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Ask any Charlottesvillian for suggestions on what to do when you’re in town and the first question will likely be "well that depends, how much can you eat?" Let these 12 bars and restaurants be your starting point to the best of this sneaky-delicious destination for food and drink lovers, and find out that you don't have to be a freshman to gain 15lbs here. 505 Preston Ave When you wake up hungover and you need a sausage, egg, and cheese bagel more than the world needs peace, Bodo's is your saving grace.
A staple amongst townies and UVA students alike, Bodo's is cheap, fast, and the combinations are endless. The bagels are served warm, so don’t be a noob and ask for it toasted. New kid on the block: 205 Monticello Rd It may seem unreasonable to wait an hour just to get a seat at this tiny 21-seater for the pizza that only takes 90 seconds to cook, but you won’t be disappointed.
Lampo boasts truly Neopolitan pizza -- and there’s an Italian organization with very strict rules, noted by a “Denomination of Control” seal of approval -- for what is considered to be officially Neopolitan.
Not trying to argue with the Pizza Illuminati, so saddle up at the bar to wait it out and see what its take on the classic margherita D.O.C is all about.
Best place to watch the game: 102 14th St NW To see and be seen, make your way to Boylan Heights. Whether you’re plowing through its pork nachos intently watching the play-by-play, or passing the time playing shuffleboard pretending you know something about UVA sports, you’ll have serious FOMO if you decide to take in the game from your couch instead.
Best Italian: 826 Hinton Ave Reservations are a no-go, but it does make the most mouthwatering homemade pastas in town. Perfect for date night or celebrating with a larger party, pull a Joey Tribbiani and put on your Thanksgiving pants because you’ll want to order one of everything. If you don’t even know where to start, sip a cocktail at its newly opened Cicchetti Bar while you decide between the pappardelle bolognese or the linguini alla carbonara -- both celebrated crowd-pleasers. Best grab-and-go lunch: 416 W Main St For when you’re feeling bougie on your lunch break or want to grab a few things before you head off to spend the day wine tasting, Feast!
Gourmet Market is a must. While on the pricy side, its sandwiches and salads are fresh, locally sourced and always hit the spot. The prosciutto & mozzarella sandwich (dressed with a roasted tomato spread and arugula on a fresh baguette) or its Famous Pimento Cheese sandwich (ask for it grilled!) are both fan favorites. If you’re feeling budget-conscious, you can easily curb hunger by grazing your way through the seemingly infinite free samples they have scattered throughout the store.
Best tapas: 904 Monticello Rd So you just got back from your semester abroad and you’re pining for some relics of your European dining experiences -- long, leisurely meals with good company and better libations: head to Downtown Belmont and settle in at MAS. Ignore the notoriously sub-par service and the not-so-subtle bulge of the matador portrait on the wall above the bar and sink right into the bacon-wrapped dates, the bocadillo jamon, and a pitcher of sangria and you’ll instantly be transported right back to Spain.
Worth the splurge: 108 3rd St NE The incredibly talented culinary team at this contemporary French destination turns out showstopping tasting menus punctuated with creations like butter poached lobster over linguini with tomato cream and sweetbreads with black-eyed peas and pickled ramps. Definitely save it for date night though -- speaking from experience, a few bottles of rosé into a girls night out may or may not result in getting some serious shade thrown your way by the other patrons.
Best burger bar: 212 E Main St Divine burgers and even better service, Citizen boasts hundreds of beers, an inviting atmosphere, and an all-star roster of burger options, including “The Executive”: a grass-fed beef burger topped with bacon, onion, a fried egg, garlic aioli & foie gras (for a cool $25). Catch a game at the bar (there’s no shortage of TVs or space for that matter), or catch up with a friend over truffle fries and a cocktail on its patio.
Most under the radar: 502 East Market St If you’re looking for a standout meal but aren’t looking to be seen, enter Charlottesville’s hidden gem: Tastings.
Its cult following would be horrified for their favorite spot to be discovered, but all the more reason to check it out. Ignore the underwhelming ambiance and focus instead on your oak-grilled duck breast with cherry Armagnac sauce. Best brunch on mom & dad’s tab: 422 East Main St More known for its carefully crafted cocktails and killer dinner specials (think yukon & sweet potato pavé with house-made corn polenta and shishito peppers), Commonwealth is the spot to have your parents take you when they’re in town.
Don’t fret if you miss out on its Saturday evening offerings; you still have Sunday morning to dive into its pork belly eggs Benedict. Its open-air rooftop counterpart, Skybar, is the perfect post-brunch venue to grab a drink and people-watch the Downtown mall on a nice day.
Best pizza: 4916 Plank Rd Ignore what anyone tells you about Crozet Pizza or Christian’s or even Mellow Mushroom: Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie is the best pizza in and around Charlottesville. It is worth the 20-minute drive out to North Garden for its house-made ranch dressing alone, but if you must have a vehicle for said sauce of the gods, its Bellissima pizza -- Margherita pizza topped with shaved country ham, arugula, lemon vinaigrette and aged Parmesan -- will do.
best date night restaurants in charlottesville - 10 Romantic Restaurants in Charlottesville & Albemarle County
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From Belmont to Downtown Charlottesville all the way to Crozet, the Charlottesville Restaurant Group offers exquisite food, convenient locations, and exceptional service. With over 28 “Best Of Cville” awards, we continue to provide premiere dining experiences in Central Virginia that will satisfy any discerning palette.
Select from a variety of delicious cuisine. Our menus offer American comfort food, nouveau-Latin cuisine, sushi, tapas, seafood, Mexican and much more. We can get your mouth watering with our colorful flavors while you experience our unique atmosphere.
Whether you’re looking for an upscale dining experience or low price late night fare, our restaurants will meet your needs. Most of our restaurants are conveniently located in Downtown Charlottesville near the Jefferson Theater, the Paramount Theater, and the NTELOS Wireless Pavilion as well as the University of Virginia campus.
For lunch, dinner or vibrant nightlife, come see us. With a tapas menu that is in touch with the traditions of Spain, Europe and the Mediterranean we provide an opportunity to feature many locally produced organic foods and farm products. Our outdoor seating and funky interior create a comfortable atmosphere. Come for dinner, and stay for the nightlife – the Sangria is a must. A lively bistro with ample outdoor seating, Mono Loco will keep your belly full and your taste buds tingling.
The nouveau-Latin cuisine packs a flavorful punch, and our kitchen staff creates daily specials that are thoughtful and delicious. Our authentic guacamole and salsa are a great start to a fulfilling meal. Try one of our margaritas made with fresh squeezed lime juice and fruits ranging from blueberry and raspberry to blood orange. Our dinner menu offers a twist on traditional fish house fare with simplicity as the main objective.
Using only the freshest seafood and local artisan ingredients our menus offer anything from Yellowfin Tuna tartar, Crispy Lamb Belly, to Wild Steelhead Salmon. We offer one of the city's most unique dining experiences and play a major role in the nightlife scene.
We approach traditional Japanese dishes as if they were works of modern art. The superior ingredients are the building blocks of inspiration and the plates are crafted to please both the palate and the eye. The seafood arrives daily from fishing auctions in Japan and Hawaii.
Beyond the incredibly fresh sushi, the menu features a variety of hot and cold ala carte items and offers many choices for vegetarians as well as non-seafood eaters. Ten also features an extensive wine list, and specialty cocktails using unique ingredients such as the “Ten" which is comprised of sake, vodka, aloe juice, and sweet Japanese plums called momokochan.
Our menu changes weekly, but we can guarantee that you’ll always find both tradition and innovation. While we bring you tastes from all over the world, we also make sure to emphasize the local.
Our produce, when in season, comes from area farmers. Our trout comes from nearby Madison County, and our beer comes just down the street from the Starr Hill Brewery.
While we offer an international selection of fine wines, we make sure to feature wines from local vineyards. Cinema Taco is the Downtown Mall’s only tacqueria, featuring authentic Mexican and South American food. Cinema Taco has developed a loyal fan base in its own right. Downtown workers stop by for lunch several times a week. Music lovers fuel up before a night of dancing. Regulars argue over which is the best empanada.
We even stay open late when there is a show at the Jefferson.
Live Where You Love: Charlottesville, Virginia