Brunchin’ By the River

There are few things more exciting than waking up up a Saturday morning and knowing you have a big brunch waiting for you. It’s even better when you’ve got a day of adventures to follow. If you’re headed out to shop, hunt for oysters, or follow the boots, start your day right with our best brunch finds in Virginia’s River Realm. 

Something Different Cafe

Before you even walk into Something Different, you’ll smell the scent of a barbecue wafting from on-site smokers and know you’re in for a treat. All of the barbecue is smoked on site including Texas-style beef brisket, tri-tip beef, baby back ribs and chicken. For brunch, you’ll want to ask for craft brews on tap, specialty cocktails like Bloody Mary’s or house creations like the Rum Con Fusion. For an appetizer, kick off your brunch with perfectly puffed beignets (fresh fried cajun donuts with powdered sugar). For the main event, you’ll have plenty of hearty choices like the BBQ omelet with cheddar. Don’t forget to stop by the retail store when you leave. Take home some farm raised meats, specialty rubs, seasonings and sauces, freshly baked pies and breads, homemade ice cream, craft brews, wines and cook books.

Big Oak Cafe

Come hungry to this warm and cozy cottage style restaurant. At Big Oak Cafe, you’ll find classic items with a twist. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, start with the french toast. The bread is baked fresh at the restaurant. If you are looking for something hardier, owner Dee Dee Morris was inspired to create the breakfast bowl by her football-playing son. It will hit the spot and make you feel right at home. Of course, you’ll also find traditional eggs, grits, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and other southern breakfast favorites like biscuits and gravy and chipped beef over toast. On the go? Come here to grab a breakfast sandwich before your adventure for the day. Don’t be afraid to add other classic menu items to your plate including crab soup, fried green tomatoes, and chicken salad.

Car Wash Cafe

Car Wash Cafe is a frequent winner in Virginia Living Magazine’s annual “Best of ” issue for breakfast and brunch. This former convenience store is now an open concept kitchen that serves fresh, locally sourced items including Huevos Rancheros and in-season seafood. The menu items are a perfect blend of breakfast and lunch for a River Realm brunch that will keep you daydreaming (or drooling!) long after you leave. Give into creative takes on classics like oyster or soft shell crab eggs benedict. Get your lunch fix with items like she-crab soup, colorful salads, crab cakes or a Cuban sandwich. Bonus: visit the car wash next door and get your car sparking before you ride through our scenic and winding roads.

NN Burger

Prepare yourself for this one. Our beloved NN Burger has been serving up some of the best burgers in Virginia since 2013. All burgers are cooked over a real wood fired grill. If you’re feeling breakfast, order the Sunrise Burger with fried egg, smokehouse bacon, American cheese, hash browns, and creamy NN Sauce.  But their best seller is the Chesapeake Burger. Lump crabmeat atop a massive burger. Surf and turf on a bun! Wash it down with a rich and decadent hand-spun shakes. For a boozy brunch, add a shot of rum to any milkshake or soda and make sure you look at the list of regional craft beers and wines. New on the menu-Beignets! Yum!

Willaby’s Cafe

Sippin’ cocktails by the river is one of our favorite past times. Kick off your lazy Saturday at Willaby’s. The restaurant is shaped like a boat for some extra River Realm flair. The brunch menu is chock full of hardy and fun breakfast items like Tijuana Breakfast Burrito or Eggs Rappahannock (eggs benedict topped with sauteed oysters). The extensive beer menu is worth investigating–order a flight to try more than one. While you’re waiting for your meal, take a cocktail out to walk on the restaurant’s private beach. It’s the perfect place to snap a photo for the ‘gram.

The Table at Wilton

Take your brunch game to the next level. Chef Helen Elizabeth Ward shares her passion for homemade family recipes passed down by generations at her restaurant, The Table at Wilton. While the menu stays full of traditional breakfast and brunch items, expect a creative flair and new specials every day. Ward enlists the help of some of her very own homegrown vegetables and local ingredients to create dishes that will tempt your curiosity and feed your soul.  You can pull up a seat for a long, leisurely brunch, or swing into The Table To Go marketplace to pick up something to take with you on your River Realm adventures.


Start the day on the banks of the Rappahannock River. At Merroir, the original Rappahannock River Oysters restaurant overlooks, the waters where their fresh oysters are grown. At this“tasting room,” travelers can always expect something different. On the weekends, it opens at 11:30 for lunch and brunch specials. Start off with a dozen raw oysters and then work your way through the menu. Everything is served small-plate-style and beautifully paired with craft brews and world-famous wines. After breakfast, talk a walk around the property and take in the River Realm view.

Share Your Foodie Pics

We hope you and your pals enjoy not only the amazing food but the charm of the River Realm while you’re here. If your food looks as good as it tastes, we want to see! Tag us on Instagram at @virginiasriverrealm.


Just two hours from Richmond or Hampton Roads, 3 hours from Washington DC, Virginia’s River Realm is a tourism destination along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary, the Rappahannock River.

We invite visitors to explore delightful surprises, hidden gems and our friendly, small town spirit. The 465 miles of shoreline, eight great small towns, and hundreds of unique attractions will mesmerizes you to enjoy the wonder of a perfect oyster, the promise of a secret cove or back road and the pleasure of sharing a table with friends, a place where you can catch your breath, calm your mind & live your dreams.




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