The 2016 Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge Champions


In case you missed it, restaurants around Virginia spent the past five weeks competing in five separate categories for the honor of being named a Culinary Challenge Champion in Virginia. The categories are as follows:

  1. Small Bites
  2. Burgers & BBQ
  3. Fresh Catch: Oysters & Seafood
  4. Bakeries & Desserts
  5. Eat Like a Local

Fans nominated restaurants back in February on our blog and social media. Then, the finalists faced off each week and fans could vote for their favorite places. Here are the winners of each round for the 2016 Culinary Challenge!




kybecca – Fredericksburg

Kybecca is a craft bar and restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg that sources many of its ingredients locally, valuing the plethora of fresh produce that Virginia has to offer by highlighting these items both in the kitchen and behind the bar. The craft cocktails feature originals and the bartenders are well trained to make drinks to your taste. Juices are fresh squeezed and syrups and other cocktail ingredients are all made in house. Guests are encouraged to share, explore, and most importantly, have fun. Some of the menu items that stand out in the small bites category: the House Smoked Duck, Pimento Fritters, and Lobster Spring Rolls.



As narrowing down this category into a reasonable number is difficult, we split the burgers and barbecue voting up and announced separate winners for this round.

NN Burger

Burger Winner: NN Burger—Tappahannock & Kilmarnock  
With locations in Tappahannock and Kilmarnock, NN Burger is a new Virginia-born Gourmet Burger and Craft Beer restaurant specializing in fresh locally-sourced ingredients. They prepare each hand-crafted, artisan burger in a unique two-step process. First, they place each Burger on a 700 degree wood-burning grill to infuse a delicious smoky flavor – then apply a seasoning blend made from traditional Virginia herbs. Next, each Burger is transferred to a second super-hot flat top grill to quickly seal in the juices and finish the cooking process. NN Burger has been voted “Best Burger” in the annual Virginia Living Magazine Reader’s Poll.


Wolfes BBQ

Barbecue Winner: Wolfe’s BBQ—Marion

Wolfe’s BBQ is locally owned and operated by Brett and Jill Wolfe, who both grew up in Marion. Being raised in Southwest Virginia taught them both the importance of great food and southern hospitality. Providing quality food with distinct flavors, excellent customer service, and an inviting atmosphere for families and friends to meet is the mission at Wolfe’s BBQ. They proudly smoke all their meats in-house, creating a barbecue that consistently brings customers back for more.



white dog bistroWhite Dog Bistro—Mathews

Located in Mathews, the White Dog Bistro operates in an 1840’s Georgian Mason. This historic restaurant is on both the Virginia and National historic registries, and the property holds a fine dining restaurant, two bars, two dining rooms and a wedding event center. Order a few of their locally-sourced seafood options, like the White Dog Puppies, Clams Manchego, or Chesapeake Blue-Cat. Reliably appetizing and reasonably priced dinner options abound on the White Dog Bistro’s menu.



family bakery

The Family Bakery—Gate City

This small family owned and operated bakery is located in a beautifully restored century old building in historic downtown Gate City. They pride themselves in serving traditional home baked sweets as well as delicious seasonal specialties highlighting regional flavors. The selection changes daily, infusing local and seasonal flavors into their delectable desserts.




Two Drummers Smokehouse—Toano

Two Drummers Smokehouse provides great food, service, and atmosphere at a reasonable price. They take pride in their barbecue, serving up pulled pork, ribs, and brisket, along with other Southern favorites like catfish, meatloaf, and Brunswick stew.



We thank the restaurants and fans for participating, voting, and sharing their opinions in the Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge. Until next year!

© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |

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Patricia Keppel

We are FUN! We are RVA! We support local business and charities! Life is good!