The Charlottesville 29

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

Gordonsville Ice House

221 N Main Street . Gordonsville, VA . (540) 406-5393

August 2023 Update: Craig Hartman no longer owns the restaurant. 

As excellent as the barbeque is at The BBQ Exchange, there’s another food that enticed pilgrimages to Craig Hartman’s Gordonsville barbeque mecca for years. Every February, at the restaurant’s Porkapalooza celebration, Hartman would make lard-fried chicken that many would wait all year long for.

As of 2021, they no longer have to wait. At Gordonsville Ice House, Hartman serves his famous fried chicken every day. Gordonsville is called the fried chicken capital of the world, with festivals that date back decades. In homage to those roots, Hartman brings the attention to detail of an acclaimed fine dining chef to one of the nation’s most popular foods. Many consider it the best version ever.

Primarily places to store and sell ice for a community, ice houses have a long, but faded, tradition as central gathering places, with some even evolving into open-air saloons. Renewing that history in the heart of Main Street, Gordonsville Ice House welcomes families and others with spacious, indoor and outdoor seating, cornhole to keep the kids busy, and plenty of televisions with the games on. There’s local beer and wine to wash the food down with, and cheerful servers who seem happy you chose to spend some time at the ice house.

What to Order

Fried chicken is an obvious choice. But, don’t sleep on fried creatures of the sea. Hartman long dreamed of opening a Southern fish fry, and has instead smuggled a carefully sourced seafood program into his fried chicken joint. Below are our suggestions.

Our Picks

  • Fried Pickles
  • Popcorn Chicken
  • Fried Chicken – 2 Piece Dark
  • Filet of Flounder
  • Fried Seafood
  • Mac N Cheese



701 Club Drive . Keswick, VA . (434) 284-4200

Even before Marigold, Keswick Hall was transporting. Cross the border from Charlottesville to the Keswick resort, and it’s as though you are on the other side of the world. The vistas. The setting. The infinity pool.

But, when one of the world’s most famous chefs opened a restaurant there in 2021, the transporting effect reached another level. Marigold is stunning. There is nothing like it in Charlottesville, and few places like it in the world. A chef so well renowned he goes by his first name, Jean-Georges has restaurants in New York, Miami Beach, London, Paris, Tokyo, and glitzy beach resorts. And now, Keswick, Virginia. Once inside Marigold, though, it may feel more like one of those other destinations than a tiny rural town where the sole post office closes for lunch each day.

For the food, Jean-Georges opts for faithful renditions of crowd-pleasing dishes he has developed over the years for his many restaurants. His timeless east-meets-west signature, Warm Shrimp and Tender Green Salad, for example, was one of the first dishes Jean-Georges created after arriving in the United States, and is still popular at his restaurants decades later. Also always on the menu is his famous molten chocolate cake.

Sustaining quality is not easy when building an empire of restaurants around the world. With more than forty locations, “Jean Georges” is now a full-blown corporation, with executives, design teams, and rigorous training programs, all working to ensure that each restaurant meets his standards. At Marigold, from the moment you enter until the warm madeleines nestled in cloth napkins that close the meal, the polish of the experience bears the chef’s unmistakable stamp.

What to Order

The breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus change seasonally, so don’t get too wedded to a dish. Some are constants, though, like pizzas and the “Simply Prepared” section, which offers just that, simply prepared meats, chicken, and fish, with a side of shishito peppers, and a choice of sauce. One tip: ask for butter. While the complimentary bread and olive oil are excellent, the butter available on request is imported from France, delicious, and served beautifully at room temperature. Below are our suggestions and those of Marigolds’ kitchen.

Our Picks

  • Dealer’s Choice Cocktail
  • Octopus
  • Warm Shrimp and Tender Green Salad
  • Wild Mushroom Pizza
  • Warm Chocolate Cake

Chef’s Picks

  • Crispy Sushi
  • Crunchy Maitake Mushrooms
  • Black Truffle Pizza
  • Striped Bass
  • Roasted Duck Breast


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