.



The Vibe:

Harrisonburg is a charming Shenandoah Valley town with the hubbub of James Madison University next door. Food here is fresh and local, approachable and cultured.

Local Chop and Grill HouseMust Eat/Must Drink:

– Get acquainted with the food scene with Rocktown Bites! Downtown Food Tours. We had a blast walking through town, nibble here and there, trying some craft beer and chatting with area chefs.

– There are almost two-dozen food trucks in town to sate the desire for meals from wheels. Look for trucks that specialize in grilled cheese sandwiches, wings, tacos and other Mexican dishes, lobster rolls, southern cooking, barbecue, Korean food and small batch coffee, among others.

– We love stopping by Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint for, well, a good craft beer and burger. Our fave? The Elvis burger topped with peanut butter, mayo, applewood smoked bacon and cheese.

The Joshua Wilton House is a relaxing, upscale restaurant located in a gorgeous Victorian house with refined farm-to-table offerings like grilled duck breast over sweet potato puree with bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts.

Local Chop and Grill House always pleases our palate. In the former produce exchange building, rustic wood beams accent off exposed brick, setting the scene for fresh, local, approachable but polished meat-centric dishes crafted with creative rubs and presented with delicious sauces.



The Vibe:

Old Virginia appeal is found in this south-central town just at the cusp of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Time honored foods and foodways meet a dash of panache to form a tasty dining stage.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Lynchburg Community Market– Take time to stroll through and explore the Lynchburg Community Market, in operation (although the location has changed) since 1783. In addition to an artist gallery, a traditional farmers market with produce, meats and cheeses and an assortment of restaurants and gourmet shops are offered.

– Sate a sweet tooth at Cao Artisan Chocolates; delectable morsels handcrafted from the bean include bars, truffles, fondue, gelato, drinking chocolates and more.

Magnolia Foods is a market offering specialty grocery items, wine, beer, prepared foods and more. Grab a bottle of Virginia wine and a couple of The #8 sandwiches (tarragon and raisin chicken salad with green leaf lettuce on multigrain bread) for a fabulous picnic.

– Celebrate being well south of the Mason-Dixon Line with barbecue from Pok-E-Joe’s; the Messy Pig sandwich, a heap of pulled pork with cole slaw, pickles, onions and ‘q sauce, has our attention.

– Classic American bistro fare from burgers to grilled steak is served up at {RA} Bistro. An affordable three-course, chef-driven prix fixe dinner is a good way to enjoy fresh offerings.



Patrick 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. 


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Avatar Christina says:

Any chance of adding a neighboring town to Harrisonburg VA of Elkton?

Valley Olive & Leaf Company with free tastings of 50 delicious Italian Balsamics & Ultra Premium Olive Oils…

Blue Elk Coffee Company…

El Passo Mexican Restaurant…

Ciros Italian Restaurant…

Avatar Lori says:

Zum Rheingarten had closed permanently.

Avatar Melissa says:

Just a quick correction. Zum Rheingarten is not in Fredericksburg, VA. It is located at 3998 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Stafford, VA 22554 about 18 miles north of the Fredericksburg Visitor’s Center. It is located on Rt 1 close to Marine Corps Base Quantico and the Stafford/Prince William County border and worth the 30 minute drive! I also recommend that anyone planning to eat there check out their website. It is family owned/operated and they are closed Sun/Mon and will be shut down 20-31 Aug for vacation.

Avatar Susan says:

I could list many wonderful eateries in Charlottesville and for pizza suggest Lampos

Avatar Carole Maguire OKeeffe says:

What area do you cover in part 2?

Avatar Trish says:

Hmmm…if that’s all you come up with in Harrisonburg, you were woefully misled! What about Beyond, Taste of India & Cuban Burger? to name a few…..

Avatar Susan says:

And Black Forest German!!!

Avatar Kay Volman says:

We are moving to Nellysford this month. We love Basic Nesseceties.