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A CULINARY GETAWAY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA
 
(2023 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: CARA O'DONNELL



Chocolate? At breakfast? It’s true. And it’s not just for kids. At The Conche, nestled in an unassuming shopping plaza in Northern Virginia and home to a chocolate lab in addition to a full dining menu, Celebrity Chef Santosh Tiptur shows the dessert staple can be infused into any dish at any time of day. The huevos rancheros feature a cocoa-infused black bean purée, and the cocoa-spiced rib jus on the short rib egg and hash flatbread offers the perfect hint of sweetness.

That’s just the beginning of what can be a truly delicious culinary outing in Northern Virginia. Located just outside the U.S. capital city of Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia is where top chefs expand their horizons and where local culinary minds hone their skills. It’s where a growing wine and craft beer scene is developing new flavours and where diners can literally explore the cuisine of the globe without ever leaving the region.

Top Chefs

Northern Virginia is the location of choice for a number of the region’s top chefs, many of whom have explored other cities but eventually come home to open their dream restaurants. In Arlington, hometown Chef Matt Hill opened his own restaurant during the pandemic after leading kitchens in several favourite local restaurants. His new venture, Ruthie’s All Day, is a family restaurant with a nod to Hill’s personal affection for barbecue. In the town of Vienna, Chef Evan Monat-Edelstein brings true innovation to Latin American flavours at Blend 111, which may look like a coffee shop on the surface but provides so much more. Chef Ben Pflaumer, a veteran of several top dining spots along the U.S. East Coast, recently took the helm to showcase his talents at Alexandria’s long-time favourite Vermilion, which features contemporary American flavours with a few of Pflaumer’s own specialties. 

Sip and Savour

With more than 50 wineries and tasting rooms, some 35 craft breweries connected by the LoCo Ale Trail and a slate of superb artisanal distilleries, Loudoun’s immersive experiences make it a world-class craft beverage destination. Chrysalis Vineyards at the Ag District in the picturesque Middleburg area hosts the world’s largest planting of the Norton grape but also a full creamery—perfect for that cheese and wine pairing. Sunset Hills Vineyard powers its winery with 245 solar panels, providing sustainable power for 75 percent of the winery’s annual needs and essentially turning sunshine into wine! But those aren’t the only places to enjoy a special libation in Northern Virginia. Check out Lost Boy Cider in Alexandria, Aslin Beer Co. in Fairfax County or New District Brewing in Arlington. There are endless opportunities to discover your new sips.

Dine Around the World

With its proximity to the nation’s capital and several international airports, Northern Virginia has always been a culturally diverse region. And now, foodies can experience that diversity through various global spots as authentic as walking the streets of the cuisine’s native homeland. A visit to any of the three locations of Our Mom Eugenia is like visiting a Greek grandma’s dinner table. Lebanese Taverna celebrates traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, and Amoo’s Restaurant showcases the true flavours of Persian seafood, but do not miss trying the saffron ice cream. Ambar, in Arlington’s Clarendon neighbourhood, is a lively gathering spot demonstrating small plates from the Balkans, and BARCA Pier and Wine Bar, perched on old shipping containers along Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront, is akin to sitting with cocktails and tapas along the waterfront in Spain. Incheon Restaurant transports diners to Korea for authentic Korean fusion and cool cocktails, and it’s Oktoberfest year-round at Cock and Bowl Belgium Bistro in historic Occoquan.

Tap the Trail

Prince William County offers a “Steins, Vines and Moonshine” Trail that lets visitors explore over 20 wineries, distilleries, breweries and tasting rooms with its self-guided experience.

Did you Know?

Loudoun County has its own yeast scientist. Jasper Akerboom isolates unique yeast strains in Loudoun for local brewers and became famous for creating a strain of yeast from a whalebone fossil that was then used in Loudoun’s Lost Rhino Brewing Company’s Bone Duster’s Paleo Ale.

 
 
 
 
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