Loudoun is a world-famous wine and beer destination, but we’re a burgeoning foodie destination too. With access to abundant seasonal ingredients, grass-fed meats and farmers markets, our chefs deliver a mouthwatering feast. Moreover, thanks to a dynamic and innovative immigrant population, we have scores of ethnic restaurants too - cuisine from Asia to Latin America and much in between. And after you’ve tried our dishes? Well, we have cocktails and craft distilleries to wow the most sophisticated of palates. Here are some highlights from Loudoun’s robust food and drink scene.
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm: Beverly Morton’s hillside destination restaurant with its daily-changing, nine-course Progression Menu helped pioneer farm-to-table in the 1990s. Sample dishes? Farm egg with sultanas and fennel; roasted rabbit with eggplant butter.
Market Table Bistro: Chef-owner Jason Lage partners with local growers, vintners and culinary artisans to offer “origin specific cuisine” at this Lovettsville landmark. The Goat Cheese Gnocchi comprises of two cheeses from nearby Georges Mill Farm.
The Wine Kitchen: This cozy King Street gem pairs local and world wines with sublime small plates created from regional produce, the farms and suppliers listed on the menu. Try a beef tenderloin with sautéed summer squash and eggplant Caponata with Walsh Family Wine’s 2020 Loudoun County Rose.
Magnolias at the Mill: This Purcellville icon in a converted grain mill sources its greens, roots, tomatoes, mushrooms and meats locally, but they also waive corkage fees if you bring in a local wine.
India: Udaipur-born Chef Deepak Sarin once helmed the leading Indian restaurant chain in London; at Bhai Sahab in Lansdowne, he delivers the authentic north Indian cuisine of his homeland, including a traditional Rajasthani “thali” every Thursday. This vegetarian mélange of sauces, curries, fritters, lentils and breads is served communally and eaten by hand.
Mexican: There’s no shortage of Mexican food in Loudoun. Senor Ramon Taqueria in Leesburg and Sterling is different: simple, street-style tacos using traditional family recipes and an astonishing array of ingredients. Try ‘The Patagonia’: carne asada (steak), shredded cheese, guac, chimichurri sauce, red pickled onions, cilantro and sour cream.
Middle Eastern: The Sahara is a desert in Africa but the food at opulent Sahara Restaurant Lounge in Sterling – grape leaves, falafel, tabouleh, chicken shawarma, succulent lamb kabob – is delectably Lebanese. Diners sit at low-slung lantern-lit tables and Arabic music fills the air.
Catch the Spirit
New distilleries and craft cideries are giving beer and wine a run for their money.
Flying Ace Distillery & Brewery on a farm near Lovettsville is the newest distillery on the Loudoun block. The cask-strength Blended Bourbon has hints of honey and spice and the White Dog three grain whiskey is made with heirloom corn farmed on the premises.
Becky and Scott Harris’ Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville produces hand-crafted brandy, gin and award-winning organic rye sold in bars from Malibu to Manhattan.
In Middleburg, Mt Defiance Cidery & Distillery is on a quest to bring back “lost spirits” – liquors that fell out of fashion in post-Prohibition America. They make a superb green absinthe, an 80% proof Apple Brandy as well as bourbon, white rum, tequila, amaretto and cassis.
As for cider, Henway Hard Cider Co in Bluemont mixes plums, cherries and strawberries into the apple foundation of some of its batches; Corcoran Cidery makes only gluten free cider at its Waterford location, while Wild Hare Cider, based in Middleburg and out of a cozy 1840s log cabin in downtown Leesburg, dry ages cider for a year.
A raft of stylish new bars and restaurants are driving a heady Loudoun cocktail scene.
At modish new Louisiana-style Bourbon Bayou Kitchen in Ashburn, beverage director Hadrian Harroo has curated a stellar bourbon list on top of making classic New Orleans cocktails such as The Sazerac. Musician and fine drinks maestro Richard Smith has made Nightshift, the cozy garret above Sidebar in downtown Leesburg, a Shangri La for cocktail purists. The menu changes regularly but ask for a Dead Rabbit: Night Shift Rum Blend, Carrot, Coconut and Lime. The wildly popular Sense of Thai at One Loudoun brings in the crowds as much for the drinks as the Thai food. Ask for a Daiquiri made with rum, fresh lime juice and sugar and served in a cocktail glass garnished with a lime wheel. Delicious. Over at Magnolias at the Mill, Loudoun Bartender of the Year contender Katharine Craytor enthralls regulars with perfect dry gin martinis and potent Old Fashioneds.