8 Reasons to Drive to Loudoun County

By Rina Rapuano | September 28, 2015 By Rina Rapuano  |  September 28, 2015
Photo by: Patowmack Farm

The rolling hills, beautiful farmland, countless vineyards and adorable Virginia towns that make up Loudoun County are reason enough to hop in the car and travel the hour or so it takes to reach this DC exurb — especially in fall, when trees are at the peak of autumnal glory. And while you're out there, we're guessing you just might get hungry. These delicious spots aren't the only reasons to visit that diverse county, mind you, but we think this list is a good place to start exploring what Loudoun has to offer. 

  • Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville

    At this off-the-beaten-path farm-to-table experience, chef Tarver King serves seasonal, organic dishes that are straight from the farm on which it sits — and every bit as stunning as the views. It's only open for dinner Thursday through Saturday, for brunch Saturdays and Sundays and for a monthly Sunday supper, so plan accordingly. 

    Insider Tip: Those Sunday suppers are a fixed-menu served family-style, and the offerings change each month. If you have dietary restrictions, stick to one of the regular menu nights and let the kitchen know ahead of time.

    42461 Lovettsville Rd., Lovettsville; 540-822-9017

  • Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg

    ​If you find yourself in Northern Virginia's version of horse country, make like the landed gentry and dine at one of two options at this resort. Chef Chris Edwards sources locally (and from the resort's garden) for the breakfast, dinner and brunch dishes served at Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill, and goes the small-plates route to pair with Virginia wines for lunch and dinner at Gold Cup Wine Bar.

    Insider Tip: Cooking enthusiasts can sign up for classes on topics like how to cook with apples and holiday pies.

    500 N. Pendleton St., Middleburg; 540-687-3600

  • Market Burger in Purcellville

    It's no mystery why we love this place: delicious burgers, fries and shakes made with local beef and organic, locally sourced ingredients. As usual, the care taken with the ingredients shines through in the final product. Try the Market Burger with cheddar, bacon and egg paired with a coffee malt shake.

    Insider Tip: If you like what you taste, try sister restaurant Market Table Bistro in Lovettsville and look out for a new Mexican restaurant in Leesburg that's expected to open next summer from the same owners.

    145 W. Main St., Purcellville; 540-751-1145

  • Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville

    ​Among the cute little antiques shops in Downtown Purcellville — and across the street from Market Burger — is a family-owned distillery that puts out reputable bottles of kosher and organic rye, gin and brandy. Take a tour and jump in on a tasting to see how those spirits get made and find their way into your city-slicker cocktails.

    Insider Tip: If you can't make it out to the distillery, no worries — it's coming to DC several times this fall for Whisky Wednesdays. Find the list of DC bars and restaurants hosting the free weekly tastings here

    120 W. Main St., Purcellville; 540-751-8404

  • The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg

    This tiny wine-centric dining room — which later branched out to open Wine Kitchen in Frederick, MD, and WK Hearth in Purcellville — was a near-instant hit when it opened in 2008. With more than 40 wines by the glass, this is a great place to taste your way through some of the grapes grown nearby. What lands on the plate also tends to be organic and local — and delicious. 

    Insider Tip: Live music can often be found here on Wednesdays and Sundays, and Tuesday nights bring $9 wine flights starting at 4 PM.

    7 S. King St., Leesburg; 703-777-9463

  • Photo by: Underabushel.com/R. Lopez

    Smokehouse Live in Leesburg

    This cavernous newcomer arrived on the scene in June, bringing live music, smoked meats, Southern sides and a weekly brunch buffet under the same roof. Pit-smoked options like pulled pork, brisket and buttermilk-soaked turkey breast are sold by the pound alongside deviled eggs, succotash and seven-cheese mac 'n' cheese. Country, bluegrass and Americana bands play Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

    Insider Tip: Because the BBQ spot aims to make everything fresh each day, have a Plan B in case your favorite smoked meat has sold out.

    1602 Village Market Blvd., Leesburg; 571-447-5483

  • Ford’s Fish Shack in Ashburn

    Locals love this seafood shack that brings a taste of New England to Virginia — think lobster rolls, whole Ipswich clams and whoopie pies. And because it's the 'burbs, prices are more reasonable than what you'll find in similar spots downtown. Saturday nights bring live music at both the Ashburn and South Riding locations. 

    Insider Tip: Here, you can supersize your lobster roll — which can be ordered with mayo or butter — to a foot-long.  

    44260 Ice Rink Plaza #101, Ashburn, 571-918-4092; 25031 Riding Plaza, Chantilly, 703-542-7520

  • Mokomandy in Sterling

    We've all heard of some pretty unlikely cuisine mashups over the past few years, but Korean-Cajun? Well, it seems to be working, since this restaurant has caught the attention of locals and food critics alike. Executive chef Daniel Wilcox Stevens deftly pulls off a menu that features ssam and jambalaya, chap che and étouffée.

    Insider Tip: The bar program is serious and on-trend, offering at least two housemade vermouths and nearly two dozen craft cocktails — some of which are originals and some that riff on classics — in addition to extensive beer and wine offerings.

    20789 Great Falls Plaza #176, Sterling; 571-313-0505

Places Mentioned

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The Wine Kitchen

American Leesburg
Food24 Decor23 Service23 Cost$44
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Ford's Fish Shack

Seafood Ashburn
Food24 Decor20 Service23 Cost$27
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Food- Decor- Service- CostE
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Smokehouse Live

Barbecue Leesburg
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