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A fish dish at Vernick Food & Drink.
Photo: Vernick Food & Drink

24 Restaurants Worth a Day Trip Beyond D.C.

Dining destinations recommended by local chefs

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A fish dish at Vernick Food & Drink.
| Photo: Vernick Food & Drink

Earlier this year DMV chefs dished about the restaurants they race off to around town when in need of a restorative meal. This time around, local tastemakers share the list of places they’ll venture to outside the area for unforgettable dining experiences.

The wildly diverse destinations — from frozen custard stands to Michelin-starred restaurants — are all within a four-hour drive of the nation’s capital. Many are located in surrounding areas (think: Richmond, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland) that intrepid diners already flock to on a regular basis.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Kyirisan founder Tim Ma describes Cure chef Justin Severino as “a goofy mad genius.” The four-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee prepares dishes ranging from smoked pork rillette to squid ink pasta with lobster sauce.

Assorted dishes at Cure.
Photo: Cure

Superior Motors

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Ripple alum/Bresca founder Ryan Ratino admires everything about chef Kevin Sousa’s latest restaurant, Superior Motors. “What it’s doing/providing for the community in my opinion is eye-opening,” Ratino says of the revitalization-minded enterprise.

The dining area at Superior Motors.
Photo by Lauren B. / Yelp

Vernick Food & Drink

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Smoked & Stacked founder Marjorie Meek-Bradley proclaims Philadelphia as her “go-to town” for exploratory eating. Her current obsession: James Beard Award-winning Vernick, which she says “is doing some really cool stuff.”

A rustic fish dish at Vernick Food & Drink.
Photo: Vernick Food & Drink

Maketto founder Erik Bruner-Yang is interested in journeying to Vedge, the groundbreaking plant-based restaurant Eater’s roving critic Bill Addison has hailed for “taking vegan food to new heights.”

A smoked kohlrabi dish at Vedge.
Photo: Vedge

Hazel executive chef Rob Rubba is determined to spend some time at Top Chef winner Nick Elmi’s perpetually packed, tasting menu-centric restaurant. “He is cooking some very exciting food,” Rubba says.

Gnocchi with stinging nettles at Laurel.
Photo: Laurel

Artifact Coffee

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Maketto founder Erik Bruner-Yang maintains that no trip to Baltimore would be complete without “a small visit to Artifact Coffee.” The combination coffee bar/casual eatery is part of James Beard Award winner Spike Gjerde’s family of local restaurants.

The inside of Artifact Coffee in Baltimore.
Photo by Scott Suchman

Woodberry Kitchen

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Maketto founder Erik Bruner-Yang and Barcelona alum/aspiring restaurateur Adam Greenberg openly endorse James Beard Award winner Spike Gjerde’s flagship restaurant. A fan of the “amazing cocktails, hospitality, and food,” Greenberg also makes a case for carefully studying the environment there. “Such a great building. [I] could spend hours hanging out there,” he says.

The main dining area at Woodberry Kitchen.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Faidley Seafood

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James Beard Foundation Award-winning baker Mark Furstenberg says centuries-old Lexington Market harbors a true gem: Faidley Seafood. While he appreciates the “justly famous crab cake,” Furstenberg prefers to “stand as I have since childhood at the counter and eat raw oysters shucked in front of me.”

The Faidley Seafood stand inside Lexington Market.
Photo: Lexington Market

Attman’s Deli

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Columbia Room chef/Reverie founder John Spero suggests grabbing a bite at this century-old, New York-style delicatessen located on Charm City’s historic “Corned Beef Row.”

The deli counter at the original Attman’s in Baltimore.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Charleston

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One of James Beard Foundation Award-winning baker Mark Furstenberg’s dream dinners involves feasting on crab cakes and sweetbreads with foie gras at chef Cindy Wolf’s critically acclaimed waterfront restaurant.

Roast turbot at Charleston.
Photo: Charleston

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

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Maketto founder Erik Bruner-Yang and Columbia Room chef/Reverie founder John Spero both advocated for visiting this award-winning temple of seasonal dining. Artful tasting menus highlight hand-picked ingredients (“foraged” food is big here), as well as locally sourced proteins, and enchanting desserts.

An array of dishes at Patowmack Farm.
Photo by Alice W. / Yelp

Nick’s Fish House

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Barcelona alum/aspiring restaurateur Adam Greenberg says summer calls for “nice cold brews” and juicy crabs at this waterfront oasis. “It's as if my New England roots beg for seafood shacks,” he says.

Steamed crabs at Nick’s Fish House.
Photo: Nick’s Fish House

Cantler’s Riverside Inn

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Frankly Pizza founder Frank Linn says he and his wife routinely head to this iconic seafood restaurant for leisurely getaways. “We love the relaxed, laid back atmosphere and sitting outside by the water and having a dozen or so crabs.” Vin and Vic’s founder/Chez Le Commis creator Tom Madrecki seconds the recommendation.

Spiced crabs at Cantler’s Riverside Inn.
Photo: Cantler’s Riverside Inn

Vin 909

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Maple Ave executive chef Juste Zidelyte enjoys the “great value wines,” seasonally inspired menu, and outdoor seating at this homey, new American restaurant.

The main dining room at Vin 909.
Photo: Vin 909

Spelunker’s

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Vin and Vic’s founder/Chez Le Commis creator Tom Madrecki makes his way to this longstanding drive-thru, best known for its beefy “cavern” burgers, “for fries and custard after a long bike ride on Skyline Drive.”

Local burger and frozen custard stand, Spelunker’s.
Photo: Spelunker’s

Field & Main Restaurant

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Kyirisan founder Tim Ma is all about keeping it local. Which is why he’s partial to the regionally inspired, hearth-fired foods spun out by this new restaurant from Ashby Inn alum and Virginia wine aficionado Neal Wavra.

The open kitchen at Field & Main.
Photo by Bobby L. / Yelp

Po’ Boys Creole & Fresh Catch

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Maple Ave executive chef Juste Zidelyte travels to this beach favorite for “great seafood, gator specials, and a chef that's willing to spill the beans [about] why his kielbasa tastes so good.”

An oyster BLT at Po’ Boys Creole & Fresh Catch.
Photo: Po’ Boys Creole & Fresh Catch

The BBQ Joint

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Maple Ave executive chef Juste Zidelyte seeks out local pitmaster Andrew Evans, who previously operated a stall inside Union Market and had a short-lived, brick-and-mortar spot along the 14th Street corridor, for “killer smoked chicken.” The fine dining vet cum regular on the competitive barbecue circuit also prepares brisket, ribs, and pulled pork.

A family-style meal at The BBQ Joint.
Photo: The BBQ Joint

Inn at Little Washington

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Ripple alum/Bresca founder Ryan Ratino pegs the Michelin-starred Inn at Little Washington as one of the places on his short list. Chef Patrick O’Connell is planning an elaborate celebration next year for the world renowned restaurant’s 40th anniversary.

The chef’s table at the Inn at Little Washington.
Photo: Inn at Little Washington

The Shack

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Maketto founder Erik Bruner-Yang is intrigued by what Staunton Grocery alum Ian Boden is up to at this compact yet ambitious restaurant. The multi-course menu features dishes ranging from fried sugar toads in caramelized fish sauce to ribeye steak with ramp-laced grits.

A seasonal offering at The Shack.
Photo: The Shack

Merroir

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Columbia Room chef/Reverie founder John Spero singled out the self-described “tasting room” of Rappahannock Oyster Co.’s family of restaurants as a road trip-worthy destination. Expect plenty of raw bar offerings (think: oyster, clams, shrimp) as well as composed dishes (crab cakes, seared scallops, daily fish specials).

A platter of raw oysters at Merroir.
Photo: Merroir

Mamma Zu

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Vin and Vic’s founder/Chez Le Commis creator Tom Madrecki and Maple Ave executive chef Juste Zidelyte tout Mamma Zu as their pick for old school Italian. Zidelyte praises the “lively atmosphere, no frills (blunt) customer service” and the “‘self help’ wine shelf.”

Mamma Zu in Richmond, Virginia.
Photo by Thuy V. / Yelp

Sub Rosa Bakery

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Vin and Vic’s founder/Chez Le Commis creator Tom Madrecki says the baked goods coming out of Sub Rosa “are some of the best on the East Coast.” Bon Appetit and the James Beard Foundation would seem to agree.

Freshly baked bread at Sub Rosa Bakery.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que

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Hazel executive chef Rob Rubba admits to being obsessed with this nearly 50-year-old meat palace. “The smoke and pit-style cooking is where it's at. Plus the place is a total time warp,” he says.

Ribs at Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que.
Photo: Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que

Cure

Assorted dishes at Cure.
Photo: Cure

Kyirisan founder Tim Ma describes Cure chef Justin Severino as “a goofy mad genius.” The four-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee prepares dishes ranging from smoked pork rillette to squid ink pasta with lobster sauce.

Assorted dishes at Cure.
Photo: Cure

Superior Motors

The dining area at Superior Motors.
Photo by Lauren B. / Yelp

Ripple alum/Bresca founder Ryan Ratino admires everything about chef Kevin Sousa’s latest restaurant, Superior Motors. “What it’s doing/providing for the community in my opinion is eye-opening,” Ratino says of the revitalization-minded enterprise.

The dining area at Superior Motors.
Photo by Lauren B. / Yelp

Vernick Food & Drink

A rustic fish dish at Vernick Food & Drink.
Photo: Vernick Food & Drink

Smoked & Stacked founder Marjorie Meek-Bradley proclaims Philadelphia as her “go-to town” for exploratory eating. Her current obsession: James Beard Award-winning Vernick, which she says “is doing some really cool stuff.”

A rustic fish dish at Vernick Food & Drink.
Photo: Vernick Food & Drink

Vedge

A smoked kohlrabi dish at Vedge.
Photo: Vedge

Maketto founder Erik Bruner-Yang is interested in journeying to Vedge, the groundbreaking plant-based restaurant Eater’s roving critic Bill Addison has hailed for “taking vegan food to new heights.”

A smoked kohlrabi dish at Vedge.
Photo: Vedge

Laurel

Gnocchi with stinging nettles at Laurel.
Photo: Laurel

Hazel executive chef Rob Rubba is determined to spend some time at Top Chef winner Nick Elmi’s perpetually packed, tasting menu-centric restaurant. “He is cooking some very exciting food,” Rubba says.

Gnocchi with stinging nettles at Laurel.
Photo: Laurel

Artifact Coffee

The inside of Artifact Coffee in Baltimore.
Photo by Scott Suchman

Maketto founder Erik Bruner-Yang maintains that no trip to Baltimore would be complete without “a small visit to Artifact Coffee.” The combination coffee bar/casual eatery is part of James Beard Award winner Spike Gjerde’s family of local restaurants.

The inside of Artifact Coffee in Baltimore.
Photo by Scott Suchman

Woodberry Kitchen

The main dining area at Woodberry Kitchen.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Maketto founder Erik Bruner-Yang and Barcelona alum/aspiring restaurateur Adam Greenberg openly endorse James Beard Award winner Spike Gjerde’s flagship restaurant. A fan of the “amazing cocktails, hospitality, and food,” Greenberg also makes a case for carefully studying the environment there. “Such a great building. [I] could spend hours hanging out there,” he says.

The main dining area at Woodberry Kitchen.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Faidley Seafood

The Faidley Seafood stand inside Lexington Market.
Photo: Lexington Market

James Beard Foundation Award-winning baker Mark Furstenberg says centuries-old Lexington Market harbors a true gem: Faidley Seafood. While he appreciates the “justly famous crab cake,” Furstenberg prefers to “stand as I have since childhood at the counter and eat raw oysters shucked in front of me.”

The Faidley Seafood stand inside Lexington Market.
Photo: Lexington Market

Attman’s Deli

The deli counter at the original Attman’s in Baltimore.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Columbia Room chef/Reverie founder John Spero suggests grabbing a bite at this century-old, New York-style delicatessen located on Charm City’s historic “Corned Beef Row.”

The deli counter at the original Attman’s in Baltimore.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Charleston

Roast turbot at Charleston.
Photo: Charleston

One of James Beard Foundation Award-winning baker Mark Furstenberg’s dream dinners involves feasting on crab cakes and sweetbreads with foie gras at chef Cindy Wolf’s critically acclaimed waterfront restaurant.

Roast turbot at Charleston.
Photo: Charleston

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm