The Charlottesville 29

Suppose the number of restaurants in the Charlottesville area were reduced to a mere 29.  What would be the ideal 29?  This publication answers that question.

This may seem an odd premise upon which to build a publication about Charlottesville restaurants.  After all, Charlottesville has a rich and varied collection of restaurants.  Yelp lists nearly 500 area restaurants.  C-VILLE Weekly lists hundreds as well.  With so many good dining options, why reduce the number to 29?

A few reasons.

First, the question seems a useful organizing principle for writing about Charlottesville food.  It provides more structure than, for example, naming the “best” restaurants in Charlottesville.  That is an impossible task, in part because of the difficulty in defining what makes a single restaurant the “best.”  Avoiding that semantic quandary, The Charlottesville 29 presents a simpler task: from Charlottesville’s hundreds of restaurants, assemble an ideal restaurant scene of 29.

Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knut Rockne once said: “As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven.”  Likewise, this site aims to name not the 29 best restaurants, but the best 29.  That’s the site’s organizing principle.

Second, answering the question at the heart of The Charlottesville 29 requires consideration of factors beyond sheer food quality or kitchen talent.  For one, type of cuisine.  Imagine that Charlottesville were home to dozens of world class restaurants serving Modern French cuisine, with chefs that, by some objective measure, were considered the very best chefs in the world.  Even if we were so blessed, The Charlottesville 29 would likely not consist of just Modern French restaurants.

As enjoyable as expertly-prepared Modern French cuisine can be, you would probably tire of it if that were all you ate.  You might miss a great  sandwich, or Indian food, or pizza, or Thai, or, well you get the idea.

Besides, even if you did not tire of eating Modern French cuisine, you might go broke eating it.  Modern French cuisine prepared by world class chefs is almost always expensive.

Another factor, then, is cost.  If Charlottesville were to have just 29 restaurants, it would be ideal to have many priced for frequent visits, as well as a handful to save for more indulgent occasions.

Finally, perhaps best of all, The Charlottesville 29 lets us pretend that the obscene amount of time that we devote to food has some purpose other than stuffing our faces. Suddenly, an over-the-top meal is no longer gluttony.  It is “research.”