Offering Southern comfort food and servicing the community, Tupelo Honey Cafe is the place for lunch, brunch, or dinner. And they may have a location near you!It was early on a Tuesday evening that we first wandered into Tupelo Honey Cafe in Arlington, Virginia. We were visiting a friend in a nearby office building and asked for a recommendation for dinner and drinks; their first suggestion was Tupelo. The restaurant is located on North Troy Street, a location central to dozens of office and apartment buildings. [caption id="attachment_1448" align="aligncenter" width="468"] 1616 N Troy St, Arlington, VA[/caption] Before heading inside we looked at the menu hanging in the window. Both of my parents are from the South, so when I saw words like "pork belly," and "grit cake" on the menu I waltzed in to the hostess stand without hesitation. We sat by a huge window overlooking the stylish patio that offered a gas-fire pit and weather proof sofas and chairs. The hostess accidentally gave my dining companion a brunch menu, an innocent mistake, but also a great way to advertise their delicious brunch offerings. [caption id="attachment_1449" align="aligncenter" width="800"] A peek at the restaurant's aesthetic. I'd describe it as "Southern Comfort meets Industrial Chic"[/caption] I had been craving a margarita and was determined to get one, and luckily one of their signature cocktails was a Tupelo Honey Margarita. I ordered it without a second guess and was not disappointed. The chili-salt rim was everything I wanted and more. [caption id="attachment_1450" align="aligncenter" width="535"] The Signature Tupelo Honey Margarita: El Jimador Silver tequila, Tupelo Honey-liqueur, house-made fresh sweet & sour and a chili-salt rim[/caption]
What we ate:We had two small appetizers, the Chef's Mason Jar Dips and the Potato Cracklins, which were discounted due to their happy hour specials. The dips were tasty and would be great for a larger party to share. We ate all the chips and carrots before finishing the dip, and our waiter offered to bring us more, but we declined since we had yet to place our entree orders. [caption id="attachment_1453" align="aligncenter" width="643"] Potato Cracklins and Chef's Mason Jar Dips: Roasted apple tahini hominy, Bleu Cheese Pimento, creole roasted eggplant, Pimento Cheese, tri-color carrots, Idaho potato chips, biscuit crackers.[/caption] When ordering our entrees we asked the waiter for recommendations since we were feeling totally unsure about what delicious option we should get. I think the waiter noticed me taking photos of our drinks and dishes, so he pointed me to the most "Instagram worthy" dish on the menu, the Shoo Mercy Sweet Potato Pancake. He also recommended a Venison and Fois Gras dirty rice, so we ordered both of his recommendations. [caption id="attachment_1451" align="aligncenter" width="692"] Shoo Mercy Sweet Potato Pancake: Buttermilk fried chicken, apple cider bacon, spiced SC pecans, two fried eggs, grilled apple, pickled blueberries. A great recommendation and definitely Instagram worthy. Great for those who want breakfast any time of day or want the perfect Sunday-hangover cure.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1452" align="aligncenter" width="741"] The Venison with Foise Gras Dirty Rice: Pomegranate gastrique, scallions.
With a more sophisticated presentation, this dish was delectable. The dirty rice was so rich and the venison so tender that we cut through it with a butter knife. An excellent recommendation.[/caption] I did tell the waiter that I was taking photos for an article that I would write about the restaurant. A few minutes later the charismatic manager stopped by our table to introduce himself. He gave us the inside scoop on the restaurant, its story, and its mission.
Tupelo Honey and the CommunityThe manager Ryan told us excitedly about how the restaurant was started in Asheville, North Carolina. In a small city at the feet of the Blue Ridge Mountains, wholesome Southern cooking is a way of life, but chef Eric Gabrynowicz saw the importance of adding a contemporary twist to some Southern favorites. Now Tupelo Honey Cafe has 15 locations across the east coast and recently expanded into Colorado with their Denver location. Despite being a small chain, every Tupelo Honey Cafe location strives to be involved in the community. Ryan described their involvement with local charities like ACE, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, and A-SPAN, Arlington Homeless Services Center. This restaurant has a lot to offer its guests and has even more to offer to the community. If you're in Virginia, check out the Arlington or Virginia Beach locations. And don't forget to finish off your meal with something sweet! [caption id="attachment_1454" align="aligncenter" width="599"] Honey Buttermilk Cheescake with fresh blueberries.
Pictured here before we drizzled it with Tupelo Honey, of course.[/caption]