As with myriad US cities in the past decade, Richmond, Virginia, has seen its foodie scene take off. In April, Bon Appétit dubbed it “America’s next great restaurant-obsessed town.”
Richmond now has so many craft breweries and wineries that the concentration is one of the highest per capita in the country. Most are minutes from downtown in the Scott’s Addition area, which also buzzes with restaurants and shops. Discover hop-heavy pints at the Veil, funky foeder-aged brews at Väsen Brewing, and dry ciders using Virginia heirloom apples at Blue Bee.
When it was still just a pop-up in 2016, Longoven was anointed one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants. Its tasting menu ($110) features creative dishes such as duck with hay-roasted Rossa Lunga onions.
Six miles east in Church Hill, a rejuvenated neighborhood with yet more culinary standouts, chef Lee Gregory—a James Beard Award semifinalist—serves up sublime sustainable seafood at Alewife. If it’s available, don’t miss the Siren Song, an array of convivial appetizers known to include rockfish collar. A few blocks away, fellow Beard semifinalist Sub Rosa Bakery turns out rustic wood-oven croissants and breads using local grains. Nearby, the shelves of Union Market are laden with goods from Richmond purveyors—a perfect stop for snacks to bring back to your hotel.
Consider visiting during the Fire, Flour & Fork Festival, October 31 through November 3. USA Today named it one of the country’s top three food festivals. Distance from DC: 108 miles.
Easton may not have the waterfront allure of nearby St. Michaels, but the quaint town is becoming the destination for food lovers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Credit Bluepoint Hospitality founder Paul Prager. The New York native and Beowulf Energy CEO has fashioned a full block of historic buildings (and then some) after his taste for fine food, marrying local Chesapeake bounty with prized imports from Manhattan—yes, that’s Russ & Daughters smoked salmon and Lobel’s meats.
Start with lunch at Sunflower & Greens, an airy salad-centric cafe, before strolling to dessert at Bonheur, a Parisian-inspired confectionary with house-made pies and ice creams. Caviar service and vintage Bordeaux sum up the elegance at Bas Rouge. Chef Harley Peet serves à la carte lunch—get the Wiener schnitzel—and weekend prix fixe dinners, with delicacies such as Kurobuta pork with morels. Cap off the night next door at the stately Stewart, a Scotch and vintage-Champagne bar.
That’s not to say only the new are worth a visit. At the BBQ Joint, longtime Easton chef Andrew Evans turns out meaty masterpieces such as slow-smoked wings and St. Louis–cut wet ribs. Piazza Italian Market makes sandwiches stuffed with Italian cheeses and meats, along with antipasti. The creative locavore fare at Out of the Fire is worth lingering over, whether wood-fired pizzas or shellfish stew. To cap off your weekend: brunch at Southern-style T at the General Store, where the house Bloody is crowned with grilled shrimp and bacon.
The annual Easton Waterfowl Festival, November 8 through 10, features falconry demos; wildlife art; dog-jumping competitions; and vendors dishing out oyster stew, soft-shell-crab sandwiches, and other Eastern Shore fare. Distance from DC: 70 miles.
Bonus: An Oyster Farm With a (Real) Bed
It’s the ultimate escape for oyster lovers: At Rappahannock Oyster Co., cousins/oystermen Ryan and Travis Croxton transformed a former marina master’s cottage in-to the three-bedroom “Oyster Bed”, tucked behind their waterfront tasting room, Merroir. See where bivalves are seeded and harvested during 30-minute farm tours on Fridays and Saturdays ($10 a person) before digging into a shellfish feast at the restaurant. Plan a visit to coincide with the nearby annual Urbanna Oyster Festival, November 1 and 2. Distance from DC: 133 miles.
This article appears in the September 2019 issue of Washingtonian.