When it comes to grabbing a table at some of these fine restaurants in Virginia, patience is the name of the game. Forget the standard 15-minute wait; without a reservation, some of these tables might set you back nearly an hour, especially on a weekend night. Or in same cases, it’s not the wait but rather the distance travelled to get there. In either case, you can safely consider your time an excellent investment that will pay off. In other words, you won’t be waiting for the sake of waiting. Block off a couple hours, enjoy the company of your dinner date(s), and enjoy the whole delicious experience.
1. The Inn at Little Washington (Washington)
The Inn at Little Washington is many things: innovative, timeless, and classic. Most of all, it turns any meal into a special occasion, whether you happen to be visiting for a birthday or anniversary, or simply a Saturday night dinner. The Inn at Little Washington has such a high reputation that food enthusiasts from Washington DC would love to claim it as part of their town. But make no mistake; the Inn is Virginian. Folks drive from near and far to experience the unparalleled menu, and some even choose to stay a night at the Inn's accommodations afterwards. Here we have the famous herb-crusted lamb carpaccio with caesar salad ice cream.
2. Mas Tapas (Charlottesville)
If you've read anything about the Charlottesville dining scene of late, you're no stranger to Mas Tapas. While it's true that many places don't always live up to their hype, you won't find this to be the case at Mas. It's a tricky spot to get into because of popularity, and even more so because this place doesn't take reservations. The plates are small, as you might have guessed by the restaurant's name, but also shareable if you decide to order a bunch. One of the more popular dishes are these succulent shrimp served over garlic aioli.
3. Food For Thought (Williamsburg)
Food For Thought is one of those spots that always seems to be busy, which can only mean one thing: the food is fantastic. This wholesome and hearty dish is known as "Cheese with Trees," a spin on mac & cheese that incorporates broccoli. It will pair wonderfully with a cup of their homemade cream mushroom and brie soup. If you're posed with a bit of a wait, you'll enjoy looking at the photographs of inventors, historians, and social leaders that decorate the walls. There will even be cards on the table to provoke thoughtful conversations.
4. Hank's Oyster Bar (Alexandria)
Located on the historic King Street, Hank's Oyster Bar is a famous stop for seafood lovers. One of the busiest times to try to get a spot at Hank's is during Oyster Happy Hour, when these tasty shells are served at a little over a dollar a piece. Most folks aren't put off by the wait, because they know exactly what to expect. Other popular menu items include the lobster rolls as well as some of the entree items, such as the red snapper shown above.
5. Doc Taylor's (Virginia Beach)
Doc Taylor's is a popular spot for brunch and breakfast, and you can expect there to be quite a wait on the weekends. If you're not sure what the restaurant looks like, you might just drive right by it. Folks in the Virginia Beach area flock here for the best breakfast treats in the area, including their famous sweet potato pecan pancakes or General Tuttle's French Toast. This spot also specializes in seafood and sandwiches after breakfast has been served.
6. The Black Sheep (Richmond)
The Black Sheep is a sandwich shop, but don't expect the ordinary here. The peak times are at lunch during the weekends, and even so, it's a worthwhile wait. If you order one of the subs known as the Battleship, you can rest assured that you'll have enough leftover for at least an additional meal (some of the subs are two feet long!) This tasty dish is called Green Eggs and Lamb.
7. The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm (Lovettsville)
Patowmack Farm has gained a grand reputation in the farm-to-table dining community, but this concept isn't new to this restaurant's menu. In fact, the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm is one of the first of its kind in the US. Both land and diner are nourished in the process that cultivates the finest ingredients from the farm (established in 1986) and prepares them in organic dishes. This heavenly take on spoonbread shows you just about everything you need to know. Because this spot has earned plenty of recognition, you'll want to make reservations as early in advance as possible.
8. Pupatella (Arlington)
Pupatella was featured in a PBS special about the best places to eat in the DC area (again, we can proudly claim the establishment because it's in Arlington). It comes as no surprise that people would be willing to wait for pizza this delicious. Diners can expect a wide array of pizza options, but most go with the classic Margherita. Pupatella also features a creative special of the week, which will surely not disappoint.
9. Bistro 1888 (South Boston)
South Boston may be a small town, but Bistro 1888 is a fine dining experience even in the big-city scale. As photographed above, the crab cakes entree with scallops is perhaps the most ordered menu item. And if those don't float you're boat, you'll have at least 23 other options to choose from. In 2008, Southern Living noted this restaurant as "A Dining Destination with the Standard of Elegance." Bistro 1888 is certainly on the map and it's a spot that people know and love. In other words, a reservation would serve you well for a busy weekend night.
10. The River and Rail (Roanoke)
This southern bistro in Roanoke prides itself on making just about everything from scratch with fresh and local ingredients. Therefore, you can expect the menus to change up daily. This fine attention to detail makes for a phenomenal dining experience and some of the best prepared southern dishes you could hope for. This banana pudding, as shown above, is one of the most-ordered dessert items. You'll want to make reservations as soon as possible to guarantee your table, especially on a weekend when there's sure to be a full house.
It’s often the case that with fine dining, the wait makes the meal even more delicious. It also helps to know that you definitely won’t be leaving any of these places hungry. Have you had the opportunity to dine at any of these restaurants? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience!