What do oysters, doughnuts, apple pies and grilled cheese have in common? They are just some of the delicious local flavors elevated to new heights in historic downtown Leesburg, Virginia. Located just over 40 miles west of Washington, DC, Leesburg is filled with a vibrant local restaurant scene, history, and unique shopping opportunities. From early morning to late night, there’s no shortage of delicious food and drinks in this small town that packs in big flavor! So come for a few hours or spend the day, but one thing’s for sure, you won’t leave hungry!
Before you eat, you should know that Leesburg has a fascinating history, dating back to settlement in 1722, and is a featured stop on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, which runs from Gettysburg, Maryland to Charlottesville, Virginia. As the seat of government for Loudoun County, the historic courthouse (the 3rd built on that spot) has been standing since 1894. Fun Fact: It was during the War of 1812 that the town of Leesburg was a temporary home to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and other important documents.
Today, not only does the small town charm draw both locals and visitors, but the variety of innovative new restaurants and re-designed old favorites keeps them coming back. From breakfast to dinner, to a nightcap relaxing in an outdoor garden, here’s a roundup of 7 of our foodie favorites.
1. B Doughnut. What happens when you take the Hawaiian-style malasada and add a touch of Asian Pacific influence? Visit B Doughnut early in the morning to find out (otherwise they might be sold out!) You can’t go wrong with any of their flavors, but my hands-down favorite is the Everything Bagel doughnut, a soft version of the popular everything bagel with a chive infused cream cheese. From the pastry cream filling to the real fruit jam, all the doughnuts are incredibly fresh. You’ll find a few B Doughnut locations in the DC area, but be sure to check the website for hours, as they aren’t open every day. The Leesburg location often sells out early, so you take a risk if you show up at noon! If you love doughnut photos, follow them on Instagram to get all the latest flavors!
2. Churrology. In the afternoon, head back to the doughnut shop location, where you may be surprised to find a whole different menu! The space is shared with Churrology, and whether you prefer the traditional cinnamon and sugar churro, or something out of the ordinary, it’s worth the few minute wait for this delicious handcrafted dessert. My son and I recently tried two “Churr-eos” that came standing upright in a cup of soft-serve ice cream, which I highly recommend. The store is currently open 2-6, Wednesday - Sunday.
3. Bites Wine & Grilled Cheese Bar. What’s not to like about a restaurant with a name like that? Bites is a grilled cheese bar for grown-ups (although kids like it too!), with 12 grilled cheese sandwiches to choose from, like The Hamilton, with Brie, Gruyere and fontina fig spread on cranberry walnut bread. In the warmer months, enjoy sitting out front of the cheery yellow restaurant with a glass of your favorite Sangria or one of their new craft beer flights.
4. King Street Oyster Bar. Have you heard of the Virginia Oyster Trail? It includes over 40 locally owned establishments that feature the Virginia Oyster, including restaurants like the popular King Street Oyster Bar. Each day the menu features a variety of fresh oysters from Virginia and other locations on both the east and west coast. Visit during happy hour (3:00 pm - 6:30 pm), when the prices are a little cheaper. My latest favorite appetizer is the large, New Orleans style oyster appetizer, covered with parmesan and garlic, and the King Street Po Boy, filled with plump, fried oysters, is my go-to sandwich.
5. Döner Bistro. Cozy and friendly are the words I would use to describe the small Döner Bistro location in Leesburg. It’s a fun spot to get a taste of Germany, especially if you visit during their annual Oktoberfest! Try the famous Döner Box, with a serving of their specialty Döner meat and hand-cut fries along with a beer from their huge collection. During the winter, they serve traditional Glühwein (spiced hot red wine) or Heisser Cider (Spiced German Cider). Locals appreciate the fact that the Mighty Midget Kitchen is still in use by the restaurant.
6. Shoe’s Cup & Cork Secret Garden. When the weather is warm, find the alley next to the entrance to Shoe’s Cup & Cork, and make your way to the Secret Garden. Grabbing a spot in the outside garden will feel like you are hanging out on a friend’s patio on a warm summer night. The inside is also unique, retaining its charm from the early 1920’s when Vincenzo Ranieri first set up his shoe repair and hat cleaning business. The menu includes breakfast, along with an all day selection of food and drinks. Stop by for a cup of house-roasted coffee and homemade dessert, and stay for a game of bocce ball or an old fashioned family board game.
7. Mom’s Apple Pie. As you head west on Route 7 towards Leesburg, look for Mom’s at the fork in the road. This tiny shop packs a ton of flavor, with some of the best pies in the area! Much of the fruit used is locally grown, and you can’t go wrong with any of their amazing pies including the Virginia Blackberry Pie or Mom’s Own Rhubarb Pie. If you think I’m kidding, show up on Thanksgiving morning when the line is halfway down the street! The Butter Pecan Apple Crumb Pie is one of my favorites!
The list could go on and on, with other casual spots like Senor Ramon Taqueria and Delirium Cafe, and the fancier Lightfoot Restaurant (housed in a historic landmark) and Tuscarora Mill. While you are visiting, be sure to try one of the many locally crafted beers and Virginia wines, and pick up fresh roasted coffee beans from LoCo Beans little red silo at Market Station. And come back to visit during one of Leesburg’s numerous old-fashioned, family friendly events, including parades on Independence Day, Halloween, and Christmas time, along with the popular Flower & Garden Festival that brightens the streets with spring color every April. And last but not least, Leesburg’s First Friday, (every month except for January) is when the whole town opens up its doors with live music and special events. Enjoy! And be sure to read 5 Ways to Spend the Day in Loudoun County, Virginia for other things to do in while you are in the area.