Just an hour’s drive from the nation’s capital, Northern Virginia’s Wine Country is truly an amazing experience to behold. And with October designated as Virginia Wine Month amid a vivid fall foliage nearing peak colors, it’s definitely one of the best times of the year to enjoy one of the state’s most prominent wine regions, particularly in Fauquier and Loudoun counties. But visitors should definitely not overlook the incredible diversity of dining options to pair with a fine bottle of local wine. Regardless if it’s a day trip or better yet, an overnight stay, here are five top recommendations, along with two very special bonus selections to dine within the breathtaking hills and landscapes of Northern Virginia.
Field & Main
8369 W. Main St.
Marshall, VA 20115
In a community full of hidden treasures in Fauquier County, Field & Main is an absolute gem. Located in the heart of downtown Marshall, this very impressive farm-to-table-restaurant is led by co-owners Neal Wavra and Star Wavra. Neal is also a sommelier and studied at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park along with his executive chef Anthony Nelson. Neal previously managed the iconic Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago and also worked with Michelin-starred chefs John Shields and Karen Urie. Star is as equally talented as her husband, previously managing the Ashby Inn & Restaurant in the nearby community of Paris. Field & Main presents superb cuisine paired with fine wines yet at remarkably modest prices. As one of the leading purveyors of the local gastronomy scene, Field & Main has earned acclaim from several notable publications but destined to receive several more. This includes ranked No. 13 among Top 100 Restaurants in D.C. by the Washingtonian and No. 3 Best Restaurants and Cocktails by Virginia Living. Neal has also been named an “unofficial ambassador to Virginia vineyards” by the Washington Post in 2016. Recommended local wine selections include Chardonnay “Estate” from Slater Run ($46) Sauvignon Blanc from Delaplane Cellars ($49) and Bordeaux Blend “Reserve” from Boxwood Estate Winery ($79).
Harry’s At Airlie
6809 Airlie Road
Warrenton, VA 20187
Named after its founder, Harry’s is the newest dining option at Airlie Hotel & Conference Center in Fauquier County. Located one level below the main dining area, Harry’s at Airlie offers a variety of affordable dishes, including main dishes, large sandwiches and salads with fresh ingredients sourced directly from the property’s garden. Sample dishes include Corn & Crab Dip with Virginia crab, Airlie corn and local cheese ($16), Harry’s Signature Burger ($16) and Spaghetti Bolognese with Airlie beef and pork ($25). Harry’s also features a nice selection of wine and beer and cider and tap. Look for Virginia wine selections like an Airlie branded chardonnay ($9/$40) and branded cabernet sauvignon ($14/$58). Additionally, weekly drink specials are offered on Wine Down Monday and Tapped Tuesday. Visitors can also dine in the larger Airlie Dining Room, which serves exceptional buffet-style meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Red Truck Rural Bakery
8368 W. Main St.
Marshall, VA 20115
Nationally recognized as one of the best small town bakeries in the country, Red Truck Rural Bakery is also a smart choice for breakfast and lunch. Literally located across Main Street from Field & Main, the bakery is known to have a line out the door, especially on weekends. However, with gourmet cakes (from $26) and pies, fresh coffee and other treats, the wait is well worth the effort. Red Truck Rural Bakery was founded by Brian Noyes, a former art director of The Washington Post and Smithsonian Magazine and student at the CIA in Hyde Park and L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Red Truck Bakery has previously been recognized as one of the nation’s finest bakeries from the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and the Daily Meal. Additionally, the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern says “Red Truck Bakery makes the best granola in North America”. While the Marshall location is the headquarters, the original, smaller location is just a short drive away in Warrenton. A nice selection of Virginia wine from local businesses like Blue Valley Winery and Three Fox Vineyards can be found next door at Gentle Harvest gourmet grocery.
The Conservatory At Goodstone
36205 Snake Hill Road
Middleburg, VA 20117
The Conservatory in Loudoun County is clearly one of the most romantic restaurants in Northern Virginia. As the signature restaurant of the Goodstone Inn, the Conservatory offers a Michelin-caliber farm-to-table dining experience and award-winning wine list. Guests may choose the Prix Fixe Menu at $79 two courses, $89 three courses, Chef Tasting Menu $115 with Wine Pairings $75 or Vegetarian Tasting $105 with Wine Pairings $75. The Goodstone Inn and the Conservatory have received a number of recent awards, like Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurants in America and USA Today’s Top 10 Romantic Inns in the USA. Sample Virginia wine from the menu include Viognier “La Boheme” ($65) Three Fox Vineyards and Greenhill Winery Petit Verdot ($75). A Belgium native, chef Van Haute has previously worked at Michelin three-starred restaurants Hof Van Cleve in western Belgium and Ryugin in Tokyo. His most recent position was as the executive chef to the Ambassador of Belgium to the U.S., where he was named Best Embassy Chef in 2010.
The Whole Ox
8357 W. Main St.
Marshall, VA 20115
The Whole Ox is yet another phenomenal option in Marshall for lunch or an early dinner. As the name suggests, this family-owned business specializes in high quality, sustainable meats sourced from local farms. Founded in 2011 by Derek Luhowiak and Marshall native Amanda Wyne Luhowiak, the Whole Ox offers dine-in and take out options, with a remarkably affordable Butcher’s Bar Lunch Menu available Tuesdays-Saturdays until 6 p.m. Sample items include the single ($9) or double ($12) #TWOX Burger made from house ground beef and a butcher’s choice cut of steak (8oz) served medium rare with house frites ($16). In addition to specialty meats, the butcher shop also sells other food and drink items, like fresh produce, house-made charcuterie, cheese, beer, wine and cocktails. Additionally, Derek and Amanda host ongoing special events and share a bottle of Virginia wine or three with guests on Saturdays.
A visit to the Northern Virginia wine country may not be truly complete without a visit to the double decker bus/restaurants in downtown Marshall’s Decker Square.
8374 W. Main St.
Marshall, VA 20115
Originally unveiled last September, Bubble Decker is a premium wine bar and the one of two British double decker buses in Decker Square. One of a small collection of double decker businesses in America, Bubble Decker is the amazing creation of Randy and Karen Phillips, who are better known as the proud owners of Cave Ridge Vineyard in the Shenandoah Valley and former site for the double decker grand opening. Several selections of the Phillips’ sparkling wines and wines can be purchased at Bubble Decker, with plenty of upscale yet laid back seating available on the second level. The Bubble Decker will be co-hosting a Halloween Bus Party on October 31 and will feature Halloween-themed games and contests like an Eyeball Race and Costume Contest for kids and adults and a Mummy-Wrapping Race for adults, along with live entertainment from a “ghoulish band” and special dishes. Located about an hour from Marshall, Cave Ridge Winery may require a second visit to Northern Virginia’s Wine Country. But Randy and Karen Phillips along with their daughter Megan and staff definitely make it worth the drive to one of Northern Virginia’s finest wineries.
8374 W. Main St.
Marshall, VA 20115
Johnny Monarch’s is yet another extraordinary local business led by yet another extraordinary businessman – Brian L. Lichorowic. Described as the “fourth of sixth generations of kindred restaurateurs…”, Brian retired from the tech industry well before age 40 to attend classes at the Culinary Institute of America and in France, then to eventually co-found/lead Feed Bag Foods LLC, a unique culinary service based in the even smaller nearby community of The Plains. A widely talented entrepreneur who holds patents and served in other executive positions, Brian opened Johnny Monarch’s in June to further expand his passion of creating and serving high-level cuisine. Using some family recipes that date back 60 years, JM’s offers all sorts of affordable and nutritionally rich dishes to satisfy any appetite and plenty of retro-styled seating upstairs. A few recommendations to consider are the New Era TV Dinners (from $12), “Messy Sandwiches” (from $13) and age old recipes like the Piedmont Tomato Pie Platter ($12), a previous Washing Post Award Winner. JM’s also offers Feed ‘Em All Pans(from $35), a Rotten Kid’s Menu and take away items for food on the go or to pair with Cave Ridge wines next door at Bubble Decker. Together with Bubble Decker, Johnny Monarch’s is expected other fun-filled events like their upcoming Haunted Halloween Bus Party.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who has covered national/international travel for CBS Local and all things San Francisco for CBS San Francisco. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University and a member of the Freelance Council of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).
Randy is also a veteran of the United States Army, having served stateside and in Germany. He is a lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, California.
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