Cuisine: Contemporary American cooking with upscale flourishes—the chef, Frank Maragos, is an Inn at Little Washington alum—but an absence of experimentation and a fierce determination to stay rooted in place: The produce and meats are mostly from around Culpeper.
Mood: Wrought-iron chandeliers adorn an airy, brick-lined room that feels like an enclosed courtyard—just one of the charms of making the trek out to this Federal-era town ringed by Civil War battlefields.
Best for: A relaxing dinner after visiting Virginia wine country, Luray Caverns, or the Brandy Station battlefield. It’s one of the few respites from the chain restaurants along Route 29.
Best dishes: “Ham-and-egg sandwich,” an appetizer of grilled garlic-scented ciabatta with a fried egg, Calhoun’s country ham (a local treasure), and baby arugula; a tower of roasted beets and goat cheese with pickled mushrooms and fried walnuts; citrussy salmon given an Asian twist with pickled ginger and jasmine rice; hazelnut and chocolate pots de crème that will make Nutella fans swoon.
Insider tips: Foti’s abounds in Southern hospitality: Running late from your winery visit? No problem. Bringing your kids? There’s no children’s menu, but Maragos can improvise a simple chicken dish that might make parents envious. One disappointment: The wine list doesn’t reflect the restaurant’s local roots, and the markups are high.