Looking for Affordable Places to Eat in Northern, Central, and Coastal Virginia? Check Out These 12 Eateries.

Looking for Affordable Places to Eat in Northern, Central, and Coastal Virginia? Check Out These 12 Eateries

Photo courtesy of Redemption BBQ

By Aila Boyd

July 12, 2023

Summer is a great time to explore different parts of the commonwealth with a weekend road trip. One of the best things about road tripping is that you get to sample different local eats along the way. 

If you’re looking to hit the road with a foodie friend this summer, we suggest starting in Northern Virginia and traveling south on 95 to Richmond before going east on 64 to Coastal Virginia (or you can take the same trip in reverse). We’ve compiled 12 unique and inexpensive places to eat along the route. 

Northern Virginia

Bob & Edith’s Diner (Breakfast)

Location: 2310 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Bob & Edith’s Diner has been the preferred diner for Northern Virginians for more than 50 years. The locally owned 24/7 diner has expanded to include several locations, but you’ll definitely want to grab breakfast at the original Columbia Pike location, which maintains much of its original charm.

Despite its storied history, Bob & Edith’s still offers plenty of affordable menu items. Enjoy the signature two eggs and country-fried steak option for breakfast. It comes with toast and home fries, grits, or hash browns for $13.99. You can also top your potatoes with the following options for 99 cents extra: bacon, ham, chili, sausage gravy, cheese, sauteed onions, green peppers, or mushrooms.

Buford’s Biscuits (Lunch/Brunch)

Location: 7 West Market St, Leesburg 

Stop by Buford’s Biscuits, a “simple, comfy southern restaurant with a focus on traditional cathead biscuits.” The owner tapped into her familial roots in Dickenson County for inspiration for the restaurant’s Appalachian cuisine.

The $15 Buford’s Biscuit—which comes with sweet tea-brined fried chicken, collards, and whole grain mustard velouté—is an example of the style of food that was passed down to the owner. 

Hard Times Café (Dinner)

Location: 1404 King St, Alexandria 

Who doesn’t love a hearty bowl of chili? If you’re in Northern Virginia, Hard Times Café is the place to go to get your chili fix this summer. Although there are now several locations, you can’t beat the original eatery in Old Town Alexandria. 

The café is influenced by the owners’ storied family history with chili, including their grandfather’s time cooking chili while a trail-drive cowboy in 19th century Texas, their aunt’s small roadhouse in Oklahoma in the ’40s that served Texas chili, and a mid-20th century Washington, D.C., chili parlor they frequented. 

The $12.99 Chili Bubba will surely hit the spot. It comes with cornbread topped with two of your favorite chilis and smothered with cheddar, tomatoes, onions, and sour cream. Go for the Terlingua red and Texas chili options. There’s a vegetarian option available, as well. 

Woody’s Ice Cream (Dessert)

Location: 10435 North St, Fairfax

Looking for Affordable Places to Eat in Northern, Central, and Coastal Virginia? Check Out These 12 Eateries.
Photo courtesy of Woody’s Ice Cream

If it’s summer in Fairfax, Woody’s Ice Cream is the place to go for a cold treat. The shop has been a seasonal mainstay in the city for 25 years. Get two scoops of the apple pie hand-dipped flavor in a sugar cone for $6.50 and load it up with toppings like rainbow sprinkles or gummy bears. 

Plan to enjoy your cone on the newly expanded covered patio. 

Central Virginia

McLean’s Restaurant (Breakfast)

Location: 3205 West Broad St, Richmond

Looking for Affordable Places to Eat in Northern, Central, and Coastal Virginia? Check Out These 12 Eateries.
Photo courtesy of McLean’s Restaurant

Having been in business since 1965, McLean’s Restaurant knows how to satisfy its customers with its country-style cooking.

“Inspired by the everyday homestyle cooking that we grew up with, you’ll feel at home while savoring a great meal in our casual and relaxed dining room,” the website reads.

In honor of the restaurant’s location, give the $9.99 Broad Street Special a try. It comes with two eggs, a choice of protein, a side, and bread. You can’t go wrong with fatback, a biscuit, and a side of gravy. Enjoy your breakfast with a fresh-ground cup of Colombian brew from Midlothian roaster Carytown Coffee for $2.95.

Big Herm’s Kitchen (Lunch)

Location: 315 N. 2nd St, Richmond 

Located in the Jackson Ward neighborhood, Big Herm’s Kitchen is the place to go in Richmond for finger-licking Southern cuisine. 

The $11.49 catfish sandwich is a popular menu item. The fried farm-raised catfish comes served on a roll with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise (plus a choice of side, of course). It’s hard to decide between the coleslaw, cornbread, or collard greens.

Redemption BBQ (Dinner)

Location: 3420 Lauderdale Dr, Henrico 

Looking for Affordable Places to Eat in Northern, Central, and Coastal Virginia? Check Out These 12 Eateries.
Photo courtesy of Redemption BBQ

Virginia—specifically the greater Richmond area—knows how to do barbecue right as evidenced by Redemption BBQ’s extensive menu. The restaurant bills itself as the city’s “best and most authentic Virginia-style barbecue.”

Most farm-to-table restaurants are pricey, but luckily that’s not the case with Redemption BBQ. A dinner portion of barbecued pork rib tips will only set you back $12.50. They come chopped and sauced with Unforbidden Fruit and a side of “Praise the Lard Fries.” The pork comes from Autumn Olive Farm in the Shenandoah Valley.

Vegetarians will even love it here, thanks to the $11.50 vegetarian BBQ sandwich. 

Bev’s Homemade Ice Cream & Café (Dessert)

Location: 2911 W Cary St, Richmond

If you’re looking for dessert in Richmond, Bev’s Homemade Ice Cream & Café should be at the top of your list. It’s been a local staple for 25 years. You’ll find New England-style ice cream and sweets at the bright pink nook. Be sure to order the café’s signature flavor, Espresso Oreo. A double scoop will only cost you $4.49. 

If a sundae is more your style, try the $7.22 Cary St Sundae. With dairy-free sorbet and a weekly vegan flavor, there’s something for everyone. 

Coastal Virginia

Doc Taylor’s (Breakfast)

Location: 207 23rd St, Virginia Beach

Looking for Affordable Places to Eat in Northern, Central, and Coastal Virginia? Check Out These 12 Eateries.
Photo courtesy of Doc Taylor’s

Doc Taylor’s is a great low-cost breakfast and lunch spot. The building used to be a motel and an actual doctor’s office. Now, the only medicine served there is comfort food and cocktails. 

Grab some breakfast at the conveniently located 23rd Street location before heading to the Oceanfront to watch the sun come up. The website reads, “We aim to make food that satisfies the soul.” 

You can’t go wrong with Grandma Ellen’s Creamed Chipped Beef. The $9 meal comes with pan gravy over Texas toast. Add a $3.25 mimosa for a breezy start to your morning. 

The Rustic Spoon (Lunch)

Location: 1658 Pleasure House Rd, Ste. 101, Virginia Beach

Stop by The Rustic Spoon for a no-frills modern lunch with a local twist. Having stripped away the formalities of the typical dining experience, the restaurant focuses on “quality local ingredients, family recipes, warm service, and a relaxed, casual ambiance.” 

Be sure to check out the spoon specialties on the menu. A standout item is the $15 shrimp-and-grit cake. It comes with tomato, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, Edwards sausage, and griddled grit cake. 

Smitty’s Better Burger (Dinner)

Location: 1313 N King St, Hampton

Stop by Smitty’s Better Burger for a slice of Hampton history. This drive-in has been offering the same carhop service to its customers since 1956. Having been owned and operated by the same family since the beginning, it’s even designated as a Hampton Landmark. 

The menu has all the classic drive-in options you’d expect, including burgers, hotdogs, barbecue pork, fries, and onion rings. You can’t beat the hot dog special: two hot dogs, French fries, and a medium drink, all for $7.49.

The Sweet Spot (Dessert)

Location: 1718 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach

While on the Boardwalk, make a quick detour to The Sweet Spot for a delicious snack. The fresh-made bubble waffles are perfect for eating while wandering along the water. The waffle comes with two scoops of ice cream, toppings, sauce, and whipped cream, all for $12.99. You can’t go wrong with the So Nutella Bubble Waffle, which comes with vanilla ice cream, a mini Nutella tub, white chocolate chips, hot Nutella sauce, and a Kinder Bueno bar. 

This dessert shop refers to its creations as “delicious art,” and it’s easy to see why. Many of the ingredients used—including the sugar, flour, and eggs—are imported from Italy. Dairy-free and no-sugar-added ice cream is available.  

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

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