Hanover County, Virginia consists of several communities, including Ashland, Mechanicsville and Hanover. Brimming with historical sites, the area also features several tasty restaurants that will entice both meat lovers and vegetarians. From barbecue to Asian to Mexican cuisine, here are 10 of the tastiest spots found throughout Hanover County.
Located in Mechanicsville, Carter’s Pig Pen Bar-B-Que as the name suggests, specializes in mouthwatering barbecue. Tucked inside a former home painted sky blue with a pink pig painted on the roof, this family-owned restaurant features North Carolina and Virginia-style pulled pork barbecue along with tasty side dishes. Must-try options include the eponymous Carter’s Bar-B-Que pulled pork sandwich with a blend of vinegar and spices, the Grandma’s Bar-B-Que sandwich with a rich and sweet tomato-based sauce, and the pulled beef platter served with baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad and corn bread muffins. Delicious ribs, either half-rack or full-rack, are available as well.
A Mechanicsville favorite, Ginger Red Asian Bistro offers guests delectable Asian cuisine imbued with flavors from China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan. Within a contemporary, elegant space with clean lines and rich colors, guests can feast upon a wide variety of dishes. Tantalizing options include the Southern-style pot stickers stuffed with ground pork, scallions, ginger and cabbage, the spider roll with soft-shell crab and cucumber topped with eel sauce, and the salt and pepper tofu with onions, jalapeños and five-spice seasoning. An assortment of beverages from Thai iced tea to green tea chai is also available.
Meat lovers and vegetarians will both be delighted with the offerings at Giovanni’s. Established in 1990 in Mechanicsville, this locally-owned Italian restaurant attracts customers again and again with its tasty pizza, subs, and pastas. The culinary team creates favorites such as the white pizza with mozzarella, fresh garlic, oregano and olive oil, the Giovanni’s special pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and extra cheese, and the gnocchi with a choice of sauce. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are also available.
Hanover Tavern is an 18th-century tavern located in Hanover Courthouse. A beautifully restored building, guests can take self-guided tours, visit exhibitions, take in a theatrical production at the first dinner theatre in the nation (the Barksdale Theatre) or even enjoy a delightful meal from the on-site restaurant. Visitors can sample lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, or a pre-theatre dinner within a lovely space. The menus change with the season in order to highlight the freshest ingredients available, with current highlights being jumbo shrimp over white cheddar grits in a light sherry cream sauce with bacon, and asparagus risotto with mushrooms and Parmesan.
Cafe, Sandwich Shop, Restaurant, American, Salad Bar
Located in the small town of Ashland near the railroad, Homemades by Suzanne is a delightful option for anyone seeking a lunch bursting with flavor. Offering a host of sweet and savory selections, the friendly cafe has received much recognition over the past 30 years for its tasty selection of snacks, salads, sandwiches, and sweet treats. Diners can eat within the cafe, order take-out or a box lunch. A typical box lunch might include chicken salad on a homemade roll with a deviled egg, fruit salad, a slice of red velvet cake and a chocolate mint. Other highlights include green pea salad, baby shell macaroni salad, key lime pie, and carrot layer cake.
Houndstooth Cafe is a family-owned and operated venue located in Hanover. A charming and quaint place, thy specialize in barbecue and other home-style comfort cuisine sure to make mouths water. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, guests can sample smoked ribs, which are on the menu every day, plus side dishes, including fried okra, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes and more. Highlights include pork chops, ham platter with sides, and crab cake sandwich with fries to name a few. Be sure to leave some room for tantalizing pies, such as pecan, apple, and lemon chess.
With an imposing two-story sign, it is hard to miss the Iron Horse Restaurant in Ashland. For over 18 years, guests have been frequenting this place for its seasonal cuisine. The culinary team procures the freshest regional ingredients, including seafood, for its modern Southern fare. Within an upscale yet casual environment, guests can visit for lunch or dinner Monday through Saturday or a special Sunday brunch. Try the cinnamon-cured duck breast served with caramelized onion, shitake polenta cakes, sweet-and-sour greens and raspberry duck demi-glace; or the risotto-stuffed squash served with house-made sofrito sauce.
A new addition to the Ashland culinary scene, Jake’s Place is a delicious restaurant tucked inside a former gas station. Completely renovated, the interior space is a relaxing, homey environment perfect for savoring the restaurant’s ‘Southern comfortable food’. Some of the deliciousness waiting for guests include seafood and grits, which is shrimp and scallops sautéed with andouille, peppers and onions atop stone-ground grits with mixed cheese, pulled pork on a challah roll with country coleslaw, and the Southern pimento cheese sandwich with applewood bacon and tomatoes.
O’Bank’s Cafe and Grill is a lively Ashland restaurant featuring Irish-American cuisine. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, the café is a comfortable place that the entire family will enjoy. If visiting for breakfast, the crab cake benedict served with home fries or grits is one highlight; while those seeking lunch might enjoy the smoked pulled pork sandwich in North Carolina-style or Virginia-style. Dinner highlights include shepherd’s pie, which contains ground beef, diced onions and corn gravy topped with mashed potatoes. To complement the meal, wine, domestic, imported, and craft brews are available.
Located in Mechanicsville, The Patron is a lovely restaurant serving Mexican cuisine. While many similar places serve recipes that have been altered to suit American tastes, this venue opts to use traditional recipes representing a wide-range of Mexican dishes. Within an interior space decorated with warm, earthy colors, guests can sample dishes such as the veggie patron, which is a variety of grilled veggies atop a bed of Spanish rice with a homemade sauce and a crema salad, or very spicy grilled shrimp served with rice and salad.