Shortlist: 8 Must-Try Restaurants In Gainesville, VA That Locals Love!

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Last updated on December 1, 2022 by Wandering our World

Maybe you’ve just moved in, or maybe you’re passing through here on your way to DC, either way, we can guarantee you’re in for a treat when it comes to food and restaurants in Gainesville, VA.

This unassuming, peaceful little town has a surprising number of restaurants offering outstanding food, various cuisines, and interiors with aesthetic vibes. 

Since we know this place well, we’ve put together a list of what we believe are the best restaurants in Gainesville, VA.

Experience dishes ranging from exquisite and classy to hearty and comfortable along with top-tier service when you dine at these must-visit eateries. Bon Appetit! 

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The Best Restaurants in Gainesville VA For Food & Fun!

1. Blue Ridge Seafood 

Not everyone can do seafood right, but the people at Blue Ridge Seafood certainly know their way about it!

This family-owned business has been feeding the neighborhood fresh and delectable seafood since 1976, becoming one of the most popular restaurants in Gainesville, VA in the process.

We love their outdoor seating area, which has uneven wooden flooring reminiscent of an old pier, and the colorful umbrellas next to the seasonal tiki bar offer a cheery and lively ambiance for the guests. Top that with the live music often played on Fridays and Sundays, and you’re all set for a memorable and fun dining experience. You can also sit indoors, where the vibes are homey and comfortable. 

What’s on the menu? Quite a lot! There’s an impressive variety of seafood offerings, such as Mahi Mahi, catfish, flounder, haddock, and more, all of which are either fried, grilled, or broiled – your pick. Seasonal specialties include blue crabs, steamed and spiced to perfection, while standards like lobster mac and cheese and stuffed shrimps keep the crowds coming back for more.

Along with all the fish you can handle, they also do BBQ and steaks for the seafood-averse crowds, including an unusual entree of frog legs for any adventurous taste buds! Don’t forget to try their beers on tap to accompany your meals.

Open every day except for Mondays, from 11.30 am onwards, Blue Ridge Seafood is a locals’ go-to restaurant for fresh seafood, so do give them a try!

Address: 15704 Lee Hwy, Gainesville, VA

Photo for illustrative purposes only: Galaganov

2. Musashi Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 

Who’d have thought you could find an authentic Japanese restaurant offering Hibachi in an unassuming town like Gainesville?

Located in a quiet neighborhood, this place is bustling with life and energy inside, where the architecture and design displays are traditional Japanese and the service is excellent and enjoyable, just like any Hibachi place. You can opt to sit at the Hibachi tables or the sushi bar – either way, expect an impressive show of skills from the talented chefs behind the tables! 

Their menu is huge and offers all the usual suspects involved in mouth-watering Japanese cuisine. If you’re new to this cuisine, we suggest you go for the reliable and all-time favorite Chicken Teriyaki entree, or the Teriyaki Salmon steak.

There are elegant plates of Hibachi scallops or filet mignon too, and all the entrees are served with a Japanese chicken soup, a house salad, hibachi veggies, and fried rice (for a reasonable price too!).

In case you’re an avid seafood lover, you’re in luck, because Musashi’s sushi bar has a mouth-watering and impressively elaborate sushi menu, with signature rolls like the Cherry Blossom, Ninja, or the Musashi Dragon rolls. For drinks, you can get just about anything, but you won’t be doing this place justice if you don’t order some Sake or Charm SoJu, native to Japan and Korea. 

Musashi is open every day from 4 pm onwards, while on weekends, they also do lunch from 12 pm. We recommend booking a table in advance, as the place gets packed quickly and wait times are often quite long, though you can always get some delicious Hibachi to-go if you’re in a hurry!

With excellent service and deliciously authentic Japanese food, Musashi is easily one of the best restaurants in Gainesville VA, and definitely one of our top recommendations. 

Address: 7567 Somerset Crossing Dr, Gainesville, VA

3. Byblos 

There’s nothing quite like the exciting flavors of Lebanese cuisine, and if that’s what you’re seeking out, we can’t recommend Byblos enough – truly a hidden Gainesville gem and one of the best Lebanese restaurants in the state!

Tucked away on Piedmont Center Plaza, it’s easy to drive past this place, but once you discover it, you’ll want to keep going back. A family-run business, Byblos is known for its refreshing and flavorful food and impeccable service.

Not just that, but the ambiance is lively and bright, with modern decor and plenty of lights, and brick walls that add to aesthetics. They even have a belly dancing show on Saturday nights to keep up the fun vibe here! 

The menu here has every Lebanese and Mediterranean dish you could ever want, served in an unpretentious manner but always managing to wow the crowds. Savory platters like the Shish Kebab or the Kafta plate are made with authentic recipes and techniques, served with fragrant rice and chargrilled veggies.

We recommend tucking into the Byblos Mezze Platter for two, which allows you to sample some of the most popular Lebanese favorites like Hummus, Tabbouleh salad, stuffed grape leaves, Falafel, and Sambusek (a meat pie).

They also do some vegetarian options like the Manakeesh – a Vegetarian Pizza – or the Shanklish salad. Frankly, you’ll be hard-pressed not to order just about everything here, but the kind and attentive staff are always willing to help you choose some great picks.

With an interesting selection of drinks, including delicious Lebanese wines, along with some dreamy Mediterranean desserts like Kanafa, you’re in for a full gastronomic experience at Byblos. So drop by any day from 11 am onwards, and you’re sure to leave impressed! 

Address: 6850 Piedmont Center Plaza, Gainesville, VA

Photo for illustrative purposes only: Gusterina

4. Firebirds Wood Fired Grill House

If what you’re looking for are steaks cooked to perfection and a cozy ambiance, head towards Firebirds Wood Fired Grill House, a part of a small grill chain. Located near the Regal Virginia Gateway Movie Theater, this eatery is almost always buzzing and busy, especially on weekends, when locals like to go to the movies!

Not only is the food here fantastic, but the amber-toned interior and the posh bar have a very upscale vibe to them, while the spacious patio allows people to witness Gainesville’s often pleasant weather during their meal.

As you may have guessed, their menu mainly features mouth-watering aged steaks that are hardwood grilled, but they also offer some delicious seafood too.

We suggest you try the Filet and Shrimp, which is tenderloin wrapped in bacon along with fresh shrimps basted in key lime butter – a plate offering the best of both worlds.

If seafood isn’t your thing, try one of their numerous, enticing steak platters or the gourmet burgers served with steak fries and tater tots. Don’t forget to get some creme brûlée cheesecake for a post-meal treat that’s large enough to share with three!

Oh and, on weekends, Firebirds offer a short and easy brunch menu with stuff like Grilled Salmon benedict and steak and egg bowls on offer, along with brunch cocktails like Paloma Mimosa to go with your meal! 

Open every day from 11 am onwards, Firebirds is the spot to go to for the best steaks in town, easily making it one of the best restaurants in Gainesville, VA. 

Address: 14020 Promenade Commons St, Gainesville, VA

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5. BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse 

If you happen to be passing through Gainesville and want some quick pub grub, there’s no place better than good ol’ BJ’s Restaurant for that, located near the movie theater.

Locals love to dine here, mainly for its inviting, family-friendly ambiance, vast menu, and of course, some great craft beers! Sit inside their spacious dining room that has dark wood accents, but is brightly lit up with a pleasant and relaxed ambiance. There’s also a nice little bar seating area where you can sit and watch the bartender whip up funky cocktails for guests.

While their menu offers pretty much anything you could be craving that day, what really shines are their Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, made with a special homemade dough.

The chicken bacon ranch flavor is a particular favorite, with a heavenly cheese pull that can make your stomach growl! They also offer gluten-free pizza dough, and most of the pizza toppings here are also gluten-free. Besides the delicious pizzas, BJ’s also serves slow-roasted entrees like prime rib, juicy gourmet burgers, sandwiches, and more – all of which have gluten-free options available as well. 

Oh and, whatever you do, don’t miss out on the Pizookie – a pan-sized, dreamy and gooey cookie served with scoops of ice cream.

BJ’s Restaurant is open every day from 11 am onwards to as late as midnight (post-movie late-night dinners are welcome here!), so drop by any day, any time to satisfy all your beer and pub fare cravings.

Address: 6611 W Newberry Rd, Gainesville, VA

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6. Mission BBQ

You can’t go wrong with BBQ, especially when you dine at Mission BBQ. This BBQ chain is loved across America for its reliably good and affordable food, and that’s also the case for their Gainesville location.

The place oozes patriotism, as American flags and pictures of American armed heroes decorate the walls, while the rest of the space offers plentiful seating in a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. 

Their menu is short and simple, revolving around BBQ meats and sandwiches. The Texas-inspired smoked brisket is a fan favorite – moist and tender meat served with a side of sweet and soft cornbread, who can resist that? Pro tip: get some of their housemade sides (the baked beans are superb!) to kick it all up a notch.

The melt-in-the-mouth baby back ribs are also a crowd pleaser, as are the juicy and saucy pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. Can’t decide what to get? Get the meat sampler platter that offers up to 3 different kinds of BBQ meats to satisfy your meaty cravings.  

The place is essentially a counter-service restaurant where you choose what you want and order at the counter, and service is quick and the food always fresh, warm, and bursting with smoky flavors. So when in doubt, visit Mission BBQ any day from 11 am onwards (11.30 on Sundays) for a casual yet phenomenal BBQ meal. 

Address: 13944 Promenade Commons St, Gainesville, VA

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7. El Tio Tex-Mex Grill

In a town full of chain Tex-Mex restaurants, El Tio stands out with its freshly made, delicious Tex-Mex food in a lively, festive atmosphere. In fact when the restaurant first opened, the locals of Gainesville loved the food so much that it allowed the owner to open up several other branches in Virginia.

With a bright interior full of Mexican decor and fun music in the background, there’s never a dull moment here at El Tio, especially since the place is almost always packed with locals and tourists. Despite the crowds, you’ll always find the service to be outstanding with a very hospitable and welcoming staff. 

As for the menu, it has all the Tex-Mex fixings you could ever want. We’re suckers for their sizzling fajitas, especially the Camarones Brochette; it features stuffed jumbo shrimps wrapped in bacon and served over sautéed peppers and onions along with all of your favorite Mexican sides.

They also do Mexican-style steaks, tacos, enchiladas, and of course, some enormous burritos full of fresh fillings. Don’t forget to order the cheesy nachos, although they’ll serve you free chips and salsa as soon as you’re seated anyway. But hey, you can never have enough nachos, right?

Whatever you choose to order, you can always expect fresh guac and salsa and made-to-order food that’s warm, refreshing, and a delight to devour. The place also offers brunch for Mexican food enthusiasts, offering Huevos Rancheros and other favorites, along with some of the best (and enormous) margaritas in town! 

El Tio is open every day from 11 am onwards, so whether you want a fun meal with your family or friends or some quick to-go tacos, you can count on this place for a deliciously chaotic plate of Tex-Mex cuisine.

Address: 7527 Linton Hall Rd, Gainesville, VA

Photo for illustrative purposes only: Castillo Ramirez

8. Jimbo’s Grill

Burgers, beer, and sports? Jimbo’s Grill has got all of that, along with starters and house specials that keep regulars coming back time and again.

This family-owned business is located on a plaza but has that lively and down-to-earth vibe of a locally owned, neighborhood eatery. Their dining section is simple, clean, and cozy, while the bar area is full of posters and flags from football teams as fans enjoy games on the big screen. On sunny days, you might want to sit outside on their charming little patio that tops at about four tables under large umbrellas. 

From tasty pub grub to hearty plates of pasta and steaks, their menu offers a bit of every cuisine. While their juicy burgers are always a hit, we’re biased towards the Jumbo Wings that can be devoured in a variety of different flavors (check out the Thai chili and spicy dry rub).

In for a quick bite? Get their gourmet hot dogs, such as the salsa-drenched Santa Fe Dawg, or one of their juicy sandwiches like the Filet Mignon sandwich that comes between focaccia bread with cheese and aioli inside. An unbeatable combo! 

On Sundays, they offer breakfast and brunch, along with mimosas, margaritas, and other specialty cocktails like the Spiced Autumn. One of the best locally-owned restaurants in Gainesville VA, Jimbo’s Grill is a must-visit for anyone looking for homestyle, delicious pub fare. 

Address: 7901 Heritage Village Plaza, Gainesville, VA

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The Best Restaurants In Gainesville, VA: Our Final Thoughts 

Whether you’re staying in town and want a fancy dinner night, or you’re passing through and need a quick but delicious bite to fuel up – either way, Gainesville won’t disappoint you with its elaborate food scene.

Visit our eight favorite restaurants in Gainesville, VA and we bet you’ll leave impressed and satisfied!


  • Wandering our World

    Hi and welcome to Wandering our World! This article was written by one of the Wandering our World team - a team of travel enthusiasts who live around the globe.