Chef Mark

Travelers today strive for unique experiences. They want something they can’t find where they live – whether it’s an attraction, event, retail shops, or accommodations. More and more, travelers are seeking unique dining as well. In essence, they are looking for destination restaurants - establishments that showcase local character, produce, and wine. The International Culinary Tourism Association defines a destination restaurant as “a restaurant that is so interesting, different or special that people travel just to eat there.”

We have just completed our latest round of selecting this year’s Loudoun Destination Restaurants. The results will be announced later this week. But first, we wanted to give you some background on the program and what it takes to achieve this honor.

The Loudoun Destination Restaurant Program was established in 2007 to identify and recognize those restaurants that meet the standard of what a destination restaurant should be. Restaurants are selected via a juried process. First, they are nominated for that recognition. The nomination form requires them to supply information according to specific criteria (the criteria are listed below). Secondly, a Loudoun tourism industry panel reviews the applications and scores them. Site visits are also an integral part of the selection process to supplement the committee's knowledge of the nominee with experience with at the actual establishment. They are required to meet a minimum total score in order to be named a Loudoun Destination Restaurant. The restaurants selected as Loudoun Destination Restaurants receive special recognition in all of the culinary marketing that Visit Loudoun implements.

So next time you’re looking for a unique, local, and quality dining experience in Northern Virginia, check out Loudoun’s Destination Restaurants.

The criteria restaurants need to meet to be named a Loudoun Destination Restaurant include:

  • Unique Experience – The establishment offers a unique experience, either through the food, the service, the interior design, the setting or ideally, all of the preceding.
  • Cultural/Authentic – The establishment has made an obvious attempt to create a culinary/cultural experience that educates as well as entertains. The authentic ethnicity of the operation is evidenced in various aspects of the dining experience – from the cuisine to the environment – and provides “nourishment” as well as sustenance.
  • Quality – The establishment has made an obvious commitment to ensure that the final product consistently meets exemplary standards. Responsible and appreciable cooking techniques are being utilized to ensure that the culinary component of the dining experience is of a uniformly excellent quality.
  • Locally Grown Products – Locally grown products play an integral part in the menu.
  • Local Favorite – The establishment has distinguished itself as a local favorite and also as a place of “character” in the community. Awards and accolades from the public count in this category.
  • Loudoun Wine - Bonus points were awarded to those establishments that serve Loudoun Wines, either by the bottle or glass.