Those of us still fortunate enough to live in the great city of Charlottesville face an annual task presented by friends returning to grounds each fall for Virginia Cavaliers football games, homecoming, weddings, and looking at how pretty the trees are:
What new restaurants are there? Which ones are the best?
Well, alums young and old, I am here for you. I may not have the 1%er income of our site’s former manager - but I try and get out there a lot and explore the bountiful culinary options our little college town keeps presenting us with. I toil away at my desk job just to be able to research which seasonal take on a negroni is my favorite or which locally-sourced small plates are of the highest quality (it’s still Mas, btw).
But I can’t get to them all - I am but one man! Plus I usually just end up at Lampo. Is that new? Let’s say it’s re-new and add it to our list...actually on second thought, the line is already too long - so I’ll go there and you can try some new places. Also, if you’re an undergrad reading this - this list is not for you. You’ve already made the line at Brazos too long. You go to Asado. Asado rules.
Anyhow - here are some recommendations for your next trip back to the Hook - this is not exhaustive, of course - there are plenty of assuredly excellent new spots I haven’t been to yet. This is just a small sampling of places I, Pierce, can personally recommend:
816 Hinton Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Conmole opened a few years ago, but what with the pandemic upheaval to both our eating-out culture and ability to travel back to our favorite college towns, I find a lot of visitors haven’t heard of - or at least haven’t made the visit to this Belmont spot. If you’re in this boat, you should fix this as soon as possible. The Oaxacan mole that makes up the menu here is incredible - it’s truly craveable stuff you don’t really find at other places. As I type this I’m now overcome with a need for the chicken mole negro. I should not have written this before lunch.
They’re on Resy, the patio is great, the food is unique, and the margaritas are excellent. Put this on your list!
317 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Here’s a newer spot on the Downtown Mall that’s definitely worth a look when you’re making a return trip to the Hook. You might be familiar with Chef Jose de Brito’s work at Alley Light or Fleurie - and if you’re a fan of either of those (you should be) - you’ll enjoy this spot. De Brito’s own restaurant features exceptional French food and a high quality wine list. It’s a smaller-sized place, intimate and cozy - and it’s certainly pricey as well. It’s worth the cost, though. You can never go wrong with an expertly-executed coq au vin. Trust.
920 9 1/2 St NE, Charlottesville, VA 22902
The kitchen(ette) sandwich shop isn’t all that new, but doesn’t get the hype it deserves - if your trips back to Charlottesville have been less-than-frequent these past few years, you may not have been by - and dear readers, you must go by. Incredible sandwiches, right off the downtown mall. Honestly it’s hard to come up with a specific recommendation because it’s both diverse in its offerings and consistently excellent. The specials always knock it out of the park though - go with that.
The Glass Building, 313 2nd St SE, Charlottesville, VA 22902
My final recommendation is easily my favorite new restaurant in town. It’s great for your breakfast/brunch/lunch any day of the week, but just perfectly made for your morning-after in Cville before making the trek back home. The food (breakfast/lunch sandwiches mainly) is just so dang good. Plus there’s cocktails! And grits (tater) tots! GRITS. TOTS.
Crab cake sando. Trout breakie sando. Smash burger. Dave’s roast pork (big time highlight). And the best-named meal in the city: The Drum Fill From in the Air Tonight
Just go. But keep it between us, I don’t like waiting too long for brunch.