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The Best Dumplings Anywhere are in Charlottesville

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I know this is a bit out of your range, but the "Mid-Atlantic" board seems to be all about New Jersey.

Charlottesville, Va doesn't have a lot going for it other than Jeffersonian history, but there was this tiny closet (literally four feet by four feet with a window to the sidewalk) that a guy from China and his wife from eastern Europe turned into a take-out dumpling spot. You could get pork dumplings, two noodle salads, and sodas. When I first discovered the place, they were such recent immigrants that he barely had the English to ask me to help him make change for my five dollar bill. This was in 2002 or so.

They moved into a full-sized restaurant spot in the spring of 2007. I was in town briefly after a few years away, and after discovering that my beloved "dumpling guy" had moved into a real restaurant, I had to eat there. The menu might have two or three things more to offer. He remembered me (it was his opening weekend! I was flattered as all hell), welcomed me back to town, thanked me for being one of his early, loyal customers. But it wasn't loyalty on my part--I've just never had chinese dumplings anywhere ever that have been that good--small, crispy, puffy, tender, juicy, well-seasoned. And still two and a half bucks for what's supposed to be half a dozen and is often seven or eight little morsels of perfection. The place is called Marco and Luca, after the couple's two sons, who probably wait tables now but were stroller-age when they opened the little closet.

Please eat there if you happen to be in Charlottesville or driving through town. I've never had as much joy for as little money as I've had from a half-dozen little fried pork dumplings from Marco and Luca in Charlottesville, VA.

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  1. I will whole heartedly endorse this recommendation. The dumpling are freakin' delicious. Just FYI though, Cville recs usually go on the South board. If you did a search there you would find much love for Marco and Luca's.

    1. While i appreciate the recommendation, i very much disagree with "Charlottesville, Va doesn't have a lot going for it other than Jeffersonian history". It's a wonderful area with good (for the south) skiing, great golf and awesome wineries; UVa which is one of the most gorgeous campuses anywhere; other really nice eateries including the very upscale Keswick Hall (great place to stay too) and some nice shops & a big pedestrian area for dining & drinking outdoors in the summer. Team that with the beautiful mountain scenery, a local population that is highly educated and --judging from the real estate prices--quite wealthy (and therefore willing to support culture & find dining) and you have a very nice area for a weekend away from DC.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DCDOLL

        WARNING!!! The tender delicious dumpling prices have skyrocketed to $3 a half dozen

      2. I never skied in/around Charlottesville, because I grew up in the midwest with no vertical but real snow, and moved to the northwest with crazy vertical and pretty good snow. The Blue Ridge was always terrible snow/okay vertical, and everyone I had talked to had broken a bone skiing on the ice. I'll admit that for a town of that size, Cville's got some great history and architecture (after moving from Cville to Portland, Or, Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark teams are all my buddies), and some pretty good food. But if anyone asks me where to eat driving down through VA, I'll tell them Marco and Luca, every time.

        I wasn't doing the weekend away from DC thing, though, I actually lived there for four years. Doll, I can totally see where you're coming from, but multiply that weekend by...um...:calculator: 730 (4 years times 365 days divided by 2 days per weekend) and I'm sure you can imagine how it might be harder to live in than DC or another big city.

        Three bucks, UVAH? Oh no! And with airline prices going up exponentially, next time I'm in cville, I might have to eat at...oh shit. Nope, can't even eat at Wendy's for that. Hooray, Marco and Luca's! (I may have to pick up a babysitting shift with a professor's kids, though.) ;)

        1. I do love those dumplings. And their hot and sour soup is very good, too. Best bet is to go on an off time. Even with their new, full-size location, they get way too crowded at lunch time and you spend your lunch hour waiting in line. So I'll have a snack earlier and get my dumplings around 2pm.