Dining spots in Virginia come in all shapes and sizes. But if you’ve lived here long enough, you know better than to judge a restaurant based on how it might look on the outside. So don’t be fooled by a tiny sized restaurant because chances are, the food there is outstanding. That seems to be the case with the following venues, where seating may be limited but is always worth the wait. If you can, you’ll want to reserve your spot so that you can bring a big appetite to these small restaurants.
1. The Shack (Staunton)
As its name might imply, the Shack in Staunton is a small and down-to-earth little gem. Most folks report that the food here is incredible, despite, and perhaps because of, the "no frills" atmosphere. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, visitors select from the a la carte menu. Fridays and Saturdays there is a prix fixe menu so that diners can savor more decadent courses.
2. Crozet Pizza (Crozet)
Crozet Pizza is a quintessential hole-in-the-wall spot that is a favorite among locals. This New York style pizzeria serves consistently delicious and freshly made pies along with mouth-watering garlic knots. The pizzas also pair deliciously with the selection of local and craft beer offered here. Pictured above is the popular Buddhist pizza.
3. Leaping Lizard Cafe (Virginia Beach)
The Leaping Lizard Cafe in Virginia Beach is a wholesome and happy bakery that serves up all the tasty goodies you'd expect. The interior is cozy and welcoming, making this the perfect spot to meet for breakfast or lunch. With its proximity to the ocean, this place has an incredible seafood selection as well. Photographed above is a classic favorite: chicken salad sandwich with potato salad. In the evening, this is also the spot where you can try some great specialty drinks, such as the blueberry basil mojito.
4. Corgans' Publick House (Harrisonburg)
Corgans' Publick House is a traditional Irish bar where the seating is limited and the appetizers are fantastic. Some crowd favorites include fish n' chips, artichoke dip, meatball sliders, and cottage pie. On some nights, you might even catch some live Irish music. Overall, this is a fantastic spot to meet up with friends and enjoy a cheerful happy hour with some great food and drinks.
5. Maple Ave Restaurant (Vienna)
This small and intimate restaurant charms customers with an innovative menu paired with a delightful atmosphere. This is the ideal spot for a memorable date night, and you'll definitely want to call ahead and make reservations because it's a popular spot in the area. One of the must-try items on the menu is the scallops served with coconut scallion risotto and basil ice cream.
6. The Red Hen (Lexington)
The Red Hen is perfectly-sized for the small town of Lexington. This is one of the first farm-to-table spots in the area, and the menu is high quality and very memorable for that reason. In a brick-red building, the atmosphere is equal parts rustic and charming. Some of the fantastic menu items include dishes with the likes of crispy smoked trout, duck, or dates cooked with bacon. Yum!
7. Texas Tavern (Roanoke)
Sometimes, all you need is a classic hamburger, without all those bells and whistles. This down-home American burger joint is just the place for that. The restaurant advertises to "seat 1000...10 at a time" in a way that is both humorous and pretty accurate. One of the most popular choices on the menu is the Cheesy Western -- a classic cheeseburger topped with a fried egg. This is a beloved dive-spot in the Roanoke area.
8. Earl's Sandwiches (Arlington)
The accommodations at Earl's Sandwiches may be small, but the portions are not. This little establishment will hit the spot if you're craving a terrific sandwich. There's a lot of hype for this place, and it's sure to live up to expectations. Whether you're on the lookout for a tasty breakfast sandwich or a heart roast beef sandwich, this place has got you covered. Photographed above is the Cuban club, with no shortage of meat.
9. Burger Bar (Bristol)
Since 1942, the Burger Bar has been a Bristol classic. The Burger Bar has gone through a few renovations since its earliest days, but its charm has remained alive and well. Legend has it that this is the last spot Hank Williams Sr. visited before he died. This friendly diner spot definitely serves up some of the tastiest burgers around as well as some memorable breakfast concoctions, as pictured above.
Which of these tiny but tantalizing restaurants have you visited? Do you know any more that should have made the list? Be sure to share with us!