5 Virginia Eateries Serving Unforgettable Flavors
Virginia offers a varied array of unique cuisine, inspired by the local ingredients and cultural diversity of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern US. From Memphis-style barbecue to traditional Greek cooking prepared with modern culinary techniques, the many offerings can satisfy any foodie's taste buds. In no particular order, here are some restaurants serving memorable fare within the state.
Kicking off the list at #1, Vermilion offers modern American cooking, taking a minimalist approach that highlights the quality local and seasonal ingredients that make up each dish. Located in Old Town Alexandria, Vermilion welcomes casual weekday dinners, special occasions, and nightly gatherings for drinks with friends. Chef Thomas Cardarelli's creations have included mushroom duck liver mousse crostini, soft shell crab, handrolled cavatelli, and dry-aged squab.
Vermilion partners with Arcadia, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable food system in the Washington, DC area. The restaurant also hosts The Farm Table event twice a month. Presented by Chef Cardarelli, the intimate six to eight-course dinner celebrates a commitment to the farmers, purveyors, and foragers who provide the kitchen with its regionally grown ingredients. Wine, beer, or cocktail pairings for the dinner are provided by the restaurant's spirits manager and beer director.
Next at #2 is Nostos. Meaning nostalgia, the name represents the Vienna, Virginia restaurant's acknowledgement of its roots in traditional Greek cuisine. With a variety of both old and new dishes, Nostos boasts a modern take on the iconic culinary culture. The menu features fresh fish from the Mediterranean Sea, such as branzino, dorado, and sardines, seasoned with extra virgin Greek olive oil. In addition, a variety of mezedes, or small sharing-sized dishes, reflect a part of the culture that combines eating and socializing.
Guests may enjoy dishes like seasoned swordfish souvlaki, as well as paidakia, which are marinated grilled lamb chops. More traditional offerings include mousaka, combining layers of eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes with ground beef. Shareable mezedes like dolmades and spanakopita, as well as a selection of Greek cheeses, round out the menu. Meanwhile, guests can select from over fifty distinct wines from several different regions of Greece.
Entering the list at #3 is Baker's Crust. With eight locations throughout the state, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Baker's Crust prepares a variety of freshly made ingredients, from mozzarella made in-house, to locally grown microgreens. In addition, the kitchen bakes artisan bread from scratch using a thirty-year-old natural starter.
The breakfast menu at Baker's Crust features a selection of eggs Benedict, utilizing either fried chicken, lump crab meat, or pork belly. For lunch and dinner, diners may try one of the restaurant's pizzas, like the prosciutto and arugula, or a signature sandwich, such as a chicken shawarma, served in a house-made wood-fired pita. Guests can end a meal with one of the establishment's freshly baked pastries or desserts.
Coming in at #4, Julep's New Southern Cuisine prepares modern takes on regional specialties and comfort foods like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and a variety of seafood dishes crafted by Executive Chef Cory Chaney. The Richmond establishment is located in one of the area's historic buildings, and claims to provide an elegant atmosphere and charm that creates a hospitable setting for guests.
From Ritz-encrusted fried oysters, to Chesapeake Bay crab cake, Julep's strives to bring a creative style to Southern food. Private dining areas are available for large dinner parties, luncheons, and receptions. The culinary team will work with planners to fine tune a prix fixe menu that meets individual tastes and preferences. Meanwhile, the restaurant's Champagne Julep offers a twist on the traditional drink, opting for apple brandy and brut in place of bourbon and seltzer.
Lastly, at #5 is Red Hot & Blue. The full-service, blues-themed restaurant chain and caterer serves ribs, Memphis-style barbecue, smoked wings, and Southern sides and desserts. With locations in Fairfax and Leesburg, the restaurant boast a dining atmosphere that incorporates music, memorabilia, and Southern hospitality. Named "best barbecue" by the Washington Post Reader's Poll, the establishment uses hickory logs, low temperatures, and long cooking times to prepare its main fare.
The menu features meat raised in the US, along with fresh produce and side dishes. Diners may select from a variety of slow-cooked fare, like pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked sausage, and fried catfish. Homemade potato salad is made fresh every few hours. Red Hot & Blue's line of specialty barbecue sauces add spice to the selection, and are available to take home.