Every year, Parents’ Weekend in Charlottesville means the same thing: game day tailgating with the fam, enjoying the first “real,” non-dining hall food in months, and listening to the inevitable reminiscing about the “good ol’ days” back when the 'rents were on Grounds.
Although the nostalgia can get a little boring (I know, Dad, that’s the library where you used to do your math homework), sometimes mom and dad have something to say about good eats around town—where they hit for the late-night cravings, the spot they took their own folks to for Parents’ Weekend, and even where they went on their first date.
I've taken notes from my corndog parents' nostalgic tales over the years, compiled a list of their favorite grub hubs, and even tried them out for myself. And, I've come to the conclusion that there's a reason these eats have withstood the test of time.
With that, below are some classic Charlottesville restaurants that are still hits with UVA students today:
1. The White Spot
It'll be tough to find a "spot" at the counter at this late-night, on-the-way-home, regret-it-in-the-morning must-stop. But, The White Spot will always be one of UVA students' most beloved late-night hotspots.
What to order: The Gus Burger
I mean, duh, what else would you order? A burger with a fried egg on top, it really doesn't get much better than that. Or, if that's not your style, try the “Grillswith” (two Krispy Kreme donuts seared in butter with ice cream on top) if you’re feeling sweet.
Hailed for its locally sourced food since its start in 1976, C&O is a perfect Parents’ Weekend destination. Great food on the folks’ tab makes Pop’s stroll down memory lane during dinner totally worth it.
What to order: Charcuterie Board
Oder this board with all the local meats and cheese that your heart delights, and, for your entree, try the Steak Chinoise. My dad's been ordering it since the 80's and shows no sign of slowing down–it's simply a classic.
This New York deli with a Southern twist opened in 1976. Choose from the huge menu with options from subs and salads to flatbreads and cheesecake. Important: this fine establishment is open 24 hours.
What to Order: The Chipotle Chicken Sub
This sub is the perfect combination of spicy chicken, chipotle mayo, bacon, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato, and melted provolone cheese. This must-try sandwich is packed with all the good stuff, and be sure to ask for hot peppers on top.
My parents remember College Inn as their favorite college-budget date night spot. Back then, they both ate pizza and Pepsi for under $10. Inflation since the olden days might make this deal hard to score, but the pizza and Pepsi at College Inn remains a staple.
What to order: The Famous Cheese Breadsticks
There's truly nothing better tasting and more unhealthy than greasy bread and cheese (for delivery, please). This late night go-to is a must-try before any UVA student graduates.
5. Crozet Pizza
Crozet began as a simple establishment of only 5 tables in Crozet, VA in 1977, and the family-owned business has been tossing Charlottesville’s favorite pies ever since. A newer, convenient location near the Corner makes Crozet a no-brainer, especially on Wednesday nights.
What to order: Any ‘za.
Toppings get all the credit these days, but the crust on these pizzas will play no supporting role. The stand-out original dough recipe has been perfected over the years.
What’s more UVA than The Virginian? After opening its doors in 1923, The Virginian has been a Wahoo staple for almost 100 years–it's a gameday-watchin’, outdoor-dinin’, tabletop-dancin’ good time.
What to Order: The Famous Mac and Cheese
Topped with a hash brown, the gooeyness of the cheese paired with the crunch of the fried potatoes makes for the perfect bite of Virg's famous mac and cheese. Good thing macaroni counts as a vegetable in the South.
What to Order: B.E.C.
This sammy might be messy for a breakfast on the go, but it's worth the cheesy grease drippage and getting poppy seeds stuck in your teeth. Our friends at Bodo's don't skimp on the bacon, egg, or cheese, and that's why I pick up one of these at least once a week. For more Bodo's menu suggestions, check this out.
What to Order: Tiramisu
You might think that all tiramisu is created equal, until you've tried Fellini's. Each component–the lady fingers, the mascarpone filling, even the cocoa dusting–is perfecto. You're gonna want to save room for this.
9. The Villa
What to Order: The Wahoo Breakfast
Consisting of three pancakes or pieces of French toast with two eggs any style, and your choice of bacon, sausage patties or links, ham, or corned beef hash, this is a timeless breakfast that offers a taste of sweet and salty.
What to Order: Soy Glazed Grilled Tuna
With a gingered blood orange, edamame and sushi rice salad with red chili aioli, this dish is a must-try. Duners' menu includes especially interesting twists on classic seafood dishes. This Asian-inspired tuna takes a classic grilled fish to new depths (pun intended) with all sorts of flavor.
So, next time the folks are in town, listen up. Some of our sentimental parents’ favorite classic Charlottesville restaurants are still around and tastier than ever. Hey, maybe some things do get better with age.