Virginia is well known for some incredible down-home cooking. We might not be the only state that boasts delicious southern food, but we sure know how to cook it. With unbeatably fresh seafood, local produce, and creative use of flavors, it’s not difficult to see why Virginia has the best food around. This list mixes the traditional well-known Virginia plates with a few local favorites from different restaurants around the state.

Fresh Oysters

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Virginia's oysters. Photo: Virginia's Travel Blog

Oysters can be found all along the East coast but some of the very best can be found off the shores of Virginia. They're also the oldest dish ever recorded in the state, with accounts of people eating them going as far back as 1607.

If it was good enough for the first settlers then it's undoubtedly good enough for people today, and they've only gotten better. During the 19th century, as many as 8-million bushels of oysters were harvested in a year. With so many different types of oysters to choose from, all varying in flavor profile, Virginia has become known as the "Oyster Capital of the East Coast", according to the travel.

Peanuts

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Peanuts soup. Photo: Travelawaits

Handsome, plump Virginia peanuts are the largest of the four peanut types grown in the United States. The Virginia Diner in Wakefield is famous for the peanuts it packages and sends around the world. The first known commercial peanut crop of Virginia originated near the town of Waverly in 1842.

By 1902, Virginia had quickly become the largest peanut producer, with fourteen of the twenty factories operating in the United States. Virginia’s Peanut Country is concentrated in the coastal and southern regions of the state and can be explored best by following The Salty Southern Route.

Brunswick stew

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Brunswick stew. Photo: Onlyinyourstate

Brunswick County, located in Southern Virginia, is the documented birthplace of the hearty meat and vegetable-based Brunswick Stew that has long warmed brisk autumn and winter days. Original recipes were once made with wild game such as rabbits and squirrels, but today’s variations usually include chicken or pork smoked for many hours before making their way into the pot. The famous stew is a staple at many events in the southern region, often made in a huge cast iron cauldron and stirred with a boat oar, as Virginia cites.

Appalachian Food

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Appalachian-style cuisines. Photo: Virginia

The rustic beauty of the mountain regions – Blue Ridge Highlands and Heart of Appalachia – attracted settlers from England, Scotland, Germany, Hungary, and Italy who reinterpreted generations-old recipes using crops from their new found land.

Their pioneer activities were fueled by hearty mountain fare, including cornbread and beans, venison, wild turkey and pumpkins while pickling and canning vegetables helped sustain them through the winters. Chefs in the western part of the state today pay homage to these settlers by serving Appalachian food and using the same centuries-old techniques.

Country ham biscuits

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Country ham biscuits. Photo: Onlyinyourstate

These have been a traditional Virginia dish for years, made all the more delicious with famous Smithfield Ham and a little pepper jelly.

Blue Crabs

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Blue Crabs. Photo: Virginia

Blue Crabs are another delicacy of Virginia’s coastal towns along the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore. Get your hands dirty while picking steamed crabs at waterfront eateries or enjoy lumps of the sweet meat patted into cakes and served on a sandwich. Another favorite is soft shell crabs; chefs lightly batter and fry blue crabs that have shed their hard outer shells to yield captivating dishes.

Pimento Cheese

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Pimento Cheese. Photo: Travelawaits

The South’s favorite cheese spread, pimento cheese, can be found at many Virginia restaurants. The simple blend of Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and sweet peppers is delicious with ham (another Virginia specialty), melted on toast, or as a succulent sopper for a savory dish.

Virginia’s foods are as varied as the state’s landscapes. Each region of the state -- from the Chesapeake Bay and the Coastal Plain to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Plateau -- produces its own delicious specialties. Seafood is at the top of the list, of course - oysters and crab are abundant in the Chesapeake Bay -- but Virginia is known for beef production, too. You’ll also find lots of local produce, including peanuts, artichokes, and blackberries, plus Southern favorites like pimento cheese and fried chicken.
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