Breakfast might be considered by many to be the most important meal of the day, but on the weekends, brunch reigns supreme. Serving up hearty dishes that feature key breakfast ingredients like eggs and fresh fruit, great brunch spots are a key factor in getting out of bed at a reasonable hour for a lot of people. So which ones really stand out?
After our first article about brunch, we got a lot of suggestions for Virginia’s favorite brunch restaurants. Turns out, those commenters were absolutely right! There are probably dozens of fantastic places to eat for a weekend brunch in Virginia, but these fifteen places stick out to both locals and visitors alike with unique, delicious dishes and a cozy character that turns a meal into a culinary adventure.
Gillie’s has a warm and inviting atmosphere with a sort of entrancing charm that will make you feel at home. This brunch spot is a favorite for locals and can be a little busy, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. The chef at Gillie’s uses local ingredients to make an array of vegetarian dishes, but they do have some dishes that can have seafood optionally added. The restaurant makes their own fresh-squeezed juices in interesting blends, like the Carrot Apple Ginger juice. Great options for the main course are the Banana Walnut French Toast, the Bruschetta, and the Smoked Salmon Hash.
A Richmond landmark since 1935, Helen’s has stayed a community staple in an ever-changing city landscape. The interior will remind you of a sophisticated and romantic speakeasy, and the food is consistently fantastic without being pretentious. If you are looking for a taste of both local history and excellent brunch in Richmond, Helen’s is the place to go. Brunch is served both Saturday and Sunday, and some tasty options include the Virginia Benedict (made with Virginia BBQ Pork Belly!), the Low Country Shrimp & Grits, and the Chicken Biscuit Sandwich, but you really can’t go wrong at Helen’s.
The renovated industrial-style building, featuring lots of exposed brick and wood beams, gives Demolition Coffee in Petersburg an old-fashioned feel that makes you wonder if you just stepped back into the 1940s. Although they serve Richmond’s Lamplighter beans instead of roasting their own, the drinks are inventive, rich, and prepared with exceptional attention to detail. Another plus? The restaurant is dog-friendly if you are willing to sit on the patio outside. For food, get the Made-to-Order waffles (you can add a variety of toppings like strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips, apples, blueberries, and whipped cream), the Lox N’ Loaded, or try an old favorite with the Biscuits and Gravy.
Thornton River Grille—Sperryville
An elegant but casual atmosphere welcomes guests at the Thornton River Grille in Sperryville. Hand-planed wood panels line the walls, but you would feel at home whether you were wearing hiking boots or Sunday’s best. The restaurant serves up an American-style brunch, with classics like Eggs Benedict and Buttermilk Pancakes, and diners rave about the Breakfast Burrito. The meals are simple but well crafted, with brilliant presentation and hearty portions that ensure you don’t go home hungry.
Located in a beautiful countryside setting near the New River, The Palisades converted an old general store into a modern restaurant. Your experience begins even before you arrive at the restaurant with a drive to Eggleston through Giles County. The scenic area is surrounded by mountains and has a serene beauty that is not often found in today’s world. Inside the restaurant, aside from incredible food, you’ll experience a wonderfully simple ambiance created with the original tin ceilings, brick walls, and red oak floors.
The Inn & Garden Café—Onancock
This B&B serves up an award-winning brunch every Sunday. Start with a Bloody Mary, Bellini, or Mimosa. Can’t decide what to order? Try the Truffle Egg Martini, Egg Nog French Toast, or the Café Benedict with White Wine Hollandaise Sauce. These top notch meals will put you on the brunch version of Cloud 9. The one preparing these outstanding meals, Chef Victoria, has been working as a chef around the country for over 30 years and has even served Lady Bird Johnson.
Claire’s at the Depot—Warrenton
Claire’s at the Depot inhabits a former train station that has been renovated into a contemporary style restaurant. Grab a seat on the garden patio if the weather permits, but the atmosphere indoors provides a gorgeous backdrop even on the rainiest days. You’ll start your meal with a basket of complimentary Cranberry-Orange Scones, and from there the menu is your oyster (possibly even literally, the Cornmeal Crusted Chesapeake Oysters are fantastic). The Shrimp and Gouda Grits are an unexpected spin on a classic, and the She Crab Soup tastes like it came straight out of an authentic kitchen in Low Country.
Food.Bar.Food’s clean décor and mixed wood furniture evokes a feeling of both Swedish design and old-fashioned cabin interiors. The slogan at Food.Bar.Food is Global Comfort Food, and the menu more than lives up to this. Unique dishes like the Asian Chicken & Pancakes, Kaya Toast, and the Poutine Brunch Bowl takes you on a culinary tour around the world without ever leaving Virginia. And if you’re able, check out their Brunch Cocktails menu. They have seven spins on the Bloody Mary and unique cocktail drinks using ingredients like hibiscus syrup and lychee puree that create an unforgettable brunch experience.
Harvest Table Restaurant—Abingdon
When you think of the Harvest Table Restaurant in Abingdon, the first words that come to mind are fresh, local, and farm-to-table. This restaurant believes that their first priority is to invest in the well-being of their community, both literally through healthy meals and figuratively through their involvement with local movements. They have strong relationships with artisans, farmers, and suppliers in the region, and it definitely shows with the seasonal dishes they prepare. We suggest ordering the Biscuits & Gravy or the Crab Cake Benedict. For the vegetarians or veggie lovers, the Grilled Tea Marinated Tempeh will knock your socks off.
A brain-child of famous Virginia chef Sydney Meers, Stove is located in what is affectionately called “PoNo” by locals, Port Norfolk’s most historic area. While his food has been described as “Neo-Southern”, Meers’ dishes have been influenced by cuisine from all over the world; places like France, Germany, Sweden, Mississippi, Alabama….the list goes on and on. And forget about pre-packaged ingredients. Whenever possible, Meers utilizes ingredients sourced from local farmers and fishermen. He slow roasts his own pork belly and dry ages or cures many of his meats. While brunch only happens on the first Sunday of each month, it is well worth making reservations in advance. Consider trying the Border Springs Farm Lamb Meatloaf, the Deep South Shrimp and Smoochie Bear Ham Etouffee, or the Blueberry and Granny Smith Apple Pancakes. Don’t forget to top off the savory dishes with the house made D-Lish Sauce, which is also bottled so you can take some home if you fall in love with it (which you will).
If you are a fan of Eggs Benedict of any type, Citrus should definitely be on your radar. This Virginia Beach staple serves up seven variations of this classic dish, such as the Beach Benedict, made with healthy ingredients like avocado, tomato, and spinach, the Country Chicken Benedict, and the Smoked Salmon Benedict. Try the Soft Shell Crab Benedict when in season. Even visitors on a diet can find plenty to order at Citrus. They give you the option to substitute egg whites and turkey bacon or sausage to skip the extra calories, and even have recipes that have been created with the help of a nutritional balance and fitness expert in the area.
Charley’s Waterfront Café—Farmville
Charley’s Waterfront Café is located in the historic warehouse district of Farmville and overlooks the Appomattox River. Instead of a menu-style brunch, they opt for a Buffet style that allows you to pick and choose from a bevy of impressive options. There are the basics, like scrambled eggs, bacon & sausage, and biscuits & gravy, but also several custom areas like the omelet bar and the Belgian waffle station where you can create a made-to-order brunch experience. Stop by on Sundays from 11am-2pm to sample their yummy brunch buffet.
Located right inside the luxurious Keswick Hall and Golf Club, Fossett’s is an upscale brunch destination only 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville. As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted with an expansive view of the brand-new golf course, Full Cry, which was designed by famous golf course designer Pete Dye. The back wall is almost entirely glass, providing an uninterrupted look at one of the lushest golf courses in Virginia. But the scenery isn’t the only luxury touch at Fossett’s. Between the attentive service, the impeccable décor, and the inspired menu, every aspect of the brunch spot is meant to put you directly in the lap of luxury. The chef uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to keep the menu new and exciting. And a quick hint: don’t miss out on the bacon; the pieces are some of the thickest cut you can get without making a pork chop, and are smoked with Applewood and seasoned with a brown sugar glaze.
Rockafeller’s Restaurant—Virginia Beach
Rockafeller’s Restaurant uses locally sourced, high quality ingredients to go above and beyond in crafting delicious and interesting cuisine. A favorite spot for locals, the restaurant uses a selection of local vendors to get fish, oysters, crabs, vegetables, craft brews, and more. The Inlet Benedict, Shrimp and Grits, and Rock’s Monte Cristo are all excellent Brunch options at Rockafeller’s Restaurant. Fans of the restaurant also rave about the She-Crab Soup. To top it all off, your meal is complemented by the expansive ocean views seen from the restaurant’s position on the docks of Virginia Beach.
FoodE manages to balance informal and impressive, two descriptors that are typically at odds. When dining at this Fredericksburg brunch spot, try the Chicken & Waffle, which won the 2015 Culinary Challenge, the Bacon and Asparagus Frittata, or the Power Scramble. Chef Joy Crump highlights healthy ingredients, but manages to pull this off in her home-cooked Southern style cuisine (not an easy feat when traditional Southern food uses ingredients like real butter and full fat cream). The restaurant provides the informal feel with touches like the community table and the self-serve drink refill stations. Although it can be a hard balance to pull off, FoodE makes their blend of informal and fine dining seem effortless.
Any more brunch spots we should try out? Tell us where you like to spend your Saturday and Sunday mid-mornings!
© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |