One of the greatest joys of heading out on a road trip is indulging in greasy fast food along the way. But if you can resist the siren call of McDonald’s and Cracker Barrel en route to one of these dining destinations, we promise you’ll be handsomely rewarded. All three restaurants are situated in the countryside and take advantage of the surrounding agriculture. What results are dishes that reflect the area’s unique bounty — even as they put a few twists on Southern food. On top of that (often literally), each restaurant is attached to a charming inn. So stay hungry on your drive out of D.C. — a fulfilling meal and a good night’s sleep await.
Goodstone Inn & Restaurant
36205 Snake Hill Road, Middleburg, Va.; 540-687-3333, goodstone.com.
This sprawling resort in the middle of Virginia horse country is like a summer camp for adults. Set on 265 acres of Virginia countryside, the property includes a working farm (complete with a pig and a sheep-guarding llama), a seasonal swimming pool, more than three miles of hiking trails, woodsy gardens for picnicking or bird-watching, and a spa. “You drive up and it’s like you’re in another place,” says Emily Miller, the reservations and revenue manager. “It’s so beautiful and so relaxing and so rejuvenating — you feel so refreshed.”
Formerly the site of a mansion that burnt down in 1930 (the only remaining remnant — an ivy-covered stone facade — greets you as you enter the grounds), today it houses 18 guest rooms and six guest cottages. Goodstone’s restaurant is helmed by John Leonard, who uses ingredients grown on the property, including eggs, fruit, vegetables and honey, to create dishes inspired by the French countryside. If you’re feeling indulgent, spring for the $52 truffled crab cake entree, or chef Leonard’s culinary Mona Lisa: A chateaubriand steak made with center prime fillet and accompanied by glazed carrots and mushrooms with Dauphinoise potatoes.
The Forks Inn Restaurant
Kelly Mountain Road, Elkins, W.Va.; 304-637-0932, attheforks.com.
You may be tempted to drag your bed onto your private balcony at The Forks Inn: The family-run retreat is surrounded by views of the Monongahela Forest, made up of nearly 1 million acres of undulating peaks and valleys. (Don’t even get us started on the fall foliage.) Brothers Trevor and Drew Stalnaker — along with their uncle Eric, the restaurant’s chef — gutted the property in 2012 and rebuilt it by hand, detail by detail. “You can really feel it when you come in here,” Trevor says. “There’s a lot of intricate custom woodwork we’ve done ourselves, and we made the tables, the booths, the chairs.”
The food at the restaurant, located on the first floor, complements the rustic surroundings with a French flair. Using ingredients from surrounding farms, chef Stalnaker whips up plates including steak au poivre vert — made with a brandy and green peppercorn sauce — and house-smoked brisket served with homemade BBQ sauce.
Eat up, because regardless of the season, you’ll want to head outside and explore. “Wake up, pick a direction, and you can spend the whole day doing something outdoors,” Trevor says. He’s not exaggerating: The inn is within driving distance of four ski resorts and the Canaan Valley, where you’ll find plenty of hiking, rock climbing and water sports at your fingertips. “A number of our guests make return plans before they even leave.”
Joshua Wilton House
412 South Main St., Harrisonburg, Va.; 540-434-4464, joshuawilton.com.
Be thankful you don’t handle the books for this Victorian mansion-turned-B&B. “We work with over 60 local farmers,” says general manager Brad Reese. “It makes bookkeeping a nightmare, but it’s worth it.” The diverse, near-obsessive sourcing means only top-notch meat and produce hits your plate, including pork from Autumn Olive Farms and organic poultry from Polyface Farms. Run by chef Brian Bogan, the kitchen serves Southern classics with a French twist, such as duck breast served with lentils, country ham and a duck confit bon bon.
Upstairs, you’ll find five inn rooms decorated with country chic details like floral wallpaper and carved wooden bed frames. Each has views of Harrisonburg, Va. — the city at the heart of the Shenandoah Valley and the home to James Madison University. Explore around the historic campus and you’ll find independently owned boutiques, cafes and breweries. More outdoorsy types can head to a handful of hiking trails (or the Appalachian Trail 18 miles away, if you’re feeling adventurous), ski slopes at the nearby Massanutten Resort or tours of local farms, where you might recognize some ingredients from Joshua Wilton’s menu.
Other ways to hit the road: