Breakfast dish of steak & eggs

Ultimate Dining Guide to Orange, VA

The food scene in Orange has reached a higher pinnacle. New restaurants stand shoulder-to-shoulder with old favorites. The chefs and restaurateurs who make this happen know they’re setting a sumptuous table. With more selection, however, comes the burden of choice. Voila! Here’s your ultimate guide to dining in Orange.

But first, have you googled “Best Restaurants in Orange, Virginia”?  Have you read reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor?

Whether you are here on business, for pleasure, or happenstance, I know your dilemma: Google didn’t tell you everything!  

You know what you want, and it’s more elevated than a hot dog in a parking lot washed down with a Dr. Pepper.  

You want to know where the discerning, local foodies eat. You want fresh-made and chef-inspired.  AND if you can get a piece of local history in a locally owned and operated establishment where the food is served with love? Golden.

Basically, you want the inside scoop.

So, let’s pretend I can see you there scrolling endlessly wishing you knew a local Orange resident.

Guess what? I want to be your local foodie guide. Lucky you!

Here’s how I’d break it down:

1st question: “Do you love good pizza and enjoy craft beer?” 

Or, the question forever on my mind, “How long has it been since I last had Iron Pipe pizza and can my waistline really accommodate overindulging in Brewmaster Zach’s beer and his father Steve Speelman’s pizza AGAIN this week?”  From my point of view, if Iron Pipe and Alewerks is open, my work here is done.

What’s not to like? A true family operation, Steve’s perfect brick-oven-fired pizza pairs perfectly with the ten craft beers Zach has on tap. Here’s a chance to take in some local WWII history of the Orange Silk Mill while rubbing shoulders with the Who’s Who of small town Orange. PS – Yes, The Bee Sting Pizza with pepperoni, jalapeños, and honey is as good as it sounds. PPS –  Yes, there is outside dining. PPPS – Live music! —You’re welcome.

However, if it’s lunch on a weekday and Iron Pipe is closed (sadness), or you simply want something other than pizza and beer (blasphemy), let me ask you…

2nd question:  Are you looking for fast casual or fine dining?

I ask because our town has some fantastic new options and it isn’t easy narrowing them down. Sometimes you simply have to use an either/or decision tree to simplify matters.

First – Fast Casual:

Provisions Market Table, also in the historic Silk Mill, takes fast casual dining to a whole new level.  Chef Randy Cooper has been a fixture in the restaurant and catering scene in Orange for years. His devoted followers are thrilled to once again have access to his impeccably executed cuisine at his new restaurant.

To say Provisions sources the freshest, local, often organic ingredients to create seasonal soups, salads, and sandwiches only encompasses part of the essence of this venue.  Nothing about what happens in this curated space is left to chance. (Just look at the photos on their brilliantly designed website and swoon!)

As you stand at the counter to order, each menu item reads as a simple, clean, tantalizing list of ingredients. Such simplicity belies the agony you face in choosing what to sample, but once you know, Chef Randy and his staff will delight in pairing the perfect glass of wine from their extensive list to add just the right touch to your experience. You can also peruse the specialty beverages in the market cooler to make your own drink selection. Whether you are looking for a quick lunch by yourself, or a multi-course celebration with friends, Provisions provides. And then some.

If fast but a bit more casual is higher on your priority list today, you can’t go wrong with My Avocado: A Mexican Grill with a Mediterranean Twist.  (Think Chipotle.)  Don’t cross My Avocado off your list because it doesn’t have a website or because you are “not in the mood for Mexican.”  (If you do have tacos and a high-end margarita on your mind, checkout La Naranja. But I digress.)

For me, it’s the genuine love that the owners put into the “Mediterranean Twist” that makes My Avocado so much more than first meets the eye. Where else can you speak directly with the owner Chef Majid Abedi as he personally builds your meal your way. Tortilla? Lentil or carrot rice? Braised beef, lamb, or chicken? and then garnished with your choice of an endless variety of fresh and sautéed vegetables, legumes, seeds, cheese, olives, hummus, guacamole, spicy salsa, and tzatziki? The list of homemade goodness goes on. From the simplest of plain rice with chicken for your picky child, to the spiciest and boldest of flavor combinations your tastebuds crave, Chef Majid has you covered.

For the Hidden Gem factor, locals know that My Avocado doubles as our coffee shop and bakery of the highest order.  From Turkish coffee for two, espresso, and smoothies to vegan gluten-free Honey Tahini Sesame Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cookies, and cheesecake, if Majid is the chef behind the savory, his sister is the baker extraordinaire behind the sweets. Be sure to save room for both.

Next  – Fine Dining:

Forked on Main executes classic modern fine dining for lunch or dinner with exceptional table-side service that sets it apart from anywhere else in Orange. An in-town sister property to The Inn at Willow Grove with its four-star restaurant, Vintage, Forked is a welcome addition to Main Street Orange.  

Stepping in through the red door, you are greeted at the host stand. You have a decision to make: go left to find a cozy spot in Forked’s bar/lounge area to enjoy your meal or a signature cocktail and some classic appetizers like steamed mussels and calamari; go right and dine in their upscale bistro-style restaurant. Whichever you choose, rest assured that food, beverage, atmosphere, and service together will make for a memorable experience.

For the history buffs, this chic designer interior happens to be in The Spark’s Building c.1830, one of our town’s oldest structures. Take a look at the brickwork on the restaurant’s western side alley and wonder what Main Street Orange once looked like in the early 19th Century.

Spoon & Spindle is the newest restaurant in town and has quickly gained popularity by filling the need for a reliable, inspired weekday lunch and Sunday brunch. It may take you a minute to find this tiny spot tucked away in a hidden corner of the Silk Mill, but it is well worth the effort! While Chef Zachary Andrews’ regular menu tends towards classic American and down-home southern flavors, keep your eyes open for the specials where he showcases his skill with an eclectic variety of cuisines from Asian and Italian to French and Middle Eastern. Expect this talented young chef to keep the menu fresh and ever-changing. I just hope he never takes the crispy brussel sprouts off his choice of sides.

Locust Grove:

What if you’ve not yet arrived at the Town of Orange, you ask, and are curious for what’s available in Locust Grove? Midway between Orange and Fredericksburg, several options present opportunities for the hungry. JB Cakes offers a variety of fresh-baked sweets. Witches Brew offers a variety of coffees and teas, as well as an assortment of pastries. For something more substantial, served with Orange County hospitality, check out Clearwater Grill for brunch, lunch, or dinner. 

So that’s my pocket-edition of two cents for outsiders.

Sure, with the internet, you, the savvy foodie, could certainly have done the scrolling and found even a few more choices than what I have highlighted here. And yes, any local might point you to our town’s default family-friendly standard choice of The Light Well or The Silk Mill Grille. Either way, you’d still be better off than settling for that hot dog and Dr. Pepper! 

Some culinary delights are all the more tasty for having followed the bread-crumb trail you discover for yourself.