The Inn at Little Washington

A touch of elegance in rustic Northern Virginia
As the proprietor and chef, Patrick O’Connell has put his heart and soul into The Inn at Little Washington. A native of Washington, D.C., O’Connell opened the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant in a former Northern Virginia garage in 1978. With his tasting menus, chef O'Connell has amassed almost every culinary award in existence at his beloved Virginia restaurant. 

The restaurant itself is tucked away in an adorable historic town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northern Virginia, located inside the eponymous Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel. Just 70 miles west of the nation’s capital, Virginia feels a world away from all the hustle and bustle of its big sister up the Potomac River.

The quaint town will not only charm you with its plantation-style homes but also with its stunning scenery. Though the restaurant and inn are updated, you’ll notice that the rest of the town looks as if it’s still living in the 18th century.
Our Inspector's Highlights

  • Meals get made in what we think is the most beautiful kitchen in the world. Designed completely around the two chef’s tables, the restaurant’s epicenter is stunning with its brass fixtures and plethora of windows.
  • Though boredom isn’t even an option during your dinner, you should know that it is extremely drawn out — as it should be. The menu features six- and 10-course tasting menus, designed to be savored with every bite.
  • As soon as you see the dining room, you will completely understand the formality, but take another look at the cheese cart and you’ll grasp the quirkiness. Sure you are getting that Five-Star dining experience, but you’ll also be served cheese from a cart shaped like a cow.
  • While you can’t see the Blue Ridge Mountains from your dinner table, you can look out over the colorful garden and koi pond at this Five-Star restaurant.
  • For design types who want a different kind of view, book one of the two chef’s tables located inside the huge, state-of-the-art kitchen. Not only can you watch the culinary team prepare multi-course dinners, but you’ll also get to take in the grand design details such as hand-painted Portuguese tile, grand bronze fixtures and an imported stone fireplace.

Things to Know

  • Technically, there's no official dress code at The Inn at Little Washington, but you'll feel more than out of place if you show up for dinner in jeans. Most gentlemen sport a jacket and tie, while many of the ladies don a dress.
  • We suggest you call as far in advance as possible because snagging a table at The Inn at Little Washington is quite a feat. The restaurant accepts reservations up to a year in advance — so the sooner, the better.
  • If you happen to be staying overnight at the Five-Star hotel (The Inn at Little Washington) that is home to the restaurant, the concierge automatically arranges a dinner table for you.

The Food

  • The selections change with the seasons to highlight the freshest fare from around Northern Virginia. Choose from three different tasting menus, or mix and match your favorite four dishes from the trio.
  • Seasonal dishes include a crab cake "sandwich" with fried green tomatoes and tomato vinaigrette; sesame-crusted Chilean sea bass with baby shrimp, artichokes and grape tomatoes; rabbit braised in apple cider with wild mushrooms; and for dessert, pistachio and white chocolate ice cream terrine with blackberry sauce.
  • Chef Patrick O’Connell is nothing less than a culinary genius; he incorporates dishes from his childhood, refined to fit the menu of course, in order to evoke that sense of comfort. With options such as mac and cheese with Virginia country ham topped with shaved truffles, you’ll get that decadently rich flavor as well as that feel good comfort.
  • Though the food is undoubtedly delicious, it is also extremely rich, so though you’ll want to eat every single bite of every single course, we urge you to take it slowly. The food is decadent and irresistible, but if you aren’t used to eating this way, your stomach may have a tough time with it (of course, your taste buds will be in heaven).

The Chef

  • Before the whole organic and farm-to-table movement really took off, the self-taught chef, Patrick O’Connell, was creating relationships with neighboring farms because nothing but milk was delivered to the small town of Washington, Virginia.
  • After the restaurant proved to be successful, O’Connell cultivated his own “field of dreams,” a garden that supplies The Inn with much of its produce.
  • Serving as the president of the North American chapter of Relais & Châteaux, O’Connell is involved in more than just his own property. He even has an award in his honor — the American Culinary Pioneer Award — that is given annually.
  • The storied toque has led his Five-Star restaurant and hotel to five James Beard Awards including Restaurant of the Year, Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic Region and Outstanding American Chef Award.
  • He has done just about everything in the culinary world from cooking for Queen Elizabeth to appearing on Top Chef.

Business casual
Gluten-free options
Kid friendly
Outdoor seating
Private dining
Reservations recommended
Valet parking
Vegetarian options
Getting There
309 Middle Street, Washington, Virginia 22747
The Inn at Little Washington
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