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What's worth a drive?

I was going to call this thread "Destination Restaurants", but in most people's mind that limits things to a certain type of place - the ever-so-elegantly run-down mansion/farmhouse/converted mill in some picturesque spot that was once owned by some interesting historical personage whose family pictures are on the wall, but is now being run by a brilliant chef and his wife, and... well, you know the genre.

Yes, I'd like recs for those places, but I'd also like recs for the broader category - places or even food events that are simply worth a drive. It could be the ultimate crab shack or rib pit out in the boonies somewhere. It could be a wonderous annual fundraiser dinner from some church or fire department. It could be a normal restaurant in DC (or Frederick, or...) that's worth a drive from Baltimore because there is nothing comparable in Baltimore. Or maybe it's a place in Baltimore that's worth a drive from DC for the same reasons. Or maybe it's the sort of restaurant that "everybody should go to once - for the experience".

Whatever it is, if it's worth getting in the car, hitching a ride, hopping the train, pedalling your bike all day, or whatever it takes to get there, let's hear about it. Just to keep it in the scope of this board and keep the moderators in check, though, let's keep the boundaries as someplace you could get to, eat, and come back in one afternoon or evening without air or train travel, starting from Baltimore or DC. If it's an Inn, B&B, or swanky hotel, feel free to note that staying over is possible, but it still should be someplace that is close enough that one doesn't have to stay over.

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  1. The Railstop in The Plains, VA is quite nice for dinner. My husband and I discovered on a drive back from Skyline Dr out west.... http://www.railstoprestaurant.com/abo... - The ambience is great and we have never had a bad meal there.

    1. I think DC is better for "nice dinners" and places requiring a drive are not superior enough to justify the travel. You can find most any cuisine/ambience you're looking for without having to go outside the beltway.

      HOWEVER, for steamed crabs I always drive at least an 60-90 minutes - usually to the Drift Inn. Afterwards, I often get a pound or more (it freezes well) of Southern MD stuffed ham at McKAy's grocery store deli counter (which alone would be worth the drive). All of the crab joints in the immediate DC area are a pale imitaion at beat.

      1. sorry - "pale imitation at best"

          1. Big Al's Pit Beef off Pulaski Highway. Can't get pit beef in DC, period.

            1. We drove out from DC yesterday afternoon to La Fleur de Lis in Lovettsville, VA (far north Loudoun County just across the river from Brunswick, MD). It was worth the trip. The chef is a veteran of Auberge Chez Francois, and the food and service were in that tradition: tasty and generous renditions of old-line French/Continental fare. Eight of us ate well for a total of about $440. (To be fair that may be a bit misleading, as very little wine was ordered.) In any event, we had enjoyed this place the first time we went, in June 2005, and it was just as enjoyable yesterday afternoon.

              1. I would consider a drive across the bridge and dine at 208 Talbot Street in St. Michael's. We have had several memorable dinners there. Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Flint Hill VA has always been a destination spot for us also.

                1. L'Auberge Provencale in White Post, VA. The service was excellent (we went on a rainy night, someone appeared next to our car with an umbrella), food fantastic. We didn't stay there but would definitely consider it.

                  1. The Ashby Inn, Paris, VA (just outside of Upperville) and go early enough for lunch at The Hunter's Head Tavern (Upperville) - an authentic feeling and tasting english pub.

                    La Girasole (The Plains) - excellent and fresh Italian. IMO heads and tails better than the Rail Stop which has changed hands so many times and is only mediocre. Not a dining experience worth driving for.

                    208 Talbot in St. Michael's. It's changed hands recently and I'm told went through a slump for a few months, but is defintiely back up to par. Was there last month and was thoroughly impressed. If you can stay two nights in town, go to the Inn at Perry Cabin as well.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Meg

                      I didn't know the Rail Stop changed hands! So, Robert Duval doesn't own it anymore?

                      I'm so bummed. That is where my now husband and I went on our very first date six years ago! We will have to try La Girasole.

                      1. re: schoenick

                        nope, it's been a while since he has. our last visit 2 years ago was mediocre at best and way overpriced. so remember it as you knew it.

                        La Girasole is just around the corner near the train tracks, and has a much more congenial and down right gorgeous atmosphere with food to match. it reminds me of places we recently visited in italy. very worth a drive, particularly on a scenic fall day. so here's to new memories....

                    2. Heading east instead of west, the Inn at Easton is well worth the trip.