Food & Drink: Editors’ picks

The views at Early Mountain Vineyards, in Madison, are beautiful—and a good match for the fine food and wine. The views at Early Mountain Vineyards, in Madison, are beautiful—and a good match for the fine food and wine.
Where and what we’re eating and drinking now.

Hickory Hill Store

BBQ, gas station, cheap eats

This no-frills roadside stop offers solid, reasonably priced pork and chicken barbecue slow-cooked on hickory and oak in smokers on the asphalt lot out front. What you have here is a convenience store with a kitchen, a counter with a few barstools, and a country music soundtrack. Sides and salads (including one made with smoked chicken) are housemade and unfussy, like you’d eat at a backyard cookout.

Service: Cheerful, quick

Space: Country store, linoleum floors

Apps/entrées: $1-2/$5-10

Drinks: Beer and soft drinks

Reservations: Not accepted

6:30am-6pm, Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday, 777 Monocan Tr., 293-0703


At Early Mountain Vineyards, Icelandic arctic char is seared and presented with mustard cream and sautéed chanterelles, and topped with potato “pebbles.” Photo: Tom McGovern

Early Mountain Vineyards

Farm-to-table, fine dining, great wine list

Chef Tim Moore spent more than seven years at the famed Inn at Little Washington before his recent arrival at this pastoral Madison winery. His small but dynamic menu changes frequently and delivers sophisticated fare to match Early Mountain’s next-level wine offerings. On a recent visit, local roasted beets with fromage blanc and Asian pear were served in an earthy sauce made from foraged black walnuts, and shrimp were brightly flavored with coriander, dill, parsley, and a lime vinaigrette. Surprise touches, like the peanuts in a dish of local pork belly with poached Virginia apples and braised cabbage, sealed the deal.

Service: Chatty, good pacing

Space: Large, farmhouse industrial, fireplace

Apps/entrées: $6-10/$12-26

Drinks: Wine

Reservations: Accepted;

11am-6pm, Wednesday-Monday, 6109 Wolftown-Hood Rd., Madison, (540) 948-9005,



Mexican, upscale casual, Belmont

Former Mas Tapas manager Benos Bustamante and staff pay homage to the food of his childhood in Oaxaca, Mexico. The showpiece dish is the mole negro con pollo, which like many other menu items is homey yet refined, with great depth of flavor and chili-pepper heat that comes on slowly and never overwhelms. Standouts when we visited included pork tenderloin tamales with a garlic sauce and green salsa, pan-seared salmon tacos with pico de gallo and guacamole mousse, seared shrimp with a purée of roasted black beans and avocado leaves (think, basil), and braised pork ribs with guajillo mole and Caromont Farms queso fresco.

Service: Friendly, attentive

Space: Cozy, colorful

Apps/entrées: $8-12/$15-18

Drinks: Wine, beer

Reservations: Not accepted

5-10pm, Tuesday-Saturday, 816 Hinton Ave., 328-2519,

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