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Oct 28, 2009 08:47 AM

Charlottesville Delights from a Relocated Hound.

Hi, Hounds

After a few months of bemoaning my fate in moving from San Francisco to Charlottesville for grad school, I've found a few places I like a lot, so I figured I'd spread the word and hopefully get some recommendations in return.

So far, I love:
DONUTS. Carpe Donut and Spudnut both have won a place in my heart. Carpe Donut is a donut truck (happy flashback to the creme brulee, Korean barbeque, and taco trucks in SF) that appears behind the Wachovia on the downtown mall on Wednesdays. Beautiful, hot apple cider donuts wrapped in a sweater of cinnamon sugar. Spudnut's light, greaseless coconut donut is my other favorite.

Organic Butcher in the Main Street Market sells fine young chickens at quite affordable prices. I've bought all of my meat from here (bacon, various cuts of beef, lots of chicken) and have been uniformly pleased.

Market Street Wineshop is just lovely. A well-curated cheese selection, some nice grocery products (olive oil, arborio rice) and great selections of wine and beer. Down-to-earth, knowledgeable staff who won't look the other way if you ask for a sub $10 bottle.

Feast also has a great cheese counter and some nice selections of seasonal produce; my miniscule budget doesn't allow me to sample much from their groceries.

Cville Market for a locally-owned store with a good selection of produce.

Zinc for Sunday brunch--great latkes and mimosas.

Saturday Downtown Farmer's Market for apples and interesting bitter and Asian greens. I bought lard at Babes in the Wood and liked the flavor (but was surprised that I needed to render it at home).

Staunton Grocery (yes, not in Charlottesville) was my favorite meal in Virginia. We went for lunch, and the quality knocked me over.

So far, no luck:
-I love dumplings and noodles, but haven't found any I like here. The dumplings in the downtown mall were not to my taste.

-Excellent cocktails

-Anything approaching authentic Mexican

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  1. Thank you for scoping things out diligently here. I spent a couple of months in C'ville earlier this year and failed miserably in finding anything worthwhile, and ended up running away to the bounties of the Florida Gulf Coast a.k.a my epicurean comfort zone. I'll be back in C'Ville next week for another two-week stint and was just thinking that I should check out Organic Butcher. How do the prices run there? In FL, I was getting boneless ribeye for $6/pound, and haven't been able to come close to replicating that at Harris Teeter (terrible quality) or Whole Foods (they want like $16/pound).

    Also, since you're from the Bay Area, where I'll be moving, do you have any butchers/meat shops you can recommend to me out there?

    Staunton Grocery is now at the top of my list of things to try.

    1. I find it awesome that someone else is in my exact same situation. I'm relocated from Baltimore, now here at UVA for grad work. Which grad program are you in, Pane?

      Good list; I'll post my own after I type it up.

      1. I would add, in the same general area as Feast (which we loved on a trip two years ago) Blue Grass Bakery. OUTSTANDING breakfast place -- big lovely tawny biscuits.

        Blue Grass Restaurant
        143 W Kentucky Dr, La Center, KY 42056

        2 Replies
        1. re: jmckee

          Yeah, I've tried Bluegrass, but I can't say I shared your experience with the biscuits. My unbeatable biscuit is at Monell's in Nashville--Bluegrass was a bit heavy for me.

          Mike: yes, you should definitely go to Staunton Grocery. Probably if I post San Francisco recommendations on the South board, my response will get deleted, but I'd suggest you search that board for Avedano's...

          Wangus: Glad you're in town, too, and look forward to reading your reviews. I'm in English.

          1. re: pane

            I really like the farmer's market here too. Smaller than I'm used to in Baltimore, but still quite nice. I've been debating on whether or not to take the $12/lb hit and buy some bulgogi from one of the meat people there. Still haven't tried Spudnuts because I'm a bad person.

            Specifically for your noodle kick: There's a new chinese (sichuan) restaurant that opened up on 29 and Rio Rd. It's called Taste of China, and the chef is supposed to be a mini-renowned guy. I can't really attest to that fact, but I did try the food. Pretty good. More details from me and others here:

            Though not even close to authentic Mexican, Continental Divide is pretty popular here. And, according to some (I'm more of a straight whiskey drinker so I can't say one way or another), could potentially help your cocktail search.

            Past the traditional really popular locations which I'm sure others have told you about (Bodos/Crozet Pizza/etc), there isn't a lot I've managed to try that's truly worth mentioning (similarly tight budget and all that jazz). Although, I've found myself really enjoying sandwiches from Bel-Air Market in the Exxon on Ivy Road close to the Birdwood Golf Club. Flavorful meats and friendly workers.

            And if you have the chance and the time, there's always Thai Siam. Really authentic Thai food approximately 40minutes south on 29 from charlottesville. I just took a trip a few weekends ago.


        2. Así es México was recommended to me for authentic Mexican, but I never got around to trying it on my last trip. I did my own searching in google and it was the only thing I found. There is lots of authentic Mexican in the South, though. Richmond should have plenty if you get a craving.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Naco

            aqui es mexico is good. you find that they use quite a bit of cinnamon in random dishes. but we had a quite decent and flavourful ceviche here. their lengua and carnitas tacos have been good the last couple times that we've gone. i'd like to get the chance to go back and try the lamb barbacoa as well as the goat they sometimes offer on specials. also, the pupusas are not bad but can sometimes lean towards the greasier side.

            also, quite good for mexican is la michocana. they offer homemade carrot pickle on their "condiment bar" along with some guacamole-like substance and a salsa roja and a salsa verde. we've had the carnitas, cueritas, and lengua tacos there. i found the meat a bit tough but well seasoned and with homemade tortillas. this is really authentic, the clientele is basically gringo free.

            nothing will ever compare to the experience of good, cheap and plentiful taco trucks and taquerias in the mission (el tonayense, el farolito, el metate, pancho villa, to name a few...) but these will def. satiate your hunger when youre craving that authentic mexican food.

          2. Pane - welcome to C'Ville! I moved down here from NYC for grad school last year and dealt with some similar growing pains; but gems are to be found! Check out the Belmont area, Mas, and the Local are both great and the Local, each has decent cocktails. Bang just off the Downtown Mall is supposed to have great cocktails but I haven't had it yet.

            Revolution Soups off of the Mall is also great for some local fare - salads, soups and sandwiches, kind of a cool funky vibe. A bit further out of town are Blue Mountain Brewery and Devils Backbone, each is a fun experience and I highly suggest trying to get to the vineyards.

            Let me know if you need/ want any other suggestions.