Top 100 Independents: The Mid-Atlantic
Historic landmark restaurants, high-performers, outstanding new concepts—meet the best operators in cities that are gaining traction as culinary destinations.
Chef de Cuisine Matthew Robinett delivers Italian-inspired small plates with a Southern flair, in this upscale take on casual, hip dining, housed in a historic building with massive windows lining the dining room—a legacy item from the early 20th- century furniture showroom that was the original tenant.
Opened ∕ September 2014
Annual Sales ∕ $2.5 million
Average Check ∕ $40
Chef/Owner ∕ Mike Isabella
Located in Jackson Ward (Richmond's equivalent of Harlem), Comfort excels at the fresh farm-to-table fare others aspire to—serving up the classic Southern "meat and three," all made from scratch, and finished with a beverage selection that showcases a true affinity for whiskey, beers, and wine.
Opened ∕ 2002
Average Check ∕ $20–$35 (estimate)
Chef/Owner ∕ Jason Alley
Known for its focus on regional American cuisine with an emphasis on fish—especially the signature crab cakes, Acacia defines casual fine dining. It all starts with sourcing the freshest product, and Chef Reitzer drives twice weekly to a crabber on the Rappahannock River whom he's worked with for more than 16 years.
Opened ∕ February 1998
Annual Sales ∕ $$1.7 million
Average Check ∕ $35–$45
Owners ∕ Chef Dale Reitzer and wife Aline
Stylish cocktails meet contemporary food, as this family-run establishment raises the reputation of Richmond's burgeoning dining scene with affordable plates, such as the bourbon-barrel smoked pork belly, and an in-house charcuterie program.
Opened ∕ October 2012
Sales ∕ $1–$3 million
Average Check ∕ $38 for dinner, $17 for brunch
Owners ∕ Chef Joe Sparatta, Emilia Sparatta, Mattias Hagglund
Raleigh, North Carolina
At this landmark steakhouse, the wine list is consistently ranked one of the best in the country—Wine Spectator Grand Award—and Van Eure received the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association Gold Plate award in 2004.
Opened ∕ June 1960
Annual Sales ∕ $Over $15 million
Average Check ∕ $60
Owner ∕ Van Eure
Durham, North Carolina
The first solo venture from Chef Kelly, Mateo blends Spanish flavors with Southern delights, resulting in a refined and exciting tapas bar augmented by a stellar wine list and one of the largest sherry lists in the country.
Opened ∕ August 2012
Average Check ∕ $40–$50 (estimate)
Chef/Owner ∕ Matthew Kelly
Chef Wolf, a finalist for James Beard Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic this year, brings classic French and South Carolina Low Country flavors and techniques to the three- and six-course tasting menus, while Foreman has curated a wine list that features more than 800 labels.
Opened ∕ December 1997
Annual Sales ∕ $2–$3 million (estimate)
Average Check ∕ $150
Owners ∕ Chef Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman
The Mediterranean menu is inspired by the world's most iconic food and wine regions, from Spain and Italy to Napa Valley; the wine list is expansive and all wines—even the most expensive—are available by the glass; and, before the restaurant was even a year old, Chef Ross and the Parallel 38 team hosted a dinner at the James Beard House.
Opened ∕ January 2014
Annual Sales ∕ $2.2 million
Average Check ∕ $42
Chef/owner ∕ Justin Ross
The Barn at Blackberry Farm
Winner of this year's James Beard: Outstanding Service award, which comes on the heels of having won the 2014 James Beard: Outstanding Wine Program, the restaurant's fine-dining tasting menus start at $125 for a five-course sampling.
Opened ∕ 2007
Average Check ∕ $400 (estimate)
Owner ∕ Sam Beall
Winner of this year's James Beard Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, Chef Gjerde looks to the Chesapeake region for ingredients and inspiration, and an entire section of the menu is devoted to locally sourced oysters.
Opened ∕ October 2007
Average Check ∕ $75
Chef/Owner ∕ Spike Gjerde
The menu features a four-, five- or six-course chef's tasting menu, which Chef DiBianca is known to tweak to the pleasures of loyal guests.
Opened ∕ October 2002
Annual Sales ∕ $1.6 million
Average Check ∕ $40
Chef/Owner ∕ Michael DiBianca