Where to Eat Between NJ and NC, via VA

We will be driving from NJ to Raleigh, NC to attend a friend’s wedding, leaving on 10/19 and coming home 10/23. On the way down, we are stopping in Richmond, VA to break up the trip and because we’ve never been there.

I’m looking for restaurant recommendations to stop at along the way as well as in those 2 cities. In Richmond, I think we’ll need one of each breakfast lunch and dinner. Our NC plans are little more fluid but we’ll be on our own for at least a couple of breakfasts and lunches for sure. We prefer places that are representative of the area’s cuisine or are otherwise not cookie cutter.

Any other suggestions of things not to miss are also appreciated.

One of the most unique places anywhere was the legendary Mama Zu in Richmond. Now closed, victim of the pandemic… Cash only, no reservations, no printed menu, just a chalkboard with a ton of items on it. Italian, family style service.

But it’s sibling restaurant, Edo’s Squid, is still going strong. It is the same food, extremely idiosyncratic. Long list of specials. I would definitely go for whole fish, brocoletti di rapa, squid, white bean, and arugula salad, baked cabbage, caponata, braised fennel… risotto if they have it, though I would avoid pasta here. Very, very informal but not cheap. They take reservations and credit cards which made it the practical sibling.

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In the Baltimore area, if you haven’t had pit beef, you should stop for some. It is open-pit smoked top round of beef. Usually eaten as a sandwich with raw onion and tiger sauce (a combo of mayo and horseradish). Order it rare. Medium rare at the most. If you go to Beefalo Bob’s, it will take you only a tiny bit out of your way. But as you know, anything off the highway is going to take some amount of time . Totally worth it.



Thank you so much for these great suggestions. The Baltimore area seems like it would be the right timing to stop for lunch on the way down. We don’t mind making a detour for good food. Is Beefalo Bob’s the place you’d suggest? Or is there someplace that may be a little more out of the way but better?

I’ve added Edo’s Squid to my list of places. The menu looks very good and it is not too far from where we are staying (Shickoe Slip neighborhood). Everything in this day and age is expensive but I don’t mind paying for something good.

Thanks for your help

The absolute Number One place for pit beef is Pioneer Pit Beef, which is literally a shack under a highway. No indoor seating. Hardly any indoor at all. Plus it’s on the other side of Baltimore than you’ll be.

Beefalo Bob’s is an acceptable alternative. I have not been to all the pit beef options…

BTW, you can ask for a pound of pit beef to go, makes for irresistible snacking.

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We’ve stopped in Richmond on the way down to Florida quite a few times & I have to say that Edo’s Squid has been our favorite each time. It may not even be as expensive as you think since, if I remember correctly, many dishes have a portion size that may be enough for 2.

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Richmond has plenty of history. Try to visit their Museum of Art. The food scene is thriving as well. Two of our favorites when visiting: ZZQ Texas Craft BBQ, and Rappahannock Restaurant.

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Thanks. I’ll have to take a look at the difference in travel times. We are on no special schedule but Mr Bean is not know for his travel patience so I’m not sure what sort of mood he’ll be in when the time comes to eat.


I actually didn’t think it looked all that expensive, especially compared to the NJ Shore tourist prices I am used to paying.

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Thanks for the suggestions. We may have to hit up Richmond for another meal on the way home.

Yeah, it isnt. I was just poorly expressing that it may be even more inexpensive than it looks due to the portion size.

Gotchya. Thanks for the clarification.

Does anyone have any recs for the Raleigh area?

@ChristinaM I know Asheville isn’t really close to Raleigh but you’re the only Onion I can think of from NC. Any suggestions. We are especially interested in finding barbecue.

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In Raleigh, the Angus Barn is a classic steakhouse with a world class wine list. Cortez Seafood takes Mexican seafood to a whole new universe. 42d Street Oyster Bar. Poole’s. My favorite there, though, is the Glenwood Grill.


In Richmond, ZZQ is probably the best Texas-style barbecue place east of Texas.

Richmond also has the oldest house in the Western Hemisphere – Agecroft Hall, 15th century. Really.


A little more out of the way is Pioneer Pit Beef. A tiny wood shack a few minutes off 695. Cash only. I think it the best pit beef I have had. In beltsville, just before you hit the dc beltway is Da Rae Won for top notch Korean. Hand pulled noodles, Korean Chinese style wings in sweet and sour sauce and fried mandoo dumplings.

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Did not see this.

In Baltimore, i love clavel fot tacos and mezcal. Superb food. You will need to take 695 to 83 but Clavel is worth the hike. Great cocktails too.

They process heritage corn to masa for tortillas. The food is vibrant with strong citrusy flavore. Anything in the Aguachile or Ceviche is superb.


Great mimes think alike.

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Like Robin Williams and Marcel Marceau?

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