Explore a sampling off the tasty offerings across Virginia. 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.

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.



Photo credit: Sam Dean IG: @sdeanphotos

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.


photo credit: Melissa Lesh IG account: @melissalesh
  • The Pakalachian Food Truck is an absolute must. A beautiful paring of Southwest Virginia culinary elements with traditional Pakistani flavors creates something like no other.
  • -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.



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.

For more things to do in Alexandria, check out our trendy neighborhood guide.



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:

  • 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.

For more awesome places to eat and drink in Arlington, check out our trendy neighborhood guide.



image Courtesy of Barboursville Vineyards

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.

Must 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:

  • 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.
  • Don't miss Foode, for a true farm-to-table experience by Top Chef contestant, Joy Crump.



photo credit: Sam Dean IG: @sdeanphotos

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.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • 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.



photo credit: Emelyn Gwynn

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.



photo credit: Chad Williams IG: @echadwilliams

The Vibe:
This tidy village would be as at home in the English countryside as it is the rolling Virginia Piedmont. Graceful, historic buildings in town host boutiques, beds-and-breakfasts and eateries; the surrounding landscape is the true Virginia horse country. Locavore plates with high-end appeal abound.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • At Salamander Resort & Spa take a class in the Cooking Studio where visiting chefs interact with students to create a full range of dishes in a gorgeously-appointed kitchen.
  • You are in for a treat when dining at Goodstone Inn & Restaurant. Farm-to-table ingredients from nearby growers as well as the inn’s own organic herb and vegetable gardens are crafted into French Country cuisine.
  • Gentle Harvest is a beautiful gourmet food hall with a butcher shop featuring meats from nearby Ayrshire Farm (we love that the beef, pork, veal, chicken and turkey are Certified Humane and Certified Organic). The store also features many Virginia artisan edibles, like wine, cider, honey, ham and more.
  • Visit Boxwood Winery and taste a flight of the award-winning wines or purchase by the glass, bottle or case. Four wines are offered, and while all are favorites, we especially love the dry Rose’, perfect for light fare and enjoying out on the porch.
  • The prix-fixe Sunday brunch at the 1728 The Red Fox Inn Restaurant is a great way to ease into the day. Celebrate horse country with the Hunt Country Breakfast with cornmeal crusted pan-fried trout, scrambled eggs, smoked bacon and home fries.



photo credit: Corey Pittman IG: @mainfocusmedia

The Vibe:
The urban heart of Hampton Roads, Norfolk was site to the region’s first “restaurant” (1693) and Restaurant Row along Granby Street in the 1990s. Look for sophisticated offerings across downtown and Ghent from seafood-centric dishes to omnivore-pleasing vegetarian plates.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • In Ocean View, we love Captain Groovy’s, a funky oyster bar with great food, from fried clams to oysters on the half shell, Voodoo wings (a must-try) and ice cold Red Stripe beer. Sit on the patio in warm weather.
  • It’s still the 50s at Doumar’s, venerable drive in which has feed the hearts and stomachs of locals for decades. Sit in your car and have hot-from-the flattop burgers, dogs and thick shakes brought out by rollerskate-clad servers. Enjoy an ice cream in a cone made on a 100-year-old machine – reportedly the first-ever.
  • Enjoy a brew, or two, at the urban-chic O’ Connor Brewing Company tasting room smack dab next to their production line. Find your favorite, but we love the Green Can.
  • Todd Jurich’s Bistro has long embraced sourcing local ingredients for menu options at this downtown fine-dining eatery. We love the pumpkin and oyster stew as a start to most any meal as well as cocktails from master mixologist Rob Ashbury.
  • Founded in 1973, family-owned Taste operates ten specialty food shops (which also offers upmarket sandwiches and take-home bistro dishes) across the region, including Norfolk. Wander in and sample Virginia peanuts, grab a glass of wine from the Old Dominion, enjoy a chef-prepared bite and maybe sign up for a cooking class.



The Vibe:
Virginia’s capital is on fire on the national food scene right now, and rightfully so. Chef-driving restaurants across the region offer a wide assortment of menu options, from fine to informal, global to New American – and each seemingly delightfully delicious in their own way.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • Real Richmond Tours takes it to the street: these well-crafted walking tours are a perfect way to get grounded in RVA and sample some of the wonderful culinary offerings around town.
  • Heritage may well set the standard in brunch. The tragically hip dining room sets the stage for approachable-but-fabulous dishes. We adore the Raman Bowl, a big handcrafted bowl (made by one of the servers there) of umami-laded broth stuffed with braised pork belly, nori, kim chi and adorned with a poached egg.
  • Cocktails at The Roosevelt never disappoint; from the simple to the sublime, we love to start off dinner with an imbibe, or have a drink here before dining elsewhere. We recently had The Seersucker: Maker’s Mark Bourbon, sweet tea syrup, Angostura bitters and charred lemon cube and fell deeply in love with the drink.

For more on where to eat and drink in Richmond, check out our trendy neighborhood guide.



photo credit: Sam Dean IG: @sdeanphotos

The Vibe:
Roanoke is called the Star City, and in our books it goes beyond the neon structure on the summit of Mill Mountain. From the charming century-plus old market downtown to down home cuisine from greasy spoons to citified eats, this city shines in western Virginia.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • Named for the national treasure that is the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, Parkway Brewing honors the asphalt ribbon and the beauty of surrounding southwestern Virginia with quaff like Bridge Builder Blonde, which we love.
  • Since 1882, the Roanoke City Market has been a place for area growers and specialty food producers to connect with consumers with delicious results. Walk around this historic market, grab a bite, and talk shop with a farmer.
  • To see how Old Virginia dined, visit the Hotel Roanoke’s The Regency Room, a delicious reminder of times gone by. You have to get the peanut soup; the version here is hailed around the globe.
  • Culinary rockstar Chef Aaron Deal’s River and Rail is a wonderful bistro that offers modern, upmarket versions of southern classics. I hate this phrase, but you must save room for dessert – the banana pudding will change your life.
  • -Be sure to stop by Big Lick Brewing Company for the best patio in town, some tasty beers and food from local restaurants delivered right to your table.

For more cool things to do in Roanoke, check out our trendy neighborhood guide.



photo credit: Sam Dean IG account: @sdeanphotos

The Vibe:
About mid way down the Shenandoah Valley, chefs in this little Rockwell-esqe town draw from the farms and fields around to craft highly-acclaimed dishes reflecting new, modern interpretations of many Old Dominion favorites.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • The oh-so-cute Ox-Eye Tasting Room is a must-stop to try a number of vintages from this Virginia farm winery. The Riesling would be a perfect quaff for spring.
  • Call us a bit sentimental, but our heart swells here in Virginia when national media like Esquire magazine and The Washington Post wax poetic over chef/owner Ian Boden’s The Shack. We concur.
  • One of our favorite ways to start – or end – a good meal is with a cheese plate. At Zynodoa, a succinct offering of Virginia fromage includes Caromont aAmond-Crusted Chevre, Mountain View Lusk and Meadow Creek Grayson.
  • We came for the wine, we stayed for the grilled cheese. Yelping Dog Wine, Cheese and Charcuterie gourmet shop offers an assortment but we really grooved on the Pimento: pimento cheese made in-house with fresh chopped celery on brioche.
  • From an assortment of decadent delights, we love Cocoa Mills Chocolatier’s chocolate bark, which includes such indulgences as milk bar, bittersweet bark, cranberry bark and Oreo bark.

Virginia Beach 


The Vibe:
From city eats to crab pickings, Virginia Beach’s chow locale is plenty diverse. Look for fresh catch at the Oceanfront, cultivated cuisine at Town Center, and straightforward noshes along the Shore Drive and Great Neck corridors. Served up are spectacular views, too, of a New Urbanism downtown, sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, and the deep blue serene waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • The ocean views from Waterman’s can’t be beat, nor can their seafood-centric menu. But by all means try their signature Orange Crush cocktail; a boozy libation with fresh orange juice and a little bit of magic.
  • The charming producer-only Old Beach Farmer’s Market is a sure-bet to stroll, speak with farmers and watermen, sample fresh baked goods, grab some artisan cheese and relish in the foods and foodways of Virginia Beach.
  • Some of the freshest, most perfectly-prepared seafood we’ve enjoyed comes from Coastal Grill, an elegant but easy-going eatery serving up fresh shellfish and fin-fish for more than two decades. Must bite: soft shell crabs in season.
  • The good folks at Taste Tidewater Tours offers a number of ways to see – and eat – yourself across Virginia Beach (and Norfolk, too) including tours of breweries, oyster houses and more.
  • We all need a little treat, and the delicious diminutive desserts from Food Network Cupcake Wars veteran Carla Hesseltine’s Just Cupcakes is literally the icing on the (cup)cake.



The Vibe:
We love the historic taverns in Colonial Williamsburg, but the dining scene here is so much more. One of Virginia’s first celebrity chefs, Marcel Desaulnier (creator of Death by Chocolate) was a pioneer in the state’s farm-to-fork movement more here than three decades ago when he opened The Trellis. Many eateries here are on the forefront of New Virginia cuisine.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • A Merchant’s Square staple, The Cheese Shop never ceases to make us smile. Fabulous fromage, wonderful wines, sinful sandwiches and more is why they’ve been a favorite for four decades.
  • The continental surroundings and beyond delicious classic French cuisine at Chef Daniel Abid’s Le Yaca French Restaurant is a place we love to come and get in touch with our inner Francophile. But the three course, $17 lunch is a great offering at a great price. Our fave entrée: Lobster and Shrimp Quiche.
  • It’s truth in advertising: the A Very Large Griddled Dog from Chef David Everett’s DoG Street Pub (DoG is an acronym for it’s location: Duke of Gloucester Street) is a wonder weiner. This fabulous frank is griddled and stuffed in a toasted bun filled with stout chili, onions and then topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese.



photo credit: Tari Linda Lau IG: @journeyto1000cities

The Vibe:
Tucked in the northwest corner of the state, Winchester is a quaint old town – home to the venerable Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and eateries showcasing the food and foodways from this upper region of the Valley. Look for lots of local dishes, from traditional to trendy.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

  • In season, the place to go is Marker-Miller Orchards to get out in nature and pick tree-ripened apples and peaches. A stop by the farm market bakery for some ethereal apple cider donuts is a must.
  • The George Washington Hotel is a grande dame inn, harkening to another time and level of service. Check in your room then check out the wonderful lobby bar. Sit at the curved counter, order a classic cocktail, and watch the comings-and-goings.
  • We love to walk through the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley every time we are in Winchester, and one of the things we marvel at are the collection of skillfully crafted ceramic bowls, crocks and more that once stored foods and feed pioneer families here generations ago.
  • Look for the adults-only offerings from Winchester CiderworksThe team here craft a number hard cider products from one of this area’s favorite fruits, the apple. The flagship Malice has our tastebuds tapping.


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.