Thursday, September 5, 2013

Experience Loudoun, v.1: The Market Station Trifecta

Every now and then I'll be asked the question "do you visit DC a lot?" and the answer is always "NO."

We live less than 50 miles from our Nation's Capitol, but it might as well be on Jupiter for all the times we go there (Ok, maybe Jupiter is a bit of an exaggeration). I think we go somewhere in the neighborhood of two-three times a year...if that.

The thing is, it's a total pain in the bones to get into DC. We don't have a metro station in our county (yet), so if we want that option that's a 40 minute drive to the closest station, then find parking at that station, then wait for the train, then a 40 minute train ride to get into the city. Or, we can suffer through traffic and attempt to find parking IN the city. 

Really, the only reason to go to DC is to visit this gal--anything else is not worth the effort. 

Romantical picnic with Julia @ Hillwood Estate, one of my favorite spots in the city.
So, when we have visitors from out of town, we like to take them around Loudoun, instead of doing the traditional touristy thing in the city. And now, I'm starting a super duper handy guide for all of you lovely friends, for any time you want to visit Loudoun!* 

The first spot we'll be checking out in this series involves food--because, what else? (Well, wine, obviously, but no worries we will cover that in detail.) If you ever come here, please don't eat at Outback--I mean that hurts me but you'll mostly be hurting yourself. You can find great, local restaurants in just about every section of the county--from the tiniest of country towns to the most urbanized sections, there's always something local and delicious awaiting you.

Today I'm talking about not just one restaurant in particular, but three: Tuscarora (Tuskie's), South Street Under, and Fireworks--a cluster of restaurants in the same location in downtown Leesburg, that I like to refer to as "The Market Station Trifecta."

These restaurants are all under the same management, so you'll see a few similarities, including the unbelievably delicious ciabatta bread.

Image via SSU's website.
So, which one should you choose? Here's the breakdown:

If you're looking to go on a fancy dinner date, Tuskie's is the place to TREAT YO SELF. It's one of two five-star restaurants in the county, and man oh man is it delightful! I ordered roasted rack of lamb one time and it was one of the best things I've ever tasted. If spending money on food isn't your thing, then head over to the bar area. They have some equally tasty options over there that range from $10-$15, or you could just drink your dinner then soak it up with ciabatta bread (worth it). Their beer/wine selection is is full of local selections, and they've got some great options for cocktails too (try to jalapeno cilantro margarita). Tuskie's also has a brunch menu, which apparently includes ciabatta french toast--WHAT?!?!? I'm there.

Scallops over tomato-basil risotto

Seared beef fondue--one of my all time favorites.
That's what happens when you throw a bright flash against a jalapeno-cilantro infused marg.
So, maybe you're not feeling a fancy pants restaurant. Maybe you're out with a group of friends, or maybe it's just a beer-and-pizza kind of night. If this is the case, your poison of choice is Fireworks Pizza. How can I describe Fireworks? I don't even know. This pizza is so delectable I can't put it into words--I had to ask Matt for advice, and he summed it up nicely as "the closest you will get to Italy this side of the Potomac." Like Tuskie's, there is a variety but carefully selected choice of beer and wines, and most of the ingredients are sourced locally (this is true for all three restaurants). I don't have any pictures to share, but let me tell you about one of my favorite pizzas, the Smokey Blue--it has gorgonzola cheese, bacon, roasted onions, and a balsamic glaze. I'm drooling.
(P.S. If you can't make it from DC to Loudoun, then maybe you can at least make it to Arlington, the location of a second Fireworks.)

If any of the above options didn't sound appetizing, then maybe South Street Under (SSU) is more your scene. This is the magical place that churns out the ciabatta bread, along with a mouthwatering assortment of baked goods and deli items. Lately, I love grabbing some sandwiches and cookies from SSU and taking it over to a local winery for a picnic. Now THAT'S a delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

Image via SSU.
I know this has been quite a lengthy post, but it's hard to shorten the magnificence of the Market Station Trifecta. If you're ever in our neck of the woods, please go to at least one of these restaurants--you won't be disappointed.

*Okay, let's be real, I know Loudoun County may not be high on anyone's list of places to travel, but just in case you are ever looking for something that's a little bit of a trek outside DC, check us out. I promise it will be worth it. 


  1. Those scallops and risotto looks SO good!

    1. They were amazing! My husband ordered it and I wanted to steal his whole plate.


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