Explore Fast Casual with These Game Changing Virginia Restaurants

Image: Texas Tavern

Image: Texas Tavern

We all love a good meal-on-the-go. Fast food is perfect for that quick lunch or after-work hangout and will quickly rescue anyone slipping into one of those hangry moods.

Why confine yourself to true fast food joints, when you could instead get all the benefits of quick grub with a classed-up twist? You no longer have to put up with the typical grease bombs and cheap carbs. After you finish this article, you’ll want to get a good old-fashioned meal pronto.

So here it is! A master list of some of our favorite “fast” foodie spots in Virginia for your next culinary expedition.

Burgers

Burgers hold a special place in the American heart. They remind us of fun and friends, sunshine and barbecues and family dinners. Get ready for hamburgers all grown up, a combination of taste and social consciousness that just can’t be beat.

Images: Market Burger - VAfoodie / Boulevard Burgers & Brews

Images: Market Burger - VAfoodie / Boulevard Burgers & Brews

First up among our faves: Market Burger. They locally source as many ingredients as possible, and offer a huge range of complementary and not-so-complimentary toppings as well as malts and hand-cut fries.

Fast casual burger joint Farm to Fork offers classic burger fare, also locally-sourced and available for catering, while Boulevard Burger & Brew blends the classic 1950s burger joint with the modern craft brewing scene.

Images: MELT Cheesburgers

Images: MELT Cheesburgers

Nothing beats MELT in Leesburg, with high-quality meats and seafood, local produce and a creative use of ingredients. Plus, they’re always down for a cause, and have raised more than $100,000 for animals since they opened in 2012. That has the VAfoodie stamp of approval for sure.

Diners

When you hear the word “diner,” do you also hear “family time,” “casual fare” and “enormous milkshakes that come in two different cups”? Because we totally do. We love a good diner with a twist, check out some of these dope diners below.

Images: Millie's Diner

Images: Millie's Diner

First up is Silver Diner with a dozen locations in Virginia. They boast some majorly refined fare (think spring salad with quinoa, kalamata olives and sautéed shrimp).

Millie’s Diner, combines fast casual dining with the best of new American cuisine. Millie’s opened in what was Richmond’s industrial wasteland in 1989 (props to foresight), and since then has been serving up fresh, local, fusion-y takes on classics such as Huevos Rancheros, Eggs Benny and Castro’s Mess. Hint: Cuban spice pork is involved.

Images: Virginia Diner

Images: Virginia Diner

Exmore Diner in Exmore is true traditional diner fare with strong Virginia roots. Imagine classic mashed potatoes with dark brown gravy, breaded pork chops and apple pie. Down-home comfort favorites such as scrapple (pork scraps and cornmeal all mixed up and fried) make this spot a fave with locals and traveling foodies alike.

Last but not least, Virginia Diner in Wakefield is definitely worth a visit, with almost a century of history, Southern picks such as black-eyed peas and their own peanut product line. Because why not?

BBQ & Chicken

Barbecue and chicken is a mainstay of the south. Instead of heading to the nearest KFC, try good old-fashioned fare made with quality ingredients but ready to go when you walk in the door.

Images: Mean Bird / Mean Bird - John DiJulio

Images: Mean Bird / Mean Bird - John DiJulio

For the best of Richmond soul food, try Mama J’s. The eponymous Mama J was born one of fourteen children, which is how she learned to cook awesome grub for a crowd. Mean Bird is another great Richmond spot for all things chicken (even vegan!) You can catch them at their storefront or follow their food-truck around the 804. 

Images: Ace Biscuit & BBQ / Bonnie Blue / Ace Biscuit & BBQ

Images: Ace Biscuit & BBQ / Bonnie Blue / Ace Biscuit & BBQ

Charlottesville boasts Wayside Takeout and Catering with awesome fried chicken, baked beans and collards, as well as Ace Biscuit & BBQ– serving up some of the best ‘cue in the city, morning, noon and night. For a real southern feel in Winchester, try Bonnie Blue with its ribs, crabcakes, salad and more.

Pub Fare

Whether you're looking for a quick bite or an interlude in your latest pub crawl, classic bar fare always does the trick. In true fast foodie fashion, our favorite spots don't make you wait 45 minutes for a burger.. Here are four that we adore for fast snacks and grub.

Images: GWAR Bar

Images: GWAR Bar

First and foremost, try GWAR Bar in Richmond. In addition to a wide sampling of bar food, they also offer three types of poutine– a tantalizing Canadian dish of fries, cheese curds and gravy. Try all the variations, we promise it’s worth it.

Images: SpaceBar

Images: SpaceBar

If you're more a dive bar person, head to Lynnhaven Pub in Virginia Beach for quick bites and a hundred beer options. Or try SpaceBar in Falls Church, which offers dozens of grilled cheese choices for the adventurous kid in you. For more classic pub food, opt for Spring House Tavern in Woodstock. It was voted best restaurant, bartender, steak and burger in Woodstock 2016, so you know, enough said.

Mom & Pop/Classic Spots

Just like Mom or Dad used to make it! Except that you don't have to set the table or wash the dishes afterwards, making these classic mom & pop spots even quicker.

Images: Texas Tavern / Ben's Chili Bowl

Images: Texas Tavern / Ben's Chili Bowl

Roanoke’s Texas Tavern has offered a no frills burger spot since 1930, while Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC has maintained fan-favorite status with chili dogs, chili bowls, burgers and veg options since 1950.

Searching for a new from-scratch brunch spot to impress those out-of-town friends? Bluegrass Grill & Bakery in Charlottesville is truly obsessed with all things brunch. To get your eggs and bacon fix, look no further.

Images: Horseshoe Restaurant

Images: Horseshoe Restaurant

Our last mom & pop option has been serving food since the 1940s, and is a major South Hill favorite: Horseshoe Restaurant. Enjoy their old-fashioned fare and flair, and grab a bison burger while you're at it.

Pizza

Yes, yes, we know you've just been waiting for us to get the pizza. Whether you're in high school or a retirement community, we know you love crispy bread and spicy tomato sauce slathered in cheese and toppings. Never has real food been so fast. Our favorites?

Images: Crozet Pizza

Images: Crozet Pizza

Crozet Pizza in Crozet & Charlottesville definitely tops the list. (See what we did there?) This popular pizza joint and bar bakes up classic Italian fare such as pies and calzones, but offers your favorite bar foods as well: fries, dips, wings and more.

Looking for a little-known secret in North Garden? Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie boasts a hole in the wall brick-and-mortar as well as a food truck. They source their artisanal ingredients from local makers as much as possible, so slow food adherents have a new go-to for ‘za. (Yes, we know nobody calls it that anymore. Bringing it back? Anyone?)

Images: Dr. Ho's Humble Pie / Belmont Pizzeria

Images: Dr. Ho's Humble Pie / Belmont Pizzeria

Last but not least, try Belmont Pizzeria in Richmond for Sicilian-style pizza and pastas. Get your food quick with counter service then enjoy a street view from their window stools.

Food Trucks

We would, of course, be remiss in our duties if we did not mention food trucks. Actually, it was nearly impossible to choose just a few, but what can you do? Here are five of our favorites around the state.

Images: Empanadas de Mendoza

Images: Empanadas de Mendoza

For handmade deep-fried empanadas, try Empanadas de Mendoza in Fairfax. Their empanadas span global cuisines, and they offer catering as well. For classic Egyptian and Mediterranean food such as kebabs and falafel, try the Falls Church favorite Fava Pot Food Truck. Alexandria’s Meggrolls gives itself away with the name. Their schtick? Pretty much any meal you can imagine, sized down and fried up in an egg roll.

Images: Fava Pot / Meggrolls

Images: Fava Pot / Meggrolls

For “out of this world” tacos with locally sourced ingredients, we highly recommend Intergalactic Tacos. Their huge range of fillings and sauces and make them a Richmond favorite. Finally, we'll leave you with one last gem: Cheezilla, also in Richmond, which is basically a giant grilled cheese on wheels. Check them out for a fabulous range of grilled cheese, and don't forget they cater!

Images: Intergalactic Tacos / Cheezilla

Images: Intergalactic Tacos / Cheezilla

Next time you feel the post work munchies or weekend peckishness coming on, you'll know where to look without sacrificing taste or values. Tell your friends and get your grub on!