Daytrip Dining: 9 Top Restaurants Outside Washington, D.C. Worth the Drive #savortheroad

We didn’t tackle every delicious corner of the country in our 2015 Summer Road Trip Restaurant Guide, so we are pleased to highlight top restaurants outside Washington, D.C., that are perfect for daytrip dining — or worthy of a stop on your mid-Atlantic road trip. 

Sometimes you need to get out of the city for a little while to leave the noise and haste behind. What better reason to escape than a memorable meal? Luckily for DCists, the countryside surrounding the nation’s capital is home to a bounty of road-trip-worthy restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood for a white tablecloth treat or more casual fare, there are plenty of options. We’ve picked our nine favorite reasons to drive outside Washington, D.C., for dinner.

Smokehouse Live, Leesburg, Virginia
A 16,000 square-foot sprawl encompasses three concepts: a dining room/marketplace (Smoke), a bar (House), and a concert venue (Live). Pitmaster Jim Foss, a veteran of Hill Country Barbecue Market and Old Glory, both in D.C., oversees a pair of Ole Hickory smokers. You’d best arrive hungry. Choices include brisket, beef short ribs, pulled pork, buttermilk-brined turkey breast, chicken, Shiner Bock brats, and jalapeno-cheddar sausage, as well as sides such as succotash, deviled eggs, and mac ‘n’ cheese.

Blog Smokehouse Live 1 copy

The Ashby Inn, Paris, Virginia
You’ll find a slice of Norman Rockwell America nestled in Fauquier County. The Blue Ridge Mountains provide a stunning backdrop for this 19th-century house-turned-hotel. Expect big things from freshly appointed executive chef Patrick Robinson, an alum of the well-loved Table and Michel Richard’s now shuttered gastro palace Citronelle.

Blog ashby_june2014_070 copy

Volt, Frederick, Maryland
One of the quintessential destination restaurants outside D.C., this bastion of modern-minded New American is the brainchild of Top Chef favorite Bryan Voltaggio. Under the watchful eye of chef de cuisine Scott Muns, who returned to the restaurant after a year at Rose’s Luxury, the restaurant continues to flourish. Dishes are equal parts innovation and tradition with plenty of flair, so expect to overpost on Instagram during dinner.

Blog Volt 2 Veal Sweetbreads, masa, mole, pickled butternut copy

Mokomandy, Sterling, Virginia
Cajun and Korean traditions live side-by-side, so starters might include gator croquettes and jambalaya alongside dumplings and kimchi pancakes. These contrasting culinary customs are well served by executive chef Daniel Wilcox Stevens, who has mastered both. Equal attention is given to handcrafted cocktails forged with housemade components and plenty of fresh fruits and herbs.

Blog Mokomandy 2 copy

Maple Ave., Vienna, Virginia
The charismatic Fairfax County outpost brings together a panoply of global influences to create singularly enticing results. Shrimp and grits get an assist from blueberry venison sausage, seared scallops come with basil ice cream and coconut risotto, and wings are doused in a mixture of crème fraîche, gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), and oyster sauce.

Blog Maple AvenueContinue Reading

Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Fried Green Tomatoes

The fried green tomatoes at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, would surely make Miss Flagg proud.

Fried green tomatoes are a longtime southern specialty, but this Yankee didn’t learn of their simple delights until seeing the movie Fried Green Tomatoes and, later, researching that recipe within Fannie Flagg’s book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. There are several schools of thought on their preferred preparation. Some folks dunk ’em in buttermilk before dredging them in flour; others favor cracker meal or panko or a combination of all of these. At my home, we grow a variety of tomato called Fried Green Tomato that is made just for this very dish. We pluck ’em off the vines, and, adhering closely to Miss Flagg’s original recipe, slice them, weep them with kosher salt, season with pepper and coat them in corn meal seasoned with a touch of cayenne. They are fried to golden goodness in Flying Pigs Farm bacon fat, drained, and served with Crystal Hot Sauce and Duke’s Mayonnaise. It’s high season for fried green tomatoes, and restaurants on OpenTable are creating their own versions to infuse their dishes with a seasonal southern accent. Find out what diners are saying.

Atchafalaya Restaurant, New Orleans: “I will never miss another opportunity to dine here when I visit this city known for great food. The fried green tomatoes were absolutely to die for.”

* Bayou on Penn, Washington, D.C.: “We arrived at Bayou and were greeted like royalty. Our service was great, but the outstanding part was the Grand Marshall brunch: eggs benedict with fried green tomato, tasso ham, fried oyster, and English muffin! WOW.”

The Blue Fish, Jacksonville, Florida: “The fried green tomato was done to perfection, and the addition of the goat cheese made it very special.”

Georgia Brown’s, Washington, D.C.: “I went to Georgia Brown’s with friends during restaurant week and had one of the best meals I’ve had in DC. Fried green tomatoes, gumbo, and peach cobbler — several of which were recommended by our patient, attentive server.”

The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, San Antonio, Texas: “This place likes to challenge your taste buds. First time I tried ranch ice cream with my fried green tomatoes! I enjoyed everything I ate.”

Hungry Mother, Cambridge, Massachusetts: “The pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes appetizer is a knockout highlight, as is the beef tongue with au jus, and the pork belly app has all the flavor you expect from HM.”

Continue Reading

Trending on Recent OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Grilled Romaine

The magical grilled romaine salad from South Edison restaurant.

I often think the world is divided into two groups: those who love salads and those who do not. I am squarely in the former and my husband is, unfortunately, in the latter. He’ll eat salads, but, more often than not, it is begrudgingly. Not so when we were at South Edison in Montauk, New York, recently. We had a char-grilled romaine salad with meyer lemon vinaigrette, and my husband declared that he would eat salad every day (!) if it were this very dish. Perhaps then, those who do not love salad haven’t yet tried this delicious variation on dressed greens. Romaine lettuce is perfectly suited to grilling because its hearty texture holds up over hot coals, which bring out its sweetness while adding smokey depth. Chock full of vitamins A and K, romaine lettuce is low in calories and high in fiber. Find out what OpenTable diners are saying about this summery spin on salad in recent reviews.

Alfio’s bon cibo, Cincinnati, Ohio: “Butternut squash soup was yummy, as was the wood-grilled romaine salad. Must be a genius in the kitchen.”

Bella’s Restaurant, Charlottesville, Virginia: “Do not miss the grilled romaine; it’s to die for!”

* BOCA, Cincinnati, Ohio: “Dinner at Boca was outstanding. The grilled romaine is a must.”

Bonfyre American Grille, Madison, Wisconsin: “My side Caesar salad was great. They grilled the romaine. Awesome flavor.”

Campania Cafe, Davidson, North Carolina: “Comfortable dinning, excellent food. I especially enjoyed the grilled romaine salad.”

* Chloé, Seattle, Washington: “They have several wonderful prix-fixe options; I tried the grilled romaine salad, steak, and creme brulee option for $25. Wasn’t sure how I’d feel about grilled lettuce, but it was delicious!” Continue Reading

OpenTable Diner Reviews Reveal Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the U.S.

What’s your recipe for romantic dining? A fireside table? Fine wine? Or the right dining companion?

As we look forward to the romance of Valentine’s Day, we are pleased to announce the 2013 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the United States. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The list of winners, which includes Canlis in Seattle, Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, Calif., and White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine, spans 32 states. California restaurants earned 16 spots on the list, followed by Hawaii with 10 winners and Florida with eight. Virginia boasts seven winning restaurants, trailed by Ohio and Texas with six honorees apiece. Nevada, New York, and Tennessee all have five winning restaurants, while Arizona and Utah have four each. Colorado restaurants earned three spots, as did those in Illinois, Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Oregon, and Washington restaurants are also included, among others.

Cheese pleases, as fondue, especially that which is served at nationwide The Melting Pot restaurants, proved extremely popular for the fourth year in a row. American regional fare accounted for almost half the spots on the list. French cuisine was also well represented. Other popular cuisines included Italian, European/continental, and seafood.Continue Reading