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Pabu
Photo: Michaelmina.net

14 Stellar Dining Destinations Within 2 Hours of D.C.

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Pabu
| Photo: Michaelmina.net

Late summer/early fall is arguably the best time for weekend road trips in the D.C. area. The weather is cooling off, the leaves are changing and there are plenty of restaurant options within a two hour radius. So Eater decided it was time to create an updated version of last year's guide to stellar dining destinations just outside of the D.C. area. These restaurants are all worth pairing with a leisurely drive.
—Jamie Liu and Missy Frederick

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

The Ashby Inn & Restaurant (1 Hour)

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Located near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ashby Inn gives you a chance to enjoy a special meal with a view of the mountains from the patio. Former chef Tarver King was known for blending modern techniques (read: molecular gastronomy) with local foods. Now, diners will see what new chef David Dunlap has in store for the restaurant — he starts in the gig this month. One thing that will remain the same: a stellar wine list featuring Virginia wineries.

Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue (2 Hours)

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Buz Grossberg traveled around learning how to cook barbecue in some of the country's best known barbecue cities — Lexington, NC; Memphis, TN; and Houston and Dallas, TX. Eventually he settled in Richmond, serving up barbecue. Many prefer the smoky baby back ribs over the pulled pork. Be sure to get the sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon sugar. The restaurant now has two locations.

Inn at Little Washington (1 Hour, 30 Min)

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Self-taught chef Patrick O'Connell started The Inn at Little Washington over 30 years ago, and became one of the local pioneers of the farm-to-table. This is the place for a blowout meal that can include signature dishes like black truffle pizza with fontina cheese and Virginia country ham. And if you are exhausted after one of the extensive tasting menus, you can opt to reserve a room at the Inn for an overnight stay and enjoy O'Connell's famous granola.

Jimmy Cantler's Riverside Inn (55 Minutes)

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While DC has a few crab shacks where you can enjoy the bounty of the Chesapeake, none of them replicate the crab house experience you get along the Bay. The most popular of them is Cantler's in Annapolis, adjoining the water. Enjoy large crabs dusted with J.O. Spice - a more coarse-textured take on the Old Bay spice blend. And if your fingers get tired, enjoy pizza and barbecued ribs.

Lexington Market (1 Hour)

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It's a little run down, but the sum of eateries and market stands at Lexington Market make it worth the journey. Your first stop should be Faidley's for some of Baltimore's best crab cakes and lake trout sandwiches. If you're still hungry, try one of the fried chicken stands or a pile of Western fries. But make sure to save room for dessert at Debaufre Bakery, for fresh Berger cookies — soft vanilla cookies with an equal volume of fudge icing.

Peter Chang's China Cafe (1 Hour)

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Szechuan aficionados have long tracked the career of chef Peter Chang. His cooking and devotees ended up landing him a profile by Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker. Theformer Chinese Embassy chef had a loyal following during his stints in various northern Virginia kitchens. The chef now has restaurants in such places as Richmond, Williamsburg and Charlottsville, as well as this Fredericksburg location, the closest to D.C. Szechuan lovers can try favorites like scallion bubble pancakes, wontons, cumin beef, and pork ribs.

Volt (1 Hour)

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Volt's biggest claim to fame is for Chef Bryan Voltaggio's stint on Top Chef. The avante garde restaurant has been charming Frederick diners for years, whether by its ambitious, exquisite tasting menus or its more relaxed brunch offerings.

Woodberry Kitchen (1 Hour)

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Dedication to local foods is just one aspect of Chef Spike Gjerde's Woodberry Kitchen that makes it so appealing. He's so intent on keeping it local that you will find the walls are lined with numerous jars of his latest pickles and preserves to help stretch summer's flavors year round. But be sure to start with a selection of Chesapeake oysters and a few of the small snacks.

Rappahannock Restaurant (1 Hour, 45 Minutes)

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D.C. audiences have already gotten a taste of what the Rappahanock River Oysters team can do at their raw bar within Union Market. For more of an elaborate experience, drive to Richmond and visit Rappahanock, a farm-to-table restaurant with craft cocktails and plenty of oysters.

The BBQ Joint (1 Hour, 20 Minutes)

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The talented Andres Evans gets the opportunity to showcase serious barbecue in a casual setting at The BBQ Joint. The restaurant prides itself on the quality of its meat, which is antibiotic-free.

The Wine Kitchen (45 Minutes)

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Naturally, wine is a focus at this cozy bar in downtown Leesburg. But the restaurant also serves up sophisticated fare such as soft shell crabs and charcuterie to go with the sips. The restaurant has added locations in Frederick and Purcellville as well (the latter is called WK Hearth).

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

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The Restaurant at Pawtomack Farm has always been known for its seasonal bent and picturesque setting. They now have another coup — the addition of Ashby Inn chef Tarver King to their roster this month.

Family Meal (1 Hour)

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Bryan Voltaggio fans can enjoy his food in a more casual setting at Family Meal, the converted-car-dealership-turned diner. Family Meal is great for kids, and offers festive diner fare, including killer onion rings, one of the area's most praised fried chicken dishes and pimento cheese.

Pabu (1 Hour)

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One of two acclaimed restaurants within Baltimore's Four Seasons hotel (Michael Mina's Wit & Wisdom is also excellent), Pabu shines at Japanese food, including some of the region's best sushi. Robata grilled items and traditional dishes like savory egg custard round out the menu.

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The Ashby Inn & Restaurant (1 Hour)

Located near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ashby Inn gives you a chance to enjoy a special meal with a view of the mountains from the patio. Former chef Tarver King was known for blending modern techniques (read: molecular gastronomy) with local foods. Now, diners will see what new chef David Dunlap has in store for the restaurant — he starts in the gig this month. One thing that will remain the same: a stellar wine list featuring Virginia wineries.

Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue (2 Hours)

Buz Grossberg traveled around learning how to cook barbecue in some of the country's best known barbecue cities — Lexington, NC; Memphis, TN; and Houston and Dallas, TX. Eventually he settled in Richmond, serving up barbecue. Many prefer the smoky baby back ribs over the pulled pork. Be sure to get the sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon sugar. The restaurant now has two locations.

Inn at Little Washington (1 Hour, 30 Min)

Self-taught chef Patrick O'Connell started The Inn at Little Washington over 30 years ago, and became one of the local pioneers of the farm-to-table. This is the place for a blowout meal that can include signature dishes like black truffle pizza with fontina cheese and Virginia country ham. And if you are exhausted after one of the extensive tasting menus, you can opt to reserve a room at the Inn for an overnight stay and enjoy O'Connell's famous granola.

Jimmy Cantler's Riverside Inn (55 Minutes)

While DC has a few crab shacks where you can enjoy the bounty of the Chesapeake, none of them replicate the crab house experience you get along the Bay. The most popular of them is Cantler's in Annapolis, adjoining the water. Enjoy large crabs dusted with J.O. Spice - a more coarse-textured take on the Old Bay spice blend. And if your fingers get tired, enjoy pizza and barbecued ribs.

Lexington Market (1 Hour)

It's a little run down, but the sum of eateries and market stands at Lexington Market make it worth the journey. Your first stop should be Faidley's for some of Baltimore's best crab cakes and lake trout sandwiches. If you're still hungry, try one of the fried chicken stands or a pile of Western fries. But make sure to save room for dessert at Debaufre Bakery, for fresh Berger cookies — soft vanilla cookies with an equal volume of fudge icing.

Peter Chang's China Cafe (1 Hour)

Szechuan aficionados have long tracked the career of chef Peter Chang. His cooking and devotees ended up landing him a profile by Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker. Theformer Chinese Embassy chef had a loyal following during his stints in various northern Virginia kitchens. The chef now has restaurants in such places as Richmond, Williamsburg and Charlottsville, as well as this Fredericksburg location, the closest to D.C. Szechuan lovers can try favorites like scallion bubble pancakes, wontons, cumin beef, and pork ribs.

Volt (1 Hour)

Volt's biggest claim to fame is for Chef Bryan Voltaggio's stint on Top Chef. The avante garde restaurant has been charming Frederick diners for years, whether by its ambitious, exquisite tasting menus or its more relaxed brunch offerings.

Woodberry Kitchen (1 Hour)

Dedication to local foods is just one aspect of Chef Spike Gjerde's Woodberry Kitchen that makes it so appealing. He's so intent on keeping it local that you will find the walls are lined with numerous jars of his latest pickles and preserves to help stretch summer's flavors year round. But be sure to start with a selection of Chesapeake oysters and a few of the small snacks.

Rappahannock Restaurant (1 Hour, 45 Minutes)

D.C. audiences have already gotten a taste of what the Rappahanock River Oysters team can do at their raw bar within Union Market. For more of an elaborate experience, drive to Richmond and visit Rappahanock, a farm-to-table restaurant with craft cocktails and plenty of oysters.

The BBQ Joint (1 Hour, 20 Minutes)

The talented Andres Evans gets the opportunity to showcase serious barbecue in a casual setting at The BBQ Joint. The restaurant prides itself on the quality of its meat, which is antibiotic-free.

The Wine Kitchen (45 Minutes)

Naturally, wine is a focus at this cozy bar in downtown Leesburg. But the restaurant also serves up sophisticated fare such as soft shell crabs and charcuterie to go with the sips. The restaurant has added locations in Frederick and Purcellville as well (the latter is called WK Hearth).

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

The Restaurant at Pawtomack Farm has always been known for its seasonal bent and picturesque setting. They now have another coup — the addition of Ashby Inn chef Tarver King to their roster this month.

Family Meal (1 Hour)

Bryan Voltaggio fans can enjoy his food in a more casual setting at Family Meal, the converted-car-dealership-turned diner. Family Meal is great for kids, and offers festive diner fare, including killer onion rings, one of the area's most praised fried chicken dishes and pimento cheese.

Pabu (1 Hour)

One of two acclaimed restaurants within Baltimore's Four Seasons hotel (Michael Mina's Wit & Wisdom is also excellent), Pabu shines at Japanese food, including some of the region's best sushi. Robata grilled items and traditional dishes like savory egg custard round out the menu.

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