Mel’s Cafe

by Charlottesville29


719 West Main Street . Charlottesville, VA . (434) 971-8819

Why Mel’s?

Sometimes you need a fried fish sub.

For decades, from its central location on West Main, Mel’s Cafe has filled that need and others for hungry Charlottesville diners. Self-taught chef Mel Walker greets guests himself from his kitchen behind the counter, and serves up home-style soul food dishes like the ones he used to watch his grandmother cook as a child. Just like grandma, Mel takes no short cuts, and won’t even think about cooking fried chicken until someone orders it. That care and love ensures that Mel’s food never fails to satisfy. Throw in prices that cannot be beat, friendly service, and a setting that makes everyone feel welcome, and it’s easy to see why Mel’s is a Charlottesville institution.

What to Order

Meta’s Burger warrants special mention. It’s a sum-is-greater-than-its-parts sandwich that is among the most crave-inducing in town. While customers often pronounce it “met-ah,” Mel says it is actually pronounced “meet-ah”, named after a woman who would always order her burger the same way at an Earlysville restaurant where Mel worked years ago: with Swiss cheese and grilled onions on grilled rye bread. Below are our picks, the chef’s picks, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where a local chef or personality has named a dish from Mel’s as one of the best in Charlottesville.

Our Picks

  • Meta’s Burger
  • Fried Fish Submarine
  • Bologna and Egg Sandwich
  • Cabbage
  • Greens

Chef/Owners’ Picks

  • Meat, Potatoes, and Vegetables

Five Finds on Friday Picks