The Charlottesville 29

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

Category: The 29


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


The 2020 Charlottesville 29


The Charlottesville 29 answers: if there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29? Background here and here.

Once a year, the list is updated to reflect openings, closings, and changes in quality. Cuts become ever more difficult, as openings outpace closings. To be eligible for this year’s 29, a restaurant must have been open since January 1, 2019.

The 2020 Charlottesville 29.

Little Star


420 W. Main Street . Charlottesville, VA . (434) 252-2502

Why Little Star?

It is hard to pigeon-hole Little Star. The best description may be a manifestation of the chef-owner’s passions. Ryan Collins spent eight years working for world-famous chef Jose Andres, including three at Andres’ Mexican restaurant Oyamel. Under Andres, Collins fell in love with the Spanish cuisine of Andres’ native country as well as the Mexican cuisine of Oyamel. And so, Little Star — Collin’s first venture into restaurant ownership — showcases both.

Like its sibling Oakhart Social, the restaurant’s bright and airy space was once home to a service station, providing one of the liveliest settings in town. The open kitchen is essentially part of the dining room, which allows high top tables a vista of Collins’ team at work. A stellar bar program favors cocktails of tequila, mezcal, and whiskey, along with well-chosen wines.

What to Order

The menu offers both small plates and large platters, all intended for sharing. Below are our picks, Chef Collins’ picks, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where a chef or personality has named an item from Little Star as one of the best in town. Also included are appearances on chefs’ Best Thing I Ate All Year.

Our Picks

  • Pan Tomate
  • Croquetas
  • French Fries
  • Sunny-side Eggs w/ salsa negra, green onion, sesame, grilled bread, hickory syrup
  • Coal Roasted Half Chicken

Chef’s Picks

  • Marinated Carrots
  • Beef Carpaccio
  • Seared Tuna w/ rendered foie gras, salsa molcajete, cilantro oil, charred onion

Five Finds on Friday / Best Thing I Ate All Year Picks


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