You might read up on these threads: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/703326, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618393, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716402, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/706099, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/740446
All have very good information. I don't know that I can type any more than I did on those threads. I was recently at Orzo Wine Bar and it was great. All the food was really good.
We highly recommend Beer Run for breakfast, lunch and brunch or even a casual dinner. The best beer selection in town, available any time they are open, and the food is damned good. http://www.beerrun.com/
Local favorites include Continental Divide, Bizou, C&O, L'etoile, Maya and The Local. L'etoile and C&O would be considered fine dining. The others are just tasty.
Bodo's and Marco & Luca are great for inexpensive bagels and dumplings, respectively. Christian's has great pizza by the slice. Don't expect NY style. My favorite is the avocado feta.
Where in Cville will you be living? Neighborhood may influence suggestions, though nothing is more than 15-20 minutes away.
811 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22903
119 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Marco & Luca
112 W Main St Ste 15, Charlottesville, VA 22902
817 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22903
i've liked brunch at maya
you have to get tacos from la michoaca (sp?)
and had a recent nice dinner at duner's. looked like it'd be terrible but it wasn't .
i live in richmond but have visited friends so i don't have too much to offer. sorry. i do know people like tavola also.
We had a very nice dinner with friends at the Local in Charlottesville just a few weeks ago. It's not on the downtown mall but in a small neighborhood square with some other interesting-looking restaurants there. The Local specializes (as you might guess from the name) in locally-sourced foods.
So many great ones to choose from! We're obviously biased but like to think there's a lot to find here: http://mastomillers.com .
Personally, my favorite fine dining these days is outside of town at Fossett's, but innovative tasty southern near-fine dining at Brookville on the downtown mall. Best Italian in town at Tavola.
For weekend brunch/breakfast, most popular might be the Blue Grass Grill & Bakery or Blue Moon Diner, though I find Blue Moon underwhelming. Good artisan bacon, though. Tons of places serving brunch, though. l'etoile is a favorite.
Casual lunch – grab good locally sourced sandwiches, salads, and soups at Revolutionary Soup, or join the Bodo's Bagel craze.
Blue Moon Diner
512 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22903
104 14th St NW, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Blue Moon Cafe
714 Lee St E, Charleston, WV 25301
Keswick Hall at Monticello, Keswick, VA 22947