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.

We Made It, Charlottesville: Virginia Ends All COVID-19 Restrictions

Virginia is ending all COVID-19 restrictions, Governor Ralph Northam announced today. Effective May 28, no capacity restrictions. No distancing restrictions. No dining restrictions. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Plus, vaccinated people may ditch their masks, with limited exceptions.

In celebration of this historic announcement for Charlottesville, we revisit this recent declaration: It’s Time to Declare Victory: The Charlottesville Food Community Overcomes COVID-19.

Our restaurants have faced an existential threat from a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Will our food community survive?

One year later, we have our answer. For all its havoc, for all its devastation, for all its pain, this virus could not defeat the Charlottesville food community. Yes, we lost beloved institutions. Yes, our restaurants faced greater anguish than ever before. Tears. Heartbreak. But, no, COVID-19, you did not destroy us.

With COVID-19 restrictions ended, and this year’s The Charlottesville 29 revealed this week, there’s just one thing to do.

Let’s eat. The 2021 Charlottesville 29.

Five Finds on Friday: Fernando Dizon

The Dizon family, on opening day, May 14, 2021.

Today’s the day! Manila Street is opening in Dairy Market. What a proud day for the families who live on Manila Street and great day for Charlottesville diners. To celebrate, today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Fernando Dizon, who owns Manila Street with his wife Jessie. Dizon’s picks:

1) Apple Galette from Bee Conscious Baking Company. “Patrick and Alexis just opened their new spot in Dairy Market and we couldn’t be happier for them. Also for our tummies because now we can get their goodies everyday. The Apple Galette is my favorite. Caramelized apples inside a perfectly crispy crust. Everything they make is delicious. Our boys love their cinnamon sugar donuts.”

2) Special Waffle at Milli Coffee Roasters. “This is our go -to spot for breakfast on Sundays. A Belgian waffle topped with brie, Granny Smith apple and honey. The waffle is always crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. I really need to know how they make their batter.”

3) Gambas al’ Parilla at Mas. “This is our go-to date night spot. Sitting on the patio with a pitcher of sangria and some delicious tapas is our happy place. The grilled shrimp are a must. Served grilled shell on sprinkled with sea salt on a bed of aioli.”

4) Complete dinner for Two at Afghan Kabob Palace. “Over the last year we’ve ordered a lot of takeout. Afghan Kabob has always done a fantastic job. The food quality and the service is always consistent. The complete dinner for two is so much food you’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day. It comes with salad, two appetizers, two entrees and two kinds of dessert as well as a choice of coffee or tea. My favorite of the entrees is the Qabuli Palow- tender lamb with raisins and carrots on a bed of brown rice.”

5) Loose Goose Martini at Zocalo. “After trying all those good eats you can wash it all down with a Loose Goose at Zocalo, another favorite spot in C’ville. Hands down my favorite cocktail anywhere. I always order it with a jalapeño to add a little kick. Sipping on one of these at the bar or on the patio at Zocalo is a must try in C’ville.”

In the Wake of COVID-19, The 2021 Charlottesville 29 Makes Room for One More

But wait, there’s more.

Ordinarily, the annual update of The Charlottesville 29 reflects openings, closings, and changes in quality. This year, however, circumstances warranted a one-time exemption from cuts for changes in quality, because whatever the criteria might be for The Charlottesville 29, they do not include: “ability to thrive during a pandemic.” Therefore, all 28 restaurants of The 2020 Charlottesville 29 that survived the pandemic are automatically included in The 2021 Charlottesville 29.

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.

Joining Conmole as one of two new entrants, the final entry into The 2021 Charlottesville 29 is Belle.

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