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Mar 4, 2011 04:21 AM

Quintessential Virginia

I'll be in Virginia on vacation soon. I've already asked about good restaurants in the VA Bearch area and thanks for the tips.

This question is more about whether there are things that are unique to VA that I really should try? For example, I know if I go to Memphis, I've got to try the barbeque, and if I go to New Orleans, I should try the beignets. But other than peanuts, what should I try to find in VA that is a specialty or a local custom?

Reference can be made to specific restaurants but I'm really just looking for stuff I should try if I see on a menu that otherwise I might ignore.

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  1. Brunswick Stew is a local custom. It's a tomato-based soup with veggies & meat in it. Not saying it's awesome, but I guess if you see it on a menu it's worth a try.

    1. Peanut soup. I've only ever seen it on menus in Virginia. Not sure if you can find it in VA Beach but if you're willing to make a little road trip to Colonial Williamsburg the three taverns serve it.

      Colonial Williamsburg
      427 Franklin St, Williamsburg, VA 23185

      1. If you see fresh Virginia oysters on the menu, try some. The Virginia oyster industry was nearly wiped out, and is just starting to come back, so it's unlikely you'll get Virginia oysters outside the area.

        1. I'll second the Virginia oyster suggestion. While it's Maryland's fame-claim, add some crabs, too. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the Virginia standards _ peanut soup, for instance _ but a real Virginia peanut can't be beat. Big, crunchy, salty. Virginia ham is also good, prepared correctly. I brought one up to New England and didn't soak it properly to rinse off the salt. Choke. It's really to be served up in thin slices, and on a biscuit

          2 Replies
          1. re: szkochop

            virginia ham biscuits are insanely good. country ham on an amazing biscuit. mmmm...
            i do love va peanut soup but also all virginia peanuts. and brunswick stew. i'm a transplant to richmond 5 years ago and those are things i've found and love. anything by edwards - a ham/bacon company. specialty stores there should have it. really great bacon and other products. don't love virginia wines but they are worth trying since people who love sweeter wines tend to like them. i had virginia oysters at catch - the restaurant at the hilton in virginia beach (which while perhaps a bit overrated and overpriced is lovely) and they were divine.

            1. re: AMFM

              The ham biscuits at the Smithfield Inn used to be amazing. Lived there before moving to Richmond for college, so It's been quite a few years since I've had them, and I've heard they've had several new chefs, but they used to be the best ham biscuits ever.

          2. I second (or third) Virginia peanuts and ham! Lots of places have peanut soup, peanut pie, etc. If you can find a mom and pop place with ham biscuits, those are another staple!