The Charlottesville 29

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

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2020 Charlottesville Best Food Truck/Stand Finalists

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The 2020 Charlottesville 29 is coming soon, answering: if there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesille would be the ideal 29? But first up is recongition of our area’s great food trucks and stands. At breweries, vineyards, cideries, and elsewhere around town, Charlottesville’s food trucks continue to serve some of the best food in the area. As do food stands that feed hungry shoppers at farmers’ markets, among other locations.

Tomorrow, February 27, The Charlottesville 29 2020 Best Food Truck/Stand will be awarded. Among a great group, the finalists are:

The 2020 Charlottesville 29: A Look at the “Bubble”

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The 2020 Charlottesville 29 will be revealed next week, providing this year’s answer to the question: if there were just 29 restaurants in the Charlottesville what would be the ideal 29? To be eligible, a restaurant must have been open since at least January 1, 2019.

The task of narrowing to a list of 29 has never been more challenging. Indeed, in assembling the list, I always make the same observation: the list of restaurants omitted from The Charlottesville 29 is actually greater testimony to the quality of Charlottesville dining than those on the 29. As in: “if ___ is not one of our area’s essential 29 restaurants, Charlottesville must have an amazing dining scene.” Fill in the blank with any of a number of very good restaurants.

This phenomenon becomes more striking each year as the number of good restaurants that open outpaces the closings. We are blessed with so many great restaurants in Charlottesville, run by talented and passionate people who really care, that, inevitably, some do not make the list of 29.

Right from this project’s inception many years ago, the arbitrariness of the number “29” (or any number) was recognized as one of its flaws. The number is a nod towards the 29th Infantry Division Memorial Highway, better known as Route 29. But, this site could just have easily set out to recognize a different number of restaurants. The task would be much easier, although perhaps less meaningful, had the site been named after I-64.

This time of year, a basketball analogy is illustrative. It’s almost March, which means the annual debates have begun among college basketball fans about 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 left out. The NCAA Selection Committee extends 36 at-large bids, and there is rarely any significant 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. Little separates 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.

Check back next week for this year’s entries into The Charlottesville 29.

Five Finds on Friday: Robin Fetter

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Robin Fetter, author of The Real Vegan Housewife, whose Instagram and Facebook pages cover all things Charlottesville and vegan. The Instagram page is planning a giveaway if it reaches 1,000 followers this month. You can follow along here to enter. Fetter’s all-vegan picks: 

1) Veggie Iron at Iron Paffles & Coffee.You can catch me eating here at least once a week. If I am not trying out their weekly vegan specials at lunch, I am usually ordering the Veggie Iron for breakfast because when it’s served with their equally amazing Cafe Americano, it really sets my morning off right.”

2) Pineapple Jerk Cauliflower Wings at Champion Grill.This place has won me over in the short amount of time it has been open, and these wings have the perfect sweet and spicy balance that goes well with their incredible beers. I personally suggest pairing this with their True Love Mexican Style Lager.”

3) Vegan Wonton Nachos at Firefly. “This place has become quite the vegan staple over the years, and they are always adding something new on their menu for the plant based patrons, but these nachos will always call my name. Besides, who can say no to a plate of fully loaded fried wontons?”

4) Tofu Bibimbap (without egg) at Doma Korean Kitchen.I promise you that you will not miss the egg. This dish is so full of flavor, and still has a lot of the elements of a traditional bibimbap.”

5) Tomates Asados (Smoked Roma Tomatoes) at MAS Tapas.MAS Tapas is surprisingly more vegan friendly than one might think, and this dish in particular may not sound like much when you see it on the menu but I gotta warn you, it’s addictive. I could seriously eat these tomatoes by the bucketful, but if you order these with their hummus which also comes with their amazing house made cold fermented bread, guaranteed – you’ll thank me later.”

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