Countdown to The Charlottesville 29
The Charlottesville 29 is the list of restaurants that answers the question: if there were only 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29? With just a dozen restaurants left to enter, it is nearly complete. Starting Monday, March 7, one restaurant will be added each day for twelve days, until reaching 29. (If you’re wondering why 29, see this early explanation.)
The timing will coincide with March Madness, which is fortuitous. College basketball fans always debate the “bubble” – who belongs in the NCAA tournament and who does not. As several unlucky teams learn each year, a cold and uncaring divide separates invited teams from those who are not. The NCAA Selection Committee extends 36 at-large bids, and there is rarely any difference between the 36th most deserving team and the 37th. Yet, one plays in the most exciting basketball tournament on earth. And, one does not.
The Charlottesville 29 has a similarly harsh cut-off. As acknowledged at the project’s inception, this is one of its inherent flaws. Little will separate the 29th most deserving restaurant from the 30th. And as with the NCAA Selection Committee’s choices, while there are some restaurant entries with which most would agree, there may be others on which reasonable minds could differ.
But, this will only be the first Charlottesville 29. Beginning in 2017, updates to the 29 will occur once each year, incorporating changes required by closings, openings, improvements, and drops in quality. After the countdown beginning on March 7, the Charlottesville 29 for 2016 will be complete.
Finally, a few notes about eligibility. To be eligible, a restaurant must be open for at least one year and must have a Charlottesville address. Note that this casts a broader net than the actual city limits, as “Charlottesville” is the address for many restaurants in surrounding Albemarle County. Notwithstanding the geographical limitation, there are great restaurants outside Charlottesville warranting recognition. These will be recognized separately on the list of restaurants as “Worth the Drive,” and may display the same The Charlottesville 29 window insignia that restaurants in the actual 29 display.
Check back on March 7.