With heavy hitters such as Donald Trump and Dave Matthews, the wineries in Charlottesville are getting, for good reason, national notice. When you head there to ogle the vineyards, stop at the very chic, and not quite as nationally known Pippin Hill. Views, wine and food come together for a triple threat. Local beef sliders with smoky sauce ($10) and chambourcin cupcakes pair exceptionally well with green fields and blue skies.
Pippin Hill Farm ($)
5022 Plank Road, North Garden
You'll wait a little at Continental Divide, but well-made margaritas will ease the impatience factor. It's a bit noisy and the place is small. The food is a mish-mash of Mexican, South American and American, unpretentious and in-your-face. Goat cheese tacos are a little tangy, a little spicy and a little salty, and beef tacos are a handful, literally and flavor-wise. The neon "get in here" sign speaks the truth. All the third- and fourth-years know this.
Continental Divide ($)
811 W. Main St., Charlottesville
If you haven't heard of chef Ian Boden, take notice. The former Staunton Grocery chef has taken the helm at Blue Light Grill — Lee Gregory of the Roosevelt also did a stint here — and is popping out real flavor. On a recent visit, Alaskan halibut with Meyer lemon confit, carrot purée and pea shoots is a revelation, and a beautiful crawfish boil brings forth sighs of pleasure at an adjacent table.
Blue Light Grill ($$)
120 E. Main St., Charlottesville
And then there were three. Route 151 west of Charlottesville is affectionately known as the Brew Ridge Trail, because it's home to three craft breweries including Devil's Backbone and Blue Mountain. The newest, Wild Wolf Brewing, is a home-brew store turned craft-beer house, and maintains its uniqueness with a Hunny beer and seasonal offerings such as Strawberry Shwartzcake, a lager that's all berry.
Wild Wolf Brewery ($)
2461 Rockfish Valley Highway, Nellysford
Waiting for oceanside seating can take hours in season, as every local knows. That's why Bubba's, which is bayside, is the place for brunch on Saturday or Sunday. Nothing on the menu costs more than $10. The vegetable omelet is packed with red and yellow peppers, cheese and sautéed onions and served with crispy home fries. And you can't put a price on the bay view.
3323 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach
There may be some slight trepidation about eating at a dance club. But after sampling the tender, grilled and slightly sticky chicken wings, lightly fried plump shrimp piled precariously high or to-die-for rich penne and cheese at Bayside, that dance floor makes sense.
2973 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach
Doc Taylor's is Virginia Beach's version of Joe's Inn. Astronomically good Bloody Marys ($1.99) and comfort food have people lined up all day. The restaurant's breakfast sandwich, the Ray Ray, a fried egg atop bacon, cheese and grilled Parmesan tomatoes, has a huge following with the natives. Doc has a way with the red fruit.
Doc Taylor's ($)
207 23rd St., Virginia Beach
Everyone "who knows" knows that the Coastal Grill is the place for dinner. Nondescript and stuck in a strip mall, the restaurant's easygoing nature is attractive to travelers and locals. The menu is studded with goodness — sautéed chicken livers on spinach salad, roasted acorn squash and a bevy of local seafood options served with homemade pasta. No corners are cut here.
The Coastal Grill ($$)
1427 N. Great Neck Road,