It’s the height of summer when local produce is at its peak and area restaurants are taking advantage. These dishes and drinks are on menus only while the fresh ingredients are available, so go order them ASAP.
Country Greek Salad at Joe’s Inn (205 N. Shields Ave.): This hearty salad graces the Joe’s Inn menu only during Hanover tomato season. The famous fresh tomatoes are served chopped and combined with onions, green peppers and cucumbers, then topped with a simple, made-to-order vinaigrette, feta and Kalamata olives. The piled-high portion can easily feed at least two and is reminiscent of simple summer meals in Greece.
Peach Pizza at Fine Creek Brewing (2425 Robert E. Lee Road, Powhatan County): To experience seasonal peaches at their finest, try a grilled pizza crust topped with house-made lemon-spiced ricotta, mozzarella and Grana Padano cheeses, Virginia peaches, fresh herbs from the Fine Creek garden, and a peach white balsamic and honey drizzle. The sweet-savory combination is decadent and delicious. Find it on the menu throughout August.
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Watermelon Rita at Virago Spirits (1727 Rhoadmiller St.): This concoction of Virago Modern Gin, lime, watermelon, agave and orange bitters tastes like the freshest, ice-cold slice of watermelon you bit into as a child reformulated as a drink and dressed up for grown-ups with a dash of gin and a Tajin rim. The drink — which we could literally guzzle by the pitcherful — is available to enjoy in vintage glassware in the tasting room or taken to-go. Sounds like a perfect poolside punch.
Chilled Peach Soup at The Roosevelt (623 N. 25th St.): Step aside gazpacho — this bright, flavorful soup captures the fresh flavor of ripe peaches, but combines them with sour corn, cherry pickles and Edwards Surryano Ham for a sweet, tangy and savory flavor combination.
Pepper Roulette Pizza from Pizza Bones (2314 Jefferson Ave.): Sweet, bell, Carmen, poblano, banana, Anaheim, jalapeño and serrano peppers from Shine Farms and Tomten Farm prepared three ways — charred, pickled and fresh — come together for one harmonious flavor-packed pizza. Yes, it’s got a kick, and yes, you need to try it.
Mexican-Style Street Corn Cream Cheese from Chewy’s Bagels (3138 W. Cary St.): The seasonal summer flavor at Chewy’s features roasted corn, fresh cilantro, Tajin and lime with cream cheese for a unique bagel topper that adds tangy, smoky flavors and a bit texture to your traditional schmear — it’s satisfying solo on a freshly made, toasted plain bagel or combined with an egg and fresh veggies for a more substantial create-your-own sandwich.
Strawberries and Cream Latte at Blanchard’s (all locations): Change up your traditional latte with a special house-made seasonal vegan strawberry syrup blended with sweet cream, vanilla and a double shot of espresso. You might hear strawberry and automatically think super sweet; however, it’s used judiciously in this drink, providing a fruity undertone and finish to the earthy espresso.
Pork Belly and Watermelon at The Savory Grain (2043 W. Broad St.): Crunchy fried pork belly is contrasted by cool watermelon, then topped with tangy feta, fresh mint and cilantro, pickled watermelon rind and lime-honey vinaigrette in this indulgent meal starter. The playful take on sweet-savory will definitely get your table talking.
Chat du Jour at Lehja (Short Pump Town Center, 11800 W. Broad St.): A food-stall-inspired Indian snack, chaat is not one specific dish, but a food category like dim sum or pinxos, that features multiple layers of flavor and texture to start your meal. Lehja’s current version starts with an earthy base of Virginia corn, crunchy puffed rice and Virginia peanuts combined with Hanover tomatoes to add sweetness and texture. Next, layer on a tangy sprinkle of pomegranate arils and some fresh citrus notes from micro cilantro and you’ve got every tastebud activated in one delicious dish