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SF Hound wants VA/Southern Regional Food BESTS

San Francisco Chowhound on late October week business trip to Richmond, driving from Dulles to Richmond Omni (2 nights only), then up to Charlottesville and around back to Dulles. What are the Best Bets for special VA/Southern Regional dining on the roads to/from Richmond? We'd love to find thosetowns with dining spots to try all the local favorites...but not sure what or where? Also, appreciate any tips on super nice inns on the roads (NO, not Inn at Little Washington--way too rich for us!) that are special--we appreciate the info. THANKS!!

1000 Omni Blvd, Newport News, VA 23606

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  1. Near Charlottesville, go to Blue Mountain Brewery. Good beer, good food, and an awesome view of Afton Mountain from the front porch. There are many good wineries in that area to visit as well. They'll be easy to find with an internet search of VA wineries.

    For a down-home VA country breakfast, go to the Basic City Luncheonette in Waynesboro, VA. It is just over Afton Mountain from Charlottesville. Actually, the exit is on top of Afton Mountain on I-64. It is one of those hole-in-the-wall local places that are great to find. Check their hours of operation; I doubt that they are open on a Sunday.

    Basic City Luncheonette
    408 N Commerce Ave, Waynesboro, VA 22980

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodjack

      Thanks for BCL reco...we are lovers of great (and unusual/regional) breakfasts, can't wait! Also hope to run into Hush Puppies and VA Ham along the way.,,

    2. Get off I 95 at Exit 130 B and go E on Highway 3 to Jefferson Davis Highway # 1. Take a left and go N to Allman's BBQ in front of Park and Shop shopping center. You will find good BBQ since 1954.

      Allman's BBQ @ 1299 Jeff Davis Highway, Fredericksburg, VA‎ 540 - 373 - 9881.

      A few miles N of Richmond, VA get of I 95 at Exit 92 and go E on E Patrick Henry Road or Highway 54. Go 1.4 miles to N Center Street and turn right. Go .1 mile to Henry Clay Road and turn left. Then Immediately turn left on N Railroad Ave and go .1 mile to Henry Clay Inn for the night. They have fourteen rooms that run $95.00/$195.00 per night. You can walk S on Railroad to the next block for outstanding lunch or dinner at Iron Horse Restaurant.

      Henry Clay Inn @ 114 North Railroad Avenue, Ashland, Virginia 804 - 798 - 3100.
      Iron Horse Restaurant @ 100 S Railroad Avenue, Ashland, Virginia 804 - 752 - 6410.

      Take Exit 129 off I 64 E of Charlottesville, VA and go S on Black Cat Road .6 mile to Highway 250. Take a right and go 3.4 miles to Clifton Inn for fine dining and a nice soft bed for the night. Clifton Inn is about 6 miles E of downtown Charlottesville, VA.

      Clifton Inn @ 1296 Clifton Inn Drive, Charlottesville, VA 434 - 971 - 1800.

      A few mile W of Clifton at Exit 124 on I 64 is Keswick Hall which is a step up but the rooms are nice and the restaurant serves outstanding food.

      Keswick Hall @ 701 Club Drive, Keswick, VA 434 - 979 - 3440.

      In Charlottesville, VA Blue Grass serves a great breakfast. C & O is outstanding fine dining for dinner and Down Town Grill serves good lunch and dinner.

      Bluegrass Grill and Bakery @ 313 2nd St. SE, Charlottesville, VA 434 - 295 - 9700.
      C & O Restaurant @ 515 E Water St., Charlottesville, VA 434 - 971 - 7044.
      Downtown Grille @ 201 West Main St., Charlottesville, VA 434 - 817 - 7080.

      1. What's your route from Charlottesville, VA to DC. Are you going W on I 64 to I 81 and then N on I 81 to I 66 and DC. Are you going this route or through the "country" on Highway 29.

        There are some fine places to stop along I 64 and I 81 from Staunton, VA North.

        18 Replies
        1. re: Littleman

          Appreciate the tips, sure we'll use most. We have one nighters bookended around Richmond at both Keswick Hall and Clifton (unfortunately with weddings and UVA games, couldn't do more restful longer stays at either), and still trying to decide between another one nighter at either Boars Head Inn ---doesn't sound like a food haven, or Red Fox Inn--not sure if their tavern is worth trip, to finish up our week. Will check out your Henry Clay BB idea too.

          We so look forward to checking out your restaurant recos, esp. BarBQue!
          Thank you! Will report back on these and any other finds.

          We are trying to loop from Dulles around to Charlottesville, then to Richmond, then back to Dulles...so likely will do both 81 and 64, so would love to hear your ideas for stops. We usually go direct from Dulles to DC for biz, so this is new area for us to explore, so sounds like 29 is the option for a country road...which I'm sure we will meander over to at some point...again, we are just rolling, eating, enjoying around the couple of days we must be in Richmond. So glad for your responses, so we don't miss any must do/s!

          1. re: SFfoodster

            If you take the "country" route on Highway 29 here are some Culpepper, VA recommendations. The Suites at 249 is an outstanding B&B in Culpepper, VA. Rates are about $200.00 per night. The rooms are handsomely decorated and very comfortable. Foti's and Hazel River Inn are both outstanding for lunch or dinner. Hazel River Inn is a nice B&B also with rooms about $100.00 per night. Their restaurant is very nice. The Stable is a nice joint with good sandwiches, burgers and BBQ. It's About Thyme owns a small inn also. The restaurant is casual fine dining in a great atmosphere for lunch or dinner. They also have a market to order food to go. Foti's a a nice casual fine dining restaurant for lunch or dinner.

            Foti's Restaurant @ 219 East Davis St., Culpeper, VA 540 - 829 - 8400.
            Hazel River Inn Restaurant @ 195 East Davis St., Culpeper, VA 540 - 825 - 7148.
            It's About Thyme @ 128 East Davis St., Culpeper, VA 540 - 825 - 4264.
            Suite's at 249 @ 249 East Davis Street, Culpeper, VA 540 - 827 - 1100.
            The Stable @ 129 East Culpeper St., Culpeper, VA 540 - 727 - 2007.

            Hazel River Inn Restaurant
            195 E Davis St, Culpeper, VA 22701

            It's About Thyme
            128 E Davis St, Culpeper, VA 22701

            Foti's Restaurant
            219 E Davis St Ste 110, Culpeper, VA 22701

            1. re: SFfoodster

              Spelunker's Drive In is a good burger joint on I 66 in Front Royal, VA if you travel W from DC to I 81. If you have a few minutes to spare when you reach I 81 N of Strasburg, VA go 10 miles N on I 81 to Exit 307 in Stephens City, VA and try the buffet at Butcher Block BBQ. Down I 81 a few miles S at New Market is Southern Kitchen serving outstanding country food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Exit 264. Harrisonburg has quite a few fine road food places convenient to I 81. I suggest you consider Jess' Quick Lunch or Little Grill at Exit 247. The Village Inn is very nice also at Exit 240. Staunton is just W of I 81 and a very nice town also. It's home to Mrs. Rowe's country food breakfast, lunch and dinner and Wright's Dairy Rite.

              Spelunker's Drive In @ 116 South St., Front Royal, VA 540 - 631 - 0300.

              Butcher Block BBQ @ 131 Town Run Lane, Stephens City, VA 540 - 869 - 4141.

              Southern Kitchen @ 9576 South Congress St., New Market, VA 540 - 740 - 3514.

              Jess' Quick Lunch @ 22 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 434 - 8282.
              Little Grill @ 621 North Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 3594.
              The Village Inn @ 4979 South Valley Pike - S Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 7355.

              Mrs. Rowe's Family Restaurant @ 74 Rowe Rd., Staunton, VA 540 - 886 - 1833.
              Wright's Dairy Rite @ 346 Greenville Ave., Staunton, VA 540 - 886 - 0435.

              Food Jack mentioned BCL in Waynesboro, VA. South River Restaurant and Wine Shop in Waynesboro is also a great place to stop for lunch or dinner.

              Basic City Luncheonette 2 408 N Commerce Avenue, Waynesboro, VA 540 - 932 - 1790.
              South River Restaurant and Wine Shop @ 23 Windigrove Dr., Waynesboro, VA 540 - 942 - 5567.

              Basic City Luncheonette
              408 N Commerce Ave, Waynesboro, VA 22980

              Wright's Dairy Rite
              346 Greenville Ave, Staunton, VA 24401

              1. re: Littleman

                Wrights Dairy Rite had the best onion rings ever. Get them if you go.

                1. re: Littleman

                  beg to differ on the ones I have experienced here--Butcher's Block is totally pedestrian; Spelunker's? Not sure I have ever heard that one recommended, but the others in Staunton Harrisonburg areas are okay, but an awful long detour. Bluegrass in C-Ville is excellent by Virginia standards, but don't know that it will impress a SanFranciscan. L'auberge is not cheap, and I think you can do better for less. Some good ethnic Latino and Indian restaurants around Dulles area; breakfast is generally not a good Dulles area meal.

                  Where is Red Fox Inn?--if the one in Middleburg, it is very poor value for money.

                  1. re: justicat

                    Justicat......you must be confused about Butcher Block BBQ. It's located at Exit 307 a few minutes from I 81 and has a large dining room for their huge BBQ buffet. You must be talking about a different place. Spelunker's is a drive in burger joint for fast food on the go. It's located at Exit 6 of I 64 in downtown Front Royal. They do have inside dining also.

                    Butcher Block
                    PO Box 103, Beaver, WV 25813

                2. re: SFfoodster

                  The best BBQ in Richmond, VA is Buzz and Ned's. Benny's, Grand Pa Eddie's and Hank's have outstanding BBQ also.

                  Buzz and Ned's Real BBQ @ 1119 N. Blvd., Richmond, VA. 804 - 355 - 6055.
                  Benny's BBQ @ 2919 Hathaway Rd., Richmond, VA. 804 - 320 - 7447.
                  Grand Pa Eddie's BBQ @ 11129 Three Chopt. Rd., Richmond, VA. 804 - 270 - 7427.
                  Hank's Pit Cooked BBQ @ 4810 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Richmond, VA 804 - 275 - 8605.

                  Back over on I 81 at Harrisonburg, VA go to Cally's Restaurant and Brewing Co. for good BBQ and cold drinks. BBQ Ranch and Smoking Pig have oustanding BBQ also. Smoking Pig sells BBQ to go but they have some outdoor tables if you prefer to dine there. Just S of Harrisonburg, VA is good BBQ at Exit 240 at Hank's BBQ in Dayton, VA.

                  Cally's Restaurant and Brewing Co. @ 41 A Court Square, Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 8777.
                  BBQ Ranch @ 3311 N Valley Pike, Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 3296. I81/EXIT251.
                  Smoking Pig @ 56 East Wolfe St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 433 - 3917.
                  Hank's BBQ @ 3105 John Wayland Hwy., Dayton, VA 540 - 879 - 9682.

                  Benny's BBQ
                  2919 Hathaway Rd, Richmond, VA 23225

                  1. re: Littleman

                    This should keep us smiling (and full of great local fare) all the days of our adventure! Can not thank you enough....

                    1. re: Littleman

                      I'm telling you that seeing menus with breakfast items for $3-5 and desserts $2.50-4 is bringing tears to my eyes!! I can not even remember when prices like these existed in San Francisco/California....Got Bles VA!

                    2. re: SFfoodster

                      From Dulles, 66 to 29 is actually the most direct route to Charlottesville. Clifton Inn is beautiful and has great food. Keswick is fancier and their restaurant, Fosset's gets good reviews. Boar's Head is a nice Inn, but there are better dining options in town.

                      1. re: mojoeater

                        Don't eat the Boar's Head Inn, totally overrated. I also think there are nicer options for staying, Clifton Inn or Keswick Hall. I was kind of unimpressed with Boar's Head on a semi-recent stay. It's kind of old and blah.

                        1. re: princsoreo

                          Princsoreo....what are the nicer options. I have friends that live near Charlottesville and I would like to know the nicer options than Keswick or Clifton Inn. Thanks.

                          1. re: princsoreo

                            We got into Keswick for one night (looks like weddings and UVA have it rest of time), which looks wonderful, tho pricey. Looking forward to teatime and the highly rated Villa Crawford.

                            Funny thing, I called Clifton Inn to inquire about the different rooms and NEVER GOT ANYONE TO ANSWER THE PHONE ALL DAY for one entire day!! That really disturbed me..I mean what was going on there? Anyway, we booked into Boars Head, then I read the terrible room reviews on Trip Advisor and ended up calling their manager to ask what the deal was...I don't want to waste time going from one "musty room" to another...they said they did need major renovation, it was planned for next year--but that they would get me great room. still debating and may rethink that one, but not many available options other than chain hotels...

                            Appreciate all the sage wisdom and ideas from everyone!

                            1. re: SFfoodster

                              If I were visiting Charlottesville and didn't want to stay at a chain hotel, one place I'd look at is 200 South Street Inn. http://www.southstreetinn.com/

                              It's an historic building right downtown and you can walk to many nice restaurants, including C&O, Zocalo, Bizou, Eppie's, Bluegrass Grill, etc.

                              119 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902

                              201 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902

                            2. re: princsoreo

                              I meant that I have heard the Clifton Inn and Keswick Hall are nicer than Boar's Head. We stayed at Boar's Head a year or two ago. Our first room was small, old, musty and overlooked the roof of another buildling. We complained and they moved us to a cabin-ish thing that had a pretty view of a lake. It was better, but still more on the old, blah (not even old and cute/nice) side of things.

                              Along with Clifton Inn and Keswick Hall, I've heard good things about Arcardy, a b&b that offers packages that include limo wine tours,

                        2. re: Littleman

                          Is Mrs. Rowley's worth a stop or is it overrated?

                          1. re: SFfoodster

                            If you are asking about Mrs. Rowe's in Staunton, I think it's overated. it may have been good once, but I don't think it is now. The food tastes like it came out of a can and the service is sullen.

                            1. re: vafarmwife

                              I had sense that might be the case, oh well...thanks to you all have plenty of other options!

                        3. What's your favorite SF restaurants.

                          I agree with you on Inn at Little Washington. I stayed there once and spent my paycheck.

                          Good luck.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Littleman

                            Right now, Wayfarer Tavern, in Financial district. Tyler Florence doesn't disappoint in his new place with great menu, he's in the kitchen cooking up a storm nightly cooking up South Carolina versions of Tavern fare...and popovers immediately come to the table, yummm.

                            Burma Star out on funky Clement for great variety of Asian food experience from pumpkin chutney to rainbow salad.

                            Perbacco is fantastic Northern Italian at foot of California (last CA cable car stop) in Financial district...elegan food, real time Italian waiters, little bit of Italia.

                            Breaded eggplant pannini sandwich with homemade peppers toasted on Liguria foccacia bread is our go to sandwich at Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store (no they don't sell cigars anymore) in North Beach. For about $8 you will have a wonderful sandwich experience (others swear by the meatball, etc.) along with best real cappuchinos frothy as a dream looking out over Washington Square and all the tourists walking by, missing the best treat in town. Service is fun, with special artsy servers, each a character in their own right.

                            And of course, you must not miss Tartine on Guerrero/18th for the ultimate croissants, including ham and cheese, outside of Paris. Yes, it's worth the line...everything is incredible..banana cream pie, croque madam, bread pudding, bread...and on and on. If you make it there, go to the Bi-Rite Creamery (and great Bi-Rite Market on same block) ice cream place on opposite corner across from Dolores Park.

                            Across bay, in Oakland--must try Bake Sale Betty Breaded Chicken Sandwich;In Berkeley-- Cheeseboard Pizza/one a day and always divine; Rick and Ann's for breakfast by Claremont; Cafe Fanny and Acme Bread for breakfast; Berkeley Bowl for everything under the sun (2 stores now).

                            Littleman, Please let me know if you have any questions or ever need info---you all have given me so many ideas for the VA trip. THANKS!!!

                            Washington Square
                            216 Washington Ave, Clarksburg, WV 26301

                          2. Around Dulles, I just recently stayed at The Norris House Inn in historic Leesburg and had a great stay. You can walk to lots in Leesburg. There's also a must-try pie place there, Mom's Apple Pie Company.

                            Also, check out L'auberge Provencale in White Post, VA. I haven't stayed there but it looks fantastic!

                            L'auberge Provencale
                            13630 Lord Fairfax Hwy, Boyce, VA 22620

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: princsoreo

                              Thanks! We were looking at Red Fox Inn for return night before flight out of Dulles, will look into these.

                              Red Fox Inn
                              2 E. Washington St, Middleburg, VA 20118

                              1. re: princsoreo

                                MMMMM Mom's Apple Pie will be a must stop....we were looking at Red Fox for one night atay and dinner, also looking at Norris House and L'Auberge now. Great ideas!

                                1. re: SFfoodster

                                  I loved Norris House. The owners were so cute and friendly and the place was very nice but still not overpriced. For something more luxurious in Middleburg, consider the MIddleburg Country Inn or Goodstone Inn & Estate. I haven't stayed at either, but both sound so nice.

                                  For my friend and I, Norris House was great, though. We did a chauffeured wine tour included w/our package there and were able to pretty much park our cars and walk to restaurants, shops, etc.

                                  Goodstone Inn & Estate Restaurant
                                  36205 Snake Hill Road, Middleburg, VA 20117

                                  Country Inn
                                  110 S Washington St, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411

                              2. For very Southerny Southern food in Richmond, I think Comfort is what you are looking for.

                                Don't go to Allman's BBQ, at least not for pulled pork, it used to be good, but more recently is a dry flavorless disappointment. If you are taking 1-95 to Richmond and want BBQ before you hit Richmond Dixie Bones in Woodbridge is better, but I would wait for Richmond.

                                Charlottesville isn't very Southern in terms of cuisine. You aren't going to find many meat and two joints or anything. But they have a lot of good food. Blue Mountain Brewery is good. You could stop by Food of All Nations (small grocery) for some ham biscuits, if you don't get your fill in Richmond. That is very regional. I like the Local in Bluemont, Duner's, Three Notch Grill, Maya and Zocalo. None are real traditional Southern, though.

                                Up Rt 29 (the fastest way to get from C-ville to Dulles no question) there is Smokin Joe's BBQ, but not open on Sunday. There aren't a huge amount of options on that trip, I would rather eat in Cville before I left.

                                I would enjoy the local wine and beer in Cville that is what is the most regional item in that area.

                                Also if you get a hankering for great bread, Bodos has great bagels.

                                Agreed for Inns that Keswick Hall is nice. The Boar's Head Inn isn't bad, either.

                                4372 Ivy Commons, Charlottesville, VA 22903

                                201 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                  second comfort. definitely a great place in richmond. if you want high end with a southern twist either juleps (where i confess i haven't been) or l'emaire at the jefferson do it well. in fact lemaire in my opinion is a great stop. beautiful. different. classic hotel. but pricey.

                                  there and comfort would give you great southern options in richmond. the jefferson also has a great brunch in richmond as does millies or the black sheep.

                                  in charlottesville, i like the sunday brunch at maya before you leave. yummy.

                                  and i do happen to like the bbq at buz & neds, although i think it's over priced. other places are a better deal for the money. grandpa eddies would be more on your way out west.

                                  also (and again i've never been so i could have been completely misled), i have heard tanglewood ordinary is great homestyle food and on a pretty drive out west from richmond on route 6.


                                  1. re: ktmoomau

                                    Ktmoomau........Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA is quite a ways W of Charlottesville, VA. Do they have a place in Charlottesville, VA too. Thanks.

                                    1. re: Littleman

                                      It takes about 20 minutes to get to Blue Mountain Brewery from Cville and they are surrounded by mountains and vineyards. I make the trip frequently and it is well worth the short drive. http://bluemountainbrewery.com/

                                      If you're looking for great beer within the city limits, check out Beer Run http://www.beerrun.com/. They have one of the best selections in town, often featuring local brews, and the food is really good too.

                                      1. re: mojoeater

                                        Correct it is a drive, but a really nice drive amongst some wineries too. I really like the food and the beer. I always stay in Ivy with my family so it doesn't seem like as bad of a drive. But there are lots of good options in town above if you don't feel like driving. But really my favorite part of Charlottesville is the countryside and wineries, so I love driving around in the country and finding little stores and different places. Depending how soon you are there, you could have some great leaf colors too.

                                    2. re: ktmoomau

                                      Comfort sounds great! Thanks for tip re Rt 29, finally got some good maps today and see it is best connection. Darn Smokin Joe's isn't open Sunday---

                                      1. re: SFfoodster

                                        For breakfast or brunch in Richmond, Black Sheep is really cute with Southern/New Orleans inspired food.

                                        I also love Julep's, more than Comfort, but Julep's is also on the fancier side and you need reservations. You don't have to have them at Comfort, which is nice.

                                        For BBQ in Richmond, check out Buz & Ned's (best ribs in town) and Grandpa Eddie's (BBQ and some other good southern stuff like smoked kielbasa and fried okra). Grandpa Eddie's is west of town, so depending on when you're heading from RIC to Charlottesville, it could be a stop on the way out.

                                        Another neat place I haven't been to that's in between is Tanglewood Ordinary. It's got limited hours, but I think it'd be a good stop if you want Southern. When you go, you get a family-style meal and you get what the owners are cooking that night. I've heard good things but just haven't made it there. http://www.ordinary.com/

                                        Black Sheep
                                        901 W Marshall St, Richmond, VA 23220

                                        Tanglewood Ordinary Restaurant
                                        Maidens, Goochland, VA 23063

                                    3. SFFoodster........I have a friend who has children in school in VA. He recommended the Arcady B & B. Check it out. Looks nice.

                                      Arcady Vineyard B & B @ 1376 Sutlers Road, Charlottesville, VA 434 - 872 - 9475.

                                      1. Dinner in Richmond:
                                        Acacia Mid-town A deft touch with seafood, cocktails, luxe food at several price points. 2601 W. Cary St. 562-0138. www.acaciarestaurant.com.

                                        Balliceaux New favorite for local foods, chic cocktails, live music, stellar design. 203 N. Lombardy St. 355-3008. www.balliceauxrva.com.

                                        LuLu’s Restaurant Urban cafe with comfort-food roots, tasty and fun. Desserts, cocktails. 21 N. 17th St. 343-9771. lu-www.lusrichmond.com.

                                        Millie’s Diner Satisfyingly serious food with casual attitude; one of Richmond’s must-try classics. 2603 E. Main St. 643-5512. www.milliesdiner.com.

                                        1. I just visited Charlottesville and Fredericksburg from NYC. The best food we had in Charlottesville was at Maya, a restaurant on West Main Street, a few blocks off of the mall. It was just perfectly done regional food--locally sourced and all that kind of thing--the trout was amazing, the ribs were fantastic, the cocktails were so, so good. Also, the staff were really nice and interested in chatting about the food, but not in an annoying way. I had read some mediocre reviews of the place, so I was a bit worried, but it was really a smash hit. And not terribly expensive.

                                          A slightly sour note was Albemarle Baking Co. on the same stretch of Main St. Actually the baked goods were fine; a buttery scone, a passable croissant, some decent quiche, etc. But the people who worked there were like caricatures of food snobs (or just regular snobs). A pale bearded buy behind the counter ostentatiously corrected my pronunciation of a couple of food items. When my husband ordered something with butter and jelly, the guy said snidely, "you can have it with jam." It took a while to figure out that he was saying that they didn't have butter or didn't think it should be served in the manner my husband was requesting--or something. The woman behind the counter was just plain mean to my 11-year-old son when he asked (in a perfectly polite way) about a couple of different breads. Just really strange. They never smiled. Maybe a cruel boss behind the scenes?

                                          We worshiped the gelato at Splendora's (on the mall). The salted caramel (or something like that) flavor was obscenely fantstic.

                                          Loved Charlottesville!

                                          West Main Restaurant
                                          333 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22903

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: gnosh

                                            i've found it's not always at the big name places but there's really good food to be had in charlottesville! adored the brunch i had at maya.

                                            glad you had a good trip.

                                          2. SF, have you made your trip yet? If not, do you still need some Richmond recs? If so, let me know what you're looking for!!