The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

The 2023 Charlottesville 29: This Year’s List of Charlottesville’s Essential Restaurants

The 2023 Charlottesville 29 is here.

Each year, The Charlottesville 29 answers: if there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29? Background here and here. Annual cuts become ever more difficult, as openings outpace closings. As in prior years, this year’s Charlottesville 29 includes a description of why each restaurant was selected, as well as an ordering guide, with recommendations from the restaurant’s chef/owner and appearances in Five Finds on Friday.

With that: The 2023 Charlottesville 29.

The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches: Charlottesville’s 29 Essential Sandwiches, Ranked

Welcome to The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches — the ranking of Charlottesville’s essential sandwiches. Like The Charlottesville 29 does with restaurants, The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches asks: “if there were just 29 sandwiches in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?”

Unlike the restaurant 29, the sandwiches are ranked. What does this mean? Well, if there were 29 sandwiches in Charlottesville, the ideal set would be all 29. But, if there were just 28 sandwiches, it would be the top 28. And so on, leading up to the one Charlottesville sandwich that would be hardest to live without.

The list is based on 29 years of research and sandwich consumption in Charlottesville, narrowing hundreds down to a mere 29. A task this daunting requires clearly defined rules. Those are here.

And with that, The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches. Click each link to learn more:

#1: Roasted Vegetable Panuozzo – Lampo

#2: Stock Ham Biscuit – Stock Provisions

#3: Cemita de Milanesa y Chorizo – Al Carbon

#4: Ottobun with Beef – Otto

#5: Fried Chicken Sandwich – The Fitzroy

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Introducing The Mod Pod: A Sleek Chef-led Trailer Offers Kolaches, Tacos, and Savory Waffle Cones at Little Mod Hotel

It’s hard to say for sure, but it seems a safe bet that this is Charlottesville’s first food trailer serving kolaches. What are kolaches? Czech pastries with a history in rural Texas, stuffed with fruit or savory fillings like meat and cheese.

They are one of the offerings at The Mod Pod, now open at Little Mod Hotel. The hotel has no restaurant, so the shiny silver trailer parked out front offers breakfast and lunch to guests, as well as anyone who strolls by its 14th Street location near The Corner. The hotel’s theme is mod, so there is of course avocado toast, breakfast tacos, and acai smoothies. But, don’t let that fool you. There is some serious cooking going on in the trailer.

At the helm is chef Tyler Andrews, who comes to Charlottesville from Ocean City, MD, where he cooked in acclaimed kitchens like The Shark on the Harbor and Rare & Rye. This will be Andrews’s first time running a kitchen of his own, so helping get the trailer started has been industry veteran Laura Fonner, formerly of Duner’s, Siren, and Guy’s Grocery Games, among other endeavors. Part of the idea behind the trailer is that, without the overhead of a restaurant, it can serve food with the sophistication of a trained and talented chef at more affordable prices. With Texas-style kolaches, tacos, savory waffle cones, and salads, the menu looks not just to please hotel guests, but to attract locals, too.

Like a Tex-Czech version of a knish or stromboli, kolaches wrap fillings inside a bready pastry that Andrews calls a hybrid of pizza dough and sweet dinner rolls. The Big Tex combines andouille sausage, smoked cheddar, and jalapeno; the burger-inspired All American has ground beef, smoked cheddar, and pickles; and the Vegetarian features roasted features vegetables, tofu, avocado, smoked cheddar. There’s even a nod to West Virginia with a pepperoni-roll style kolache.

Savory waffle cones are also a rarity in Charlottesville, and Andrews delivers. On our visit, he was busy making his favorite menu item for his girlfriend. For the Piggly Wiggly, Andrews brines and then hard sears slabs of pork belly, which he layers into a waffle cone with avocado, ginger miso slaw, and a bright yuzu molasses glaze.

Amongst all the meat, salads are a highlight. Andrews credits his love of vegetables in part to mentor Chett Bland. Bland himself was mentored by Manresa’s David Kinch, and “The Lawn” is Charlottesville’s ode to Kinch’s “Into the Vegetable Garden.” It’s loaded with red leaf lettuce, heirloom tomato, shaved, pickled and roasted vegetables, goat cheese, seasonal fruit, toasted seeds, tomato marmalade, and parsley vinaigrette. The idea, Andrews says, is to find the best seasonal vegetables available, and present them in various forms to open up the palate in many different ways. “You’ll have something pickled, shaved, raw, roasted, charred, tossed in a lovely vinaigrette, along with a healthy mix of seeds on top,” said Andrews.

The Mod Pod serves breakfast and lunch daily from 7:30 am – 2 pm.

A Charlottesville-Area Must: James River Batteau Co. Offers an Experience Unlike Any Other

I don’t have a bucket list, but those who do might consider adding a tour from James River Batteau Co. For those of us who value experiences over things, it offers an experience unlike any other to share with friends and remember fondly for a lifetime. I hesitate to heap praise so lavish that it triggers suspicions of paid advertising, but the praise is warranted, and no one paid me to write it.

The tours are led by life-long friends Will Smith and Will Cash, who share a passion for batteau culture on the James River. They founded their company last year to share with the public the joy they have experienced for decades. It is infectious.

To avoid the need for a spoiler alert, I will omit the fascinating history the Wills provided about a method of transportation that was once vital to our region’s economy and culture. As they used a pole to propel our batteau down the James River from the Scottsville boat launch, they interspersed just enough education to allow for both enrichment and conversation with friends. When they reached a shady spot away from the sun, they served on the boat a board of delicious meats, cheeses, and dried fruits. They provided cups and an ice bucket for the beverages we brought on board, local lager, wine, canned cocktails, and a batch of Manhattams. Batteaumen’s revelry earned them a reputation as “lovable rascals,” and we did not dare disrespect that legacy. As we ate and drank, Will Smith, a talented musician, serenaded us with covers of Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and, of course, Old Crow Medicine Show’s James River Blues. As we returned to Scottsville two hours after we left, the sun set over the river.

The batteau company remains relatively unknown, but that is bound to change. Booking now might be wise, before it’s too late.  There I go sounding like an ad again.


Brewer’s Choice: Until Högwaller Brewing’s Own Beer is Ready, the Brewpub Opens with a Tap List of the Their Favorites

If a brewer had to cretate a tap list from beers other than their own, what would they choose? It’s not often a brewer faces the question, but that’s just the position Högwaller brewer and co-owner Mark Fulton finds himself in. His brewpub opens Friday September 1 at 1518 E High Street, but, thanks to licensing delays, it could be another month before his own beer is ready. So, for the time being, Fulton is filling the brewpub’s tap lines with some of his favorite beers.

Beer-lovers are understandably eager to sample the latest creations of a brewer as skilled as Fulton. But, these should do just fine in the meantime:

Bingo LagerBingo Beer Co.
Dunkel LagerVon Trapp Brewing
LunchMaine Beer Company
PeeperMaine Beer Company
Oktoberfest MarzenPaulaner Brewery
Passionfruit MosaicPotter’s Craft Cider


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