Our restaurant critics are accustomed to weighing in on all of the great (and not-so-great) food options available in the Richmond area. This week we asked Joseph Cates, Tess Autrey Bosher, John Haddad and Don Baker to name a few of their favorite out-of-town spots. They weighed in on classic bistros, elegant eateries and delicious dives that specialize in such wide-ranging choices as Mississippi BBQ and Brooklyn pasta dishes. Road trip, anyone?
502 Main St., Newton Grove, N.C. (Take shortcut from Interstate 95 South to 40 East on State Route 701 South.)
Saves enough time on the trip down to Bald Head Island to warrant taking your time at the all-you-can-eat traditional 'cue buffet, plus crispy golden seafood goodness with deep Southern sides. — Joseph Cates
135 W. 42nd St., New York City. www.charliepalmer.com
A former cooking colleague first recommended this elegant, intimate dining room where he externed with Charlie Palmer while at the Culinary Institute of America. Features a stellar prix fixe lunch for $34 that's the best midday indulgence in the Big Apple. — J.C.
394 Broadway, Brooklyn. www.circa1938.com
Subject of the film “Eat This New York,” lives up to its reputation in an unlikely triangular closet of retro-hipness. Roasted chicken with braised cabbage and potatoes, thick homemade chocolate pudding or grilled homemade cinnamon-sugar doughnuts. Simple and ridiculously good. — J.C.
Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. www.centralmichelrichard.com
Reigning national chef of the year has downscaled prices ($18-$30) but not quality in jam-packed bistro. Don't pass on mussel chowder and cassoulet. — Don Baker
110 Waverly Place, New York City. www.babbonyc.com
Celebrity chef Mario Batali's flagship. You'll feel like a star, and may sit next to one in bustling Village setting. Black tagliatelle, grilled quail, roasted beets. Go for the tasting menu ($69 pasta or $75 traditional). — D.B.
85 10th Ave., New York City. www.delposto.com
Babbo's can't-miss baby cousin. Insider tip: Sit on the informal enoteca side. Two similar bargains: the front rooms at Gramercy Tavern and Jean George's. — D.B.
Al Di La
248 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn. www.aldilatrattoria.com
Husband-and-wife (she's the chef) team serves Northern Italian in a perfect neighborhood bistro. Homemade pastas, braised rabbit, unbeatable mussels at Fan prices. No reservations but worth the wait. — D.B.
10 Exchange St., Charleston, S.C. www.carolinasrestaurant.com
You can do trendier, but not better. Ask for the front room and savor shrimp and grits with sweet peppers and andouille; local grouper with bok choy and celeric mash; and of course, fried green tomatoes. — D.B.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 First Ave., New York City. www.momofuku.com
The first of Korean-American David Chang's New York empire. Get the dreamy steamed pork buns and ramen, with chunks of crispy pork belly swimming in a rich broth among poached eggs and noodles. — John Haddad
38 Eighth Ave., New York City. www.dellanima.com
This West Village nook was opened by several of Mario Batali's disciples. Order the inventive bruschette that include heart of palm, lily confit and rapini pesto, complemented by the extensive wine list. — J.H.
701 Ninth St. NW, Washington, D.C. www.zaytinya.com
Moderately priced, earthy tastes of the Middle East, served small-plate style in a boisterous atmosphere. The steamy puffballs of pita bread are transcendent. — J.H.
501 Monticello Road, Charlottesville. www.mastapas.com
A tapas bar with a soul in Charlottes-ville's Belmont neighborhood. Don't miss the boquerones (blanched white anchovies marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs) or puerros confitados (leeks braised in duck fat with saffron and sherry over toasted brick oven bread). — J.H.
10 Columbus Circle, New York City. www.perseny.com
Hands down the best meal(s) of my life. You'll need to take out a second mortgage for the 12-course chef's tasting menu, but the “oysters and pearls” alone are worth it. — Tess Autrey Bosher
2 Amys Neopolitan Pizzeria
3715 Macomb St. NW, Washington, D.C. www.2amyspizza.com
I've never been to Naples, but with paper-thin crust pizza this good 100 miles away, I'm not sure I need to go. This is my fave pizza anywhere. — T.A.B.
The Shed BBQ
7501 Highway 57, Ocean Springs, Miss. www.theshedbbq.com
Melt-in-your-mouth brisket, and pulled pork to give Buz a run for his money. — T.A.B.
47 E. 21st St., New York City. www.viaemilianyc.net
I cannot go to New York without eating its spaghetti neri con calamari. Cash-only. — T.A.B.