Virginia

Like a Local: 7 Great Restaurants in Leesburg

by Michael C. Upton  |  Published September 9, 2021

Part of the Leesburg charm is its plethora of dining options. From southern home cookin’ to nouveau fine dining, Leesburg has turned Loudoun County into a destination for epicurean explorers.

Leesburg’s historic downtown (Photo: m01229 via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Colonial American settlers moved into the area of what is now Loudoun County, Virginia, around 1722 and shortly after, the town of Leesburg sprung up at the intersection of the area’s major north-south and east-west roadways. Leesburg maintained its charm and character after the American Civil War and boomed after WWII by crafting a rich identity apart from nearby metropolises Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

Leesburg’s ever flourishing downtown is celebrated by both its residents and visitors. In 1970 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the best preserved and most picturesque downtowns in the United States. Over 150 restaurants call the area home. Below we’ve compiled a list of seven great restaurants in the Leesburg area we think are worth a visit.

TUSCARORA MILL RESTAURANT

Known simply as Tuskie’s, the downtown’s special event restaurant is located inside a restored, circa 1899 grain mill. Blending classic cuisine and American traditions, the Tuscarora Mill Restaurant is great for all ages and features exquisite offerings like Seafood Brodetto—salmon, sea bass, mussels, and shrimp in a saffron tomato broth served with parmesan polenta—and comfort foods like meatloaf. The restaurant takes advantage of its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and specializes in crab cakes. Tuskie’s is a local favorite, so expect a lively bar scene in the lounge. The most intimate and private seat in the house is table 20, a favorite request for couples in this restaurant.

203 Harrison St. SE

Belgian brewery’s first US cafe (Photo: Michael C. Upton for TravelMag)

DELIRIUM CAFE

During a trip to Brussels, Curtis Allred fell so deeply in love with Belgian beers he got the idea to open his own beer cafe stateside. The US outpost of this international brand, Delirium from Brouwerij Huyghe, is the first of its kind. Beyond offering over 40 beers on tap from all over the world, Delirium Café also offers a unique dining experience inside or in the outdoor beer garden. The kitchen produces handcrafted burgers, chicken wings with a creative selection of sauces, and Belgian favorites like mussels and waffles. One of the most popular items at Delirium is the thick-cut, skin-on French fries, a.k.a. frites. Delirium uses Luftosa brand potato fries imported directly from Belgium. Look for the building bearing the signature pink elephant sign.

101 S. King St.

LIGHTFOOT

The visually stunning atmosphere of Lightfoot captures elegance in space and on the plate. Located inside a renovated Romanesque revival–style bank, Lightfoot is the creation of the sister team of Executive Chef Ingrid Gustavson and General Manager Carrie Gustavson Whitmer. Chef Gustavson focuses on seasonal American cuisine with southern and ethnic accents like the shrimp and grits elevated by the addition of braised pork, bacon lardons, and Cajun pepper sauce. Or  try the seared scallops with sweet potato pancakes, pineapple salsa, and honey black pepper beurre blanc. Save room for a selection from the daily dessert specials.

11 N. King St.

Tomahawk pork chop at The Wine Kitchen (Photo: Michael C. Upton for TravelMag)

THE WINE KITCHEN

Located in the center of bustling King St., The Wine Kitchen offers a unique American bistro dining choice among the many restaurants in Leesburg. Creative dishes are the result of fresh, local ingredients given an Italian flare. Highlights from the menu include house-made strozzapreti, squid in spaghetti, and bucatini pasta; a customizable charcuterie board; and creative, seasonally inspired small plates. Local farm, winery, and distillery partners are listed on the menu. Brunch at The Wine Kitchen is a popular Sunday event. Above all, The Wine Kitchen is a wine bar and servers are knowledgeable about pairings and recommendations.

7 S. King St.

KING STREET OYSTER BAR

Oysters are king at the King Street Oyster Bar, the original location for the micro-chain of Virginia, D.C., and Maryland restaurants. Every day, the restaurant offers 10 or more varieties of oysters, from salty Chincoteagues to sweet Kumamotos. King Street demands freshness when it comes to oysters as east coast varieties are in-house less than 24 hours out of the water. For those looking for something else, the menu offers a variety of specialty salads and sandwiches, plus a selection of entrees geared mainly toward seafood fans. The restaurant’s newest addition is the smokehouse fish board comprised of salmon candy, traditional salmon, peppered salmon, rainbow trout, and a whitefish salad.

12 S. King St.

Local art at Cocina on Market (Photo: Michael C. Upton for TravelMag)

COCINA ON MARKET

Around the corner from Leesburg’s main drag is a world away when entering the chic and hip Cocina on Market. This narrow eatery with a rooftop dining area is laser focused on Mexican culture and cuisine and the most popular dining option is the selection of tacos, which range from chapulines to charred brussels sprouts. The multiple selections makes sharing easy. Beyond soups, snacks and sandwiches Cocina has two signature specialties requiring notice well ahead of time. The agave-lacquered whole duck serves two to four and requires 72-hour advance notice. The whole suckling pig served with seasonal salsas and accompaniments serves the entire family and requires 10-days advance notice. The rooftop dining area is in high demand, so call for reservations or get there early.

7 W. Market St.

Jumbo scallop appetizer from Magnolias at the Mill (Photo: Michael C. Upton for TravelMag)

MAGNOLIAS AT THE MILL

Just outside of Leesburg sits the small town of Purcellville, home of Magnolias at the Mill. Magnolias bills itself as a premiere American restaurant in the heart of Loudoun County wine country. The menu is extensive and offers a complete selection of appetizers, full salads, and entrees ranging from salmon Oscar to herb crusted rack of lamb, which is a regular customer favorite. Casual diners can choose from a list of burgers and brick oven pizzas. The mill is something worth visiting. The circa-1905 grain mill has been renovated to showcase condition and the interior is styled with pulleys, ropes, and tools once used onsite. The outdoor seating is also impressive.

198 N. 21st St., Purcellville