The Charlottesville 29

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

Category: Five Finds on Friday

Five Finds on Friday: Wiley Kimball

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Wiley Kimball of Parallel 38, which Wednesday, January 24, is hosting a happy hour and dinner with local wine star and itinerary creator Jake Busching. Happy hour, from 4-6 pm, includes a “meet and greet” with Busching and discounted prices on his wines. Dinner begins at 6:30, and includes a seven course feast with Busching, paired with Busching wines and other special selections. Guests can attend either or both events. Buy your dinner tickets at (434) 260-8793. Kimball’s picks:

1) One-Eye Burger from Mel’s Cafe. “This is, to me, the perfect burger. Just the right size, just the right amount of grease, and topped with a fried egg. I get mine with grilled onions, mayo, and hot sauce. Mel’s is a great spot for a casual lunch and the service is some of the friendliest you’ll find anywhere. If you haven’t been, you need to change that ASAP.”

2) The Rocket from Snowing in Space. “I can get down with just about everything from Snowing in Space but I always gravitate to this take on a Mexican hot chocolate. The Rocket is their cold-brew espresso mixed with milk, cinnamon, and a touch of chili powder. I usually drink my coffee black but something about this creamy, slightly spicy concoction always hits the spot.”

3) Literally Any Beer from Three Notch’d Brewing. “I wracked my brain trying to narrow this down to even only three favorites and I couldn’t. Their beers are just that good, especially the seasonals and collaboration brews. Special shout out to their collab with Oskar Blues, the Black & Goldings black ale. If you want something a bit more adventurous, stop by the Sour House on Preston (in their original taproom) and embrace the funk.”

4) Dry-Fried Eggplant at Peter Chang China Grill. “I could easily do this list five times over with only dishes from Peter Chang, but this is my hands down favorite. Light, crispy, savory, and with just enough spice to wake your palate up (and build up to some of the other dishes!). You hand me a couple orders of this and a tall Sapporo and I’ll be the happiest person on the planet.”

5) Wine and the View at Brent Manor Vineyards. “If I need to get out of town, this is my go-to. Tucked away just off 29 in Nelson County, this small vineyard is run by the lovely Jorge and Tracie, who not only make their own lineup of wines including a beautiful Chambourcin, they also stock a rotating selection of Portuguese wines and “winetail” specials that are always surprising and refreshing. All of that, paired with some beautiful VA scenery, makes for a perfect lazy afternoon. They’re closed for the season now but look out for them to reopen in the spring – you won’t be disappointed.”

Five Finds on Friday: Daniel Kaufman

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Daniel Kaufman of Public Fish & Oyster, now home to one of the best happy hours in town, 4-6 pm every day. Besides special food items like lobster rolls, there are great deals on wine, beer, and classic cocktails like negronis. “Lots of people know about our lobster rolls being offered during happy hour,” says Kaufman, “but the clam strip roll our chef Gregg has worked into the menu is probably the best sandwich I have ever had (bias aside).” Kaufman’s picks:

1) Boquerones at MAS Tapas and Parallel 38. “Perhaps it is cheating a bit to mention two places here, but I love what both restaurants do with these perfect little fishes. Mas takes a traditional approach serving these vinegar-and-olive-oil marinated white anchovies with lemon and garlic. P38 takes them in a different direction adding a touch of Maras red pepper which adds a welcome hint of spice. Either way, they are probably my favorite snack food.”

2) Xiao Long Bao (Steamed Pork Soup Dumplings) at Taste of China. “I am a dumpling junkie, and was so happy to see someone local doing real Soup Dumplings. Taste of China serves them perfectly steamed and filled with the most delicious molten-lava-hot broth just waiting to scald the hell out of your mouth. Every bit worth the pain involved.”

3) Scallion Bubble Pancakes at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “The first time I saw these delivered to a table, I thought it was the most ridiculous looking dish I had ever seen. Two basketball-sized balls of fried dough served alongside some brownish-yellowish sauce. I was in love the first time I had them. You have to eat them before they get cold and when you do, they have the most amazing chewy texture that comes to life when dipped in the sweet curry sauce served along side.”

4) Mexican Street Corn at Al Carbon. “Street corn has shown up on countless menus in the last year, but I haven’t tasted one that tops these guys. They make theirs with fresh cotija cheese and a spicy/sweet mayonnaise concoction and finish it with a hint of lime juice which adds the perfect hint of acidity to the creamy sauce. The perfect accompaniment to their amazing chicken.”

5) Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “This is the best salad I have ever had, and I know I’m not alone on this one. Dates, apple, arugula, watermelon radish, fennel, toasted breadcrumbs. Sweet, bitter, crunchy, tart, creamy all works together harmoniously. I’d happily go vegetarian if I got to eat this every day of my life.”

Five Finds on Friday: Derek Mansfield

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Derek Mansfield of Tilman’s, the new spot that some are saying is just what the Downtown Mall needed, with eat-in or takeout sandwiches, cheese, wine, beer, and gourmet items. Mansfield’s favorite way to enjoy it is “sitting at the bar with The Big Board (our best cheese and charcuterie of the moment) and a glass of our Scaia Corvina in front of me.” Mansfield’s picks:

1)  Tacos de Lengua, Mexican Style at La Michoacana. “The most authentic taco place in town, and truly the only place I’ve had good lengua anywhere in the area. The whole menu is fantastic, but I have to say I go for three tacos (always one lengua) more often than anything else.”

2) A Dozen Oysters and a Glass of Chablis at Public Fish & Oyster. “Delicious, fresh shucked, interesting oysters that rotate regularly enough to keep the interest piqued. All this provided by an extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff in a San Francisco wharf-like atmosphere.  Unique and fantastic!”

3) Manhattan followed by the BBQ Platter at The Whiskey Jar. “Come for the bourbon, stay for the great local food, and stay longer for the entertainment. All in a warm welcoming environment. I bring the family, go with out of town guests, or just stop by for a drink and a chat with the awesome team there.”

4) Anything Savory at The Pie Chest. “Thank goodness for Rachel and The Pie Chest!  They have brought a great new concept to Charlottesville, and I love finding out what’s in the case. Pro tip: go early enough to not miss out because when it’s gone, it’s gone.”

5) Steak Bavette at Bizou. “Classic French bistro meal in a classy bistro setting. Great room, great buzz, phenomenal wine list, and a friendly team that’s happy to hang for a second at your table and have a chat about what’s happening in C’Ville.”