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Moving to Charlottesville VA (moved from DC)

Does anyone have any recommendations for places to eat in and around Charlottesville, VA? Moving at the end of the month! Would love to find a great place for every day dinners as well as special occasion dining! Don't forget a killer weekend breakfast!

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  1. The Tavern on 29 is a favorite for a diner breakfast - eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, etc.

    Guadalajara on 29 has better Mexican food than I have ever found in the DC area.

    Cafe Europa serves excellent Mediterranean sandwiches, and I have always loved the tomato basil soup. Cafe Europa is a good choice for vegetarians. It's "on the corner", which is just off the UVA campus.

    Saigon Cafe is a family run Vietnamese restaurant, where I recommend the pork vermicelli. Several years back the teenaged kids were the servers, but I imagine they may be away at college now. It's off the 250 bypass.

    1. My brother and his family live there...here are some of their favorties (I like them too!):

      Christian's Pizza (on the Downtown Mall)
      Bizou (across from Christian's on the Downtown Mall) American/Continental
      Fuel Co. (901 East Market St.) Nice little bistro/cafe attached to a cool-looking gas station, hence the name.
      Thai 99
      Blue Light Grill (120 E. Main St - Downtown)
      Cassis (214 W. Water St) French-American Bistro
      HotCakes (1137 Emmet St) For AWESOME cakes!
      Spudnut (309 Avon St) Try a spudnut doughnut.
      Shebeen (247 Ridge/McIntire) South African...this is a cool restaurant.
      Bodo's Bagels

      I've heard OXO is good...chic and expensive though.

      Charlottesville is a beautiful town with a lot of history and some great shops and restaurants. Enjoy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: AlliantK

        I don't recommend HotCakes, their customer service is atrocious.

      2. Have spent very happy but poor years in c'ville. Its been a while since I've been to these places but you might want to check them out.

        Fried chicken @ JPA and JPA extened. really good chicken but even better fried chicken livers.

        Big Jims. I love their burgers and BBQ

        2 Replies
        1. re: Soup

          Big Jim ok on burgers but the don't serve BBq (it is Braise pork with suace. Try Belmont BBq on Hinton ave. Wes wright has so good "Q".

          1. re: pigs on the run

            Big Jim's is out of business. The end of an era.

        2. First off, try the South Board. I think technically Cville falls under their purview, and if you run a search there you'll get lots of recs.

          I second the Tavern for great pancakes, rotating flavors on a monthly basis.

          Christian's for pizza, Marco and Lupa's for dumplings, Belair, Fuel or Main Street Market for sandwiches, Revolution Soups for ...soup, Arch's for insanely low cal fro yo and mix ins that put Coldstone to shame, Wild Wing Cafe (NOT BW3's) or Martens for wings, Jinx's BBQ for good 'que ...

          Still casual but less so than the earlier mentions, agree with Thai 99, also recommend Michael's Bistro on the corner, Continental Divide for tex mex-ish, that place on the left side of Main Street ("Main" is somewhere in the name, escaping me now...), Fuel (the dining room), also highly recommend Shebeen...

          On the higher end, Bizou definitely, OXO is good but seriously overpriced, C&O ....

          And ick, uck, ACK stay away from Guadalajara.

          5 Replies
          1. re: charmedgirl

            I'm in Richmond and always get a chuckle when someone includes Charlottesville in the DC/Nova category. Richmond is slightly closer to DC than Charlottesville and rarely, if ever, gets classified as DC/Nova. Charlottesville is a solid 2 hours from the area.

            1. re: charmedgirl

              Hi Charmed Girl!
              I currently live in Richmond and am surrounded by UVA grads so I figured they don't seem to stray too far from Charlottesville.
              I work in the west end, do you have any recommendations for sushi in Richmond? I like Sticky Rice, but too crowded and smoky.

              1. re: guinness618

                I like Osaka (Huguenot Road @ Cary Street) for sushi.

                1. re: guinness618

                  Sorry guinness618! I'm currently in Baltimore, and not too familiar with Richmond, so I don't have any insight to offer there. But I respect Janet from Richmond's thoughts over on the General Chowhounding boards, so I think you'll be safe taking any of her recommendations. :-)

              2. Aqui Es Mexico is the real deal, by Bubbles Laundramat on Carlton. C'ville Market is a great produce experience. Mas in Belmont for Tapas, they also have Sunday brunch. Thai 99 in Fontaine not bad, but for really, really good Thai food drive to Thai Siam in Colleen, VA (Near Lovingston) about a half hour south. Middle of nowhere, very authentic.

                1. I moved from DC to CVille a few years back (and have now moved on). Here are some good bets:
                  Continental Divide
                  The Virginian (for pretty good bar food in a good old fashioned bar)
                  Chandlers (soft serve ice cream in season only)

                  good luck with your move.

                  1. For breakfast, after years of going to the Tavern, I now prefer the Tip Top on Pantops - they are the former owners of College Inn, a real Greek diner.

                    For brunch, Bluegrass Grill and Bakery, downtown, is great.

                    For Thai, Lime Leaf in the Rio Hill Shopping Center beats out Thai 99 now.

                    For lunch, try Aroma's in the Fontaine Research Park. It's hidden away, but has an awesome lunch (in a very odd location in the Forestry building). The best falafel in town in my opinion. Hassan, the extremely personable owner, is planning to open a full service restaurant in Barracks Road in late summer - I'll be waiting for that.

                    For dinners, Zocalo, Mas, Continental Divide. For special occasion dining, L'etoile.

                    I second the recommendations for Bodo's, Christians, Belair, Wayside fried chicken, Continental Divide.

                    Best coffee - Mudhouse and Milan

                    and, don't forget to go to the City Market on Saturdays, April - October.

                    1. For special occasion or a very nice meal with good atmosphere, wine and service-L'Etoile

                      1. I would agree with the Duner's Recommendation. It is in Ivy which is west of c'ville on 250. Some of the best food around. Tip-Top is the best for breakfast but be prepared to wait on the weekends.

                        I have family in Crozet...farther west than Ivy and Crozet Pizza there is excellent. It is definitely an interesting place to go as well. Pizza is wonderful though.

                        1. I know Cville very well, and you are moving to a foodie haven. Here are the basics:

                          The Downtown Mall and surrounding area has the best dining in town. The UVA Corner has a few gems (Zydeco Cajun, Just Curry, Michael's Bistro) and is mostly populated by students and young alums. There are numerous Inns in the surrounding counties with delicious food and quaint atmospheres. The locals have some tried and true favorites, and new restaurants are opening all the time.

                          BREAKFAST: Bluegrass Grill & Bakery (organic/healthy choices), Bodo's Bagels (great bagels with just about anything you can dream of on top), The Tavern (a divey yet tasty breakfast tradition), and The Nook (recently renovated w/patio on the Mall).

                          BRUNCH: Fellini's has the only Bloody Mary Bar in town and the DAM eggs are great. Don't go for dinner or you'll be disappointed (http://www.fellinis9.com), Mono Loco (Cuban/Mexican with great margaritas).

                          LUNCH: Christian's Pizza, Marco & Luca's dumplings, Riverside burgers, and Bodo's Bagels are cheap and tasty.

                          CASUAL DINNER: Continental Divide (Southwestern food w/more than 40 tequilas), Shebeen Pub (South African grub http://www.shebeenpub.com), Thai 99 (best Asian in town), and Bizou (upscale comfort food).

                          FINE DINING: Zocalo (http://www.zocalo-restaurant.com), C&O (over 25 years in town http://www.candorestaurant.com), OXO (http://www.oxorestaurant.com), Cassis (http://www.cassisrestaurant.com), and L'etoile (http://www.letoilerestaurant.com).

                          Charlottesville is not a true SOUTHERN town in that you will be hard-pressed to find decent bbq, greens, etc. Wayside Chicken does have great fried chicken, though. And there's a new restaurant on Main St. that will be serving upscale Southern American cuisine, Maya. The owners are well known for great food at other places.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mojoeater

                            We're not from Charlottesville, but we had a great meal at Cassis last week.

                            Last year we ate at L'Etoile (we seem to hit C'ville more or less once/year) and while everything was very well executed and presented, we didn't come away with that buzz that comes from a really great & exciting meal.

                            Cassis came much closer to that, for us. I think it would've left us even buzz-ier were it not for the somewhat erratic service (we sat at the bar but were being served by one of the regular waitstaff, and so we were checked on at irregular intervals), and the annoying music. I have no idea who got the idea that heavily rhythmic music (in this case, annoying trip-hop/techno-lite) is well-suited to fine dining, but here's a hint: it isn't.

                            The food, though, was great. We started with the steak tartare and country pate apps, and both were just perfectly executed and presented. There was a dollop of what I took to be an egg-yolk mousse on the plate that was a great complement to the brown mustard with the country pate (not that the pate really needed anything in the way of tarting up with condiments).

                            The salads were the weakest point; both of them were perfectly serviceable (though the dressings were both a little sweet), but they lacked the imagination &/or skill of the apps. They were only $6 apiece, though, and they fulfilled the function of getting something green into the meal.

                            We split a pan-roasted halibut entree, and even though we were both pretty full from the apps & salads, we more or less devoured it. It was an outstanding piece of fish.

                            When we get back to C'ville (presumably in 2008, I guess), I will, as always, be trolling Chowhound & trying to figure out where the best food-of-the-moment is happening, but I think it might be hard to resist a return to Cassis.

                          2. Please give the newly reopened Nook a try. The new owner is a trencherman of some repute and a Chowhound in good standing. If I know him, breakfasts will be excellent! Here's a short article on The Nook:


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Bob W

                              I went to the new Nook and had the most unusual, and delicious, sandwich. It was ham, cheese and broccoli with a sweet pepper sauce. Had to try it and was happy I did. Plus, they have krinkle cut fries, which reminds me of being a kid. The renovation is great.

                            2. There are good websites for any and all who might visit Charlottesville. First is the local alternative weekly paper. They have a dining section that lists every restaurant in town (except chains) by food type. They also have a calendar of events, local news, and such.


                              There is also a site developed by a local where people write reviews. Remember, a lot of these folks aren't Chowhounds, so read all the reviews before making any decisions.


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: mojoeater

                                And even worse, many are Wahoos..........LOL. Signed, Hokie in RIchmond.

                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                  Hey, I know for a fact that Hokies and Wahoos can live peacefully together! I'm an old Wahoo, and one of my closest friends is proud to be a Hokie.

                                  1. re: mojoeater

                                    Hehehe...I agree. Two of our very bestest friends are Wahoos.

                              2. Have you been to Aqui es Mexico? It's very authentic. Boar's Head Inn has a great lunch buffet.

                                1. Nice brunch buffet at Cocina del Sol.