As a cool college kid, it is no longer the social norm to pretend to hate your parents. Instead, parents are more than welcome to come visit, mostly because it means you and your friends are eating for free all weekend long. You either get to leave the less than appetizing dining hall food behind or take a break from slaving away in the kitchen. And yes, Easy Mac counts.
In order to make the most of your parents’ visit, be sure to consult this list of restaurants because most of them are way out of your college kid price range.
C & O Restaurant opened its doors in 1976 and is well-known by local Charlottesville foodies. If your parents are a little nostalgic for their college days, you should make sure to bring them to the C & O Restaurant after 10 pm to enjoy the late night menu.
#SpoonTip: The Mac & Cheese is a must-try.
The Downtown Grille is Charlottesville’s own classic steakhouse located right on the Downtown Mall. Though popular for its Midwestern corn-fed beef and extensive wine list (honored by the Wine Spectator every year since 1999), don’t forget to order the truffle fries with crushed red pepper and parmesan cheese.
3. The Local
Beloved by all (even your grandparents), The Local is a must visit for anyone and everyone. They serve American-style dishes that include a wide variety of locally sourced ingredients that will please any palate. On Monday nights, The Local is the perfect place to sit and enjoy live music performed by local artists.
If you’re lucky, your parents snagged a room at Boar’s Head Inn for the weekend. Be sure to take advantage of their hospitality and enjoy a relaxing brunch. If you don’t have to rush to the library, we recommend sipping on some mimosas.
Duner’s may not look like much from the outside, but looks can be deceiving. A few miles down Ivy Road, Duner’s is a hidden gem that deserves some recognition from more that just the locals. Show your parents a great time accompanied by some of the finest cuisine the Charlottesville area has to offer.
Hamiltons’ is a classic, homey restaurant located on the Downtown Mall. It’s quaint and welcoming atmosphere makes for an ideal spot to enjoy a cozy afternoon lunch on the restaurant’s patio with Mom and Dad.
As you drive down Main St., make sure to keep your eyes peeled for this easy to miss restaurant. Orzo is popular for its Mediterranean-style cuisine and a menu that has options for even the pickiest of eaters. We recommend enjoying some oven-roasted Virginia oysters with chorizo butter and herbed bread crumbs or the Atlantic shrimp scampi with spinach, tomatoes, white wine, garlic and chili flakes. Yum.
If you love brunch and you’re parents aren’t staying at Boar’s Head Inn, we suggest you give Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar a shot. Note: if your parents happen to enjoy throwing back actual shots, you should bring them back for happy hour and indulge in some to-die-for handcrafted cocktails.
If your parents are well-traveled, bring them to Zocalo, a contemporary restaurant using French techniques to prepare artisan dishes with Spanish, Mexican and South American roots. (Note: the owner’s of Zocalo are also chef’s at Roots Natural Kitchen, so try them both). Make sure you can take the heat, as this restaurant’s food will certainly include some spicy flavors.
Public Fish & Oyster is the perfect spot for any seafood lover. They offer an awesome rotating selection of oysters on the half shell from many different locations. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try oysters, Public is no doubt a great place to step outside your “shell” and give it a go.
11. Red Pump Kitchen
A relatively new addition to the wide array of Charlottesville restaurants, Red Pump Kitchen brings its own unique flavors to the scene with the use of their wood burning oven. We recommend ordering one of their signature pizzas to share with the family.
12. Mas Tapas
Mas Tapas is a classic tapas restaurant located in the up and coming Belmont neighborhood. If your parents are young, wild and free or they just love traditional Spanish cuisine, they’ll love the hip and trendy vibe that Mas has to offer. Just make sure they’re up for sharing.
Though there is no way for you and your parents to try all twelve of these amazing Charlottesville spots in one weekend, each visit will be more exciting than the last with a new restaurant to try around every corner. Finally, when the weekend comes to a close and you’ve had to unbutton your pants a few too many times, be sure to thank your parents for a taste of some of the best food C’ville has to offer.