Earlier this month I spent ten days in Charlottesville, Virginia! My husband had a work trip and I had already made plans to be on the east coast, so of course I had to join him. One of the best things about the city is its food: Charlottesville restaurants are amazing! The sheer variety for such a small town is ridiculous.
Five years ago I actually lived in Charlottesville, so the place is already close to my heart. I spent a year working for a ministry at the University of Virginia, and the town gave me my first taste of living on my own post-college. It’s the place I got my first salaried paycheck, dyed my hair for the first time, started this blog (!!), and basically my feet under me as a baby-adult.
I loved being back in Charlottesville: I saw old friends, took nostalgic walks around town, and ate so.much.good.food. Especially now that I live in a small town, food was a major part of this trip! I crave everything: Indian buffet, Thai food, great pizza, breweries & wineries, seafood, even Chipotle.
Here are a few of my favorite places in Charlottesville:
Bodo’s is legend here in Cville. It’s a thing for students to be first in line one morning and get ticket #1 at least once before they graduate, usually capping off an all-nighter. The bagels are fantastic, but the main draw is that you can customize everything exactly how you want. All the toppings are a la carte and you build your own. My favorite: everything bagel with BLT + pesto.
Nearly everyone who I asked for restaurant recommendations mentioned Brazos Tacos. A newer place in town, it’s tacos in all their hipster glory. Grab a couple, and you’d be missing out to not try a breakfast taco. The staff always have good recommendations too, and the food lives up to the hype. My favorite: pork belly taco.
Christian’s is your standard college town pizza place, but I swear it’s better. Super cheap, good toppings, and inexpensive in spite of slices bigger than your head. It’s the kind of thing you want when visiting a college campus. My favorite: anything with olives.
Marco & Luca
When I lived in Charlottesville, I probably ate at Marco & Luca at least once a week. Delicious fried dumplings and oh-so-cheap. How many places can feed you lunch for less than $5? The sauce, some combination of thai chili sauce and soy sauce, is truly addicting. My favorite: pork dumplings.
Classic diner food, complete with the old-school feel of the booths. With good reason, since the Nook at the Downtown Mall since 1912. Their specialty is macaroni and cheese. With seven varieties, everyone can find one to their taste. And whoever decided to add Old Bay seasoning to mac and cheese deserves a medal. My favorite: Eastern Shore Mac.
This is my favorite Indian food in Charlottesville. On the Downtown Mall right near the Pavillion, Himalayan Fusion was a favorite lunch spot for me. Because who can resist an Indian buffet?? Great choice include Nepali lamb curry, chicken tikka masala, and the surprising yak momos (dumplings). My favorite: lunch buffet.
In a town that has it’s share of hipster coffee joints, this one is the best. My friends in town regularly hang out at Milli Joe. Bonus: it’s far enough from campus to not be overrun by students, but central to the downtown mall. My favorite: classic latte.
This one is new to me. Opened by a few UVa grads, the concept is a bit like Chipotle or Cava: fresh ingredients for bowls. They’ve got a few options that all looked fantastic, but you can substitute to your heart’s content. The bowls are simple enough to make you think you can make it at home, but you never have the whole range of toppings. Plus, it’s the kind of meal that makes you feel good as well as tasting fantastic. Roots may be my new favorite lunch spot. My favorite: the Mayweather, subbing tomatoes for beets.
Three Notch’d Brewery
This place has popped up in the years since I’ve lived in Charlottesville, and I wish it had been around when I was! We arranged to tour the brewery and I learned more about beer than I have from any other tour! The head brewer took us around for 45 minutes, explaining flavors and background as well as the brewing process. He even made a point to learn all our names, which is always impresses me. After the tour, the owner came by to chat and thank us for arranging a tour! They offer tours every Saturday, but if you call them up they’ll set up a private one for your group.
High end Japanese food. If you’re in town for Restaurant Week, I highly recommend going then. We went with a group and shared bites, and everything tasted fantastic. Beautiful food, too. My picks at Japanese restaurants are always sushi, but if raw fish isn’t your thing there’s still some great options. The waiter highly recommended the Japanese friend chicken and she was totally right – so good! If you do like sushi, you’ll love it. Everything we ordered I loved. For a good variety, get the chirashi. The surprising winner from Ten? Beef tartare. My favorite: beef tartare.
Hamiltons’ at First & Main
The best was saved for last. Hamiltons’ does southern & seafood and it is heavenly. We went with my parents and everything that touched the table was lovely, even down to the cerulean water glasses. They take classics, like calamari or hushpuppies, and mix them up by adding pickles and tomatoes to create a zesty calamari salad or pimento cheese in the hushpuppy batter. Don’t miss the beer list, full of local goodies. My favorite: crab cakes with rice and remoulade.
These are just a few of my favorite Charlottesville restaurants. The city has so many more foodie finds: way more than we could tackle in ten days!
What are your favorite food finds in your town? Comment below: I’m always working on where to go next!
Opinions are my own & I didn’t receive compensation for my writing. The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down & posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.