In its third year, our annual restaurant roundup welcomes more than a handful of new eateries to the list. Restaurants featured here* have demonstrated a consistent dedication to food quality, attentive yet comfortable service and an all-around special dining experience. With the first seven spots listed here representing our first-timers, we give you the 2020 Loudoun 20. (This list first appeared in the summer 2020 edition of Loudouner, a quarterly lifestyle magazine produced by the Loudoun Times-Mirror. Read the editor's introduction by clicking here.)

Loudouner Summer 2020 Cover

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Pazzo Pomodoro

19825 Belmont Chase Dr.

Ashburn 20147

(703) 858-5555

Pazzo Pomodoro Lamb Chops

Pazzo Pomodoro's Sicilian lamb chops crusted with pistachios and served with a Madeira wine reduction.

The best classic Italian in Loudoun, says one restaurateur not affiliated with the Pazzo. Pazzo Pomodoro has steadily gained a reputation for authentic Italian in a fun, casual environment suited for all occasions. And it isn't just the fresh, house-made pastas -- Pazzo also offers an extensive wine list that has earned the prestigious Wine Spectator Restaurant Award. The Belmont Chase trattoria has been a welcome addition to the local food scene.

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Sense of Thai St.

20413 Exchange St.

Ashburn 20147

(703) 858-1980

Sense of Thai St.

Sense of Thai in One Loudoun is known for its elevated cocktail program, but the food is just as memorable.

If you think of The Loudoun 20 like college basketball's March Madness, Sense of Thai was right “on the bubble” the past two years. The Thai eatery and top-notch cocktail bar landed a much-deserved spot on this year's list after shoring up previous years' consistency and service concerns. Make no bones about it: Sense of Thai has always been one of the coolest places in Loudoun to grab a tasty bite, but it could never quite sneak into this highly competitive roundup. 2020 is Sense's year. (As much as 2020 can be anyone's year.)

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Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

19870 Belmont Chase Dr.

Ashburn 20147

(703) 840-0999

Cooper's Hawk Scallops

A summer favorite, the scallops at Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant.

Let's just get this out of the way: Yes, Cooper's Hawk is a chain with 40-ish locations across the U.S. We don't care. It's become one of the most-loved eateries in Loudoun, and after numerous memorable meals since Cooper's Hawk arrived in Belmont Chase in 2016, we declare Cooper's Hawk deserves to be on this list – “corporate chain” be damned. A well-rounded food menu with pleasing, modestly priced wines and smiling service in a gorgeous space makes this restaurant a can't-miss.

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Spanky’s Shenanigans

538 E Market St.

Leesburg 20176

(703) 777-2454

Spanky's breakfast

While known largely as a bar and pub for the lunch and evening hours, Spanky's also has a popular breakfast.

In the third year of The Loudoun 20, we realized there was a void in the first two installments. We've never recognized a true “pub,” a place that's equal parts bar and food – and does both exceptionally well. Look, sometimes you just need a burger. Or hot wings. Or the most mouthwatering shrimp in town (get 'em blackened). Spanky's does it right. Welcoming service. Indoor-outdoor seating. Smoking side and non-smoking side. Comfort food from 7 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. (in non-pandemic times). It's the “Cheers” of Leesburg.

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Noku

1607 Village Market Blvd. SE

Leesburg 20175

(571) 333-5223

Noku Sushi

Sushi from Noku, which is located in the Village at Leesburg.

In a similar trajectory as Pazzo Pomodoro, Noku has flown somewhat under-the-radar in its ability to execute a specific style of cuisine flawlessly. In conversations with collaborators for this issue, it became clear Noku now rivals Passion Fin as the go-to spot for Loudoun's lovers of fresh, exquisite sushi. The Village at Leesburg space is cozy and minimalistically charming, making it a perfect spot for your next date night.

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Goodstone Inn

36205 Snake Hill Road

Middleburg 20117

(540) 687-3333

Goodstone Inn

The Barbarie duck with salsify, mimolette and perigord truffle at Goodstone Inn.

Whether for weddings, special events or a relaxing lunch or dinner in the country, Goodstone Executive Chef Naj Van Haute creates a fanciful dining experience. The restaurant has won multiple awards and nominations, including “Wine Spectator's” 2020 Best of Award of Excellence for its wine program and a Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMMY) nomination for Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year. With fresh and unique ingredients from the on-site Chef's Garden, Van Haute has transitioned the restaurant's offerings during the pandemic by offering a take-out menu, drive-thru grocery service and four-course tasting menu on the outdoor terraces.

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Burton’s

21434 Epicerie Plaza

Sterling 20164

(571) 665-5700

Burton's Cocktails

Burton's in Sterling serves up an extensive cocktail menu.

For Burton's, we can pretty much refer to the write-up for Cooper's Hawk, though Burton's is a touch – just a touch – more casual and not as wine-centric. Indeed, Burton's restaurants can be found in seven states beyond Virginia, but we're not going to hold that against a place that has become the neighborhood hangout for residents of Sterling and beyond. From the food to the service to the vibe, Burton's is a casual New American eatery done right.

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Magnolias at the Mill Seafood

Seafood offerings at Magnolias at the Mill, a Purcellville staple.

Magnolias at the Mill

198 N. 21st St.

Purcellville 20132

(540) 338-9800

Legend has it that the late Bruce Brownell approached Kevin Malone, owner of Tuskie’s Restaurant Group, with the idea of opening a restaurant in the old mill in Purcellville. Malone’s Tuscarora Mill Restaurant in Leesburg had already established itself as the go-to farm-to-table fine dining spot, and he wasn’t totally sold on the Purcellville location. "It's an amazing building, so much potential,” he told Brownell. “Call me back when Purcellville has more people than cows.” Soon Brownell came back, saying, "I counted. There are more people than cows." Now the circa 2003 Mag’s, as it's commonly referred to, has become another fixture in the local food game.

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Patowmack Farm

42461 Lovettsville Road

Lovettsville 20180

(540) 822-9017

Patowmack Farm

Patowmack Farm is perennially thought of as one of the best restaurants in the D.C. region.

“Our fields are the chef’s pantry” is the motto at this upscale farm-to-table restaurant in Lovettsville. Chef Tarver King, a 2017 semifinalist for the James Beard Award for best chef in the mid-Atlantic region, builds the New American cuisine-style menu daily depending on what produce is available. The dining room is housed in an elegant, all-glass former conservatory boasting an expansive view of the Potomac River valley.

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Jasmine Chinese Cuisine and Sushi

110 South St. SE

Leesburg 20175

(703) 737-2288

This casual eatery is a Leesburg favorite for its classic Chinese dishes and lengthy sushi menu, plus beer and wine. Sit inside the both spacious and cozy dining area, or enjoy your meal al fresco in their outdoor seating under Market Station. You'll always get service with a smile at Jasmine.

Jasmine Sushi

Jasmine Chinese Cusine and Sushi is located on the lower level of Market Station in Leesburg.

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Tuscarora Mill

203 Harrison St. SE

Leesburg 20175

(703) 771-9300

Tuskie's Scallops

Seared scallops at Tuscarora Mill restaurant in downtown Leesburg.

A Loudoun County landmark, Tuskie’s has been serving up delicious New American fare in the old mill at Market Station in Leesburg for more than 30 years. Kevin Malone, owner of Tuskie’s Restaurant Group that operates Tuscarora Mill, South Street Under, Fire Works Pizza and Magnolia's at the Mill, has excelled at establishing Tuskie's reputation for a high-quality fine dining experience that features locally sourced ingredients. The menus are always built to highlight the freshness of the products.

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AhSo

22855 Brambleton Plaza Suite 108

Brambleton 20148

(703) 327-6600

AhSo

AhSo has quickly established a reputation as one of the best dining experiences in Loudoun County.

Chef Jason Maddens' AhSo continues to come into its own with adventurous and playful plates that tickle the taste buds. Launched in Brambleton in 2017, this true farm-to-table restaurant serves up beautifully presented and, indeed, delicious meals in varying styles. While not cheap, the options are by no means overly expensive. AhSo offers arguably the best bang-for-your-buck, chef-driven meal in Loudoun County.

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Cocina on Market

7 W. Market St.

Leesburg 20176

(571) 707-8593

Cocina Tequila Sunrise DOW

The Tequila Sunrise at Cocina on Market in Leesburg.

The latest restaurant from Market Table Bistro's Jason Lage and Rebecca Dudley, Cocina serves up Mexican street food, specifically “elevated interpretations of street food highlighting the culinary regions of Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz,” according to the owners. With a vast tequila and mezcal list – including some deliciously dangerous flights – and the only rooftop dining space in Leesburg, Cocina is an always versatile option. It can be perfect for a couple drinks and apps, but it's equally impressive as a place for a multi-course, chef-driven meal.

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DC Prime

DC Prime in Ashburn is the classic steakhouse with oversize booths, dim lighting and the sound of a Sinatra filling the air.

DC Prime

20120 Lakeview Center Plaza

Ashburn 20147

(703) 840-2099

DC Prime is the classic, tony steakhouse perfect for special occasions. Executive Chef Brad Weideman delivers on his passion for steak and seafood with fresh and frequently local ingredients. In addition to the succulent meats, DC Prime is known for mood-setting ambiance, elegant service and a robust wine list. A succinct bar menu offers a less pricey option to experience the five-year-old establishment.

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The Wine Kitchen

7 S. King St.

Leesburg 20175

(703) 777-9463

With an ever-changing menu utilizing local products and 40-plus wines by the glass, The Wine Kitchen has established itself as the anchor eatery of Leesburg's King Street. “Wine was made for food and food was made for wine” is The Wine Kitchen’s philosophy, “Eat, Drink, Simply” its mantra. Owner Jason Miller and Chef Tim Rowley's visions seem more harmonious with each passing year, and the ever-changing, inventive cocktail program has helped lure new crowds night after night.

The Wine Kitchen | Tater Tots

Loaded gourmet tater tots are a popular item at The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg.

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West End Wine Bar and Pub

36855 W. Main St.

Purcellville 20132

540-441-7896

West End Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes at West End Wine Bar and Pub in Purcellville.

Housed in a stately old residence and inn, this Southern-centric restaurant with the occasional curve ball is the perfect dinner stop after a day at western Loudoun's wineries and breweries. Whether in the more formal – but not too formal – dinner level, or the downstairs tavern, West End is the kind of place where you'll walk away satisfied. Fan favorites include the jumbo lump crab cakes and the barbecue chicken steamed buns.

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Roots 657 Cheeseburger

Roots 657 serves mouthwatering cheeseburgers and barbecue sandwiches, among other items.

Roots 657 Cafe and Local Market

42301 Spinks Ferry Road

Leesburg 20176

(703) 779-9657

Roots 657 is Certified Master Chef Chef Rich Rosendale's eat-in and take-out cafe and market located just north of Leesburg at the intersection of routes 657 and 15. The cafe and locally-inspired market offer the chef's regionally curated products featuring local artisans alongside house-made soups, salads, sandwiches and fresh-baked goods. Roots' burgers and barbecue are the perfect closure to an afternoon at one of the dozen nearby wineries.

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Market Table Bistro Pork Chop

A locally sourced pork chop dish from Chef Jason Lage of Market Table Bistro in Lovettsville. 

Market Table Bistro

13 E. Broad Way

Lovettsville 20180

(540) 822-3008

This comfy, inviting Lovettsville staple specializes in locally-sourced farm-to-table fare, wines and craft cocktails. Partnering with local growers and farmers, Market Table's owners say they're on a mission to offer locally produced food with vegan and gluten-free options in an accessible manner. In our eyes – and our mouths – they succeeded.

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Fire Works Pizza

201 Harrison St., SE

Leesburg 20175

(703) 779-8400

Fireworks Pizza

Fire Works, a sister restaurant of Tuscarora Mill and Magnolias at the Mill, offers about a dozen unique specialty pizzas.

A hip and casual member of the Tuskie's Restaurant Group family, Fire Works Pizza serves up creative, wood-fired pizzas and craft beer. Whether a classic cheese and pepperoni or margherita, or a more adventurous offering like the R.T. – pesto, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, goat cheese, salami and spinach – Fire Works is the perfect place for dinner with the family, a bar meet-up with friends or a safe, outdoor patio experience in the age of the pandemic. As with all of the Tuskie's group restaurants, top-tier service is a sure bet.

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The Conche Calamari

The Conche's calamari, which features ground cacao beans and chocolate stout beer batter.

The Conche

605 Village Market Blvd. SE

Leesburg 20175

(703) 779-1800

The Conche is where you go to be dazzled – or where you go to be the dazzler on date night. This show-off restaurant from celebrity chef Santosh Tiptur, a Loudoun resident and dessert dream maker, features a sleek design and slate of creative dishes – seared scallops with cocoa nib crust and white chocolate puree or a cocoa-rubbed New York Strip with a chocolate Burgundy reduction, to name a couple. Thirsty? The elaborate cocktails from General Manager Samet Yuksekgonul are crafted with every bit as much care as the dishes.

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*Restaurants had to be open for one year as of April to be considered for this list.

Editor's note: This year's Loudoun 20 was finalized by Loudoun Times-Mirror editors Trevor Baratko and Karen Graham. Collaborators -- essentially our informal judges -- were restaurateurs Jason Miller, Jason Maddens and Rich Rosendale and local “foodies” Tiffany Meehan, Katie Barchas Wilson, Arzo Hatef and Angela Rabena. Maddens, Rosendale and Miller's participation was not a factor in their respective restaurants making the list. The release of this issue is the first time this year's Loudoun 20 has been made available to the public, including to our collaborators. 

(21) comments

TinaInVA

[cool] Ford's Fish Shack, Opa!, Leesburg Public House should have been included over the chains. Lowry's, Doner Bistro, Chin-Chin are also worth considering. Definitely agree on DC Prime and Sense of Thai - both are extraordinary.

LoudounPulse

Patowmack Farm is the best place in Loudoun. I just wish I could afford it more often.

John M

A couple of thoughts on the list: Nice to see Pazzo Pomodoro on the list, but agree with the comment that it is too small, especially when the bar is loud- there needs to be separation from the dining room. Replacing the open "window" section that separates the bar from the dining room with actual windows would be great. Also, the portions have gotten smaller and the prices are high for Italian food.

Ford's Fish Shack should be on the list, although I believe it's time for a menu update from them. Perhaps at least a couple fo new regular entrees would be good.

Nice to see Roots on the list- a hidden gem for sure.

Opa! definitely belongs here, along with Greek Unique. Two great places!

robsafferson

"essentially our informal judges -- were restaurateurs Jason Miller, Jason Maddens and Rich Rosendale." Each of these "judges' restaurants happened to make the list. Hmm.

LetFreedomRing

The most glaring omission is Chick-fil-A. Hands down, best service, best staff and best food. I eat there 5 days a week. 😜

Hodor

Same. That's why I wear my comfy Freedom Pants, always expanding into new frontiers of waistline sizes with it's patented blend of elastic, nylon, and cotton, allowing me to indulge on a diet of pure fast food.

More Cowbell

I've eaten at most and would say at least 6 don't belong. I like pizza and they're good but wouldn't put them in top 20 with other fine dining. For me it's about whole experience, not just the food. Shocked Shenanigans were mentioned. one knock against Pomodoro's is the space is so small, food is good, not great. The Thai place at Loudoun One is just ok.

John M

Cowbell: It's ONE LOUDOUN, not Loudoun One.

Beefcake

Ridiculous..No Parallel?! They were on it in ‘18 and ‘19 and expanded the restaurant since it was always packed. I can’t imagine what happened for the LTM judges to keep them off the list😉

AshburnRez

+1 for Parallel!

gbay926

Any such list that omits the Red Fox Inn has no credibility.

LoudounClear

Some fine eateries here but I can't help noticing that the bulk of Loudoun's fine dining is chain restaurants. Says something about the quality of life here, I think.

Squaks11

LC - What are you talking about?

John M

LC: There are literally no chain restaurants on the list.

Birkey

Did you read the whole story? They even recognized in the article that Coopers Hawk and Burton's were chains.

AFF

I stopped reading when I got to Shenanigans.

Smoking side?

Katmandu

Don't be a hater AFF. Have you even tried their menu? Shenanigan's has excellent food. For a bar, their food is vastly underrated and quite good. Brunch too. Glad somebody decided to recognize them for good food.

ExArmyGuy

The list could not have been compiled from customer inputs or other site's (Yelp, GrubHub, TripAdvisor, etc.) as it didn't include Opa Mezze Grill (Greek Cuisine). Just my 2 cents worth from someone who eats out frequently in Loudoun County and has visited a majority of the listed establishments.

Lambrinii10

ExArmyGuy, you rock! Very surprised Opa! Mezze Grill didn’t make the list.

Phil Tatler

Breakfast is great!

Phil Tatler

Know it! LOL

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