The Charlottesville 29

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

The 2021 Charlottesville 29: This Year’s List of Charlottesville’s Essential Restaurants

The 2021 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. Cuts become ever more difficult, as openings outpace closings.

Ordinarily, the annual update reflects openings, closings, and changes in quality. This year, however, circumstances warrant a one-time exemption from cuts for changes in quality. Whatever the criteria might be for The Charlottesville 29, they do not include: “ability to thrive during a pandemic.” Now that restaurants are resuming normal service, restaurants of The 2020 Charlottesville 29 that survived the pandemic are included in The 2021 Charlottesville 29. It is a great credit to the resilience of those restaurants that, after 14 months of a crippling pandemic, all but one remains open.

While the sole 2020 closure would typically leave just one opening for new entries to The 2021 Charlottesville 29, again an exception is warranted. To limit this year’s additions to just one would concede an unnecessary victory to COVID-19. Therefore, this year it will be The Charlottesville 29 +1. Barring any more pandemics, this is a one-time change: the Charlottesville 29 will return to a list of 29 in 2022.

With that: The 2021 Charlottesville 29.

Virginia Pairing: Ballerino Cheese with Spirit Lab Distilling Brandy

Local food with local drink. It’s a time-tested approach to pairing.

In Burgundy, they enjoy the pungent local cheese Époisses with local brandy Marc de Bourgogne. Here in Central Virginia, we enjoy the pungent local cheese Hopscotch with local brandy Esprit Joyeux.

At Staunton’s Ballerino Creamery, Louella Hill takes milk from nearby Ambler Family Farm and turns it into world-class cheese. At Charlottesville’s Spirit Lab Stilling, Ivar Aass collaborates with Joy Ting to take grapes from nearby Barren Ridge Vineyards and turns it into brandy barreled in Virginia oak. Throw in some local bread from Cou Cou Rachou, and you’ve got one delicious Central Virginia meal.

Our Favorite Things: A Joyful Message From the Charlottesville Food Community

Last winter, the Charlottesville food community shared this joyful message.
A year later, they still need our help.

Help save our restaurants by buying gift cards:
Charlottesville Restaurant Gift Card Program.
Many thanks for the talents of
Ian Atkins and Justin Esposito.

Five Finds on Friday: Jen Pease

It’s a Thanksgiving tradition for a reader selected at random to participate in Five Finds on Friday, and this year’s winner is UVa Associate Professor Jen Pease. Pease’s picks:

1) Miso Chocolate Chip Cookie from Cou Cou Rachou. “My platonic ideal of a cookie: the perfect balance of crispy/chewy and salty/sweet. We are so lucky to live in a town with several amazing bakeries, and Cou Cou Rachou is a fabulous addition. (My kids also wanted me to mention their favorite treats: the Prezzant and the Stuffed Chocolate Shortbread, both from MarieBette.)”

2) Migas Taco from Brazos. “I first tried migas tacos while visiting Austin a few years ago, and I was thrilled to find them on the menu at Brazos. Egg, veggies, cheese, and tortilla chips? On a taco? Yes, please. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.”

3) Raspberry Triangle from Atlas Coffee. “Atlas is the epitome of the neighborhood coffee shop: the type of place where you always see familiar faces and the baristas start your order when you walk in the door. A latte and a raspberry triangle is my favorite way to start a workday.”

4) Beets from Oakhart Social. “My husband and I frequently have a hard time deciding which of the many great veggie dishes to order at Oakhart, but this one always makes the cut.”

5) Seabass Normandy from Café Frank. “One of the best dishes I have eaten this year. We love the atmosphere at Café Frank – another great addition to the Charlottesville dining scene.”

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