It is only an hour from Fredericksburg to Richmond, but if you’re hungry, that can feel like an eternity! Here are a few of the most popular spots off of Interstate 95 along that stretch to make sure you reach Virginia’s capital feeling full and happy.
Before N After Café at Embrey Mill—Stafford
The next few exits going north from Fredericksburg are fairly quiet on the food radar, but for a quick bite and a cup of coffee, visit Before N’ After Café at Embry Mill. Closely located near the exit, the restaurant has a nice array of fresh salads and sandwiches served in a café environment. If the weather permits, grab a seat outdoors. A customer go-to order is the curried chicken salad, followed by one of their still warm, homemade cookies.
Paradise Diner provides an interesting mix of dishes on their menu, ranging from Italian favorites like Chicken Parmesan to Southern biscuits and gravy, but the real focus of Paradise Diner is the Greek food. You can’t go wrong with the gyro and a Greek salad. After the meal, check out the huge refrigerated case of desserts for an extra sweet treat. Another bonus of this Mediterranean spot is their support for the military, with parking spots reserved for Wounded Warriors.
Dishman’s Corner Store—Woodford
Newly opened after renovations, Dishman’s Corner Store in Woodford off of Exit 118 has everything you need in one stop: gas, groceries, and made-to-order food that is great for the road. This small store was once a staple in the community, but after four generations, it had fallen into disrepair. Owner Kirk Dishman put his building skills to use and renovated the store, giving the space new energy and adding menu items that have locals returning daily, such as the Bologna Burger and Country Ham Biscuits.
Stop by Snack Shack in Spotsylvania for a good old-fashioned burger and fries, followed by a creamy milkshake or ice cream sundae. While the exterior of the building has seen better days, you’ll discover the food is always fantastic (although not diet-friendly). In addition to burgers, Snack Shack serves subs, chicken, and seafood options. Be prepared when the bill comes; although the prices are very reasonable, the restaurant only accepts cash and local checks.
Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant—Ruther Glen
Whether you like pizza, pasta, or good old-fashioned American entrees, Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant in Ruther Glen serves it up right. This family-style Italian eatery is family owned and operated, and they know how to cater to your family, with a special kid’s menu. Suspended from the ceiling, a train track adds a touch of small-town charm to the restaurant. Locals love the pizza, made with a family sauce recipe that has been perfected over 20 years.
Lou’s Soul Food—Doswell
There isn’t much besides Kings Dominion and a few gas stations off of Exit 98, but this I-95 detour has one hidden gem in the form of real Southern cooking: Lou’s Soul Food. Some of the menu highlights include catfish, crab cakes, and fried chicken. Wash it all down with a glass of authentic sweet tea.
For those with four-legged traveling companions, The Houndstooth Café in Hanover is the ideal food pit stop. They accept dogs on the porch area, allowing you to enjoy a nice outdoor lunch of barbecue, seafood, or soul food without worrying about your pet.
Henry Clay Inn—Ashland
About 20 miles north of Richmond, Ashland typically doesn’t suffer from too much traffic, but after going through I-95 in the city, you may be ready for a break. Take Exit 92B to the historic Henry Clay Inn, a Georgian-style estate that now serves breakfast, as well as brunch on the weekends. Your car isn’t the only thing that needs fuel, and the Henry Clay Inn welcomes diners looking for a delicious start to the day from 7:30-10:30am. If you want to stick around Ashland for a little while longer, head over to the nearby visitor center and find more activities to fill your morning.
Ashland Coffee & Tea—Ashland
Get a caffeine boost for your trip when you visit Ashland Coffee & Tea, another popular spot just a few miles north of Richmond. As Ashland’s oldest running coffee shop, they are more known for their beverages, but you can also order a small selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Not into coffee? Try something from their blend-your-own-tea bar. Bring in any books you’ve finished along your trip and trade it in for fresh reads at the on-site book exchange.
Traveling through Ashland later in the day? Stop at Iron Horse for either lunch or dinner. The restaurant is located beside the train tracks and Amtrak station, and has been serving delicious Southern cuisine with a modern twist for over 18 years. If the weather permits, grab a table outside to enjoy upscale yet casual dining at the Iron Horse.
Another “oldie but goodie” you’ll find off Exit 92B is The Caboose. Functioning as both market and café, the restaurant serves up tasty down-home cooking without any fuss or frills. Expect friendly service and reliably good food at this 19-year old Ashland establishment. Take a bottle of Virginia wine or some snacks from the on-site shop home with you after you dine!
The Mill on MacArthur
Take Exit 82 to reach The Mill on MacArthur in the historic Bellevue district of Northside in Richmond. In addition to vegan and gluten-free options, this family-friendly restaurant uses local, seasonal ingredients to craft an exceptional menu. The chefs at The Mill on MacArthur pay homage to many nationalities and cultures with their dishes. Start your meal with the veggie banh mi flatbread or the Bavarian pretzels, or a side like the Greek orzo salad. Go for a signature pizza (like the pig pie), sandwich, entrée (a southern surf & turf is affordably priced at only $16 with a salad, grits, and extra veggie!), or build your own signature pasta dish. They even offer boxed lunches to go if you need to get back on the road. The boxes contain your choice of salad, sandwich or wrap, a side item, drink, and cookie for dessert.
Looking for restaurants further north from I-95 towards Northern Virginia? Check out Part 1 of the series for Virginia restaurants from Dumfries to Alexandria. Stay tuned for the best spots to eat traveling through Richmond and southern Virginia on Interstate 95.