Charlottesville is a small town with the food scene of a much bigger city. Here are the 43 things you MUST eat in C’ville before you die… try not to drool all over your computer.
1. Any burger from Citizen Burger Bar
Try going here on a weekend and the wait might be close to an hour, but it’s worth it since their famous burgers are definitely the best in town. Be sure to order a bowl of truffle fries for the table while you wait for the rest of your food to come out.
2. Crepes from The Flat Takeaway Crêperie
This little hole-in-the-wall (literally) may look unassuming, but it serves up authentic, made-to-order French crepes that will immediately transport you to France. If you don’t eat gluten, don’t feel left out; The Flat makes gluten-free crepes upon request. And if you’re having trouble deciding between the extensive sweet and savory options, just remember, the Nutella-banana-strawberry combo will never let you down.
3. Sandwich from Take It Away Sandwich Shop
Take It Away makes their bread fresh every day. Order whatever type of sandwich your heart desires, just be sure to ask for house dressing on the side (don’t ask what’s in it though, it’s a secret). Our favorite combo is turkey, havarti, arugula, cucumbers and roasted tomatoes on sourdough.
4. Apple Cider Donuts from Carter’s Mountain Orchard
Fall in Charlottesville isn’t complete without a trip to Carter’s Mountain to eat one (or a dozen) of these freshly-made donuts while taking in the gorgeous mountain views. While you’re there, walk off all those donuts by picking your own apples.
5. Cheesy Bread from College Inn
All the best parts of pizza (cheese and bread) come together to create the ultimate drunk noms. Also, they deliver late – until 2 am – which makes it a great option for those late nights in the library. You’re welcome.
6. The Tel Aviv Salad from Basil
Come here to get your salad fix when that dining hall salad bar just won’t do it for you anymore. All of the Mediterranean-style salads are full of fresh, seasonal veggies, nuts and cheese that put the dining hall to shame. But the Tel Aviv takes the cake with its mixture of greens, cucumber, tomato, fried pita chips, onions, walnuts, feta, avocado and sweet red peppers.
7. Anything from Paradox Pastry
The owner of this bakery trained at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, then interned at one of the city’s top bakeries, so you know whatever they’re whipping up is the real deal. If you have trouble deciding between the different types of goodies, go with one of the giant, calorie-bomb cookies.
8. Goat cheese dumplings from Bang!
The best dish on the menu by far, these dumplings taste like a grown-up version of grilled cheese. Other highlights on the Asian-inspired tapas menu include the tuna tartare pizza and the kale tortellini. Oh, and their cocktails are also bomb.
9. Boozy milkshakes from Boylan Heights
Try the raspberries and cream or Rumpleminz milkshake when you’re trying to treat yo’self but also trying to #getturnt. burgers are also the best on the Corner.
10. A breakfast sandwich from Ivy Provisions
Ivy Provisions makes all your dreams come true by serving breakfast sandwiches ALL DAY. We recommend The Rock, which consists of sausage, egg, white cheddar, apples and dijon mustard all piled onto a freshly-made buttermilk biscuit. There’s not a bad sandwich at this place though, so if you’re not feeling breakfast, any of the lunch options are good too.
11. Pizza from Benny Deluca’s
Benny Deluca’s specializes in pizza slices bigger than your head. That’s not an exaggeration; a whole pizza is 28 inches across. If you’re ever low on cash, Benny’s will give you $500 if you can eat the entire thing in under an hour… better not quit your day job.
12. Baked Eggs from MarieBette Cafe and Bakery
I am not exaggerating when I say these are the best eggs I’ve ever had. What makes them so good might have something to do with the fact that they’re baked in cream, the French way. But eggs, so still healthy. Right?
13. Thai Chicken Curry from Michael’s Bistro & Tap House
Michael’s isn’t an Indian restaurant, so it might seem surprising that the most popular dish is curry. But once you taste it, it really isn’t surprising at all. The chicken is super tender, and the spicy juices and apricots come together for the perfect sweet and savory combination.
14. Mac and cheese from The Virginian
You’ll never go back to the boxed stuff again. This isn’t your ordinary mac; it’s made with pepper jack cheese that gives it a nice kick AND it’s served with a cheddar potato cake, because what does mac and cheese go best with? More carbs, duh.
15. Zucchini Fries from Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar
You might feel bad about yourself after eating an entire plate of fthese fries, until you remember zucchini is a vegetable, so they’re healthy, right? They’ll balance out the giant burger and milkshake you also just downed.
16. Chicken and waffles from Ace Biscuit & Barbecue
In addition to good old Southern barbecue, Ace also serves up a classic Southern breakfast. If you’re not into eating fried chicken before noon, try one of their breakfast sandwiches on the housemade biscuits.
17. Sandwiches from Bellair Market
This place may be located in an Exxon station, but its sandwiches are most certainly above gas station quality. The long menu can be overwhelming at first, so if you’re stuck, try the Jefferson (turkey, cranberry sauce, cheddar cheese and herb mayo), or the Wahoo Nation (chipotle chicken, barbecue sauce, Havarti cheese and banana peppers).
Fun fact: all the sandwiches are named after towns in Central Virginia, and a few are obviously UVA-inspired.
18. Crab cakes from Fig Bistro
Venture away from more typical brunch options and try these crab cakes, paired with poached eggs, cheesy grits and a spicy remoulade sauce. The best brunch spot on the Corner hands down, this Cajun-inspired restaurant also serves $2 mimosas on weekends. What a time to be alive.
19. Fried Chicken from Wayside Chicken
If you want traditional, no-frills, Southern fried chicken, this is the place to go. Don’t forget your sides to make it a real Southern meal – the mac and cheese, hush puppies and collard greens are all solid options.
20. Sushi from Ten
Hands down the best sushi restaurant in C’ville. Be sure to order the Chesapeake Roll (crab, avocado and vaguely spicy Old Bay seasoning) for an East Coast twist.
21. Pancakes from Blue Moon Diner
This classic diner has just about any breakfast food you could ever want. For a fun twist, order pancakes and see what famous face will show up in powdered sugar form.
22. Bi bim bap from Zzaam
This place is basically the Korean version of Chipotle. Bibimbap is a rice bowl – pick your meat (we recommend the beef bulgogi), veggies, toppings and sauce. Don’t forget the fried egg, because #yolkporn.
23. Tapas from Mas Tapas
Eat here when your friends studying abroad are making you mad jealous with all their Instagram posts of tapas in Spain. Mas has a huge selection of meat, cheese and traditional Spanish dishes, and everything is organic and locally supplied.
24. Tacos from Brazos Tacos
Two words: Breakfast. Tacos. A game changer when it comes to hangover cures. The Yam and Eggs, with sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs and chorizo, and the Potato Egg Cheese, with eggs and mashed potatoes, are personal favorites.
25. Bagels from Bodo’s Bagels
This list wouldn’t be complete without including Bodo’s. A favorite of UVA students, it’s cheap, fast and guaranteed to cure that hangover. With so many types of bagels, cream cheese and toppings, the combinations are endless.
26. Dumplings from Marco & Luca
If you’ve never had Asian food after a long night of partying, 10/10 would recommend. Get an order each of dumplings and sesame noodles to share with a friend (or not, we don’t judge).
#SpoonTip: For the ultimate late-night dumpling experience, pour the extra dumpling sauce over the noodles.
27. Sandwich from Revolutionary Soup
Obviously soups are is the specialty here (try the tomato basil or butternut squash bisque), but the sandwiches are equally as good. Try the gourmet grilled cheese, which has brie, goat cheese, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and pesto on it. With a cup of soup on the side, it’s the perfect meal for a chilly winter day.
28. A Gus Burger from The White Spot
A Charlottesville classic, this burger topped with a fried egg tastes best at 2 am after a long night at Trin. Don’t freak out over the long line; the White Spot has been in operation for over 50 years, so these guys are efficient.
29. Ramen from Miso Sweet
Definitely not the same ramen you spent all of your freshman year eating in your dorm – this stuff is the real deal. Every bowl of ramen comes with noodles (duh), bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and a soft-boiled egg. There are various types of broth and meat to choose from, and you can also add exotic extras such crispy pig ear, kimchi and miso butter.
30. El Jefe from Roots
This newcomer to the Corner is already a favorite with UVA students. El Jefe (named after Mr. Jefferson, perhaps?) is definitely the most popular, with its magical combination of kale, brown rice, feta, black beans, roasted corn, avocado and pita chips (make sure to ask for Tabasco sauce added to the dressing).
If you’re more of a ~free spirit~ when it comes to ordering, make your own salad bowl creation from the extensive list of salad mixes and toppings. Bonus: it was started by a UVA alum.
31. Avocado and Feta Pizza from Christian’s Pizza
Did you even go out if you didn’t end up at Christian’s by the end of the night? Answer: no. This is the ultimate late night pizza spot. Of the myriad slices offered, the avocado and feta is definitely the most popular one, but the tortellini or spinach and feta are close seconds.
32. Anything and Everything from the Farmer’s Market
The farmer’s market is so much more than fruits and vegetables. There are also vendors that serve up food made to order, including tacos, omelets, breakfast sandwiches and donuts. Even if you don’t need fresh produce, head over on Saturday morning for a late breakfast or an early lunch.
33. Oysters from OakHart Social
Cooked in a wood fire oven with bacon fat and bread crumbs, these oysters are everything you didn’t know you needed in your life. Oakhart is all about small plates, so go with friends and order several dishes to share.
34. Gelato from Splendora’s
Because gelato > ice cream. Splendora’s offers between 24-36 flavors of gelato every day, frequently switching it up so there will always be a new one each time you visit. The hazelnut and dulce de leche flavors are definite standouts.
35. Turkey, Brie, Cranberry panini from Feast!
Go to Feast! for the sandwiches, stay for the free samples. In addition to serving up quality lunch fare, the cafe also functions as a gourmet food shop with an endless selection of cheese, meat, dips and snacks, with samples of everything all over the store. It’s like getting two meals for the price of one.
36. Bacon Cinnamon Roll from Bluegrass Grill & Bakery
Bacon combined with cinnamon rolls is the best of both the sweet and savory breakfast worlds. If you’re trying to eat here during the weekend, make sure to get there early, as this place is one of the most popular brunch spots spots in the ‘Ville.
37. Honey Bunches from C’ville Coffee
These little granola-y bites of heaven go perfectly with that coffee you’re chugging while trying to finish that 10-page paper that’s due in two hours. Fun fact: while they only serve breakfast until 11 am on weekdays and 2 pm on weekends, you can actually order a breakfast burrito at any time of day, 7 days a week.
38. Chocolate Chip Pancakes from The Villa
The reason these pancakes are so good could have something to do with the fact that there’s chocolate chips inside as well as on top of them. Simple, but effective. That’s how you could describe every breakfast dish here; it’s nothing fancy, just good, simple food.
39. The Slop Bucket from Belmont BBQ
The Slop Bucket is a glorious mixture of cheesy potatoes, barbecue beans, pulled pork and coleslaw layered on top of each other and smothered in barbecue sauce. You can even pick your “bucket” size: a pint or a quart, depending on how hungry you are.
40. Smoothie bowl from The Juice Laundry
Another newcomer to Charlottesville, The Juice Laundry will satisfy your health kick with their endless array of smoothies, fresh juices and acai bowls, all of which are very Insta-worthy. If you’re a newcomer to the juice craze, try the Basil Bomb, which is made with strawberries, bananas, almond milk and basil.
#SpoonTip: If you’re not into acai, you can order any smoothie as a bowl, just ask.
41. Pad se euw from Lemongrass
Put down that basic pad Thai, and mix things up with this underrated, but equally flavorful noodle dish instead. Broad, flat noodles pair perfectly with a mildly sweet brown sauce and sautéed veggies. Choose your protein (we’re partial to a mixture of tofu and chicken).
42. Seafood from Public Fish & Oyster
Shrimp, mussels, oysters, crab…you name it, Public has it. Bring your parents here the next time they come to visit and impress them with your sophisticated and adult-like taste in restaurants, but mostly bring them here so you don’t have to pay. Try the Yucatan moules frites, which come with house chorizo.
43. The Showalter from Jack Brown’s
If putting a burger on a donut is wrong, then we don’t wanna be right. If donut burgers are a bit much for you, try the “Greg Brady,” topped with mac and cheese and barbecue potato chips. Jack Brown’s also has $1 fried Oreos, so go nuts.
Disclaimer: Spoon is not responsible for any cardiovascular problems developed after eating here.