Part university town, part bobo mountain paradise, Charlottesville brims with a culinary energy, rivaling much larger cities. Your gastronomic journey to Cville should begin at the historic Downtown Mall, a European-esque stretch of closed street retail and entertainment (walking tours are hosted by the Albermarle Charlottesville Historical Society). From there, trace the steps of Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Monroe (all foodies of their time).
Friday Afternoon Tea
Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar (414 East Main Street 2nd Floor Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 293-9947 @teabazaar)
This tea house/hookah bar features over 40 types of tea, from Japanese powdered green to first flush Darjeelings. The décor is gezellig with a mixture of influences from Nepal, Japan, and Middle Earth. There is a good chance the gravity of the place won’t let you leave, as they also host some of the best local music come nightfall.
Friday Night Dinner
The Whiskey Jar (227 West Main Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 202-1549 @thewhiskeyjar)
The proximity to farms allows Charlottesville to be such a good food town. The new Whiskey Jar takes it to the next level, as chef-farmer-owner Will Richey (Revolutionary Soup) liberally incorporates ingredients grown on his own farm Red Row. The menu is unabashedly Southern, a simple kind of restaurant, you love and understand.
Friday Night Dessert
Splendora’s (317 East Main Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 296-8555)
This stylish gelateria serves around thirty different flavors including Italian standards like hazelnut and amaretto. Gelato is made daily using local hormone-free milk and natural ingredients. Alternatively, the blood orange sorbetto is perfect for those with dairy allergies.
Friday Night Entertainment/Libations
Skybar at the Commonwealth Restaurant (422 East Main Street Charlottesville, VA 22902? (434) 202-7728)
As the first rooftop bar on the Mall, Skybar is the hot spot of the moment. Check-in here to mingle with the local scene, especially, if the weather is nice.
For more options including live music listings, we recommend you view the online arts and culture calendars of one of the two! (another anomaly for a town this size) Charlottesville alt-weeklies: c-ville and The Hook
Friday (Saturday Morning) Late Night Snack
C&O (515 Water Street East Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 971-7044)
As restaurants come and go, the thirty year old C&O has passed the test of time. Located on the outskirts of the Mall, the venerable restaurant is open till 1 AM on weekends serving a special late night menu. Nothing compliments a good alcohol buzz better than a yummy cheese plate and charcuterie board. New chef Dean Maupin (Keswick) is bringing fresh blood to this old standby.
Saturday Morning Coffee
Para Coffee (19 Elliewood Avenue Charlottesville, VA 22903 (434) 293-4412 | @paracoffee)
Head to the UVA corner and start your morning with a bold cup of Para coffee. This community-friendly space carries beans from local Shenandoah Joe roasters. If you’re lucky, you might spy a CSX train racing outside the window.
Saturday Morning Breakfast
Bodo’s Bagels (1609 University Avenue Charlottesville, VA 22903 (434) 293-6021)
In a town full of Northern transplants, rarely, do you ever hear the classic “Yankee in the South” complaint of not having a good bagel in town. Bodo’s Bagels (three locations but the Corner franchise is a brief walk from Para) is one of the best in the country and could stand-alone with any of the five boroughs. They serve the classic water-boiled bagel (slight crunch on the outside, chewy on the inside) with a scratch cream cheese with just the right tart.
Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market
The Charlottesville City Market (207 1st Street Charlottesville, Virginia 22902 | Saturdays, 7 am-12 pm, from April to December)
For almost forty years, residents have been packing this open-air market every Saturday morning seeking out first dibs on the freshest local fruits, vegetables, and meats. Use this seasonal calendar for optimum produce availability.
Peter Chang’s China Grill (2162 Barracks Road Charlottesville, VA 22903 (434) 244-9818 | @sichuanboy)
Hailed by the Oxford American as the “Perfect Chef” and the New Yorker as the “Disappearing Chef,” Peter Chang is one the most elusive figures in today’s culinary scene. Chang’s first owned restaurant, a Sichuan temple of hot and numbing dishes, was named one of the Best New Restaurants in America by Kunda Eats 2012.
There are a number of fine regional wineries and micro-breweries around Charlottesville. Spend the afternoon meandering down one of these trails:
–The Brew Ridge Trail
–Monticello Wine Trail
–The Monticello Artisan Trail
Mas (501 Monticello Road Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 979-0990 | @MasTapas)
Ah, Mas. Currently, the best restaurant in Charlottesville as voted by its denizens, three years in a row. This small plates (Spanish influenced, local ingredients) restaurant, helmed by Chef Tomas Rahal, is so popular that they are packed during Restaurant Week…yet they don’t even participate.
Saturday Night Entertainment/Libations
I suppose this is the obligatory part of the Charlottesville travelogue where you’re supposed to mention how Dave Matthews once worked as a bartender at the iconic Millers (109 West Main Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 971-8511). Instead, The Hook’s Bar Issue cover story “Life behind bars: it’s more than just pouring drinks” may give you some additional local, non-touristy ideas of where and by whom to get inebriated.
Saturday (Sunday Morning) Late Night Snack
White Spot (1407 University Avenue Charlottesville, VA 22903 (434) 295-9899)
Return from whence you started in the morning, The Corner. Grab a Gus Burger (a utilitarian cheeseburger with fried egg) and join a longstanding UVA rite of passage. If greasy cheeseburger is not your thing, then the 24 hour deli Littlejohn’s (1427 University Avenue Charlottesville, VA 22903 (434) 977-0588) is just up the block.
Sunday Morning Coffee
Mudhouse (213 West Main Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 984-6833 | @mudhousecoffee)
From its humble beginnings as a downtown cart, the Mudhouse has become one of Charlottesville most beloved coffee shops. Many UVA PhD dissertations have been penned here. They feature beans from Lexington Coffee Roasting Company.
Brookville (225 Main St Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 202-2791 | @BrookvilleRest)
Chef Harrison Keevil (French Culinary Institute, reformed lawyer) is a champion of local food, as his menu changes daily based on what’s available and fresh. The first rule of Brookville is that all ingredients get sourced within 100 miles. The second rule of Brookville is that all ingredients get sourced within 100 miles. Luckily, many great “breakfast meat” and egg farms lie within this geographic dragnet. The location is just upstairs of the aforementioned Whiskey Jar.
Clifton Inn (1296 Clifton Inn Drive Charlottesville, VA 22911 (434) 971-1800 | @CliftonInn)
Your weekend of gluttony appropriately ends at the chef’s counter at Clifton Inn. Here, interact with chef Tucker Yoder (read Why Clifton’s Yoder won’t always go green) and his culinary orchestra as you customize a pre-fixe multi-course menu (delicate-light-full bodied-robust choices) that takes full advantage of the rural Virginia bounty. Their desserts are among the best in town.
A Weekend of Gluttony is a special travel feature focusing on local food and restaurants for a given city. Kunda Eats subscribes to the idea that local food is the first doorway into another culture. For additional resources, please visit http://kundaeats.com/charlottesville.
For Charlottesville hotels, activities, and “things to do,” we recommend visiting the following sites:
- Official Tourism Site | Calendar of Events (Visitor Center: 610 E. Main Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 293-6789 East End of the Downtown Mall)
- UVA Visitor Center (2304 Ivy Road Charlottesville, VA 22903 | campus maps) | Calendar of Events
- c-ville: The Best of C-ville
- The Hook: Annual Manual 2012-2013
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