There’s no doubt about it: Virginia is a state that understands the art of the home cooked meal. It’s one of the cornerstones of our southern heritage, and one which we are always happy to share with family, friends, and visitors. Fortunately, for those of us who may be lacking in culinary instinct, there are restaurants in the neighborhood that satisfy our need for a home cooked meal. The following Mom & Pop restaurants are where you should go when that craving comes a-callin’.
1. Pop's Dogs & Ma's Burgers (Richmond)
The name says it all. This little gem pays homage to pre-fast food hamburgers and hot dogs. The inside has the feel of a retro diner and no flavor is spared on the menu. Locals often describe the spot as a little piece of heaven. You shouldn't worry about leaving this place hungry. This cheeseburger has two patties, bacon, and cheddar cheese ground right into the patty.
2. Bluegrass Grill & Bakery (Charlottesville)
This is one of the best spots in Charlottesville for a home cooked breakfast. That being said, you can expect this place to be pretty packed on the weekends. Rest assured that the wait will be well worth it. The atmosphere of Bluegrass Grill is relaxed and comfortable. It's a cash only kind of place, but the food rivals what you'd find in even the trendiest brunch spots. Featured above is a delicious spread known as the Duke.
3. Parthenon Restaurant (Fredericksburg)
The Parthenon Restaurant in Fredericksburg is the place to go for authentic Greek and Mediterranean food. Inside you'll find colorful murals and a lively wait staff. The same family has joyfully been running the Parthenon for years. With authentic ingredients and fresh feta, this place will beat out a chain restaurant any day. Some of the most popular entrees include the calzone and the chicken souvlaki.
4. Shelton's Big Grill (Virginia Beach)
Sometimes it's the most unassuming spots that pack the biggest punch. Take Shelton's Big Grill for example. This small dining space has proven to be one of the tastiest breakfast spots in the area. It's also an excellent spot for a quick lunch. With such a welcoming atmosphere, you might find yourself staying all afternoon. If you're visiting for the first time, you'll definitely want to try out the French Toast. Prices here will be kind on your wallet, too.
5. Table Talk Restaurant (Alexandria)
Sometimes all you need is a delicious sandwich. Table Talk restaurant is a cozy little spot in Alexandria that does just that. The service is consistently friendly and excellent, and the classic diner food is authentic. Located just outside of Old Town, Table Top is one of the most unassuming places in the area. This hidden gem even serves breakfast all day.
6. The Dirty Buffalo (Norfolk)
Looking for delicious wings at a reasonable price? Look no further than the Dirty Buffalo in Norfolk. This local establishment also happens to be a great hangout spot. For under $30, you can get 24 wings, a side of fries, and a pitcher of beer. If you're in a rush, you can call and place your order ahead on a busier night.
7. The Grill at Great Bridge (Chesapeake)
(Note: as of October 2020, The Grill is permanently closed). Don't let the outside fool you; the Grill at Great Bride is one of the tastiest spots in town. This Mom & Pop diner is locally owned by a friendly couple with a passion for home cooked meal. This is the place to get an incredible philly cheese stake. Just don't forget to save room for the delicious pies. The key lime pie, photographed above, is one of the most popular desserts in town.
8. Sal's (Williamsburg)
Sal's by Victor is the local pizza joint that you won't want to miss during your next trip to Williamsburg. The portions here are generous and shareable, so be sure to bring a big appetite and lots of friends. In addition to tasty pizzas, the menu has some classic pasta entrees to choose from.
9. Big Mike's Burger Shoppe (Petersburg)
This Petersburg burger shop hits three major homeruns: burgers, fries, and sweet tea. While these may seem like simple options, true Virginia diners know that these things shouldn't be taken lightly. Quality is important here, and quality is no small thing either. That's made apparent by the 1/2 lb bacon burgers which are the tastiest in town.
10. Neighborhood Italian Kitchen (Winchester)
(Note: as of October 2020, Neighborhood Italian Kitchen is permanently closed). With fresh mozzarella made right on site, it's hard to go wrong with any of the authentic cuisine offered at Winchester's Neighborhood Italian Kitchen. The owner and head chef, Frank, is known to customize pizzas with any of the fine ingredients that he happens to have on hand. This ensures that each experience at the Neighborhood Italian Kitchen is never a generic one. You won't want to miss the desserts, which are made fresh daily and could include cannoli or Tiramisu.
11. Log House 1776 Restaurant (Wytheville)
The Log Cabin is a great place to stop for a high quality, delicious meal served up in a cozy and charming environment. The vibe here is very tavern-like, complete with a gift shop section and a beautiful garden. Southern fare is the specialty, and you'll find all sorts of tastefully-fried options. Here we have the popular chicken pecan entree served with green beans and fried grits.
What are some of your favorite local Mom & Pop restaurants? We’d love to hear your thoughts!