If you consider yourself a “foodie,'' you've definitely heard the term “farm to table.” But this phrase has become more of a culinary buzzword and less of a defining characteristic for restaurants, losing a lot of real meaning within the food community along the way.
However, Virginia has a surprising amount of restaurants that truly do justice to the farm to table movement; these delicious dining spots work with local farmers and artisanal food providers to ensure only the best Virginia ingredients go into their seasonal, regionally-inspired fare. Check out these 14 restaurants within the Commonwealth that consistently feature a full menu of locally-sourced flavors.
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm—Lovettsville
Photo Credit: Todd Wright, @toddwrightphoto
As the name implies, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm is located on a rural farm about an hour from Washington D.C. in Loudoun County, but what you might not know is that this farm was one of the first certified organic farms in Virginia. James Beard nominee and Executive Chef Tarver King creates his entire menu around what is grown, raised, and foraged from the grounds surrounding the restaurant. For Chef King, these fields are his well-stocked pantry, allowing him to build creative recipes from the ground up (see what we did there?). When you eat at the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, you’re tasting ingredients that were picked just hours before they arrived on your plate; a meal at the Restaurant is one of the most authentic farm-to-table dining experiences in all of Virginia.
Opened in 2018 in a small town on the Northern Neck, Adrift’s ever-changing menu reflects the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay waters. From oysters and clams harvested only minutes away to locally-grown produce, the restaurant incorporates the best flavors of the coastal lowlands and the nearby waterways, blending land and sea for an unforgettable meal. Owned by a husband and wife team that previously trained at the Michelin-Star Inn at Little Washington (another farm-to-table Virginia restaurant,) Adrift has become a dining mainstay for the residents of White Stone and surrounding communities.
Executive Chef Chris King follows a strong culinary philosophy for his Southern Virginia restaurant, The 616: local is better. He sources ingredients from local farms and regional marketplaces whenever possible, creating a Southern-style menu that stays true to rich Virginia flavors. You can easily taste the short journey from small farm to your plate, reflecting the freshness and quality of the dishes at The 616.
Photo Credit: Nikki Grant
The Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia is known for its rich soil, with much of the landscape being used for organic farming. Woodstock Cafe Owners Nikki Grant and Jose Arevalos take full advantage of the fertile grounds, sourcing almost every ingredient for their weekend dinner menu from nearby farms, most of them within a five-mile radius of the restaurant. Many of their meats come from Autumn Olive Farms, known for providing quality products while also maintaining the highest standards of animal care, while produce is sourced from farms like Adams Apples & Herbs and Mowery Orchard. As with many farm-to-table restaurants, the menu at Woodstock Cafe changes seasonally to reflect the current harvest, but if we had to suggest one thing to order, it would be their flavorful pastas, handmade each day by Chef Arevalos.
If you’re looking for fresh seafood on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, head to Don’s Restaurant in Chincoteague. Crab, flounder, and other aquatic fare are sourced from the ocean waters just steps from the restaurant, and the owner grows his own oysters and clams at Tom’s Cove Aquafarms, a local shellfish farm that harvests from sea beds beside Assateague Island National Seashore.
Blue Wing Frog—Front Royal
On the northern border of Shenandoah National Park, Blue Wing Frog embraces the idea that homemade is best, making everything in-house and with no shortcuts or substitutes. Breads, cakes, cookies, soups, stocks, salad dressings, and condiments...these are all freshly crafted by hand. Plus, the restaurant gets nearly all their meats, eggs, and produce locally, and strives to find organic products whenever possible.
Photo Credit: Nick Davis, @nickdavisphoto
Led by Chef Joy Crump, FoodE has a philosophy of only using the freshest, cleanest ingredients in their dishes. In this pursuit, they acquire their products from farms just outside of Fredericksburg, supporting the local community by highlighting the products grown and harvested in the region. Heirloom vegetables grown at Ferry Farm, Washington’s Birthplace and other farms in Spotsylvania county add vibrant flavors to the restaurant’s seasonally-changing dishes, and organic meats from Gladys, Virginia ensure that Chef Crump’s high culinary standards are maintained. On any given day, FoodE sources between 85-90% of their ingredients from local farms and merchants.
The food at Harper’s Table in Suffolk isn’t the only thing sourced locally; the restaurant utilized reclaim wood from the old Suffolk Peanut Company building, crafting a vintage pine canopy above the booth seating. But back to the food: the restaurant’s Southern-inspired menu showcases local produce at peak freshness, as well as freshly caught seafood from the nearby Atlantic and the best cuts of meat from coastal Virginia farms. When visiting, be sure to try the Harper’s Pork Belly Biscuit, a favorite menu item for staff and regulars alike.
Basic Necessities Cafe—Nellysford
A quaint eatery in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, Basic Necessities Cafe blends thoughtful food preparation with a relaxed atmosphere that immediately makes you feel at home. The European-inspired restaurant aims to make the dining room more than a place to eat; they want to create a space for easy conversation and memorable moments. You won’t feel rushed to finish your meal at Basic Necessities, but are instead encouraged to spend a few hours enjoying fresh food and the company of your dining companions. And speaking of fresh food, Basic Necessities subscribes to the notion of the “Slow Food Movement”, using as many local, seasonal, and pesticide-free farm products as they can, sourcing from Blue Heron Farm, Little Hat Creek Farm, Twin Springs Farm, Whisper Hill Farm, and Edible Landscaping, among many other local farms. Additionally, they are committed to only using free-range, humanely-raised meats from farms like River Oak Farm and Double H Farm.
Harvest Table Restaurant—Meadowview
In addition to owning their own four-acre farm, Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview obtains vegetables, cheeses, meats, and other artisan ingredients from local farmers. The restaurant has long-standing relationships with these farm partners, allowing them to get the freshest products around, from grass-fed and grass-finished meats to artisan cheeses and charcuterie. Practically everything served at the restaurant is made in-house daily, including their breads, crackers, tortillas, and desserts, and their menu changes every day to utilize seasonally-available ingredients.
Off the Grid—Sperryville
Located near the Thornton Gap entrance to Shenandoah National Park, Off the Grid does more than just the bare minimum when it comes to sustainable, farm-to-table dining practices; they constantly strive towards their goal of a zero-waste restaurant, and even provide their own solar-powered electricity. Kitchen scraps are either composted or fed to the chickens, and all packaging that cannot be composted is recycled. The restaurant sources many of their ingredients from their own garden and small-scale farm area, raising chickens and ducks to provide fresh eggs for the restaurant, and meats come from nearby Whiffletree Farm and J&L Green Farm, where the farmers practice sustainable, humane pasture-raising that results in healthier, tastier products.
Roanoke’s Local Roots serves modern American fare using as many sustainable, organic, local, and ethical products as possible. They describe their food as going “back to the future”--mixing traditional foods and flavors with contemporary cooking techniques. Furthermore, the restaurant strives to source locally for their beverages, preferring to buy from small batch, farm-owned purveyors over internationally-established drink brands. The menus change on a regular basis due to seasonal shifts and new-found favorites, so you can expect to try new, exciting dishes every time you dine at Local Roots.
The Savory Grain—Richmond
Photo Credit: Jami Bohdan, @thesavorygrain
The Savory Grain is continuously reaching out to farms surrounding the metro Richmond area, searching for new partners that can provide delicious seasonal produce and locally-made products. The ever-changing menu focuses on new American cuisine, paired with local beers, wines, and ciders. There are 24 local beers on tap at any given time, highlighting the latest releases from breweries like Hardywood Park and Legend Brewery. The Savory Grain is also committed to environmentally-friendly practices, recycling and composting almost all the unused products that come through the restaurant.
Virginia Beach's Esoteric is known for their diverse craft beer selection and carefully curated provisions, with much of their produce grown on-site in the garden space behind the restaurant. They share this garden space with neighboring restaurant Commune, who also utilizes the fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits in their seasonal menu. In addition to using the garden for growing ingredients, Esoteric hosts dinner in the garden space, beautifully blurring the line between culinary destination and outdoor relaxation.
These are just a few of the many farm-to-table restaurants in Virginia. Share your favorite locally-sourced spots with us in the comments below, then find more farm-to-table restaurants and events happening in your area!