In the Local Palate’s 2023 Restaurants Issue, our state-by-state guide highlights the new restaurants that have emerged since 2022. Here, contributor Stephanie Ganz gives an overview of 10 new restaurants in Virginia.
Young Mother | Richmond
Young Mother isn’t a place, at least not yet. For now, Young Mother is a concept that lives in the mind of Richmond-based chef Daniel Harthausen. Harthausen began popping up under the Young Mother moniker in 2021 at Adarra, a Basque-influenced restaurant whose bar Harthausen managed. Young Mother quickly amassed a following that sold out the sporadic pop-ups almost as soon as they were announced. For Harthausen, the concept is deeply personal, drawing on his experience as a Korean American trying to make sense of his heritage and his place in the world.
“As a Korean American, when I’m in Korea, I’m an American person; when I’m in America, I’m a Korean person,” Harthausen explains. “So a lot of it was [asking], how do I translate this next step of what it means to be Korean American in 2023 and progress that.” At a recent pop-up at the yet-to-open wine shop Penny’s in Richmond’s Jackson Ward, the roughly 20-seat dining room crackled with an electric excitement. Each guest was keenly aware of their luck to score a seat after Harthausen’s win on the HBO Max reality show The Big Brunch, which rocketed the 27-year-old chef to a new rung of celebrity. As Harthausen made his way through the dining room to signal the start of the dinner, guests rose from their seats to shyly request a selfie together and to ask when his restaurant will open. Harthausen says he’s moving steadily toward that goal.
“I think there are ways for me to carry the momentum I’m comfortable with, but when it comes to the restaurant and growing the business in that way, my main focus is on the product and the space,” Harthausen says. “Trying to make sure the guest experience is the number one thing, because that’s what’s gotten me to this point, is huge for me.”
Harthausen’s vision for Young Mother is of a 50-to-60-seat restaurant that includes a casual, bar-centric main dining room where guests can gather to enjoy a meandering evening of Korean-and Japanese-inspired dishes, plus a more secluded dining area where the chef can devote his energy to an exceptional guest experience. It’s months away, as Harthausen continues to look at properties and hone his business plan, but in the meantime, potential guests can hop on the waiting list for semi-regular Young Mother pop-ups at various locations around Richmond.
Get Young Mother’s Pickled Perilla Leaf Recipe
New Restaurants in Virginia
UMMA’S | Charlottesville
Umma’s menu of Korean fried chicken, ramen, and drinking snacks perfectly distills (and perhaps ferments) the experience of a Korean American family, helmed by generations of kimchi-making mommas. Soulful tori paitan ramen with its brilliant chicken chashu and a crispy kimchi pancake with gochuchang mayo display a balance of inherited flavors and modern vibes.
THE HATCH | Roanoke
Roanoke’s new fried chicken spot may have perfected the classic fried chicken sandwich, served with all the classic sides you want with it, from macaroni and cheese to collard greens. Best of all, their decadent, satisfying brunch is available Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, for when you’re just not ready for the workweek to begin.
CONEJO | Richmond
Freshly milled heirloom masa is the fuel behind the fire that is Conejo, a hip Mexican small-plate spot from chef and Made in Mexico author Danny Mena. Conejo’s seasonal ceviche is a must-order, as are the rare tuna tacos and horchata soft serve. Mezcal and tequila lovers: The drink menu here has you covered.
MOCKINGBIRD | Charlottesville
Cozy, warm, and vibrant, Mockingbird is a tribute to the flavors of Melissa Close-Hart’s Alabama upbringing. You’ll want to dive into the bubbling crock of baked Wade’s Mill cheesy grits with locally made Caromont Farm chevre, and devour the crispy fried chicken and waffles with strawberry-jalapeño maple syrup. Don’t miss the basket of biscuits for the table.
SESSION | Virginia Beach
In the Venn diagram of breakfast lovers and music aficionados, Session has found a happy place right at the center with their vibey digs and a menu chock-full of fun, fruit-and-vegetable-forward brunch fare. Try the massive breakfast burrito and top if off with the Warren G. smoothie, with banana, strawberries, and pineapple.
CELLADORA | Richmond
First and foremost a wine shop featuring some of the most interesting and esoteric bottles on the market today, Celladora also sports a menu of wine-adjacent small plates, like a bánh mì-inspired sticky rice and a smoked trout spread served with Grandma Utz chips, elevating the cozy spot beyond its retail shop status.
VIRGINIA’S DARLING | Alexandria
Joy emanates from the open kitchen at this colorful wine bar, whose menu reads as a list of the foods chef Nicole Jones wants to eat, like an exquisite beef tartare with Lay’s potato chips or a silky beet-cured salmon with brown bread, designed to complement a wine list that highlights female winemakers.
Two New Restaurants in Virginia on Our Hot List
LOST LETTER | Richmond
A sister concept to Longoven, this more casual spot is serving Northern Italian cuisine, including desserts from executive pastry chef Megan Fitzroy Phelan. (Read more about Lost Letter in our latest article)
KIRBY CLUB | Alexandria
Founders Rose Previte and Mike Schuster, whose restaurant Maydan received a Michelin star, opened this Middle Eastern restaurant in January to tell the stories of Previte’s Lebanese heritage through food.
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