Five Finds on Friday
On Fridays, we feature five food finds selected by local chefs and personalities. Below is a list of all of the finds to date.
1) Double Bacon Cheeseburger at Riverside Lunch. “This is not only a place that sells the best burgers in town but it also holds a lot of memories for me growing up playing soccer. My friends right after practice would go straight here and get the double bacon cheeseburger with fried onions and pickles. These burgers are perfect just as they are – juicy with tons of beef flavor and a tiny bit of crispiness to them. Each bite just melts away. It’s the perfect burger!”
2) Bourbon Fruit Punch at The Alley Light. “The first time I went to this place, I expected it to be over-the-top good, and sure enough it was. I sat at the bar and asked the bartender to select a drink. She asked me which spirit I wanted, and I chose bourbon and said I’d like something very refreshing. She ended up making a drink that not only was the best fruit punch drink I have ever had but still to this day is my favorite drink I’ve ever had, period.”
3) Polyface Chicken Wings at Rapture. “Nothing much to say other then hands down the best chicken wings in Cville. Super clean and clear chicken flavor, juicy, and crispy.”
4) Gambas al’ Parilla at MAS Tapas. “Very simple dish, but that’s just the reason why these shrimp are awesome. Briny and fresh, with the fattiness of the garlic alioli that they make in house, which is key, and huge chunks of sea salt.No lie, I eat these once a week or at least every other week. I love MAS!”
5) Carne Asada at MAS Tapas. “In my opinion, this is one of the top steaks in Cville because it is always cooked perfectly and seasoned just right so the steak flavor shines through. Served with garlic alioli and tortillas dabbed with duck fat.”
1) Cavolo Nero at Lampo. “This may be the best $7 you can spend in town. I’ve been to Lampo more times than I can count, dating back to when Loren, Drew, Ian and Mitch first opened this gem. I’ve tried everything on the menu, and always look forward to Drew’s educated wine recommendations at the bar. But this often overlooked salad in Charlottesville’s hottest pizza joint is a great example of how talented these guys are. Pickled mustard seed, Tuscan kale, apple cider vin, and candied almonds? Yes please.”
2) The Southern at Roots Natural Kitchen. “I love Roots. Co-owner Jung Kim worked for me at Boylan Heights when he was an undergrad here at UVa and I am so proud of what he has done. In just over a year, Roots has become a staple on The Corner and rightfully so. Not only is it healthy, but its fresh, and flavorful. Most people don’t know they had the guys over at ZoCaLo help design their menu and recipes. Try The Southern if you haven’t already. The house made BBQ tofu is incredible, along with the signature brown/black rice, kale, chickpeas, roasted broccoli and pickled onions.”
3) Greens of the Day at Integral Yoga Natural Foods. “I’m a juice freak. Mainly because it makes it easy for me to get all the fruits and veggies my Mom tells me I’m supposed to eat every day. At Integral Yoga they use fresh, organic fruits and veggies and they are always so friendly and anxious to help you find the perfect juice or smoothie. Plus, it’s right across the street from Cho’s which makes it even more dangerous for me. My go-to is the Greens of the Day. It’s packed with kale, cucumber, cabbage, celery, and I usually add echinacea and Vitamin-C powder. And when you stayed out a little too late? Get the Liver Flush. It works ;)”
4) Tagliatelle w/ Ragu Alla Bolognese at Vivace. “I grew up in Ivy, and went to WAHS with fellow restaurateur Landon Saul. Since taking over Vivace, Landon has taken the menu from good to great. Landon’s parents owned a family grocery store and butcher shop when we were kids, and its no coincidence that Landon brings that same passion for local ingredients to the Vivace menu. After training in Calabria, Italy he brought that simple, authentic Italian style back to Vivace. We’re lucky to have Vivace in little ole Cville and the tagliatelle embodies that best in my opinion. The pancetta is seasoned and cured in house, and the house sausage and grana padano is perfect.”
5) Fried Chicken Sandwich w/fries at The Fitzroy. “There’s another menu item at The Fitzroy named the Perfect Sandwich. I disagree. This is the perfect sandwich. I think about it almost daily. Buttermilk battered chicken, cayenne lemon aioli and pickles. Boom. Owners Kelley Tripp & Richard Ridge are the best in the biz. Kelley helped me open up Boylan, created our menu, and his unique tutelage is a big reason for my success in this business. I’ve known Rich since high school and we were lucky to have him bartend at Boylan for years when he moved back home from NYC. The two of them together are a restaurant dream team. Only a perfectly battered fried chicken sandwich and shoe string fries can compete with them.”
Linda Steiner, pastry chef at Duner’s. Steiner’s picks:
1) Crab Pot Stickers at Bang! “Crab Pot Stickers and Firecracker Shrimp get ordered every time. As well as my Bang-A-Rita. If it is nice enough, you have to sit outside and enjoy all of Vincent and Tim’s hard work.”
2) Dumplings at Marco & Luca. “I have a really hard time going downtown and not bringing home some of the best dumplings and peanut noodles in C-Ville.”
4) Cured Salmon at The Alley Light. “Any cocktail from Micah, one of the best in all of C-Ville, if not Virginia! And is there really anything that you would not be happy with off of their menu? They have not missed a beat since the changing of the guard in the kitchen. The Cured Salmon and Potted Shrimp get me every time if they are on the menu.”
5) Beef and Broccoli at Silk Road. “A little off the path, but everyone should really try this place in Waynesboro. (Turn into the old Shoneys on your way towards the Home Depot) Ambiance, Ambiance, Ambiance! The food is really great, the Lunch Boxes are great, but if you have to pick one, go for the Beef and Broccoli.”
Ryan Collins, Executive Chef of Early Mountain Vineyards. Collins’ picks:
1) Marañón Paletas from La Flor Michoacana Ice Cream Shop. “With my kids, I normally get a fruit-based one like Guanábana (soursop) or Piña Colada. When I don’t have to share with my kids, I get the Marañón flavor (cashew). All of them are great but that is my favorite.”
2) Pickled Shrimp at Oakhart Social. “This dish hits on all points for me. It’s salty, sweet, spicy, acidic, oily and herbaceous with lots of textures. I can eat it with my hands, a fork or just make little lettuce tacos with it. I love this dish.”
3) Spam from JM Stock Provisions. “So it’s spam, but not like what you think. It’s made from beautiful Virginia pork, and the care that is taken to make this spam is not like what you get in a can (although I’m not knocking the canned stuff either). It’s made by hand with attention to detail and attention to flavor that comes from meat instead of mounds of salt. Now that you’re okay with spam, I like to get it with a jar of Gordy’s pickles and some bread from Marie Bette and bring it home to make a sandwich. I slice thick slices and use plenty of mustard. If you are feeling fancy then feel free to crumple some potato chips on top of the sandwich.”
4) Crispy Tacos at Barbie’s Burrito Barn. “I go here not necessarily craving the traditional Mexican tacos on hand-pressed corn tortillas but the crispy tacos. Her pork, chicken and beef fillings are all great – but with the crispy tacos I always go with the beef filling. It’s like the best version of the ground beef taco filling you grew up with. I get the tacos with everything on them – I want all the sliced radish, cilantro and lettuce you can give me. I put some crema and Tapatió on top and crush everything with my fork and eat it like a taco salad. I crave the taco salad nostalgia. With Barbie’s fried daily tortillas and awesome meat and salsas, I really can’t get a better version of this any other place in Cville.”
5) Martinez at Tavern & Grocery. “I don’t know if this is printed on their cocktail menu, but they have the best cocktail program in town so I order whatever I want. That doesn’t mean I go crazy, but I like to order a classic three-ingredient drink called a Martinez (gin, sweet vermouth & maraschino liquor) and they make it perfect. I might have three or four of these and an order of the caviar service with extra house-made chips. It’s a great start or end to my night in Cville.”
Mike Hollar, sous chef of ZoCaLo. Hollar’s picks:
1) Foot-long Hot Dog, Old Bay Fries, and a tall Dr. Pepper at Jak’n Jil. “My father used to work there back in the 60’s and one of my earliest food memories is going to Jak’n Jil and eating two or three hot dogs with my father and grandfather.”
2) Boquerones con Ajo at MAS Tapas. “Little fishes drizzled with olive oil, little lemon, and some salt. Really simple but awesome.”
3) Polpette at Vivace. “Just the meatballs (one may want to add pasta but it’s not needed) made with pork and beef, seared perfectly and served with probably the best marinara in Charlottesville.”
4) Novum 2013 from Early Mountain Vineyards. “Great bottle of wine. Zocalo management and I toured the facility back in November and then had a tasting. All the wines were great but the Novum is, in my opinion, the best.”
5) Chicken Wings from Red Lantern. “This is a great Netflix and chill food. Just want do some couch sitting on a Friday? Curl up with your loved one and chow down on these gems.”
Laura Fonner, head chef at Duner’s. Fonner’s picks:
1) Funghi Pizza at Lampo. “This dish is amazing because of its simplicity and perfection. What a great showcase for such amazing mushrooms. Paired with a bottle, yes I said bottle, of their Gossip Pinot Grigio, it’s a match made in heaven.”
2) Green Smoothie from Smojo. “Beth Harley has been running a smoothie truck for years but just recently moved into the Piedmont Place in Crozet. Her green smoothie is amazing. All of them are. I have four kids so anything quick and and easy is always my go-to. Her ingredients are organic and her combinations are unique and delicious.”
3) Brisket & Cheese Sandwich at Smoked Kitchen & Tap. “I live in Crozet and work in Ivy, so naturally I tend to stay in the area! Smoked finally opened up a brick and mortar location in Piedmont Place. Their meats are amazing. My inner fat kid is in love with their brisket and cheese sandwich with charred onions and Duke’s mayo on Texas toast. It is sloppy and full of flavor.”
4) Fried Oysters at The Whiskey Jar. “I am a sucker for fried oysters and these are wonderful. Perfectly flash fried so they are super juicy In the middle.”
5) BLT w/ Avocado on Everything at Bodo’s. “Like I said before, I have four kids, so I tend to eat places that don’t mind me bringing in a backpack of toys and sometimes screaming children. I have lived here my entire life and can’t imagine a better go-to than Bodo’s. Their bagels are consistently good! Their BLT is just great, add avocado and it’s even better. I’m also a sucker for their tabouli.”
Ivar Aass, owner of Spirit Lab Distilling. Aass’ picks:
1) Head Cheese from JM Stock Provisions. “Delicious porcine goodness. You don’t know what meat is supposed to taste like until you’ve tried something from Matt and team, but the head cheese is an especially fun find.”
2) Open-faced Chicken Fried Octopus Sando at Oakhart Social. “Chicken. Fried. Octopus. Unbelievably tasty and tender. I could eat a dozen of these in a sitting.”
3) Meat Lovers Pizza from Fabio’s. “A staple for movie night at home. After living in NYC for eighteen years, I can tell you that Fabio’s gets pizza.”
4) Fried Chicken at Brown’s. “My favorite fried chicken in town with crispy, sinful skins and juicy meat.”
5) Canelés from MarieBette. “Caramelized crusts with custardy, vanilla-rum centers. Makes me nostalgic for Paris. Fun personal challenge: tell yourself you’re just stopping by MarieBette for a baguette and see if you can leave without a box of these.”
1) Iced Coffee from Splendora’s Gelato. “I hope PK will forgive me for hipping more people to this, but the iced coffee from her shop is absolutely the best I’ve ever had. I’m a regular to the extent that most of the folks behind the counter will start pouring mine as I’m coming through the door. A simple recipe and the cold Toddy method of brewing produce a rich but mellow brew with low bitterness and a mild nuttiness. I drink it black, and try to start every work day with one. Their gelato is pretty amazing as well.”
2) Magical Mystery Tour Pizza from Mellow Mushroom. “I know, I know, everybody loves Lampo. Me too! Luckily for me, my favorite pizzas are like apples and oranges, and I don’t have to compare them. The wonderfully spongy and heavily parmesan-dusted crust Mellow consistently delivers is my style, and the combination of pesto, mushrooms, jalapenos, spinach, feta and mozzarella cheeses is perfect. I sometimes add bacon to this vegetarian pie.”
3) Malt Whiskey from Spirit Lab Distilling. “Charlottesville’s oldest distillery is the one you probably haven’t heard of yet, and Ivar Aass is producing some great distillate. He’s patched together a solera-style barrel aging system that has produced (only) 94 bottles to date of handmade single malt that is rich in toffee and vanilla notes with a smoky backbone that I can’t wait to enjoy again.”
4) Ham Biscuit from JM Stock Provisions. “I have only had this twice. The early risers usually buy all of them before I can get to JM Stock, especially since I think pre-noon is early morning. The perfect biscuit, tender tasso ham, honey and just enough hot sauce to wake you up are worth setting my alarm for.”
5) Cocktails from my Favorite Charlottesville Bars: Oakhart Social, TavolaCicchetti Bar, and The Alley Light. “My peers around town (and my teammates at Lost Saint) are producing cocktails on the level of the great cocktail bars in the country, and I’m excited for more people to find this out. Go see Albee or Brendan at Oakhart Social, Steve at Cicchetti, Micah at The Alley Light or Carrie and Colin here at Lost Saint, and you’ll be treated to excellent service and a bevy of delicious and balanced flavor combinations that will open your eyes to the great American history of cocktail culture.”
Sous chef of Brasserie Saison. Moon’s picks:
1) Carne Asada at MAS Tapas. “The best steak in Charlottesville. Period. Perfectly balanced with smoked tomato alioli and a duck fat tortilla, it really doesn’t get any better than that. Throw in an amazing staff and it creates an atmosphere that will keep you coming back again and again.”
2) Polpettine al Forno at Lampo. “Succulent pork and beef meatballs showered with pecorino. Pair that with their house bread and it sets the entire tone of your visit. Great date spot, but come early because Lampo is popular for a reason!”
3) Pimm’s Cup at The Alley Light. “Pimm’s cups are not just light and refreshing in the summertime, but a drink for year round. Watching master mixologist Micah whip up a drink is a true sight to behold. Make sure to check out the amazing nightly specials that Chef Robin has as well, because what is a great drink when not paired with an amazing meal?”
4) Sausage Béchamel at Petit Pois. “Creamy rich béchamel with local sausage over potatoes with perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise. Couple that with a cozy space and great service and you’ll be ready for an evening of leisure.”
5) Cheese Steak Hoagie at Revolutionary Soup. “This is the real deal, sirloin topped with onion, peppers and provolone. Being constantly on the go, I live off of the quick service and the locally sourced goodies that they have. My guilty pleasure after lunch? Chocolate chip cookies by Rachael Pennington.”
Rowe Webster, Partner and General Manager of Smoked Kitchen and Tap. Webster’s picks:
1) Pork Tacos at C&O. “I’ll begin where I often end my nights: the late night menu at C&O, most notably the pork tacos. We all know that C&O is a Charlottesville mainstay and for great reason. None is more apparent than the menu they are able to maintain after serving a busy dinner crowd. It’s always a pleasure to walk in there and have the New York Times crossword waiting by the fish tank and know that food is not only available but reliably delicious. The work that Anthony, Amanda, Jenn and Dustin put into making amazing Manhattans is always appreciated and quite welcome after a long night. Abe’s Bud and Beam combos are not to be passed over either, especially if you can play dice.”
2) Roast Pork with Fennel Sandwich at Greenwood Gourmet. “After one of those late night meals, nothing pieces me back together quite like a sandwich at Greenwood Gourmet. If you can manage not to buy the first thing you see in the deli case, glance up to the specials board. The roast pork with fennel has been a go-to of mine for as long as they have had it there. David, Nina and Rufus have obviously put as much time and thought in the menu as they have with every other aspect of this store. It really is a pleasure of mine to interact with them as often as I’m able. Put that up with popups from Potter’s Craft Cider, Michael Lewis, and Polina Chesnakova and you have gold on the footsteps of the Blue Ridge.”
3) Hangar Steak and Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “In the rare occurrence that I have a weekend night on my hands, my girlfriend and I head straight to the bar at Oakhart Social and order the shaved salad with the Hangar Steak. Tristan has the kitchen dialed in to a tee. Salads have been tough to win my heart but this one has it. Pair that with Albee and Brendan behind the bar and it’s a winning combination every time. From a bartender’s point of view, Albee is the best in the business. His drink menu and knowledge are unparalleled and all served with a little salt. Albee rarely puts the buggy before the horse. Toss in a few Cub hats in the kitchen and I’m always happy.”
4) Banh Mi at Lampo. “Before beginning this journey I had the pleasure of working with some great friends of mine at Lampo pizza. The fact that almost every single Five Finds on Friday list, not to mention dish of the year, features these guys is a testament to the time that they put in on a daily basis. With so many dishes to choose from at a Neapolitan pizzeria, I’ll go with what everyone expects to see on the menu; the banh mi. It was a special that the boys ran a year ago and it quickly became one of my favorite things. From watching Loren bake French bread from scratch to watching the guys toss out one iteration after another until they perfected, it really shows their combined passion and dedication to what they do. Throw a Shelvis on the floor and the most knowledgeable sommelier behind the bar and it’s no wonder they have garnered the attention and success that they have.”
5) Oysters Rockefeller at The Fitzroy. “From day one, Kelley Tripp has been the guy that I have learned from and the guy that continues to surprise me on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that when he teamed up with Rich, Kevin and Rooney to open a space downtown that my last dish comes from them. I truly believe that the oysters Rockefeller from the Fitzroy on the downtown mall is my favorite bite in Charlottesville. Pair it with the pork chop and a cocktail from Sommertine Cline and you have a true classic. The atmosphere that Jeannette Andamasaris designed and Hector Zamora built really made me feel at home, which is something that I feel as a person in the service industry we all strive for.”
Alec Spidalieri, bar manager of Junction.Spidalieri’s picks:
1) Dea Marrone at Tavola Cicchetti Bar. “My work-neighbor Tavola has always been one of the very best places in Cville to dine. How could they have possibly gotten any better? Christian Johnston answered this question to the applause of many when he started the cicchetti bar program in the back space of the restaurant about a year and a half ago. Christian has since moved on to our nation’s capitol to further develop his skills as a drink-maker, but he’s left his baby in good hands with Steve Yang, who has continued to expand the program and done a fantastic job carrying on the integrity and quality of the bar. I don’t know if I can pick a single favorite, but it may be the ‘Dea Marrone, with brown butter-washed Bulleit Bourbon, Averna Amaro, brown sugar, sage, cider, and yellow Chartreuse. Rich but very well balanced.”
2) Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll at Now & Zen. “I don’t really want to know how many pounds of chef-owner Toshi’s sushi I’ve consumed over the last few years. It’s fresh, it’s fantastic, and it’s one of the very best values in town. Plus, the staff is extremely friendly. I will always point people Now & Zen’s way if they’re looking for great sushi.”
3) Big Bad Wolf at Bluegrass Grill and Bakery. “Probably my favorite breakfast dish of all time. There’s a reason these guys always have a line out the door! The Big Bad Wolf is basically a souped-up Eggs Benedict with ham, bacon jam, chipotle hollandaise, and spinach (to convince yourself that you’re being healthy perhaps?) Yes please!”
4) Platinum Rum from Vitae Spirits. “I love rum and I’m fond of using local products, so it’s a good thing that there are some killer rums coming right out of my hometown, courtesy of Ian Glomski’s Vitae Spirits. Vitae’s Platinum Rum is something I’ll reach for every chance I get, but their whole lineup is solid, and I hear they’re developing even more products. I can’t wait to try them all out. I plan on using their Golden Rum in my house-made Horchata during the colder months at Junction.”
5) Pulled Pork Sandwich at The Local Smokehouse. “The Local crew took over the old Belmont Barbecue space and opened up shop back in April. It seemed like a natural way to move into the lunch territory for us that would suit our style and play up our strengths well. Chef Matty was very scientific and methodical about his recipes at this spot; I don’t know how many times I went into work at The Local and was forced to ‘taste test’ different pork and brisket techniques (not that I’m complaining). All that work on his part paid off very nicely. It’s all quite edible, but a pulled pork sandwich slathered in beer mustard is the ticket for me.”
Eric Bein, of Jack’s Shop Kitchen. Bein’s picks:
1) Virgindia Pale Ale from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. “With the craft beer scene touting over-the-top IPAs, Hardywood shows true craftsmanship in this well balanced, citrusy IPA using Virginia hops.”
2) Pie in the Sky at Pie in the Sky. “Their namesake dish, an Italian Grinder stuffed inside of a whole cheese pizza. What else needs to be said?
3) Beef Brisket at BBQ Exchange. “The true measure of a great pit master, Chef Craig’s brisket, with its dark bark and pink-hued smoke ring, is a tender, succulent vehicle to slather on their signature sauces.”
4) Bavarian Sausage Platter at The Bavarian Chef. “Wiesswurst, Bauernwurst, Bratwurst… I’m not sure who Chef Jerome kidnapped from Germany, but these are expertly crafted sausages, most certainly to be washed down with a dry German pilsner. Bring your appetite.”
5) Apple Donut from Donut Kitchen. “With a cult like following wherever they are, this food truck prepares their donuts fresh daily. The perfect ratio of dough and apple filling, tossed in cinnamon and sugar, it’s an ethereal experience.”
John Hoffman, Executive Chef of Keswick Hall. Hoffman’s picks:
1) Funghi Pizza at Lampo. “Lampo is our ‘Happy Place’ as my wife says. From Chef Loren to all of the service staff, they make your experience feel welcoming. The Funghi pizza with Sharondale Farm mushrooms and the house made N’duja are my go-tos.”
2) Ol’ Dirty Biscuit at Ace Biscuit and BBQ. “We went to Ace on a recommendation and it instantly reminded us of being back in Charleston, SC. The Ol’ Dirty Biscuit is our breakfast staple.”
3) Empanadas at The Bebedero. “When my wife and I are having trouble deciding on a dinner date, we always seem to agree on The Bebedero. The drinks are great and the food seems to be bursting with freshness. The empanadas or if you’re lucky enough to catch pozole as a special are some of our favorites.”
4) The Farm at Oakhurst Inn. “On lazy Sundays mornings we like to roll into the little cottage known as the Oakhurst Inn for brunch. The Farm is always seasoned perfectly and the pickled jalepenos add just enough kick to get you moving.”
5) Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll at Now & Zen. “I met Toshi while working an event at Keswick. The next week we had to stop by with some friends to check it out. The big rolls are something we’d never seen before. Our favorite is the crunchy Spicy Tuna but anything with eel is a plus.”
Dave Warwick, Founding Brewmaster of Three Notch’d Brewing Company. Warwick’s picks:
1) Pastrami Sandwich at Kardinal Hall. “In-house pastrami, McClure cheese, and rye bread from Albemarle Baking Co. Wash it down with a Ghost of the 43rd APA from Three Notch’d Brewing Co.”
2) Scrapple, Egg and Cheese Biscuit at Ace Biscuit and BBQ. “Available after Pig Roasts. I grew up in Maryland, scrapple is a delicacy there, and Ace does it right! Gotta get pimiento cheese on it!”
3) Cheese Curds at South Street Brewery. “Just amazing. Beautifully paired with Mitch Hamilton’s My Personal Helles Lager.”
4) Ham, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich at Keevil & Keevil Grocery and Kitchen. “Cheesy, gooey, egg yokey goodness. All Virginia-sourced ingredients. Made to order or grab one out of the hot box if you’re in a hurry to get to work. They also have cold-brewed coffee on nitro from Charlottesville’s Snowing in Space Coffee Co. You can even take a growler of it to the office with you.”
5) Crazy Legs at LW’s Livery Stable. “Pork shanks marinated in jerk seasoning, paired with their Headless Horseman cocktail.”
Dan Frosaker, Head Chef and Kitchen Manager of Feast!. Frosaker’s picks:
1) Pimento Cheese Fritters at Maya. “After moving from the Northwest and never having pimento cheese or pepper jelly, this dish was a revelation. The crispy, salty fried cheese fritters topped with sweet pepper jelly and served with chive sour cream is a perfect blend of flavors and textures. Another offering at Maya that rivals the pepper jelly is the country ham gravy which goes well on anything.”
2) Mosaic Pale Ale at Random Row Brewing. “Coming from the intense beer culture of Portland, OR, I am happy to see the growth of the local beer community here in Central Virginia. Random Row is a great addition to the current offerings. Their tasting room is inviting and their Mosaic Pale Ale is very refreshing.”
3) Porchetta Panouzzo at Lampo. “I’m not the first person to be impressed with Lampo and their excellently made pizzas and sandwiches. I have gone back for the porchetta sandwich many times. I love the bitter char on the bread and the tender pork, cheese and broccoli rabe. Recently, I had a special shaved beef sandwich that blew me away.”
4) Rotisserie Chicken at Al Carbon. “Another dish that needs no introduction is the chicken at Al Carbon. The perfectly cooked chicken is great on its own, but when you pair it with the Aji Sauce and the Jalapeno and Cilantro Sauce it is truly exceptional. A side of green rice and fried Yucca rounds out a great meal.”
5) Deli Egg on an Everything at Bodo’s Bagels. “There is nothing better than a freshly baked bagel with cream cheese in the morning, but the Deli Egg is pretty close. The chopped up end cuts from the deli meats mixed with an egg and piled on an everything bagel is a great sloppy start to the day.”
Chris Long, UVa Football Legend. Long’s picks:
1) Cornmeal-crusted Fried Oysters at Maya. “Perfectly fried. The house remoulade makes it.”
2) Thick Cut Pork Chop at The Fitzroy. “The biggest, baddest pork chop in town. Get it with the roasted cauliflower.”
3) The Blaze at The Juice Laundry. “Perfectly spicy.”
4) Semisweet Chocolate Pot de Creme at Orzo. “I’ve eaten three in one sitting and could’ve had more.”
5) Key Lime Free Range Chicken at ZoCaLo. “Longtime favorite.”
Ian Glomski, founder of Vitae Spirits. Glomski’s picks:
1) Ol’ Dirty Biscuit (customized with an egg sunny-side up on top) at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. “Being raised a Yankee, I’ve surprised myself with how much I have embraced Southern food tastiness. The ODB’s fried chicken, pimento cheese, sausage gravy, and flaky biscuit touch my soul… maybe I was Edna Lewis in a past life.”
2) Kouign Amann at MarieBette. “When I moved back to the US after a stint living in Paris, I thought I’d never taste this ‘croissant on steroids’ again. A true Breton masterpiece, the kouign amann has only five ingredients, there is nothing to hide behind, so each of those ingredients as well as the execution has to be impeccable.”
3) Linguine alla Carbonara at Tavola. “It is very rare for me to ever order a dish more than once at a restaurant, yet here I am time and time again drawn to eating this creamy pancetta-y linguine cooked perfectly al dente Tavola. I can’t quite explain it…it’s just so satisfying!”
4) Carolina Jumbo Shrimp and Grits at Hamiltons’. “Once again my inner Edna Lewis makes me weak at the knees when it comes to Hamiltons’ shrimp and grits. There’s something so right about the combination of the sea mingling with the smoky tomatoes and creamy grits.”
5) Ramos Gin Fizz at The Alley Light. “This is the drink I use to test whether a cocktail bar is up to snuff. Who would think a cocktail made with cream and egg whites could dance so lightly on your tongue when mixed just right? Those Alley Light folks got it down pact.”
1) Noodle Beef Soup at Monsoon Siam. “With the traditional Thai flavors, this has got to be one of my favorite soups. Light yet so flavorful. Top it with some of those amazing green chilis and this is one for the books.”
2) Pork from Mount Rouge Farm. “Can’t put into words how awesome this pork is! Josh Hatter feeds his animals with seasonal veggies, so tender and juicy. I love to smoke the butt roast in our wood fire oven to throw on top of some of our pizzas for Blue Ridge Pizza Co.”
3) Lamb Rogan Josh at Milan. “Only the best thing on the menu! The flavors bring me back to my island life in Mauritius. I really enjoy the blend of spices that complement the lamb . . . and the garlic naan. You can never go wrong with naan! Just an added bonus.”
4) Prosciutto Pizza at Lampo. “Being in the pizza business myself, I love what these guys over at Lampo do! They have the science behind the dough and flavors down! This is a very classic Italian pizza whose flavors are very well balanced on a perfectly baked crust.”
5) Nitro Coffee at Shenandoah Joe. “Probably one of the greatest inventions of all time! The idea of coffee coming-out in the consistency as Guinness beer is probably the best thing every! I am one serious coffee fanatic. I must have my early morning fix of caffeine.”
Jerome Thalwitz, chef-owner of The Bavarian Chef.Thalwitz’s picks:
1) Ceviche at La Finca Grill. “A gorgeous Peruvian ceviche of shrimp and white fish in tangy leche de tigre with sweet potato and hominy. Save room for the Tres Leches cake!”
2) Deviled Eggs at Jack’s Shop Kitchen. “These aren’t just any deviled eggs. The yolk filling is so velvety smooth, and they are accompanied by fresh avocado and melt-in-your-mouth pork belly with just the right crisp on the outside.”
3) Gambas al’ Parilla and Sangria at MAS. “MAS is my favorite date night spot with my wife. These jumbo shrimp, salty and fresh off the grill with garlic alioli, are a must-have on your list of tapas and raciones. Hook it up with a carafe of sangria and let the good times roll!”
4) Spice Rubbed Brisket Sandwich and Rothaus Pils at Kardinal Hall. “Tender smoked beef brisket on an original Philly hoagie roll with red cabbage slaw taps into my German tastebuds. Perfectly paired with one of the world’s best pilsners, Rothaus Pils hailing from the Schwarzwald.”
5) Guinness Chocolate Cake at Paradox Pastry. “Stout beer, dark chocolate and Irish cream—this always puts me in my happy place.”
Brian Geiger, co-founder and Head Judge of the Cville Pie Fest. Geiger’s picks:
1) Porchetta Panuozzo at Lampo. “This is a rich sandwich that you’re going to want to either split with a friend or save half to eat cold the next morning, but it’s incredibly flavorful and worth the temptation. Wood fired bread, delicious pork, and bitter broccoli rabe to balance.”
2) Dealer’s Choice at The Alley Light. “Let’s face it: making decisions is a lot of work, and not having to make them is awesome. Especially when there are so many possibilities for tasty drinks that you don’t even know about. Skip the hard work and let the bartenders at The Alley Light choose for you. They give you the opportunity to choose gin or whiskey, but I just put it all in their hands, and I have never been disappointed.”
3) Sour Cream Doughnut at Chaps. “If you’re looking for a cake doughnut that’s perfect in its simplicity, drop by Chaps and hope they have some available.”
4) Financiers at MarieBette Cafe & Bakery. “Almond pastry is one of my favorites, and MarieBette’s version is consistently great. While I’m there I might occasionally pick up another $30 or so of assorted pastry, if I’m being honest.”
5) Peach and Pork Pie from The Pie Chest. “Just had one of these for the first time last week and it’s everything I want from a savory pie. Loaded with flavor, just a tiny bit sweet, and all of the skill that The Pie Chest brings.”
Jeff Deloff, chef of Threepenny Cafe. Deloff’s picks:
1) Berkabaw from Autumn Olive Farms. “With an excellent ratio of meat to fat, it offers meat with lots of intramuscular fat. The fat is a meal in itself, either render it down for cooking or leaving it on to give the pork a succulent flavor.”
2) Beef from Wolf Creek Farm. “What more is there to say about grass fed beef that’s raised humanely, and sustainably? Nothing. Wolf Creek is an excellent example of farm stewardship, which offers a superior product to corn fed beef.”
3) Ducks from Free Union Grass Farm. “Pastured raised ducks that offer crispy skin and beautifully rendered fat, as well as hearty breast meat and flavorful leg meat.”
4) Bone Marrow from The Alley Light. “With everyone’s desire for high priced steaks it’s nice to see a place offer bone marrow. And to top it off, it comes with braised snails! A rarity in itself to see on a menu, but prepared beautifully.” (Note: this was the 2014 Dish of the Year.)
5) Skate Wing from Fleurie. “It’s not everyday you see skate. So when I read it was on their menu, I was more than excited to have it!”
Kevin McElroy, Brewer and co-founder of Randow Row Brewing Co.. McElroy’s picks:
1) Vella Jack Cheese Fritters and Black Bean and Corn Relleno at ZoCaLo. “The cheese fritters are crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, and come with an awesome raspberry chili sauce and I save the leftovers for the rest of the meal. Each time you get the relleno, the spice level of the pepper varies, so its a different experience each time. Beer pairing: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale to go with the spiciness of everything.”
2) Plain Bagel with Turkey and Veggie Cream Cheese at Bodo’s. “If I’m feeling adventurous I’ll add tomato and sprouts. Hands down the best bagel in Charlottesville. With the brewery across the street, I eat plenty of meals here. Haven’t gotten tired of it yet. Beer pairing: all the beers at Random Row that I ‘have’ to test each day. Someone’s gotta do it.”
3) Cheese Pizza at Vita Nova. “Having two toddlers and a third baby on the way, I use the excuse that it’s for the kids, but Vita Nova is the best pizza in town for your money. Won’t break the bank and is a good New York style pizza with a creamy cheese topping. Beer pairing: Six pack of Hydraulion Red from Three Notch’d.”
4) Pulled Pork Sandwich with Fries at Ace Biscuit and BBQ. “As you can probably tell, I have a pretty simple palate. But the pork here doesn’t need much else. A dash of Carolina style sauce and it’s good to go. Beer pairing: PBR or Natty Boh.”
5) Red Hot Blues with “Wait a Minute” Hot Sauce at Continental Divide. “Just the right amount of heat to start your meal. Every entree I’ve had here I’ve been impressed with. Beer pairing: Sierra Nevada Pale ale, followed by one of the best margaritas in town!”
Kelley Tripp, chef and co-owner of The Fitzroy. Tripp’s picks:
1) Pastrami Reuben at Smoked BBQ Co. “I have been a fan of Justin since his days of crushing lunch at The Carving Board with his wife, Candice. Needless to say I was pretty excited to hear about his new venture a couple of years ago with the food cart on the mall and the driven attentiveness he gives his food. He never skips corners, and makes miracles happen with his smoker and cart. My favorite is the house cured pastrami with homemade 1000 island and sauerkraut. The meat is perfectly cooked and the smoke seems really to stand out in this perfectly balanced sandwich.”
2) Maiale Milanesa at Tavola. “Nothing quite brings me back to my mother’s cooking faster than a perfectly breaded thin cut of pork. The fact that I can then head to the back and experience the wizardry of Christian Johnston and his Cicchetti Bar is something that will always get me in the door. I have had the pleasure of watching and working alongside Christian, and seeing the fruits of his labor couldn’t make me more proud of his accomplishments and subsequent amazing reviews.”
3) Nachos at The Bebedero. “I think most of us hold a special place in our heart for the perfect plate of nachos, and I can’t say that I have had better than the one they serve at The Bebedero. Paired with one of the house margaritas, the combination of the longaniza, house pickled peppers, and rich cheese sauce make this truly as comforting a dish as I can recall.”
4) Tonkotsu at Mican. “Living downtown means I’m always just a short walk away from some rewarding ramen. I have tried most of the ramen at Mican, and each is fantastic but this one stands out to me as their finest. Both chicken and pork in a perfectly seasoned broth really makes any day a little bit better.”
5) Sherwood Farm 150 Day Dry Aged Tartare at Lampo. “Cutting out after work and enjoying some food and drinks at Lampo is one of my weekly mainstays. The four-headed monster of Loren, Mitch, Andrew, and Ian are seemingly always pushing the envelope on their specials and I love to get a hold of them when I can. This particular dish, prepared in a ‘classic’ approach, is one of the finest small plates I have had the pleasure of tasting. Perfectly balanced, with sea salt, capers, and the other usual suspects, it makes for an exceptional experience. Their extended hours of dinner service allow for a late meal, perfect cocktail, and an unsolicited Cubs score.”
Landon Saul, chef and co-owner of Vivace Italian Restaurant. Saul’s picks:
1) Tacos Al Pastor at Al Carbon. “As many of my friends and family know, I am obsessed with tacos (after four trips to Mexico). Slow roasted pork shoulder rubbed with dried chiles, pina, salsa verde, cilantro and onions on light-as-air tortillas. Also, the cemitas with coal roasted local chicken, avocado, jalapeno, oaxaca cheese and salsa roja on fluffy torta bread is everything a sammie should be. Pro tip: order it spicy with a negro modelo. The elote con mayonesa (street corn) and the frijoles charros (brown beans) are also not to be missed.”
2) Polpettine al Forno and Peroni at Lampo. “Andrew Cole is cultivating a fantastic cocktail, beer, and wine list from the Aperol Spritz with prosecco, draft Peroni, and Brunello. Loren Mendosa and crew crank out wood fired local beef and pork meatballs with mozzarella and pecorino that are simply delicious. Ian’s cavolo nero (kale salad) and cavolfiore al forno (roasted cauliflower) are perfect to round out the meal. Did I mention you can also have the meatballs as a pizza or panuozzi? That’s what I call winning and these guys do it every day.”
3) Bocadillo Jamon at MAS Tapas. “Mas is my wife’s and I’s go-to when we want to celebrate life and indulge. Boquerones (white anchovies from Spain), the bocadillo with jamon, manchego and alioli on hearth baked organic bread, artichokes on the plancha, carne asada, and a fantastic bottle of Rioja makes my life complete. Chefs Tomas and Mike use the best imported and local ingredients simply and perfectly.”
4) Cocktails and Housemade Gnocchi at Parallel 38. “Ask the bartender what he recommends. You won’t be disappointed. I had a barrel-aged Manhattan that was simply magical. Also, the ability to sample wines by the ounce is a nice feature. Housemade flat bread with labneh is my go-to along with the gnocchi, chorizo potatoes, local chicken skewers, and the wonderful array of artisanal meats and cheeses.”
5) Bottle of Coke and a Double Bacon Cheeseburger at Riverside Lunch. “This is my birthday lunch every year. Perfectly seared and seasoned beef smashed on a flat top in all its glory with all the fixins. Shoestring fries and a bottle of coke fly me to the moon. I’m in heaven. (When I want a more gourmet burger I head to Boylan Heights with organic beef and of course tots! Also the best beer specials in town.)”
Johnny Garver, chef of Parallel 38. Garner’s picks:
1) Grey Dove Oyster and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms from Bear Dog Farm. “If you enjoy local mushrooms at their highest quality and also reasonable prices, these are your guys. All you need is a little butter, salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs. Quickly sauteed and you have mushrooms at their finest.”
2) Duck Breast Prosciutto from MeatCrafters at Stonefield Farmers Market. “Every Saturday from 9:00 a.m.until 2:30 p.m., you can catch them offering up samples of their cured meats. Their duck breast prosciutto is my absolute favorite. Sliced thin, it melts in your mouth and I actually prefer it to traditional prosciutto. They also have a few others worth sampling, such as the Chesapeake and the Black Truffle salamis.”
3) I Don’t Even Own *A* Gun from Twenty Paces. “This cheese is one of my local favorites and I always keep some on hand for my personal stock. You can find Twenty Paces tucked away towards Scottsville on the other side of Bellair Farm. The cheese is 80% sheep’s milk and 20% cow’s milk that has been washed in Champion Violator and aged 3 months resulting in a rind similar to Tomme. This semi-soft cheese is great for everyone because of it’s full flavor without being strong, sharp, or pungent.”
4) Beef Carpaccio at C&O. “It’s the perfect summer snack when it’s hot and I’m in downtown Charlottesville. It’s not too heavy but ends up filling. Chilled, thinly sliced seasoned beef, peppery arugula, Manchego, hash, and truffle aioli that always makes me smile. Also if you haven’t had their veal sweetbreads, you’re in for a treat.”
5) Feel Adventurous? at Tavola Cichetti Bar. “My favorite place to sit is always the bar and if you choose this option the bartender will guide you through your own personally crafted cocktail to fit your taste or mood. I’ve never been disappointed. While you’re there also try their baked little neck clams appetizer. Rustic Italian that you won’t to want miss out on!”
Kelsey Naylor, sous chef of Timbercreek Market. Naylor’s picks:
1) Radish Kimchi from Sussex Farm. “By far the best and most authentic kimchi in Virginia. You can find them at the city market every Saturday and they introduce a new type of kimchi every week.”
2) Blueberry Donuts from Spudnuts. “There is nothing better than one of their blueberry cake donuts with a cup of coffee in the morning.”
3) Oh Toro at TEN. “Fatty Tuna is one of my favorite things in the world and Ten definitely does it right.”
4) Crispy Beef at Taste of China. “Crispy Beef and Scallion Bubble Pancakes are by far my favorite, but I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t love.”
5) Hellboy Pizza at Lampo. “The perfect pizza to go along with a Narragansett Tall Boy. It really doesn’t get any better than that.”
Frank Paris, chef and co-owner of Miso Sweet. Paris’ picks:
1) La Familia at Al Carbon. “A beautiful whole roasted chicken with three sides. When the wife asks me what I want for dinner, I always say the same thing, La Familia. For the sides, Elote con Mayonesa (Corn on the cob with Mayonnaise), yellow rice, and Camote (wood fired sweet potato), with lots of ahi sauce and chipotle crema. You can’t go wrong with this meal and sometimes we are lucky enough to have leftovers. Sometimes.”
2) Grandma’s Favorite at Pad Thai. “The husband and wife team behind this gem are the epitome of a family owned and operated restaurant. And the food proves it. Everything here is great, and that is why it usually takes me forever to decide on what to order. If there are any restaurant owners in Charlottesville who my wife and I want to emulate, it’s these two.”
3) Fried Chicken from Wayside. “What more can I say? I love fried chicken and they are doing it right, plus they are within walking distance from my house. A short walk there, eat all I can, and then a short walk home, makes me feel good about eating their crispy fried greatness.”
4) Gold Nugget Ice Cream from Chaps. “I said, Chaps, Gold Nugget Ice Cream.”
5) Linguine alla Carbonara at Tavola. “This luscious dish after one of their insalata verde is a perfect meal for me.”
Jason Tesauro, writer, speaker, sommelier. Tesauro’s picks:
2) Pimentón Padron at MAS Tapas. “Green and blistered black, these firecrackers and a bottle of Albariño take me right back to Galicia, Spain.”
3) Porchetta Panuozzo at Lampo. “Broccoli rabe, aged provolone and bread baked to order. Super fresh with a little char, it’s Little-Italy-NYC good.”
4) Crispy Shrimp at The Local. “Washed down with Champion suds, Chef Matty’s sweet and spicy app sends me to my Asian-hued happy place.”
5) Fried Oyster Po’Boy at Southern Crescent. “Save yourself the Frequent Flyer miles. These are true Leidenheimer baguettes with a crisp crust and fluffy center.”
1) Valleé Brebidoux from Flora Artisanal Cheese. “Probably my favorite 8 feet or so of case space in Charlottesville. Nadjeeb “NaCheese” Chouaf is the owner and head cheesemonger of Flora Artisanal Cheese which is located inTimbercreek Market. Take it from me, he knows what’s Gouda. From Vermont to Normandy, pungent to tame, soft to hard, he has a cheese for any taste or application. My favorite of his current stock is Valleé Brebidoux, a Basque sheep’s milk that tastes like milk and honey had a baby. Oh, and the Marinated Isle of Lesbos Feta is pretty good too. If you’ve had it, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I recommend getting over to 722 Preston Avenue as fast as physically possible.”
2) The Importance of Being Earnest at Public Fish & Oyster. “Brad ‘The Juicer’ Langdon is Head Barman at Public Fish & Oyster on W. Main Street nestled right up against Oakhart Social (if you didn’t know). A true student of the game is Langdon, a virtuoso of sorts behind the wood that separates patron from Patrón. Well versed in every aspect of mixology, you can’t go wrong with anything he makes. However, “The Importance of Being Ernest” is what I’m here to talk about specifically. Langdon’s play on a Hemingway daiquiri is his latest creation that I can’t get enough of, until I’ve had enough. The cocktail stars Charlottesville’s own Vitae Platinum Rum and is backed by the freshest squeezed lime juice, and local Rosemary-Rhubarb syrup, Shaken… Up. I’m not sure I’m allowed to say this but I’m drinking one right now. The sun has appeared with the cocktail to match, so head on over to PFO and chase one of Brad’s cocktails with a Narragansett Lager and let the juice get loose.”
3) Frito Cianci at Fry’s Spring Station. “As well as recently being renovated tastefully modern, Fry’s is also now under new management. Headlined by The Rock Barn and Ivy Provision’s Ben Thompson and company, it’s managed day to day by Tyler Wood whose unwavering righteousness is reflected through the wholesome atmosphere you feel when you walk in the door. It’s safe to say Fry’s ‘Neighborhood Hearth’ is back better than ever. The menu has been rejuvenated with rustic Italian favorites spun in an upscale direction with the centerpiece being a pizza oven that nearly needs its own area code it’s so large. Very reasonably priced and a portion size that eaters can appreciate are just a couple of reasons to swing by Fry’s patio bar for a cold Narragansett lager and some chow. My guilty pleasure leads me to Fry’s for the Frito Cianci, a fried seafood plate featuring squid, shrimp and seasonal vegetables tied together with a tasty vinaigrette and some basil, chased with a ‘Gansett (detecting a theme here?). Add a large serving of sunshine, and I can’t think of a better afternoon.”
4) White Blend at Valley Road Vineyards. “The newest kid on the block on the 151 wine trail, Valley Road has been steadily taking shape on the grounds that used to be AM Fog Farm. At the head of Critzers shop road VRV is a launchpad for your weekend wine tasting route. A beautiful cascade of vines and beautiful farm structures that lie beneath the vineyard make for a picturesque afternoon with good people and good drink. Under the watchful eyes of Scott Link and Grayson Poats, the property has been taking shape since the first vine went in the ground. They will feature several varietals in their debut including a Chardonnay, a White blend, a Merlot- Rose, a Merlot, and a Meritage. The tasting room is scheduled to open early summer and they have a lot of fun things planned, including a weekly farmers market and live music and also having delicious upscale picnic food for sale on site. So when you’re planning your annual wine tasting adventure, don’t forget about the new guys and swing on through Valley Road. They are going to be doing big things.
5) Dagwood at Durty Nelly’s Pub-Wayside Deli. “This is where I go to disappear. A cozy “Cheers”-esque bar full of regulars that only know each other by name and hug goodbye. In the winter the fireplace is ablaze, with rock and roll pouring from the speakers and the door propped open. It’s perfect brackish air combination of fire and fresh. With a domestic pitcher weighing in at 10 dollars even (Rolling Rock for me), it makes for an economical afternoon. If I’m feeling wealthy, I’ll splurge and get a Dagwood sandwich, which contains nearly every sandwich staple under the sun. It’s a tight knit crew down at Duty Nelly’s, so let’s still keep this between us.”
Peter Robertson of Côte-Rôtie. Robertson’s picks:
1) Olive Boule at Albemarle Baking Company and Sourdough at MarieBette Cafe & Bakery. “Charlottesville is blessed with two fantastic bakeries. EveryFriday, Albemarle Baking Co. makes an olive boule which we try to get every time we pick up our fish order from Seafood @ West Main. MarieBette has a delicious sourdough available in large and small, where the latter can make an excellent soup bowl for French onion soup, which you can throw right under the broiler to gratinee and get yummy burnt edges.”
2) Bread at MAS Tapas. “While in Libourne, France, we purchased a life-changing boule from a baker who had a small cart at the farmer’s market. He baked his bread in a wood burning oven, made of stone out in the countryside and brought it to market occasionally. MAS’s bread is the closest thing to that we have had in the United States. Every time we go there we ask if we can buy one to take home, the closest to burnt that they have. Everything at MAS is delicious but their bread is old world, and we love it.”
3) Pizza Dough at Lampo. “These guys know what’s up. Whenever we sit at the bar, I just marvel at the tray of perfectly formed white pillows of stretchy dough. It’s amazing how it cooks in just a few minutes with just the right amount of burnt bubbles on the edges. The ingredients on top are always fresh and delicious but ‘dat dough’ is what I crave.”
4) Stickin in My IPA at Champion Brewing Company. “‘Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread’ – Bob Dylan and The Band’s song always runs through my head when drinking a Champion Brewing Company beer. So many tasty beers come out of there. I think my first Champion brew was Stickin in My IPA in the tall can. It was ice cold and I nearly downed the whole thing after a busy night cooking and it definitely stuck to me. Also, it’s one of our regular stops and everyone who works there is aces in our book.”
5) Double Bacon Cheeseburger at Riverside Lunch. “My list wouldn’t be complete without Riverside Lunch. I know Merrill mentioned it, but it’s just perfect. No pretension, consistent, super friendly staff, fast and efficient. I love the thin crispy ‘smash burgers’ which chefs in NYC are starting to copy, but I doubt it will get any better than they do it at Riverside.”
Caleb Warr, chef of Tavola. Warr’s picks:
1) Hellboy Pizza at Lampo. “There are many great and interesting things coming out of this kitchen. I am always open to trying whatever the boys have going on down the street, but every time I go, the Hellboy is a must. A beautifully flavored crust with the spicy chili honey glaze . . . oh yea!”
2) Queso con Mermalada at MAS Tapas. “The award winning Monte Enebro Goat Cheese from Spain, on top of their house made brioche and house apricot marmalade might be my favorite dish in Charlottesville. Pair this with one of the amazing Priorat wines on Tomas’ list, and I am in heaven!”
3) Tea Smoked Duck with Fried Onions at Peter Chang’s. “This has become my new favorite lunch spot, and since my first visit this dish has captured my attention. Super tasty, and highlighted with the spicy crispy onions, it is definitely one to try.”
4) Chocolate Almond Croissant at MarieBette. “As someone who loves to create delicious pastry, I always judge bakeries by their ability to succeed at this product. I have eaten countless takes on this item, and this is one of the best I have ever had. I make visits to MarieBette frequently just for it, and my staff knows to always buy me one when they are there. Working with laminated dough is difficult and to get the perfect texture is even harder. Then toss in chocolate, and the perfect amount of almond paste; these guys have got it down. This one product can turn a bad day completely around for me!”
5) Pumpkin Ravioli at The Ivy Inn. ” There are too many things to list as great at The Ivy Inn. This one dish, which usually runs in the fall, has a special place in my journey at learning this craft. When I first began cooking, I was so blown away at how great pasta could be that I volunteered to work in Angelo’s kitchen, for free, several times to learn how to create this. I still try every now and then to spend some time with this awesome chef to get better at my craft, a true leader!”
John Schaible, chef of Fry’s Spring Station. Schaible’s picks:
1) The Gobbfather at Ivy Provisions. “Always a healthy start to my day – hahaha! When I can squeeze past 40 other people and get a sandwich, it’s the Gobbfather and a Traeger Brothers coffee. The staff is actually really friendly and the space is fun and pretty accessible. They carry great product, wine, beer and lots of grocery for adding to your pantry or inventory.”
2) Potato, Egg, and Cheese Taco by Brazos Tacos from Atlas Coffee. “Atlas is right next to Fry’s, so if I can’t have a Gobbfather in the morning, I get a taco from the steam table. Laurie at Atlas is one of the coolest business owners and she introduced me to this great idea that Brazos has and their awesome tacos.”
3) Cheddar Jalapeno Dogs from The Rock Barn at the City Market. “Though I don’t butcher with Ben any more, if I have some time Saturday morning, I stop by the Market to give him or his crew some guff and pick up these dogs. Ben’s products are really great and he isn’t afraid to R&D new stuff and test it on the public.”
4) Raw Fish Salad at Now & Zen. “Really just the best for a quiet lunch and to satiate any raw fish cravings a meat eater finds when they are low on omega 3s. I have always really liked Now & Zen. They do really good, fun sushi for a very affordable price. Their raw fish salad is pretty amazing. Fresh, light, citric and loaded with salmon, tuna, mackerel, scallop. It’s like their kitchen fish sink.”
5) Manhattan at The Whiskey Jar. “Something about Charlottesville brought out my love of bourbon. The Whiskey Jar has pretty simple straightforward and perfected cocktails. A Manhattan does it for me. I like the casual and social feel of the Jar and sometimes, when I am lucky, I get to see Red and the Romantics there.”
Will Reed, Whisky Experience Ambassador at Virginia Distillery Company. Reed’s picks:
1) Chicken Cassoulet at Orzo. “Every dish at Orzo is delicious, but their Southern take on chicken cassoulet is beyond mouthwatering. After my first bite, I feel like I could die happy.”
2) Don Juan at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “My favorite way to wind down after work is to swing by Dr. Ho’s. You really can’t go wrong with any of their pizzas, but their Don Juan with roasted tomatoes is pretty killer.”
3) Peanut Butter Pups from Gearharts Fine Chocolates. “Besides having the amazing combination of chocolate and peanut butter (who doesn’t like that, right?), Gearharts donates a portion of the sales from these chocolates to a non-profit that supports wounded veterans.”
4) Strawberry Picking at Chiles Orchard. “There’s nothing like biting into your first sun ripened strawberry in springtime. Something I look forward to every May is filling up a basket of strawberries at Chiles before heading over to King Family or Veritas Vineyards. A little cheese, some fresh strawberries and Virginia wine, and you’ve pretty much found the ideal Charlottesville afternoon.”
5) Saint Andrew cocktail at Lost Saint. “Every drink Patrick and Carrie create at Lost Saint is delicious and unique. Their Saint Andrew cocktail, made with our whisky, Cocchi di Torino and Benedictine is dangerously addictive. I’d have one every night if I could.”
Merrill Robertson, co-owner of Côte-Rôtie. Robertson’s picks:
1) Double Bacon Cheesburger at Riverside Lunch. “No shame in walking in there at 11 am on a day off after a long hike with the dog, and having a couple of ice-cold Full Nelsons and a double bacon cheeseburger with fries. The friendliest, sweetest people run that establishment. Best burger in this town hands down.”
2) Blanc de Blanc from Thibaut-Janisson. “Great value and well-made. On par with true Champagne.”
3) Shrimp Po’Boy from SpiceSea Gourmet. “Perfectly fried shrimp, spicy house-made aioli, and fresh greens. A winner.”
4) Whatever David Pours at Citizen Burger Bar. “Friendly, very knowledgeable about beers, and fun to chat with at the bar.”
5) Turkey, Havarti, Sprouts, and House Dressing at Take it Away. “Any sandwich with their house dressing is addictive. A spot I would always hit up while visiting Charlottesville prior to moving here.”
Leah Peeks, Bar and Events Manager of The Whiskey Jar. Peek’s picks:
1) The Gazossa at The Alley Light. “I started working in Charlottesville just so I could make drinks with Micah LeMon. I would drive from Lynchburg, 80 minutes to and from every shift, and it was totally worth it. The Gazossa has been on Micah’s menu since day one, and it’s the perfect cocktail for me: a carbonated, classically proportioned gin martini. Dry, clean, and crisp.”
2) Sausage, Egg, Goat Cheese & Honey and Lattes at The Pie Chest/Milli Joe. “Everything Rachel Pennington makes tastes like butter and love. Her crust is masterful. They keep a selection of savory pies hot and ready, so you can grab a hand pie and a Milli Joe latte and walk down the mall stuffing your happy face.”
3) Late Night Menu at C&O. “The bar at C&O is my favorite room in town, plus it’s open late and serves a really yummy menu til 1 most weekdays. Go on aMonday night and get Jen to make you a cocktail and eat tacos, decadent mac n cheese, and creme brulee at midnight, and you’ll feel like you live in a much bigger town.”
4) Tuna Carpaccio Salad at Now & Zen. “This place is my jam. It’s close to my apartment, I love the staff, and everything I’ve eaten there is delicious.”
5) Spicy Cucumbers from Ginkgo via Order Up. “Working long bar shifts can be super draining. Once a week, I like to dedicate a day to not talking to anyone or having to put on pants. Salty, spicy, crunchy cucumbers and rice from Ginkgo are the official food of my inner introvert.”
Ben Clore, co-owner of Oakhart Social. Clore’s picks:
1) Pork Spring Rolls at Bang! “Crispy, fried, salty bites of porky deliciousness with a great vinegary dipping sauce that counterbalances the fat and salt perfectly. (Pro tip- Bang is a great place to take kids. Food comes out fast and if junior doesn’t like one thing just keep ordering!)”
2) Shrimp and Grits at Maya. “Local stone ground grits and an amazing smoked tomato gravy make me so happy every time I order them.”
3) Aspen Ridge Farm Hamburger at Orzo. (Lunch only.) “House pickles and the rosemary aioli are a great compliment to some really flavorful farm-raised beef.”
4) Finocchio Arrosto con Aranci (roasted fennel, oranges and basil) at Tavola. “I think this has been on their menu from the start and it’s clear why. Super simple flavors and great execution make it a dish that’s more than the sum of its parts.”
5) Guay Tiew Ruea (Boat Noodle Soup) at Thai Cuisine and Noodle House. “I’m a sucker for anything broth and noodle based. This a ton of umami and is almost impossible to stop eating until it’s gone. I can be so full I’m in pain and I still can’t stop. I get the small to minimize inevitable later self-loathing.”
River Hawkins, bar manager and co-owner of The Bebedero. Hawkins’ picks:
1) Papaya Salad (Som Tum) at Monsoon Siam. “I lived in Thailand for a couple of years managing a large dance club, and everyday before work I would get a bowl of Sum Tum from a little old vendor lady who carried around the ingredients on her shoulders and made it for you right there on the sidewalk with a little mortar and pestle. Monsoon’s Som Tum takes me back to Thailand and those strange beautiful days.”
2) Roasted Beet Salad with Blackened Catfish at The Whiskey Jar. “I have this almost every time I get lunch at the Whiskey Jar. It’s just so perfect and light and savory. I never feel heavy or sleepy after eating a huge bowl of it.”
3) Cemitas at Al Carbon. “I was blessed to have traveled throughout Peru for a while, and the way they prepare their meats at Al Carbon is just as delicious as the vendor food I had in Cusco. I just wish I could get guinea pig there.”
4) Kung Pao Chicken at Peter Chang’s. “Spicy deliciousness. Every Chinese I place I go, I have the Kung Pao Chicken. If that’s good I know everything is good.”
5) Nachos at The Bebedero. “This may seem like shameless self promotion, but I’ve eaten nachos all over the world and I honestly think Chef Cesar makes the best and most creative nachos I’ve ever tasted. I don’t have any control over the food, so this really is my objective opinion.”
Karen Fiedler, chef of Tin Whistle Pub. Fiedler’s picks:
1) Tacos de Lengua at El Tesoro Mexican Deli. “El Tesoro is a small family owned restaurant in Palmyra. The tongue tacos are incredibly tender and authentic.”
2) Crispy Duck Confit Leg and Sweet Potato Waffles at Rapture. “Wonderful take on a southern classic. Skin was perfectly crispy and the meat moist and tender. I love sweet potatoes, and the waffles were a perfect accompaniment.”
3) Dakota Bread from Great Harvest Bread Company. “Right balance of wholesome with a touch of sweet. Filling and perfect breakfast toast.”
4) Chocolate Croissant from MarieBette Cafe & Bakery. “Can’t go wrong with any of their pastries, but the classic French croissant is one of the best.”
5) Kinda Vegan Burger at Citizen Burger Bar. “While I love meat, I appreciate a place that can make a great vegetarian/vegan burger, and this is one that I want to stuff my face into.”
Arley Arrington of Arley Cakes. Arrington’s picks:
1) Meta Burger at Mel’s Cafe. “I love Mel’s with all my heart – partially, because I think it is important to support minority-owned businesses, and because they always ask about my recent vacation, and notice my haircut, and are excited to meet my friends. But also because of the Meta Burger. Grilled onion, Swiss cheese, and a perfectly greasy burger on rye bread for $3. That can’t be beat.”
2) Tuna Tostada at Continental Divide. “While I am a daily purveyor of incredible amounts of sugar, I don’t actually have much of a sweet tooth myself. I love food that has a good balance of savory and sweet. Fresh tuna with goat cheese and mango chutney makes my heart sing.”
3) Prosciutto and Blue Cheese Sandwich at Market Street Market. “Everyone always talks about their $5 special, which seems cool, but I have never ever regretted opting out of that for this sandwich. Again, it’s got the sweet and savory combo that I love, topped with honey, pear, and basil.”
4) Chicken Kao Soi at Monsoon Siam. “Years ago, a friend clued me in to this fairly regional, hard to find, dish. It’s been at least 3 years, and I haven’t looked back since. It has so many of my favorite things–curry, coconut milk, and pickle.”
5) Chicken & Waffles at Brookville. “This was the first chicken & waffles I ever had. It ruined me. Set the bar way too high. Led to a lot of disappointment. Fortunately, I have pretty good access to Brookville’s version.”
Gregg Dionne, Executive Chef of Public Fish & Oyster. Dionne’s picks:
1) Cozze ai Ferri (skillet roasted mussels) at Tavola. “Simple, plump, and perfectly cooked. I appreciate a well-executed shellfish.”
2) Chocolate Bread Pudding at C&O. “Decadent and soft. Bread pudding tends to be a ‘quick and easy after thought’ dessert, only on the menu to use scraps of bread. C&O doesn’t follow that tendency and executes it superbly. Either after dinner or just with drinks, it’s the perfect end to a night out.”
3) Wood Fired Oysters at Oakhart Social. “Jealous of our neighbor’s awesome wood fire oven. For oyster fans looking for one more way to eat an oyster, the wood fire oven offers a unique style and flavor I can’t offer at Public. Come to Public for some raw, broiled, fried, and stewed oysters, then head next door afterward and try their wood fired variety.”
4) Polpettine at Lampo. “Too often are meatballs carelessly executed and poorly seasoned. Lampo uses the right ground meat and seasons it properly. Best appetizer for the money in town.”
5) La Familia at Al Carbon. “Best bargain in town. A whole rotisserie chicken meal with three sides. I then add another half chicken, four tacos, and six churros, which feeds five adults and costs less than $50. Perfect, quick, easy, and most importantly, delicious, group lunch.”
Cesar Perz, chef of The Bebedero. Perez’s picks:
1) Grilled Salmon at ZoCaLo. “Every time I come in to this place, I crave the delicious salmon. I love the fact the it is always perfect and consistent as the time before.”
2) Cemita de Carne Asada at Al Carbon. “I come from Puebla, where these sandwiches are created, and I just love the fact that we finally have these cemitas in Charlottesville. When I first saw them on the menu I was I little skeptical, but they really won me over. They are as good as I remember!”
3) Danny Laruso Burger at Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. “I love this burger. I love how the cream cheese and jalapeño jelly infuse with the burger. It’s like a party in my mouth!”
4) Lamb or Goat Masala at Royal Indian. “I love all the flavors found in this dish – you get creamy, spicy and sweet at the same time, along with a million more flavors infusing in your mouth!”
5) Honey Fire Sirloin Tips Pasta at Timberwood Grill. “I really like this pasta. It’s nice and creamy, hot and sweet, and the sirloin tips are cooked to perfection. It’s an amazing pasta overall!”
Phyllis Hunter of The Spice Diva. Hunter’s picks:
1) Beef Carpaccio at the C&O. “When I had the first taste of this dish ordered for my husband Will’s birthday dinner, I swooned. It was seasoned with the perfect balance of arugula, truffled aioli, manchego and hashed potato. It was delicate while having amazing substance.”
2) Fried Chicken at The Barbeque Exchange. “Last year was the first opportunity we had to attend the festivities at Porkapalooza. The legendary lard-fried deliciousness, prepared only once a year for this special occasion, has lived in memory. I think I might be able to get through the stress of moving the shop as long as I know that this coming Sunday is the day when I will taste it again.”
3) Cucumber Martini at ZoCaLo. “One of best places to just sit at the bar to enjoy a quick bite and a drink before a concert at the Paramount is Zocalo. The original is made with Hendricks, but mine was made with Cucumber Vodka, Yellow Chartreuse, Orange, Lime, and Cucumber Water. Perfection!”
4) Santa Fe Enchiladas at Continental Divide. “Being a Texan, one does occasionally crave really good Mexican. Each time we drag ourselves there at the end of a long week of Diva-ing, I tell myself that I will order something new from their menu. When I think of those stacked, cheese covered, plate-sized tortillas and their filling, it’s hopeless.”
5) Ham Biscuit at JM Stock Provisions. “Saturday morning is our one day a week to get breakfast out. The artists at JM Stock take a luscious biscuit, spread it with hot mustard and fill it with layer after layer of mildly smoked, thinly sliced ham. It’s one of the joys of living in Charlottesville.”
Amber Cohen, sous chef of Junction. Cohen’s picks:
1) Canelés at MarieBette Cafe and Bakery. “I am seduced into stopping and getting those decadent, evil, irresistible mini canelés every time I drive by MarieBette.”
2) Red Hot Blues at Continental Divide. “It’s been a short two months since I gave up my kitchen residency at the Divide and I have already started missing and daydreaming (and sometimes actual night dreaming) of the Blues. Accompanied, of course, by a margarita.”
3) Prosciutto Pizza at Lampo. “I’ve always felt that pizza is a perfect food, in this case, made somehow more sublime by cured meat and lightly dressed arugula.”
4) Pork Star Taco at Brazos Tacos. “Perhaps just the words ‘pork belly’ make me giddy, but I have to have it on every visit.”
5) Absolutely Anything at Café 88. “Their crispy tofu is perfectly seasoned, their veggies are never overcooked, the wonderful chicken is as advertised in the name (wonderful), and I would happily marry the hot sour soup.”
Josh Skinner, Lead Brewer of Champion Brewing Company. Skinner’s picks:
1) Abruzzo Pizza at Lampo. “While I love a classic Margherita pizza, this to me is the ultimate pie. The addition of pork meatballs take a classic pizza to an entirely new level of satisfaction. Just fold it up ‘wallet style,’ grab a pilsner, and enjoy.”
2) Mosaic Hop Cider from Potter’s Craft Cider. “I’m a huge fan of what Potters is doing, be it the wild fermentation ciders they have recently released or their line of hopped ciders. The combo of refreshingly dry cider with a huge, pungent nose of Mosaic hops makes for an extremely dangerous combo. This could easily be my official non-beer drink of the summer.”
3) GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) Ramen with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Pickled Vegetables at Miso Sweet. “This, for me, is comfort food at its best. Some people like mac’n’cheese, but give me a spicy bowl of noodles in pork broth loaded with kimchi and let me shamelessly slurp away. The addition of crispy Brussels sprouts and pickled veg lend both interesting flavor and texture contrasts to the mounds of pork belly and shredded pork hiding in the piping hot broth. It goes perfectly with an IPA.”
4) Torta Ahogada at La Michoacana. “Before I was a brewer, I was an archaeologist and spent some time excavating in Mexico. During that time I fell in love with the regional cuisine and am always in search of dishes that take me back to the wind-battered coasts and solitary deserts of Central Baja. This dish does just that. This simple, unpretentious sandwich drenched in chili pepper broth is about as authentic as you can get.”
5) Everything from Côte-Rôtie. “I really can’t say enough about the work that Pete and Merrill are doing. With a constantly rotating menu ranging from fresh takes on French classics to Japanese yakitori inspired dishes, they crank out what is hands down some of the best food in town. And all out of a food truck! The crispy pig’s ear snack may be the ultimate bar food and they’re doing God’s work when it comes to lamb and duck dishes. They come to the Champion tap room every Sunday and I refuse to miss them.”
Mark Otis. Otis’ picks:
1) Fried Oysters at Duners. “Located in Ivy, it is an institution and nobody does that many covers that well. I’m a sucker for a perfectly fried oyster and a cold beer.”
2) Pupusa at Cactus. “Behind the Sunoco station on 5th street, Cactus makes a pupusa that will solve anything life has to offer. Of course, Brazos crushes tacos with force–as we all know!”
3) 2015 Pinot Grigio from Gabriele Rausse. “First off, if you can find it you win. And, the 2015 Pinot Grigio is my favorite Virginia wine right now. It is due out Valentine’s Day and will make you very proud of Virginia wine.”
5) Ham and Brie Sandwich at Bashir’s Taverna. “Bashir and Kathy do everything well, but the ham and brie is burned into my mind forever. Bashir is just my hero. I think he has secret powers.”
Bryan Kelly, Executive Chef of Harvest Moon Catering. Kelly’s picks:
1) Budino at Lampo. “My wife and I love going here for a night cap to end most of our dates. We love the budino. It always a great way to head home.”
2) Jack’s Java Espresso Stout from Three Notch’d Brewery. “I absolutely love every beer Dave and his team crafts but Jack’s Java is on a different level for me. It’s always very difficult to limit my intake after work.”
3) The Hotness at Citizen Burger Bar. “No better place to watch sports with my family then Citizen Burger Bar. Burgers are my favorite food on earth and The Hotness is the one I enjoy the most.”
4) Dried Fried Eggplant at Peter Chang’s. “I could eat this all day long. Love all the numbing qualities this dish has to offer. It is always something I start with when eating at Peter Chang’s.”
5) Everything at C&O Restaurant. “I have known Dean for many years, first having met him when we were both apprentices at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. The C&O is always great food and well thought out.”
Alex Import of JM Stock Provisions. Import’s picks:
1) Spicy Miso Ramen at Mican. “Nothing scratches the umami itch like this steamy bowl of anti-winter. I’m a sucker for noodles of any kind, and a rich, complex broth holds a special place in my heart. Love the homey atmosphere, and a concise but sagely selected list of sake offerings seals the deal.”
2) Grapefruit Hibiscus Cider from Potter’s Craft Cider. “This new gem really has me intrigued. Every aspect is magnetic. Soft, glassy texture; acute acid and dainty but confident flavors; coy bubbles, sexy hue, artistic package, and appealing price tag. Thank you to all at Potter’s for showing us the way.”
3) Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “A tough job selecting this out of the herd of nourishing selections of food and booze at Oakhart. Why this salad? Can’t put my finger on it — and to me that is more often than not the hallmark of something truly special. Love these guys.”
4) Hot and Numbing Tofu Skins at Peter Chang’s. “The allure of this dish is its mystique. Makes me question my ability to share.”
5) Omakase at TEN. “Given the nature of my work, I go out of my way to seek out water-dwelling proteins. Texture and nuance are fortified with simplicity on these plates, and a hearty list of all-too-quaffable cocktails finds me lingering after a meal here.”
Nate Olewine, Lead Brewer of Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Olewine’s picks:
1) The Hotness at Citizen Burger Bar. “I eat hot peppers with everything. Sometimes I just eat them by themselves. This burger hits my scoville bill with the toppings: jalapeno jack, sriracha mayo, and fresh jalapenos.”
2) Deep Fried Oreos at Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. “I come for the beer selection and I stay for the deep fried oreos (and of course, the burgers). The dessert pairs really well with our Schwartz beer, a German style black lager. I also like the eclectic decor which is rich with beer history.”
3) Otoro at Now & Zen. “I visited Japan last year and discovered a new found love for fatty tuna. As soon as we came home to Virginia, we headed to Now & Zen to satisfy my craving. Can’t go wrong with the octopus nigiri either. “
4) Duck & Oyster Gumbo at Rapture. “My first visit to Rapture was with my wife for the Pig & Whiskey dinner. We had an amazing night and the staff did a great job with the pairings. We’ve been back for the Duck & Oyster Gumbo. Cajun food is what got me into cooking at home, so I always seek out Big Easy inspired dishes.”
5) Pretzel with Obatzda Cheese at Kardinal Hall. “The first time I had Obatzda cheese was in Freising in Bavaria. It’s a great accompaniment for the pretzels. German beers have always been part of the inspiration behind what we brew at Devils Backbone, so I’m always seeking them out. Kardinal Hall has the best German beer selection in town. Prost!”
Charlie Toder, Beer Curator at Kardinal Hall. Toder’s picks:
1) Saturday Morning Randall at Beer Run. “Randall maestro Noel Scott and I have been friends for years, and it’s always fun to see what crazy concoction he’s whipped up. A glass of Randalled beer and a couple of Beer Run breakfast tacos will cure whatever ails you on Saturday morning (especially a hangover).”
2) Slow Roasted Pork from Pearl Island at the Charlottesville City Market. “When I’m shopping at the Charlottesville City Market I almost always grab a plate of this delicious Caribbean pork. It’s juicy, tender, well seasoned, and comes with yummy greens and plantains.”
3) Early Sunday Dinner at The Alley Light. “Like everyone else in Charlottesville, I’m hooked on the fantastic food and drink at The Alley Light. To avoid the crowds and wrangle experimental cocktails out of the bar staff, I go on Sundays around 5 o’clock. The bar is either empty or filled with other bartenders, which brings the wackiness out of the best drink makers in town.”
4) Kale Slaw at Timbercreek Market. “I’m incredibly lucky to work next door to such a stupendous market and lunch spot. Every time I go for lunch I have to pick up a container of this slaw to take home.”
5) Funghi Pizza at Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria. “The pizza at Lampo is the best I’ve had outside of Italy. The funghi pizza is simple, with the cheese and mushrooms complementing the crust perfectly. The crust is the star of the show at Lampo, which is what defines truly world-class pizza.”
David Morgan, chef of Tavern and Grocery. Morgans’s picks:
1) Dinner at Eljogaha. “My mentor and friend, Tucker’s simple but whimsical approach to local sustainable cooking is unrivaled in town. Always delicious.”
2) Dry-Fried Mushrooms at Peter Chang’s. “Every crispy, numbing bite of mushrooms is bliss.”
3) Spicy Fried Calamari at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “With roasted jalapeno, peanuts and cilantro and paired with a local draft, it is always worth the drive for me. And our kids love their pizza!”
4) Spicy Miso Ramen at Kokoro. “This place is a hidden gem. The spicy miso ramen warms my soul, and if anyone is getting amazing fish in Charlottesville, it’s Tauchi.”
5) Turkey Trot at Beer Run. “Always the go-to spot for my family. Everyone gets their own Turkey Trot because they’re too good to share. And, there’s always a great selection of beautifully bitter IPAs.”
Jenny Paurys of Our Local Commons.Paurys’ picks:
1) Hop Cider from Potter’s Craft Cider. “The cider chapter showcases ciders from across the state, and Potter’s Craft chose to highlight their new Hop cider. I admit, I was both curious and nervous to try it. Cider is my jam, and I wondered how hops, which I am not particularly fond of in beer, would affect my beloved Farmhouse Dry. The answer: perfection. Floral, aromatic, divine. I grab mine from Beer Run.”
2) McLaurin from Spring Mill Farm. “Spring Mill Farm is the artisan featured in the cheese chapter. HB Hunter is creating some excellent goat’s milk and cow’s milk cheeses at his farm in Concord, Virginia, near Lynchburg. The pimento chevre is addictive, and the McLaurin — a tomme — makes my toes curl. Cheesemonger Nadjeeb Chouaf at Timbercreek Market can hook you up with this goodness.”
3) Andouille Sausage from JM Stock Provisions. “The meat chapter includes a list of artisanal butchers across the Commonwealth, and products they carry that are raised in Virginia. Charlottesville’s JM Stock chose to highlight their 60 rotating varieties of house-made sausage, featuring pork from Autumn Olive Farms. I am especially fond of the Andouille, which has a full, yet balanced flavor.”
4) Oysters at ROCKSALT. “Each chapter includes chef-authored recipes, and for the wine chapter, ROCKSALT Executive Chef Dylan Allwood created oysters three ways — baked, fried and raw, each paired with white and sparkling wines from Virginia. The Rappahannock River Oysters served at ROCKSALT are a fabulous example of how Virginia producers can leverage the state’s natural resources to produce incredible food and support rural communities.”
5) Three-Grain Pancake Mix from Woodson’s Mill. “For the grain chapter, we visited Woodson’s Mill in Nelson County, where they are producing flours, cornmeal and grits from Virginia-grown grain. Their pancake mix includes wheat, corn and buckwheat — the latter grown at Steadfast Farm, just south of town. My children love pancakes, but if you had asked me if they would ever eat anything labeled “three grain” I would have questioned your sanity. Yet, when I brought home a bag and whipped up a batch, they ate every last morsel. The pancakes are rich and so very satisfying, even the baby loves them. I get the mix from Foods of All Nations — and I now make a double batch each time, so I have a better chance of scoring one or two for myself.”
Jason Becton of MarieBette Café & Bakery. Becton’s picks:
1) Pork Chops at JM Stock Provisions. “One of my favorite things to cook, especially this time of the year, is pork and JM Stock’s chops are flavorful, perfectly cut and wrapped with care for my trip home to Covesville.”
2) Oysters, French Fries and a Glass of Chablis at Public Fish & Oyster. “I love oysters. And I love fries. Someone else put this as their pick before and there’s a reason. They’re awesome. I mix their aioli with ketchup and sit at the bar and talk about wine with Brad. Donnie has been known to bring out some dishes he’s playing with in the kitchen which are always delicious and much appreciated.”
3) Painted White at Blenheim Vineyards. “The Charlottesville area is known for great wine and Blenheim makes great wine. Kirsty Harmon’s 2014 Painted White is the perfect wine to drink while sitting on their deck and squinting to see if the ‘sea view,’ though stunning, is aptly named. Maybe after a few glasses the view may become clearer.”
4) Brussels Sprouts at Oakhart Social. “I grew up loving Brussels Sprouts and never understood why they were always the butt of the joke for what children would never eat. I can eat them a million ways but the team at Oakhart does them plenty good. A little heat, a little fish sauce, a lot of caramelization. Betcha can’t eat just one.”
5) Cortado at Shark Mountain Coffee. “Sometimes you just want to drink someone else’s coffee in someone else’s café. We love the La Colombe coffee that we serve at MarieBette (I start every workday with our mocha) but when I want a change of scenery, Shark Mountain is the perfect spot. Their coffee is REALLY good and the drinks are always made to perfection. One of my barista friends humbly told me that they were the best baristas in town. I can’t argue with that.”
Michael Davis, owner of The Wine Guild of Charlottesville. Davis’ picks:
1) Fried Chicken And Collard Greens at The Whiskey Jar. “As a wine geek, I always think about ‘pairings,’ which is why I love to eat at The Whiskey Jar on Wednesday nights when the Rick Olivarez Trio is playing. There is something magical about the combination of that room with Rick’s flawless Gypsy Jazz. It takes you back in time and makes this California transplant feel truly southern.”
2) Horse’s Neck at The Livery Stable. “I like to take local winemakers to this subterranean watering hole and hear stories of how they give mother nature the middle finger year after year. Jake Busching, winemaker at Michael Shaps Wineworks gets his mail at this place, so grab the stool next to him and enjoy the ride . . . and the Horse’s Neck.”
3) Erin Scala at Fleurie. “Ok, so Erin is not a food, she’s an experience. I love to sit at the bar with one of my wine geek buddies, usually Kevin Sidders from VinConnect, and have sommelier Erin just pour us wines she’s excited about. Ask her to pair them with some of Chef Brian’s outstanding food and you’ll see why I get so excited about food and wine pairings.”
4) Liver and Onions at Mel’s Café. “While I’d like to spend more nights at Tavola, Mas, and Lampo, as a father of four I spend a lot more time at places like this. Mel and his wife define southern hospitality and their food is so soul-soothingly delicious that my pregnant wife opted to go here on her birthday. My kids love the ribs and cheeseburgers while my wife tries something different every time we go . . . which is often.”
5) Canelés De Bordeaux from MarieBette Cafe & Bakery. “The Alley Light chef José De Brito turned me on to these when he served them at a party at his home. They were the only thing on the table that he didn’t make. One bite showed me why. The dark caramelized crust hides a tender golden center that causes you to eat a lot more of them than you thought possible. My advice? Buy twice as many as you think you’ll need.”
Will Conti of Spiked Food Truck. Conti’s picks:
1) Viognier at Adventure Farm. “Sitting on the patio watching the sun go down over the Blue Ridge Mountains is my way to spend a Friday evening in the summer time, while sipping on on ice cold glass of Adventure Farm Viognier.”
2) IPA (India Pressed Apple) from Bold Rock Hard Cider. “To me, Bold Rock’s IPA is the ideal drink to go with any brunch. Brunch is one of my favorite meals and more of a special occasion. Bold Rock IPA pairs well with it because it has the hoppiness of an IPA but the lightness and crispness of a cider.”
3) 3-Cheese Grilled Cheese (available w. Hot Coppa) at Salt Artisan Market. “With this sandwich adding the hot coppa is a must. In my eyes this sandwich brings all the elements you want in a sandwich together. All three cheeses blend together almost in perfect sync with the hot coppa.”
4) Italiano Dolce from The Rock Barn. “The Rock Barn does porkshares, and you only get four of this sausage, so you have to make them last. This is my definition of what you cook at a back yard cook out. Bringing the Italiano Dolce will make you a fan favorite any cook out.”
5) Shrimp ‘n Grits at The Shebeen. “I know being from the south I’m supposed to love grits, but I was never a fan. But The Shebeen’s shrimp and grits changed my mind instantly. The andouille, shrimp, poblano peppers, bell peppers, onion in lobster sherry cream, mielie pap, and poached eggs with Hollandaise made me want to lick my bowl clean.”
Thomas Leroy of Kardinal Hall. Leroy’s picks:
1) Gambas al’ Parilla at MAS Tapas. “Huge jumbo grilled shrimp in their shells with alioli. The cooking in the shell process makes the shrimp retain their juicy texture, sprinkled with coarse sea salt. I personally enjoy the crunch of the shell and the blend with the rich garlicky alioli.”
2) The Superman at The Juice Laundry. “Always a great start of my day to get a smoothie from those guys. The lineup of drinks uses organic fruits and it’s vegan. Nor only are we neighbors, but those folks are awesome people.”
3) Prosciutto Pizza at Lampo. “I love the Neapolitan-style crust and burnt edge that gives a smoky flavor to each bite. I’ve known a few of the owners for a long time and you can tell they put their soul into their food. Everyone can make a pizza, but they are the best for this particular style.”
4) Cheese from Flora Artisanal Cheese. “Pretty much anything Nadjeeb passes me over his counter to taste at Timebrcreek Market is gold. I remember our days at Whole Foods and I could always count on him to understand the value and depth of what the people here call a ‘stinky cheese.’”
5) Jack’s Java Stout from Three Notch’d Brewery. “I’m not a huge dark beer fan but once Dave Warwick gave me a sample at a beer dinner we did together I was hooked. It’s basically drinking a strong iced coffee espresso with the added bonus of alcohol in it. It’s hard to pick one beer from Three Notch’d, because the entire lineup is solid and the brewmaster’s passion is felt in every sip.”
Chris Bullard of Blue Ridge Pizza Co. Bullard’s picks:
1) Full Nelson Pale Ale from Blue Mountain Brewery. “This is the only tap at my house that doesn’t rotate. The perfect flagship beer to represent central Virginia craft beer.”
3) Royale Burger at Restoration. “This burger is the best bite every time! The flavors are so perfect for each other it’s hard to pick out the individual components.”
4) Hop Cider from Potter’s Craft Cider. “Perfectly refreshing and goes with everything!”
5) Pulled Pork Nachos at Southern Way Cafe. “All of the BBQ at Southern Way is unreal, but when you take amazing BBQ and put it over fried-to-order tortilla chips with some pico, well that’s just an experience.”
Elizabeth and Tony Smith of Afton Mountain Vineyards. Smiths’ picks:
1) Steamed Mussels with White Wine, Thyme and Garlic Butter at Three Notch’d Grill. “Hayden’s butter sauce just begs to be sopped up with bread. The laid-back atmosphere is a perfect disguise for how great their food is.”
2) Red Pepper Soup with Crab and a House-made Pretzel from the Bavarian Chef food truck at Champion Brewing Company. “Though we both grew up here, we’d never been to the Bavarian Chef restaurant, so their food truck experience with a Shower Beer or Missile IPA from Champion is the perfect casual evening.”
3) The Vegetable Board and Mushroom Soup at The Alley Light. “It’s tough to mention this place since it’s already so acclaimed – and hard to get in – but the carrots and other veggies are just incredible. Fill up with the most flavorful mushroom soup. We were fighting over the last drop – and Tony won.”
4) The Burger at Brookville Restaurant. “Fresh-ground beef, gouda-stuffed with a bacon marmalade and Dukes mayo. Done. The perfect excuse to sneak downtown for (Saturday or Sunday) lunch.”
5) Pazo de Barrantes Albarino at MAS Tapas. “We’ve been a fan of this grape for years (the wino’s “margarita”). We found this particular wine at our Tuesday night hangout Mas, and we had the great opportunity to visit this winery on a recent trip to Spain. Our own AMV Albarino will be available next spring, so we needed to sample this grape as much as possible to develop our own style. Tough job.”
Benoit Pineau, winemaker at Pollak Vineyards. Pineau’s picks:
1) Quiche Lorraine at MarieBette Café and Bakery. “It is delicious and the bakery’s style takes me back to France.”
2) Taco Loco at La Michoacana Taqueria. “Great value for a fresh, authentic taco with great seasoning choices.”
3) The Local Burger at The Local. “Because sometimes I need my burger. It is a simple, very well prepared burger. Local organic beef topped with Swiss cheese, smoked bacon, and caramelized onions.”
4) Melrose at Greenwood Gourmet. “This is my favorite vegetarian sandwich. It’s a panini with portobello mushrooms and red onions with homemade pimento cheese and arugula.”
5) Canard a la Peche at Restaurant Pomme. “The mango salsa and peach sauce are a very good choice to pair with the duck breast. You can pair it with the wine of your choice, they have a great wine list!”
James King of King Family Vineyards. King’s picks:
1) The Perfect Sandwich at Restoration. “While I often opt for their signature burger, ‘The Royale,’ The Perfect Sandwich has become a recent favorite. Bacon, arugula, and a fried egg on Goodwin Creek Bread. You can often find me here on Sunday taking in their amazing view of the Blue Ridge Mountains while sipping on a local beer. Kids eat free on Sundays . . . enough said.”
2) Steak Chinoise at C & O. “Went here for date night and was seated in their outdoor patio. The food, service and atmosphere were all very nice. Served with Gruyere-thyme potatoes and comes in a tamari-ginger pan sauce.”
3) Anything at The Alley Light. “I can’t say enough good things about this place. I don’t make it into Charlottesville that much with work and kids, but when I can I want to go here. The food is excellent, the cocktails are delicious, the atmosphere is perfect and the service is superb. Ask for ‘Katie.’”
4) Pork Belly at Parallel 38. “Small plates made to share allow you to try several different things throughout the course of the evening and ensure you don’t leave hungry. Served with cipollini onions, roasted garlic sumac and a pork jus reduction. A great place to eat if you’re planning on catching a movie afterwards.”
5) Red Row from Caromont Farm. “While I love all of their cheeses, this is my favorite by far. It’s a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese and the rind is washed in local hard cider from Albemarle Ciderworks. Simply delicious.”
Rachel Stinson Vrooman of Stinson Vineyards. Vrooman’s picks:
1) La Petite Frog Boxed Picpoul de Pinet from The Wine Guild. “Boxed Picpoul has changed my entire summer! It doesn’t seem possible that this little gem from the Languedoc could actually cost only $20 for a 3 liter box (member price). Trust me, you need this in your life.”
2) Crozet Lemonade at Crozet Pizza Pourhouse. “Crozet’s answer to the Long Island Iced Tea will have you feeling like a local in no time. Old Grand Dad 114 bourbon, orange liqueur, simple syrup and lime juice topped with Sprite and layered with maraschino cherry juice. This is also a great spot to watch football if you can coax your friends out of Cville.”
3) Chicken Liver Pate from Free Union Grass Farm. “Chicken liver, bacon, onions, shallots, garlic, cream, whiskey, cloves, coriander and herbs sealed in pork fat. Put this on a piece of toast for breakfast and you won’t need anything else. Call or email to make sure it’s available before you swing by their farm stand (open Wednesday & Friday from 1pm to 6pm). We try to stock it in the tasting room if we can keep from buying it ourselves!”
4) Fried Chicken Skin Tacos at Yearbook Taco. “The perfect combination of crunch and flavor. Recipes vary but the buffalo sauce version is my all time favorite. These are a daily special so its wise to obsessively stalk their Facebook page until they post and then head over immediately before they run out.”
5) CrabFest at Restoration. “I’m originally a Maryland girl so I’m always on the hunt for steamed blue crabs. This happens once a year in late August – put it on your radar for next summer! $35 gets you all you can eat blue crabs and sides like mac n’ cheese and sweet potato/bacon hush puppies.”
Tyler Davis, lead cheesemaker at Caromont Farm. Davis’s picks:
1) Margherita D.O.C. at Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria. “When it comes to pizza, I’m a purist. I don’tt want anything but the classic combination of San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella di bufala. Add a little smokey char from an 800 degree wood-fired oven, and you’ve got perfection.”
2) Cheese Steak at Timbercreek Market. “Whenever I find myself in town at lunch time, I try to swing by Timbercreek Market. Zach, Sara, and crew do an awesome job. The food is great, and this sandwich hits the spot. I crave it . . . even when I’m full. Simply delicious.”
3) Black Cadillac from Albemarle Baking Company. “I love the bread from ABC, but I’m a sucker for a good cookie. Oh, and chocolate. One (or two) of these is a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Way too easy to grab one of these on the go!”
4) Cabernet Franc Reserve from Barboursville Vineyards. “An excellent Virginia wine that finds a spot on the menu when I’m cooking for my wife at home. A little lighter than a cab sauv, herbaceous, and with notes of red fruit, this wine pairs great with a grilled filet or roasted chicken.”
5) Red Row from Caromont Farm. “I’ll admit, I’m a little biased, but I love this stinky cheese. Made from 100% grass fed, Jersey milk from Silky Cow Farm, this semisoft cheese has a pungent aroma with a lactic tanginess that is as unique as it is delicious. Melted over eggs for breakfast, on a sandwich at lunch, or by itself as a snack, it’s pretty much a staple in my diet.”
Liberty Kalergis, bar manager at MAS Tapas. Kalergis’ picks:
1) Nachos at Beer Run. “Piled so high you never need an entree. Run by a family so near and dear to my own, we can’t wait to see what they bring to the table at Kardinal Hall, aiming to open their doors this October.”
2) Any Seasonal Vegetable at MAS Tapas. “Whether it’s padron peppers, cauliflower, artichokes, Brussels, broccolini, or chanterelles, you can’t go wrong with a simple olive oil and sea salt sauté. Good enough to make me go vegetarian . . . almost.”
3) Austin Morning at Brazos Tacos. “Three of my favorite words = breakfast all day. Egg, brisket and mashed potato paired with Hunter’s Shower Beer from Champion = perfection. Bring the dog or the kid to explore IX Park while Peter and his hard working crew whip you up a little taste of Texas. Who knows, you could even run into a traveling petting zoo.”
4) The Natural at Mono Loco and Nelson County Gentleman at The Alley Light. “My liquor of choice varies by season, so for now it’s tequila all the way in The Natural margarita on the invariably entertaining Mono Loco patio. But when the leaves start falling I crave a couch and a Nelson County Gentleman at Alley Light. Named after one of the bearded mix-maestros behind the bar, you can only find this carbonated, small-batch rye, birch, root and peppermint medley in the cooler months. Fingers crossed he’ll be making a reappearance this year.”
5) Carbonara Pizza at Lampo Neopolitan Pizzeria. “It’s too hard to pick the best dish from their regular menu, so I won’t! Peppery porchetta and cracked eggs made their debut on a white pizza at the pop-up brunch last week and did not disappoint. Neither did Eames’ aptly-named Retox Jus. Stay tuned for the next pop-up dates throughout the winter to catch this beauty before she makes a regular appearance on the brunch menu next Spring. Oh, and always listen to Andrew and Rowe behind the bar.”
Eames Coleman, of Kareem Abdul Jus-Bar and Blue Star JüsBar and Baja Fish Taqueria. Coleman’s picks:
1) Hellboy Pizza at Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria. “Homage to great Paulie Gee’s in Brooklyn. Soppressata picante, house made mozzarella, and in-house scorpion pepper honey.”
2) “Liberita” at MAS Tapas. “Liberty Kalergis’ margarita. Not on the menu, but that’s what I call this MAS veteran’s mar’, best around. Only available Tuesdays and Thursdays, cause this busy mother manages her family on the off days. Go Liberty.”
3) I Love You So Much at Brazos Tacos. “That’s the name of the taco! This bad boy has scrambled eggs, chorizo, mashed potatoes, roasted corn salsa, and queso fresco. The name speaks for its self. Peter Griesar is a king amongst men – a fellow musician killing it in a kitchen!”
4) Spicy Pork Nachos at Mono Loco. “Everything about this place makes want more! From the owners to the dishwashers, these cats run a tight, but fun ship. Never had a bad time on this block and don’t plan on it. A real institution created by smiles, laughter and good times and great fare!”
5) Meatloaf at Bizou. “In my first season in Charlottesville for my 24th b- day in 2000, my mother and sister took me there cause mom had heard about this dish. ‘It’s the best, it’s the best,’ she noted in her Italian tone. Guess what, I still don’t need Google cause my mother is always right.”
Mitch Willey, owner of Clifton Inn. Willey’s picks:
1) Corn Cakes at Tip Top. “I love to start the day being greeted by the delightfully friendly and efficient wait staff at Tip Top on Pantops. I settle into a window booth with my three morning papers (where the natural light is plentiful and I catch a nice view of the Blue Ridge) and order the corn cakes with a side of bacon. Decadent but splendidly so.”
2) Pimento Cheese Fritters at Maya. “One of our early chefs at Clifton, Christian Kelly (who the staff quickly designated as our resident George Clooney), has created a cult following at Maya and I am one of those cult members! I especially love to start a delicious dinner with Christian’s pimento fritters — light and cheesy, and the pepper jelly is divine. A perfect start to a terrific meal.”
3) Pulled Pork at The BBQ Exchange. “Craig’s pulled pork, with his creative array of sauces, is the way that I reward myself if I have really been working out because the indulgence is so amazing that I can only justify it if I have earned it!”
4) Grilled Pork Chop with Grilled Peach Salad at Brookville. “Harrison has so many delightful interpretations of pork that I find myself trying something new each time. In fact, my daughter’s rehearsal dinner was hosted there last Labor Day primarily because of this!”
5) Pear Ravioli at C&O. “I can’t go very long without a generous helping of Dean Maupin’s pear ravioli at C&O — a dish he featured at my other daughter’s wedding when he was the chef at Clifton. It is so subtle in its flavor and somehow seems almost healthy as the fruit is front and center. As always, Dean gets the sauce just right and while often it is a starter, on occasion I have requested it as a main course since I just can’t get enough.”
PK Ross, owner of Splendora’s Gelato. Ross’s picks:
1) Knish from Balkan Bakery/Fig at City Market. “I wish I knew what witchcraft she uses to make her dough; it has the perfect elasticity and bite. And spiced potatoes in a pocket-sized round? Donezo.”
2) Chirashi Bowl at Now & Zen. “Honestly, the head-on shrimp does it for me. And the spicy tuna goo. And the roe. And sometimes there’s mackerel in it. And you get the point.”
3) Head Cheese at Timbercreek Market. “There is a distinct possibility I housed a quarter pound of it as lunch and dinner in one day. Great spices, gorgeous aspic texture between meaty bits, without being overly unctuous. I’ll be stalking their meat counter for it regularly.”
4) Thai Gyoza at Thai Fresh. “I need fast and easy with the hours I keep, and I hit a trifecta with these because they’re also delicious. I think the goo alongside them has fish sauce, and the world needs more fish sauce.”
5) Chickpea Salad at Greenwood Gourmet. “I go to Greenwood when I run to Crozet/Nelson for peaches/plums/etc. I started stopping there for the exceptionally curated beer selection but since I was browsing anyway why not get the brightest, crunchiest chickpea salad ever?”
Robbie O’Cain, Brewmaster at Starr Hill Brewery. O’Cain’s picks:
1) Torta Milanesa at La Michoacana. “Street Mexican food is normally associated with tacos and burritos but I think the best of all the dishes is the Torta, and La Michoacana is the tops.”
2) Boquerones Con Ajo at MAS Tapas. “Mas does anchovies better than anywhere else I have been.”
3) Nachos at Beer Run. “Great place, great people, great beer selection and great nachos. Tip: Get meat and beans. One time we ordered two back to back and the waitress was impressed. She hadn’t had anyone do that before.”
4) Fried Chicken at Mel’s Cafe. “Great soul food in the Starr Hill neighborhood. It was also where I took my girlfriend on our first date so it holds sentimental value as well.”
5) King of Hop Grapefruit at Starr Hill Brewery. “We did a very limited run of this beer and it was one of the best beers we have ever made. It was everyone’s shift beer at the brewery for the couple weeks we had it. Be on the lookout for it at the tap room for Virginia Craft Beer Month.”
Sara Miller, co-owner of Timbercreek Market. Miller’s picks:
1) Princess Cake at Albemarle Baking Company. “I am a cookie girl but I have to admit my favorite sweet at ABC is the princess cake. At least twice a week my three-year old asks, ‘Did you go to Gerry’s today?’ or ‘We need to go to Gerry’s mama!’ Hard to find a place that is a crowd pleaser when you have age ranges from 33 to 3 and at ‘Gerry’s’ we can all find something we love!”
2) Peanut Butter Balls at Feast!. “Warning, they are addicting and yes I have gone to Feast! just for a peanut butter ball. During the holidays they sell them in packages of six and every time I buy the six-pack and they are gone by the time we leave and have to buy another pack to take home to Zach.”
3) Budino at Lampo. “Who doesn’t love Lampo or the guys who own Lampo? The tiny little spot in Belmont has the greatest guys and the best talent packed into one little spot. Yes, the wait can be long but let me tell you it is worth it and save room because the desserts are incredible. Lampo is a spot where ordering dessert first is the right thing to do, as they often sell out of their amazing dishes. My personal favorite is the Budino but really you can’t go wrong with whatever they have left.”
4) Summer Pie at The Pie Chest. “My current favorite is the summer pie but the fun thing about Rachel is it is always changing with the seasons. You can’t go wrong and you have to go back often because what is in season changes quickly here in Virginia.”
5) Chocolate Milkshake at Timberlakes Drug Store. “Best milkshake in town! I love a great chocolate milkshake, and there isn’t a better spot in town with such smiling nice people every time you go in!”
Tyler Thomas, sous chef of ZoCaLo. Thomas’ picks:
1) Missile IPA at Champion Brewing Company. “Few things rival drinking Missile IPA sitting outside at Champion. The vibes of the brewery combined with this flawlessly executed American IPA rub me the right way.”
2) CVille Hot Chicken at Oakhart Social. “Spicy dry-rubbed wings on white bread with JM Stock Provisions pickles. ‘Nuff said.”
3) Pork from Autumn Olive Farms. “The hogs these fine folks are raising are second to none in the area.”
4) Super Tacos at La Michoacana Deli. “Your choice of meat on fresh, hand-made tortillas. House salsas and spicy pickled veg. Authentic flavors from authentic people. Bring cash.”
5) The California with Jalapeño from Baggby’s. “Because you gotta eat your veggies if you want puddin, or in this case a complimentary cookie. Always reliable,always personable service.”
John Meiklejohn, chef of Yearbook Taco. Meiklejohn’s picks:
1) Spicy Beef Tongue, Tendon and Tripe at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “I dream of this dish. Those nasty bits are cooked perfectly. It’s served cold with chiles, cilantro and peanuts. All I need is this dish and steamed rice – offal nirvana.”
2) Chicken and Waffles at Ace Biscuit and Barbecue. “It’s a toss up between the fried chicken and waffles and the Tommy Pastrami. Everything at Ace is made from scratch and you can tell. Brian Ashworth really knows his stuff. This is my family’s favorite place for breakfast.”
3) Tongue, Tendon and Tripe Pho at Pad Thai. “Starting to see a trend? Mr. Ouypron puts together the perfect bowl here. All the flavors are in harmony – spicy, sweet, salty and sour. I can’t get enough of this, and it’s better than grandma’s chicken soup if you are sick.”
4) Fried Chicken at Wayside Takeout. “I mean come on, it’s old school fried chicken with all the traditional fixin’s. And they serve fried livers, hearts and gizzards too? It reminds me of eating fried chicken at my grandma’s house.”
5) Pork Belly Rice Bowl at Zzaam Korean Grill. “Pork belly cooked to quivering, fatty perfection over steamed rice with a fried egg, kim-chee, house pickled veggies, seaweed and Korean Taco sauce. When I took my then 3 year old daughter here for the first time, the first bite she took made her get up and dance. This is the food that makes her booty groove.”
Daniel Perry of JAM According to Daniel. Perry’s picks:
1) Roasted Pork Sandwich with pickled fennel and chipotle mayo at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery. “The perfect combo of crunchy, fatty, and tangy – refreshing after a morning of berry picking.”
2) Roasted Chicken and Yucca Frita at Al Carbon. “This chicken smells so good that utensils are too slow. Eating with both hands is recommended. It’s ‘fall off the bone’ tender, in a literal sense. And seeing the green charcoal rotisserie really seals the deal.”
3) Fried Plantains at Pearl Island Foods at the City Market. “Crunchy, slightly sweet, with a spicy slaw and garlic aioli. Just right for a mid-morning snack when tomato selection leads to decision fatigue.”
4) Pulled Pork Soul Bowl with Fries and Bold & Spicy Sauce at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. “Ditch the bun, it’s just in the way. Get in touch with your inner carnivore.”
5) Ricotta from Twenty Paces. “Creamy, fluffy, and so refreshing. It’s great on bread, and amazing on a spoon. Try it with olive oil, maple syrup, and coarse sea salt, all at the same time. Like ice cream meeting yogurt and butter, spreadable mellow creaminess. So fluffy!”
Trish Clinton, pastry chef at The Barbeque Exchange. Clinton’s picks:
1) Duck Curry at Thai Siam Takeout. “This was the first place that chef Tucker Yoder recommended to me and it was a great one! Ms. Mae and her brother are making the best Thai food around, that is for sure. The dumplings are also something to try, and it is worth however long of a wait Ms. Mae might tell you it is.”
2) Absolutely ANY Dessert at Duner’s. “I will drive out of my way just to drop in and get a dessert to go. The dessert menu is constantly changing and rotating to reflect what is available in the current season along with some staples. Call ahead and they will have it ready to go quickly!”
3) Fresh Oysters and Frites with Garlic Aioli at Public Fish and Oyster. “Be sure to get two sides of the aioli because it will go fast! Donnie is putting out some fantastic food, and you would have a great dish in any of the entrees that are available as well. Those frites and aioli with a great beer are definitely one my guilty pleasures.”
4) “Sake Garden” Cocktail at TEN. “This cocktail is the most refreshing drink for the summer in my opinion. Grapefruit vodka combined with sake, ginger, cucumber, and mint makes it easy to consume quite few on those hot summer nights.”
5) Pollo Cemita at Al Carbon. “The sesame bread that this sandwich is served on is a great base, then add the pulled rotisserie chicken, spicy chipotle sauce, sliced avocado, and oh that cheese! All of that combined make it over-the-top delicious. Be aware it is large and will fill you up you may not need anything else!”
John Shanesy, Chef de Cuisine at Parallel 38. Shanesy’s picks:
1) Pulled Pork Sandwich with Garlic Pickles, Hog Fire and Napalm Sauce at The BBQ Exchange. “Craig’s passion for food and cooking is something very contagious and it’s obvious why his restaurant is such a hit.”
2) Thai Beef Consommé at Pad Thai. “Perfect mix of hot, comfort and clean flavors put together in one bowl by Mr. Ouypron!”
3) Chorizo Tacos Traditional Style with Whiskey at Yearbook Taco. “John’s cooking is wonderful, and he was a wonderful teacher of mine. I love his food and it’s especially good when Ross Schiller is putting bourbon in me.”
4) Bellisima Pizza at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “Best ingredients, best dough, best sauce, best atmosphere! What else can you say!”
5) OH Toro at TEN. “Pei Chang does no wrong at his incredible Japanese restaurant on the downtown mall. The decor is so inviting and the quality of staff and food is at the highest level that this town has to offer. Absolutely wonderful!”
Peter Griesar, co-owner of Brazos Tacos. Griesar’s picks:
1) Porktopus Noodle Bowl at MAS Tapas. “What seems like an odd pairing is a genius delicious mix. Served as a noodle bowl, it has a long spicy burn that builds to a fever pitch of mouth-watering flavors. Pair it with the rest of Mas’ fantastic menu, and let the amazing staff help you navigate their library of wines.”
2) Margherita Pizza at Lampo. “Sometimes when you’re overworked and exhausted the best thing is to load up on carbs, and what better way than with a gorgeous Lampo pizza. The margherita mixed with wine – it makes for the dreamiest sleeps.”
3) Fried Chicken Thighs at Brown’s. “When I first moved to Esmont, Brown’s Mini Mart was just around the corner. Eventually the Brown’s moved into Charlottesville, and my favorite chicken disappeared. So I was ecstatic to find out when the Browns took over the former Stoney’s and started up their pressure fryer again. Don’t let the gas station fool you, this is best fried chicken you’ll eat in these parts.”
4) Greg Brady w/Bacon at Jack Brown’s. “Everyday at lunch during our build, it became a tradition to run over to the new Jack Brown’s downtown for a burger. As I worked my way through the menu I came across the Greg Brady, a burger with mac and cheese and chips on it. Add bacon to take it over the top!”
5) El Rey Burrito at Mono Loco. “Last but definitely not least this ‘surf and turf’ burrito is a favorite with fried oysters and steak. Filling and flavorful. Hands down the King of local burritos.”
Patrick Evans, baker and co-owner of MarieBette. Evans’ picks:
1) Pizza with Pepperoni and Red Onions from Mona Lisa. “This is a custom order pie usually, but sometimes they have it by the slice.”
2) A dinner of Rosé from Blenheim Vineyards, a Sesame Baguette from MarieBette, and an entire wedge of Delice de Bourgogne from Trader Joe’s. “Sometimes I’ll share some of the cheese with my daughter Betty, who we lovingly call ‘the cheese monster!’”
3) Weekend Sandwich Special from JM Stock Provisions. “Whatever it is, it’s gonna be good, and it’s usually on MarieBette Virginia Sourdough!”
4) Burger Cooked “Red” with Fries and a Pickle at Citizen Burger Bar. “They don’t do the traditional rare, medium rare, medium, well done here . . . but I realized that RED is the closest to medium rare, and it hits the spot.”
5) Crispy Tofu Bento Box from Cafe 88. “I once called to order this on the phone and Lee, the owner, responded by saying ‘OK Patrick, it’ll be ready soon!’ I didn’t know she knew my name, but this kind of small town familiarity is one of the great things about Charlottesville.”
Vinnie Falcone, sous chef at Red Pump Kitchen. Falcone’s picks:
1) Fried Chicken Thighs from Wayside Takeout & Catering. “There’s nothing more that I love on a day off than a big ole box of chicken thighs and a cold one.”
2) Bone Marrow and Escargot at The Alley Light. “This is my go-to spot for a great cocktail – Micah is insanely talented! Chef’s bone marrow & escargot is a must have when you’re there.” (Note: this was our 2014 Dish of the Year.)
3) Hellboy Pizza at Lampo. “What’s not to love about this place? The food, drinks and service are always on point, especially the Hellboy.”
4) Alioli at MAS Tapas. “It’s my favorite place to go after work for some snacks with friends. You can’t go wrong here, especially if there’s alioli involved.”
5) Hot & Numbing Tofu Skins at Peter Chang’s. “I honestly eat the hot & numbing tofu skins almost every week. It’s my favorite dish in town. The flavor, heat & sensation you get from the Szechuan peppercorns is like nothing else.”
Christian Johnston, bar manager at Tavola’s cicchetti bar. Johnston’s picks:
1) Carrots at The Alley Light. “Never before in Charlottesville have I seen a vegetable as a standout dish on a menu. Chef Jose de Brito’s ability to bring bright flavors to a dish without overwhelming the main component is truly impressive. Pair that with a cocktail from Micah LeMon and it’s no wonder why these guys got a James Beard nod.”
2) Cocktails at Parallel 38. “Definitely worth the hike from the downtown mall, this place has some great talent which can be seen in their cocktail program. Often putting spins on classics, Justin Ross and Jesse Fellows use ingredients and techniques you aren’t likely to find in any other establishment.”
3) Gyoza at Now & Zen. “Chef Toshi knows his craft and the Nagasaki variant of this dish is great. The sauce that is paired with this is savory as it is flavorful and really ties the whole thing together.”
4) Infused Margarita at Yearbook Taco. “You know things are going good in Charlottesville when the local taco joint is stepping up their cocktail game. With infusions made fresh every week, it showcases how a quality product can elevate a simple drink. Tegan Peterson and Acacia Schepps work nights there, so if you see them behind the bar, you know you’re in good hands.”
5) Greg Brady at Jack Brown’s. “Getting out of work late usually means there is a struggle to find good late night food. This ridiculous creation (a burger topped with bbq potato chips and mac and cheese) always satisfies and with former Beer Run beer guru Steve Yang behind their drink selection, you’ll never go home thirsty.”
Laura Galgano, Diner Lady at Blue Moon Diner. Galgano’s picks:
1) Lamb Bacon from JM Stock Provisions. “Fantastic. It reminds me of an earthy pancetta, and is so good seared with fresh peas and pasta.”
2) Sautéed Green Beans with Toasted Almonds at Maya. “These are always crisp, fresh, and delicious! Remind me of summers with my grandmother, snapping beans for supper.”
3) Happy Hour Oysters at Public Fish & Oyster. “Happy Hour has special pricing on their great selection of raw oysters, and I could eat a dozen every day.”
4) Brussels Sprouts at Oakhart Social. “Smokey and firm. I sometimes have dreams about them.”
5) Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve at Feast!. “While I adore and support the growing local cheese culture, when I get nostalgic for our time in Wisconsin, I gorge myself on Feast’s Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese, which might be one of the best all-around cheeses I’ve ever experienced.”
Jake Busching, winemaker at Grace Estate Winery. Busching’s picks:
1) Mountain Mess Breakfast at Mountainside Grill. “Home fries, two choices of meat including chorizo, cheddar cheese, green bell pepper and onion with two eggs over easy. Good morning!”
2) Oyster Po Boy and a Jar of Bulleit Bourbon at The Whiskey Jar. “A heavenly plate sourced from RRO!”
3) Dragon Rose at The Wine Guild. “Next stop at the Wine Guild of Charlottesville to have a tasting of the week’s offerings and pick up my order. Dragon Rose for spring skies seems apt. The wine knowledge associated with this group is as astounding as it is fun.”
4) Rabbit Rillette at The Alley Light. “I, like so many others in Charlottesville, stand in awe of the plates at The Alley Light. Any of them. I’ve heard applause for peas there at a wine dinner. Peas! But, for certain I would have a rillette. Rabbit. Or sardine maybe, with a bottle of Thierry Germain Cabernet Franc. Any vintage available.”
5) Horse’s Neck at The Livery Stable. “To end my sojourn I’d belly up to the bar at The Livery Stable and ask Sir Ian for a Horse’s Neck. Copper clad cocktail of gingery dreams. And then maybe another . . .”
Devin Murray, chef of The Whiskey Jar. Murray’s picks:
1) Warm Glazed and Blueberry Donuts at Spudnuts. “I have been lucky to enjoy these donuts for twenty-five years. I am reminded of my childhood every time I stop in. Warm Glazed and Blueberry are my go to, but I love them all.”
2) Egg and American on an Everything Bagel at Bodo’s. “My best Bodo’s memory was the day I found out they would be serving eggs all day.”
3) Red Hot Blues with Danger Sauce and Margaritas at Continental Divide. “The margaritas are a great way to cool the burn of the Danger sauce. The small, loud, high energy atmosphere along with the margaritas keep me coming back.”
4) Carne Asada and Bocadillo Jamon at MAS Tapas. “I could eat the carne asada everyday. It is consistently my favorite dish at Mas. The Bocadillo Jamon is another favorite. The wood oven bread, garlic alioli, Jamon serrano ,and manchego cheese make a perfect sandwich.”
5) Peanut Butter Pie at The Pie Chest. “Baker Rachel Pennington puts a lot of love into all of her pies, but this one is my favorite. The texture of the filling is light and creamy and the thick graham cracker crust seals the deal for me as the best peanut butter pie I have ever eaten. Peanut butter fans you need this in your life.”
Lee Hendrickson, head chef of Red Pump Kitchen. Hendrickson’s picks:
1) Tuna Carpaccio at Now & Zen. “The amount of flavor balance in this dish is so in-sync, and the wasabi vin pulls it all together.”
2) Elote con Mayonesa at Al Carbon. “Street food done right is so simple but so tasty.”
3) Croque Monsieur at Pippin Hill. “A grilled cheese sandwich is already a win for me, and the salt cured ham and the sweet onion jam really make it their own.”
4) Chevre from Caromont Farm. “So rich and creamy and consistent. I love this cheese and love using it in different ways on my menu.”
5) BBLT at BBQ Exchange. “With two types of bacon, how can you go wrong? Great place, great people, and great food.”
Shelby Park, Executive Chef of Trump Winery. Park’s picks:
1) Hungry Norman at Bluegrass Grill and Bakery. “Bluegrass is my favorite place in town to go for breakfast. The Hungry Norman is an English muffin topped with goat cheese, blackberry jam, sausage, poached eggs, and hollandaise. I love the combo of sweetness from the jam, slight sourness of the goat cheese, and the savory sausage. And then topping the whole thing off with eggs and hollandaise is just awesome. Their home fries are also to-die-for.”
2) Tucker’s Pop-up Dinner Menu at Eljogaha. “Chef Tucker Yoder is doing a series of pop-up dinners around town. He was the chef I worked for when I was an intern and also when I was a line cook at the Clifton Inn. The menu changes every weekend, but we got to enjoy sprouted grain porridge with almond milk and cabbage jus. The texture was so unique and such a different use of sprouted grains. Tucker also makes a great ribeye and a fantastic homemade sourdough bread. He is truly an amazing chef, and I’d recommend his pop-up restaurant to everyone.”
3) Charcuterie and Pork from The Rock Barn. “The Rock Barn has awesome pork products, and I just switched the charcuterie plate at Trump to feature their meats. We get the tasso ham, the Daisy-della, and the spicy Capicola, and they are all amazing. I also just had Rock Barn pork chops at Orzo with date puree, beer mustard, and polenta and absolutely loved it.”
4) Cocktails at The Alley Light. “The Alley Light is my favorite place to go for great cocktails. I love the fact that they will custom make you a cocktail to suit your tastes. Every drink is always expertly balanced, and their mixology is really impressive.”
5) Egg Rolls at Bamboo House. “The Bamboo House is a definite hole-in-the-wall place with some non-traditional décor, but their egg rolls are delicious. They’re not your average egg rolls. Their are huge and packed with pork and veggies. I live nearby so getting a big order of take-out eggs rolls is my fried food go-to.”
Hannah Moster, sous chef of Hamiltons’ at First & Main. Moster’s picks:
1) Dan Dan Noodles at Peter Chang’s. “Never had anything there I didn’t love. The lunch specials Monday through Friday are a great deal, and the hot and sour soup is the best ever! If I don’t get a lunch special, I get a couple apps. I’m addicted to the Dan Dan noodles and hot and numbing shredded tofu skins.”
2) Pulled Pork at The Barbeque Exchange. “Best bbq around! Being so close to home, we should really eat there every day. Chef Hartman’s crew, headed up by superman Brooks Tanner, never fails to load us up a massive platter of porkliciousness.”
3) Tasting Menu with Wine Pairings at Palladio Restaurant. “I’ve always loved an afternoon of tasting at Barboursville. Luca Paschina’s style is right up my alley. Finish off the evening with a glass of wine and a picnic near the ruins, or if you’re lucky, a luxurious dinner of the tasting menu at Palladio.”
4) Chicken Wings and PBR at Miller’s Downtown. “Miller’s has everything! Pool, games, live music, upstairs sports bar and the biggest and best people-watching patio downtown. Fresh new renovation downstairs, but still the same old school style and feel. Huge draft beer selection, and that delicious food you crave. A favorite classic.”
5) Pizza Margherita at Lampo. “After the three years I spent living in Italy, it’s soooo great to get to have the real deal original pizza again. Thank you and much respect.”
Ian Judd, sous chef at The Ivy Inn. Judd’s picks:
1) IVP Banh Mi at Ivy Provisions. “With a side of house pickles and a bottle of kombucha, it makes a killer combo for a quick lunch.”
2) Smoked Brisket at The BBQ Exchange. “You really can’t go wrong with anything here. Everything is made with love. If you are brave enough try the Hell Sandwich. It’s a twisted love.”
3) Drinks at Maya. “A favorite of the crew here at the Ivy Inn after a long shift, it’s a great late night spot to get a wonderfully made drink and spend time with good friends.”
4) Raw Bar at Rocksalt. “Happy hour here sure makes me happy with $1 oysters and clams. Also, the lamb and clams are on point with spicy merguez and harissa.”
5) Kale Salad with Crispy Fried Oysters at brunch at Hamiltons’. “The spicy Cajun Mary is on point, too! I never leave disappointed.”
Aris Cuadra, chef of Tavola.
1) Cheeseburger at Jack Brown’s. “Super simple good quality beef, nicely seasoned, griddle pressed well done, with a side of fries, a pickle and secret sauce…oh yea and they have “a few beers”.
2) Dry Fried Eggplant at Peter Chang’s. “Perfectly crispy, light and airy, nice balance of heat and earthiness from the chilies, cilantro and scallions, and a slight sweetness from the eggplant.”
3) Ham Biscuit at JM Stock Provisions. “House cured ham in between their biscuits made with butter and pork fat.”
4) Lemon Buttermilk Pie at Pasture Q. “Light flaky crust, nice balance of tart and not too sweet filling, tea infused whipped cream.”
5) Linguini Alla Carbonara at tavola. “Yes, I know some will criticize this pick, but those who have had it know exactly what I’m talking about and those who have not . . . you need to come try one.”
Ellen Searcy, the winner of the drawing to be our first reader participant. Searcy’s picks:
1) Duck, Bunny, & Pig Stew at MAS Tapas. “My favorite food in Charlottesville. Whenever it’s on the menu, we order one, then regret not ordering two.”
2) Rabbit Terrine at JM Stock. “When my husband’s out of town, dinner is always a slice of their rabbit terrine or award-winning country pate with some Albemarle Baking Company bread, mustard, cornichons, a glass or two of wine, and a Double Trouble chocolate cupcake from Pearl’s next door.”
3) The Dubliner at Beer Run. “Corned beef, Swiss, and Colcannon on pumpernickel. Seasonal in March but it would be awesome year round.”
4) Risotto at The Alley Light. “You can’t go wrong with anything on their specials menu (and it’s hard not to order their rabbit or pork rillette every week), but their risotto is the best I’ve had. It’s cozy yet sensual.”
5) Chocolate Milkshake at Colleen Drive-in. “You can call ahead and they’ll have the milkshake waiting for you in the freezer so you don’t have to wait outside in the cold while they make it.”
Kirk Smith, Chef of Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar. Smith’s picks:
1) Santa Fe Enchilada at Continental Divide. “With some ‘Danger’ and ‘Wait a Minute’ hot sauces.”
2) Spicy Chicken Burrito at Mono Loco. “Often on the weekly specials list. I love the jalapenos inside and the refreshing side salad to cool things off.”
3) Conserva al Spada and then Margherita D.O.C. Pizze at Lampo. “Delicious selections at this new favorite.”
4) Omakase at TEN Sushi. “Please include a couple of pieces of Hawaiian Walu!”
5) Seafood Charcuterie Board at The Alley Light. “Please.”
Chef Riki Tanabe, Pastry Chef of Albemarle Baking Co., which will be celebrating tomorrow with, of course, pies. Tanabe’s picks:
1) Drinking Wine and watching Polo at King Family Vineyards. “This is a family favorite–the kids get to run around, and the adults can relax and drink wine over good conversation. It’s a good thing they have a scoreboard, because occasionally, we will miss a goal (or three).”
3) Bacon, Egg and Cheddar on an Onion Bagel at Bodo’s. “Just eat it.”
4) Datil con Tocino at MAS Tapas. “Just about anything wrapped in bacon is awesome, but there is something about the bacon-wrapped dates at Mas that make it a staple when we go there. The grilled calamari with romesco sauce–although rarely on the menu–also is a favorite of mine.”
5) Hopwork Orange IPA from Blue Mountain Brewery. “While all the beers I have had at Blue Mountain Brewery are excellent, the Hopwork Orange IPA is particularly refreshing–just the right balance of hops and malt. It is great on a warm afternoon on the deck with friends.”
Jaclyn Conlogue, Manager for Catering and Special Events for The Barbeque Exchange. Conlogue’s picks:
1) Pork Belly anything at BBQ Exchange. “Working here for the last five years has not diminished my love of pork belly, but fueled it!”
2) Fried Chicken at BBQ Exchange. “Only on Porkapolooza weekend, and man, have you got to try this stuff – lard fried, with pork sausage gravy on the side, AND biscuits? Forget that Whole30 diet for this weekend – I plan on eating fried chicken every day!”
3) Pizza & Sally’s fun Cocktails at Red Pump Kitchen. “Seriously, I tasted a hundred versions of that pizza dough, and I love it! Trying Sally’s latest libations is always fun too.”
4) Bocadillo at MAS. “Many a late night has ended at Mas with a bocadillo and a beer.”
5) Single Origin Coffees at Shenandoah Joe. “Anyone who knows me knows of my coffee obsession. Not just any coffee, but the single origin roasts that Dave sources. I love trying the new blends he’s working on, and I am always one of the first to sign up for the Geisha & Esmerelda when it shows up.”
Michael Lewis, chef-owner of Mono Loco. Lewis’ picks:
1) Double Espresso at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery. “This is how I start most mornings: a double espresso with David and Nina the owners, and joining in on the colorful conversations. It’s a gourmand’s Mom & Pop! In the afternoons, try an amazing chicken sope with fresh pineapple pico, hope Claude Thibaut is doing a wine tasting, and say hello to Rufus the dog.”
2) Smoked Jalapeno Meatloaf Sandwich from South Fork food truck. “Phil used to work with us at Mono, so its awesome to watch his continued success. I never imagined I could derive so much joy from a meatloaf sandwich, but his is savory and rich with a hint of spice, and he won’t judge you if you order two!”
3) Carne Asada at MAS Tapas. “My happy place. Tomas and crew are my go to spot for the Charlottesville uninitiated. It’s crowded, brash, loud and unapologetic, and I love that. Plus, the carne asada is always spot on.”
4) Crabcake at Three Notch’d Grill. “Out in Crozet, Haden and Cathy just run a solid, chill place. Sit at the bar, have a Titos’s martini and my favorite crabcake in town. They’re filled with crab, not filler, and the jicama slaw and lemon beurre-blanc just balance the dish beautifully.”
5) Spicy Tuna Tartar at Zocalo. “Some people complain that it’s the same menu, so what!! It’s consistently good food, year in and year out, which is incredibly difficult to do. And, the tuna tartar is the best app in town.”
JJ Myers of The Pie Guy. Myers’ picks:
1) Porchetta Panuozzo at Lampo. “Tangy broccoli rabe, garlic aioli, some nicely aged provolone and juicy porchetta, all on a fresh piece of wood fired bread. Best sandwich in town.”
2) Huevos Bluemoonos at Blue Moon Diner. “There’s always something creative on the menu and it’s a great environment. Nice and spicy bloody mary as well.”
3) Crispy Pork Belly at Peter Chang’s. “Thin slices of deep-fried pork belly, finished with cilantro and spices. Enough said!”
4) Greyhound at the C&O. “Plain and simple – fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and some good vodka. Coolest bar in town.”
5) Chicken Wings from Wayside Takeout & Catering. “There is something about southern comfort food that just makes everything better.”
Ben Jordan of Michael Shaps Wineworks. Jordan’s picks:
1) Grandpa’s Favorite at Pad Thai. “Fried catfish, fried rice, and an omelette was a new combination for me, but now I have to work not to order it every time.”
2) Dealer’s Choice at The Alley Light. “The option of drinking-off-menu taps into the creative energy behind the bar, always a fun way to drink.”
3) Sunday Lunch and Brunch at The Shack. “I grew up in Augusta County, and it’s great to be able to stop in for the biscuits and gravy or the fried quail on the way to visit family. And, the drive to Staunton is shorter than some brunch lines.”
4) Dry-Aged Burger Grind at JM Stock Provisions. “We make thin patties with this, and there is so much flavor that they work as simple burgers, without much need for adornment.”
5) First Three Cheese Suggestions at Flora Artisanal Cheese. “My strategy is to walk in, say something vague about what I want, taste what Nadjeeb offers, find it delicious, and then buy it.”
Rachel Pennington of The Pie Chest. Pennington’s picks:
1) The Para Papa at Al Carbon Chicken. “This perfectly-roasted, juicy, charcoal chicken is one reason why vegetarianism would be a near-impossible personal life choice. Half a chicken with fried plantains and yellow rice, salsas, friendly and personable service, just simply delicious. Also doesn’t hurt that Kohr Bros. is within a very doable post-meal walking-distance.”
2) Spinach Salad and The Fat & Sassy with Artichokes at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “I still fondly remember my first meal at this place. Now it’s the go-to for game days, True Detective binge-watching sessions, and New Year’s Eve tradition. Savory in the most satisfying way. Also doesn’t hurt that right next door is the Crossroad Store with killer Peanut Butter Cup cookies.”
3) Lobster Tempura at TEN. “Easily one of the best bites of food I’ve ever eaten. Literally melt-in-your-mouth satisfaction.”
4) Tomato Sandwich at The Whiskey Jar. “I can’t help it – I tried to resist the urge to include this due to a bit of a conflict-of-interest, but this sandwich…oh, this sandwich. Starts with butter-toasted Goodwin Creek bread, a generous double-slather of Duke’s mayo, a little seasoning, and thick slices of fresh, beautiful, delicious Red Row Farm tomatoes. I literally eat one every single day during the summer. Sometimes two.”
5) Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls at Feast! “A good friend bought me one of these before heading to the Paramount to watch the World Cup match against Germany. As soon as the game ended, I walked to Feast! and bought an amount of which I care not to admit. I also care not to admit how many of these I can consume in one sitting. Perfect with a Cortado from Milli Joe.”
Mark Gresge, owner and Executive Chef of l’etoile Catering. Gresge’s picks:
1) Buttermilk Biscuit at The Whiskey Jar. “Handed to me fresh out of the oven by Rachel Pennington, the pastry chef. Sometimes in cooking, there is beauty in simplicity.”
2) Grilled Bologna and Egg Sandwich at Mel’s Cafe. “Prepared and served by Mel himself with a smile. White bread has now found its true calling.”
3) Bocadillo Jamon at MAS Tapas. “After giving birth to twins, this is the first item that my wife asked for. This is an under-the-radar masterpiece.”
4) Glazed Sugar Cookie from Pearl’s Bake Shoppe. “After one bite, I paused and pondered – this is one wonderful cookie. It made me very happy.”
5) Shakedown Imperial Chocolate Cherry Stout at Starr Hill Tasting Room. “Perfect beer for a winter evening. I had to beg the family to let me stay and have another. Pairs well with the handful of Fritos taken from son’s bag.”
Robin McDaniel, sous chef of The Alley Light. McDaniel’s picks.
1) Tom Yum Soup at Monsoon Siam. “Kitty and Pooh make you feel like family when you enter the unique space; and the food conveys that sense of hospitality and warmth. It’s a hearty and home-style soup. I always order a large!”
2) Any Wine sommelier Erin Scala recommends at Fleurie. “Her knowledge and passion for wine is remarkable. Not only does she pair wine well with food; more importantly, she finds the right wine for the right person.”
3) Vongole Oreganato al Forno at Tavola. “A town favorite that consistently delivers a quality experience. Food has a bright acidity, wine list is unique, and service is spot on.”
4) Focaccia and Poached Eggs at Petit Pois. “The most consistent and best brunch in town. It is a perfect way to start a Sunday . . . huge patio in the summer, cozy in the winter.”
5) Herb-roasted Turkey Sandwich at Market Street Market. “My favorite sandwich in town. Great deli selections on a central location off the mall. I always ask for extra watercress. Throw in some lamb curry from Revolutionary Soup and you’ve got lunch covered.”
Will Gray of The Rock Barn. Gray’s picks:
1) Pad Kee Mao at Thai Siam in Arrington. “My sense is that at this point the secret is out about what Ms. Mae is cooking on Rt. 56 in Nelson. Be polite, phone ahead, and remember that if they’re too busy, you’re getting sent home empty handed. If you want to try some Thai cooking at home, ask Ms. Mae if you can have a few of the kaffir lime leaves she grows in the windows.”
2) Meritage 2008 at King Family Vineyards in Crozet. “Full disclosure: winemaker Matthieu Finot is a friend and mentor of mine, and I’ve passed many a great evening on the back porch at Stu and Ali King’s, so KFV will always be my favorite Virginia winery. It gets crowded during the summer, but stop by on an early winter afternoon and you’ll have all of Jarman’s Gap to yourself.”
3) Whatever Wine Andrew Cole from Lampo pours in my glass. “Andrew is one of my oldest friends in Charlottesville, and I have been lucky enough to drink more than my share of the ‘sommelier’s choice.’ His excellent palate, thoughtful recommendations, and overall front-of-house excellence make him a favorite of customers and vendors alike. I can’t wait to see what he and the crew at Lampo are rolling out this winter.”
4) Roaster’s choice at Trager Brothers Coffee in Lovingston. “I’m a coffee fiend. Hot, iced, morning, evening… I drink it all day. A critical part of my Rock Barn commute included a 6am stop at TBC in Lovingston to fill up my travel mug with whatever they had had just finished roasting. We went through so much coffee they started blending us our own ‘Rock Barn Roast.’ Will Trager will also pull you some of the prettiest shots of espresso I’ve ever seen.”
5) Cocoa-Marsala Canolli, Three Cheese Filling, Salted Chocolate and Hazelnut Crumble at Tavola. “I know Tavola is a perennial favorite on Five Finds, but now that Sous Chef Caleb Warr jumped the fence from MAS, he’s bringing some inspired desserts to the menu. Check it out this weekend, and send him a glass of wine, too – it was his birthday on Thursday.”
Clay Trainum of Autumn Olive Farms. Trainum’s picks:
1) Tasting Menu at Zynodoa Restaurant. “The rare meal where every BITE is superb. This has been our go-to place for very special occasions.”
2) Datil con Tocino at MAS Tapas. “The first time we had these was at MAS and I can still smell, taste, savor and remember every bite! It is, perhaps, the perfect bite.”
3) Kettle Corn from King’s Gourmet Popcorn. “Best ever, every time! Buy the $7 bag and see if you can make it last to Richmond. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!”
4) NY Pizza and Steak Special at Ciro’s Pizza. “IMO, the best ever. We have been going since they opened in the 1970’s and, although I am actively searching, I have not yet found a better pizza or steak special anywhere on this planet. That includes specific searches in NYC and Philadelphia earlier this year. We actually have our own special off-menu pizza at Ciro’s we call the Sardinia. If you request it you have to use the right language. Clay and Linda’s Sardinia pizza.”
5) Boer Bok Goat Meatballs and Pork Belly at Parallel 38. “A shameless plug because Chef Alfredo and the staff take products we are proud of and run them up to the top of the flag pole for everyone to experience with maximum effect. They made all of us all proud at the James Beard House in 2014.”
Kristen Suokko, Executive Director of Local Food Hub. Suokko’s picks.:
1) Salad Bar at Blue Ridge Country Store. “In fact, anything fresh and quick will do. Their salad bar and soups are the perfect grab-and-go lunch option, and I often stop by mid-afternoon to pick up fresh produce to cook for dinner that evening.”
2) Prosciutto Panini Special at Feast!. S. Wallace Edwards prosciutto, pickled red onions, local apples, and Caromont Farm goat cheese on focaccia. “Their specials change daily based on what is available from local farmers, and they never cease to have something spectacular. My kids love The Elvis, made with Virginia peanut butter, candied bacon, and bananas on oatmeal crunch bread.”
3) Double H Farm Pork Chop with Local Apple Cider Glaze and Delicata Squash at Hamiltons’ at First and Main. “Chef Curtis Shaver is able to bring out the best flavors of every season, and does an excellent job at using the best of what is available in our area.”
4) Winter Quiche at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery, with local bacon, eggs, and vegetables. “Whenever I’m hiking in western Albemarle, or visiting some of our many vineyards or breweries, I always stop by Greenwood Gourmet Grocery in Crozet for a bite. All of their café food is prepared in-house daily. Their offerings are complex yet always remain true to the flavors of our region, like a fresh summer slaw made with cabbage, carrots, peppers, and onions, or the warm winter quiche. And, I never skip on dessert here, especially their homemade pies!”
5) Winesap Apples from Dickie Brothers Orchard. “Local Food Hub works with a handful of orchardists in our area, all of whom have introduced us to unique and rare varieties over the years, like the tart Gold Rush, the sweet Pink Lady, the firm red-skinned Jonathan, and more. Just last night, at our food awards and 5th birthday celebration, Dickie Brothers Orchard won our award for 2014 Partner Producer of the Year, Fruit. You can pick up a local apple just about anywhere: Integral Yoga, Rebecca’s Natural Foods, paired with a hearty soup from Revolutionary Soup, or fresh from the Charlottesville City Market, just to name a few.”
Phillip Gerringer of South Fork. Gerringer’s picks:
1) Pimento Cheese Fritters at Maya. “I could eat good pimento cheese with a spoon. Ball it up and fry it . . . that’s ballgame. I ordered these for my mother-in-law who was a pimento cheese skeptic (they exist). It totally converted her.”
2) Beef Tartare at Petit Pois. “The patio here on a beautiful night will make you feel like you managed to transport to a Parisian cafe. A glass of wine . . . the beef tartare . . . it’s a great way to start off a night downtown. It’s simple, elegant, and uncomplicated. Just a delicious start to any of their dinners.”
3) Spicy Noodle Bowl at Pad Thai. “My wife and I love this place. I think through the years I’ve sampled just about everything on their menu, but the Spicy Noodle Bowl has become my go-to dish. The herb broth is perfection and I either get it with the Red Pork or Chicken Meatballs.”
4) Bread from Mission Home Bakeshop. “I picked up a loaf on a whim and it’s become my favorite for sandwiches. It’s budget-friendly, no frills sandwich bread, and when you toast it on the grill, it’s incredible.”
5) The Royale at Restoration. “I’m usually a traditionalist when it comes to cheeseburgers, but the bacon jam and tomato relish take this one to another level. I’ve loved watching this place come into its own. Rich and Kelly’s commitment to getting every detail right is what makes their menu so amazing. They can take something as simple as a burger and make it creative but approachable.”
Eric Nittolo of Threepenny Cafe. Nittolo’s picks:
1) Hot Wings at Wild Wings Cafe. “Before we had the chance to open our restaurant, the three managers introduced me to the hot wings at this restaurant located at the train station. As a sauce lover, I found that not only was I pleased with the quality of the chicken, but the sauce was definitely ‘on point.’”
2) Shrimp and Grits at Hamiltons’. “When a lunch date wanted to show off the town of Cville, she introduced me to the work of the talented chef at Hamiltons’. The meal was absolutely stellar. Another first for a northern boy—I wasn’t a connoisseur of grits. I so loved what I tasted that I was inspired to put a Maple Bacon version on the brunch menu at Threepenny Café. The whole meal was well done, and the raspberry lemon cake was greatness.”
3) Bone Marrow and Escargot at The Alley Light. “I appreciate someone willing to try creations for the more adventurous palate; the flavor was very inspiring. Having spent a lot of time in Chicago, I also appreciated the excellent re-creation of a speakeasy!”
4) Southern Fare at Maya. “I was in the mood for ribs, and as it happened, a staff member from Maya was sitting at our bar. He ran down the street and brought me a plate of ribs, cole slaw, and cornbread pudding. The meal was awesome—my hat is off to the chef!”
5) Big Burger and Grilled Cheese at Mel’s. “I saved the best for last. I love the food at Mel’s Diner. I limit this indulgence to once a week, and I am glad I have to walk a few blocks to get there. Not only do they serve classic down-home cooking, but I can sit around and talk football. The food is great, the respect is great, and you definitely feel the SOUTHERN LOVE from the folks there.”
Tristan Wraight of Oakhart Social. Wraight’s picks:
1) Gnarly Fried Chicken and Parmesan Sandwich at JM Stock Provisions on Saturdays. “Awesome for soaking up Friday night. The sandos are always changing, so yay for variety. They have even started opening at 7:30 am with coffee and fresh biscuits for those of us who didn’t go out on Friday. Also, an all around amazing butcher shop and just down the street from us in Midtown.”
3) Lamb Curry at Revolutionary Soup. “If you are going to be a joint known for one kind of food (soup), you really need to do it well. They do. We also love that they have a very well thought out beer selection. We’ll be hitting them up a bunch this winter.”
4) Tacos at La Guadalupana. “Very legit tacos (with two tortillas). We both think the lengua is the best in town. You have to walk through the store to find this gem at the back of the building. You also may have to order in Spanish, but so much the better. Really authentico.”
5) Duchesse De Bourgogne at Beer Run. “A beer lover’s wet dream and good food to boot. Our favorite is their really good selection of Flemish sour ales and particularly Duchesse. If you haven’t had one, they are a wonderful and weird experience. Beer Run is a gem.”
Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations, one of the area’s most sought after creators of wedding cakes, among other desserts. For her picks, Gupta focused on what she knows best: her favorite sweets and pastries around town. Gupta’s picks:
1) Macaron Ice cream Sandwiches from Got Dumplings food truck. “These giant ice cream sandwiches are awesome and they have great flavors like green tea and red bean. If you get a hankering for these at one of the local festivals, make sure you order more than one. You will want another and if you wait in line again, they will be gone . . . and you will be sad.”
2) Churros at Al Carbon. “Everything on their menu rocks (get the yuca fries), but the best part is when you order your food at this counter service cafe, you will only get your main dish. They don’t start making your churros until you have finished your food. Fresh, piping hot churros dipped in cinnamon sugar. Add a scoop of ice cream and you will experience nirvana.”
3) Pastries at Paradox Pastry. “My friends and I head to Paradox whenever we have a birthday to celebrate. We grab a table, and perhaps some champagne, and each get a different dessert to share. I head here when I want someone else to bake for me.”
4) Flourless Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow at Rocksalt. “Rappahannock Oysters followed by rich, dark chocolate . . . ‘nough said.
5) Gulab Jamun from Milan. “This is where I go for a little taste of home. A little pastry ball (almost like a doughnut) soaked in a cardamom-infused simple syrup. Seriously rich and completely nostalgic.”
Emily Holter, of Sweethaus. Holter’s picks:
1) Wings and Nachos on football Sundays at Wild Wing Cafe. “Doesn’t get much better than throwing on a jersey and hunkering down for a game at WWC. I’m such a sucker for nachos. Different types of cheeses, fresh salsa, sour cream, seasoned beef, texture explosion! Always solid and delicious. And there’s a reason the wings are so revered; the sauces are creative and complex all the while really tasty.”
2) Fleur de Sel Caramels from La Vache Microcreamery. “You have never tried a fleur de sel caramel proper until you’ve tried these small-batch artisan classics from La Vache. A crazy-good concoction of my favorite ingredients: butter, salt, sugar. Stephanie has nailed it!”
3) The Local Burger at The Local. “I’m a burger girl. Nothing more satisfying than that first juicy bite of a beautifully executed burger. Caramelized onion, always crispy apple-smoked bacon, swiss cheese. Medium-rare all the way. The best.”
4) Farmhouse Dry Cider on draught from Potter’s Craft Cider. “I met these guys years ago while working at Whole Foods buying wine and beer just as they were starting out. They’ve got me hooked! Farmhouse dry, especially on draft, smells like fruit and almost tastes like champagne upon first sip. Tart, dry, and insanely crisp. Excellent any time of year, and effervescent to the max!”
5) Longaniza anything at El Tepeyac. “This house-made Mexican sausage is the real deal. The rich notes of smoke and a slight sweetness give way to a beautifully balanced kick at the end. Sometimes its great in a burrito with chunky jalepenos and fresh avocado, other times it’s delicious enveloped in a cheese quesadilla. Yum!”
1) Garganelli with Butternut Squash, Kale, Caramelized Onions and Sage at Tavola. “Seeing it on the menu each year marks the beginning of the fall season and we just can’t get enough of it.”
2) Fried Oysters at the Cardinal Point Oyster Roast. “The Rappahannock River Oyster guys whip up an amazingly light and crispy batter that we crave all year. Mark your calendars for November 15-16. Great music, wine and OYSTERS!”
3) Bulk Spicy Sausage from Babes in the Woods. “We use it in pasta dishes and soups all year long, but especially love it this time of year paired with squash and kale. It is a staple in both of our homes! You can get it at the farmer’s market or at Relay Foods.”
4) Takeout from Pad Thai. “It’s so important to have good takeout options while trying to wrangle one-year-olds during the witching hour. Our favorites are the Tom Yum Noodle Bowl, the Green Papaya Salad, and the Garlic and Black Pepper Crispy Pork, which the Ouypron family made for us during our interview for the website. It’s not on the menu, but if you ask Jay nicely they will make it for you!”
5) Cupcakes and Shenandoah Joe Coffee at Sweethaus. “Our go-to afternoon meeting spot for a caffeine and sugar pick-me-up. We love the almond cupcakes! And, they just made their cookie dough frosting available by the tub! Enough said.”
Hillary Lewis, founder of LUMI Juice. Lewis’ picks:
1) Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies at Brookville. “This is hands down THE BEST dessert I’ve found in the city. Actually, everything Brookville does is amazing, from bacon popcorn to bacon waffles (you can tell they dominate when it comes to bacon). You can’t go wrong eating at this establishment on the downtown mall.”
2) Sushi at Now & Zen. “When I walk into this sushi restaurant, I instantly get a smile on my face. The staff is personable and the specials are always dynamic and flavorful. Whenever pomegranates are in season they use them, and combined with fish its a wonderful way to get not only your omega-3s, but also, antioxidants!”
3) Blanchard’s Coffee at La Taza. “Living in Belmont makes grabbing any meal at La Taza a seamless endeavor, and now they have Blanchard’s coffee from Richmond. Many of their blends are organic and all are full of flavor. Making your way to La Taza is definitely worth the drive!”
4) Late Night Menu at C&O. “I typically don’t get out of work at a reasonable ‘dinner time’ hour, and I’m always hungry! From cocktails to food, there is something for everyone on this menu. I love the charcuterie plate with their in-house brown mustard. It is happiness in a bite.”
5) Beer and Ambiance at Champion Brewing Company. “Every week I feel like Champion has a new beer that pushes the envelope with ingredients like cayenne or lavender. The atmosphere rocks – you can watch a sports game or the news, or hang outside for a game of corn hole with a cold beer. Not to mention, there’s always a delicious food truck.”
Allie Redshaw, Sous Chef of Pippin Hill. Redshaw’s picks:
1) Scallion Bubble Pancake at Taste of China. “We all know this is a ‘chefs’ favorite,’ so seemingly no surprise that I am giving recognition to this strip mall Chinese restaurant, but T.O.C. is so much more; always a friendly face greeting Ian and I at the door, and a pot of hot tea waiting on the table. Apart from their service, the food is impeccably authentic Szechuan cuisine. I could list at least ten dishes that are favorites of mine, but the Scallion Bubble Pancakes are golden brown and delicious with duck sauce and spicy mustard; and, the spicy, crispy duck with its whole Thai bird chilis, charred scallions, and overly crispy duck skin completes every meal!”
2) Malai Kofta at Royal Indian. “This place just having moved locations is absolutely on point. Their table service is absolutely wonderful, and the food also meets those standards. The malai kofta, which is my go-to, is a vegetarian option derived of curried vegetable ‘meatballs’ of sorts submerged into a delicious creamy sauce; accompanied with the perfectly cooked basmati rice and jasmine tea, it is a wonderful meal!”
3) Chicken at Al Carbon. “This small storefront has slowly become one of my favorite places to go, not only because of the smell and sound of fresh chicken skin crackling upon the rotisserie spit just inside the front door, but you truly get your money’s worth of food here. With a choice of either a quarter, half, or whole chicken, complete with three sides and a drink, you can easily feed two or three adults for less than $30.00. The chicken is seasoned, and perfectly juicy, the esquites (sweet corn with crema, queso, and cilantro), and the saffron rice; ALL to die for!”
4) Pork at The BBQ Exchange. “This hub of pork goodness is off the beaten path but well worth the commute. The bacon doughnuts, the dopest pulled pork, and the thick-cut house made bacon, all rock my socks off! MY favorite aspect of this restaurant is that the integrity and consistency of the food never waiver, despite their exorbitant number of customers served every day.”
5) Massaman Curry with Tofu at Monsoon Siam. “Last but not least, this Thai food has been a comfort food to me since I first moved to Charlottesville. The massaman curry with tofu is my go-to, it lends a little sweetness, with a spicy finish; and the brown rice is just as well cooked as the white. All of their food is comforting, hot, and delicious, authentic Thai. And they deliver :)”
Andrew Cole, co-owner and beverage director of Lampo. Cole’s picks:
1) Parliament at ZoCaLo. “Be it by choice or reputation, I can’t go to Zocalo without having at least one. Citrusy, balanced, and refreshing, this mojito/margarita riff with basil and Hendricks gin is as consistently delicious as the restaurant where you can find one.”
2) “Cherry Choke” at The Alley Light. “The team at The Alley Light is astounding. I love the depth of the wine list, the food is as creative and exciting as it is delicious, but it’s the cherry choke that keeps me sidled up to the bar. Admittedly, I am a sucker for Amaro, but Micah’s use of Cynar in this cocktail is particularly brilliant.”
3) Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet with Skillet Roasted Mussels at Tavola. “I would admit to a bit of bias on this one, but a glass of the Pepiere Muscadet with the skillet roasted mussels at Tavola is truly tough to beat. I know shellfish and muscadet is a bit cliché at this point, but in this case it’s a perfect foil for one of the best dishes in town.”
4) Jalapeño Margarita at Mono Loco. “A classic margarita with a healthy dose of jalapeño peppers, but don’t be intimidated because this drink really works. It’s spicy as hell, but that’s only fitting of brunch at Mono Loco, and you can balance it out with a shot of passion fruit if you don’t like the heat.”
5) Greyhound at C&O. “I’ve always appreciated the classics, and C&O defines the term. It’s a simple drink, but you can’t make it much better than they do at C&O. The whole bar program deserves applause, they’ve got a great whiskey collection, and an extensive list of interesting and obscure amaro.”
Micah LeMon, bar manager at The Alley Light. LeMon also writes about booze for C-VILLE, and his cocktails have won notice from publications like The Local Palate. He’s so skilled that when we go to The Alley Light we just let him make whatever he wants. LeMon’s picks:
1) Pastrami and Provolone on an Everything with lettuce, mayo, and tomato at Bodo’s. “Consistently the best sandwich I’ve ever had for around 5 bucks.”
2) Seared Greek Halloumi Cheese with ouzo and tomatoes at Orzo. “I love this dish so much. It tastes like delicious pizza for grown ups. That and and a bottle of Albarino and it’s going to be a good night.”
3) Anything with Garlic Alioli at MAS. “It is the most rich, delicious dippy sauce. It also promises hours of garlic burps for the immediate future, which I like.”
4) Wings and Beer at McGrady’s. “Good wings, good beer, and good times. Everyone needs a pub in their neighborhood, and McGrady’s is great one in mine. I try to go once a week to catch up with friends over trivia.”
5) Drinks, especially in the winter, at C&O. “When the cold weather comes, I love catching a drink in the cozy, gnarled, bar downstairs. It’s the kind of place where you want to go to sit, drink, and have hours-long conversation.”
Alfredo Malinis, Jr., chef of Parallel 38. Malinis’ picks:
1) Triple Cheeseburger at Riverside Lunch. “I love everything about this place. The staff, the food, and the ‘hometown secret’ feel. Triple cheeseburger is a must.”
2) Risotto at Vivace. “The risotto is the best I’ve had in a long time.”
3) Crispy Shredded Beef at Kyoto. “Incredible. If I could eat this every day, I would. My fiance won’t let me!”
4) Pancit at Little Manila. “Little Manila and Got Dumplings are must stops at the Saturday morning market. If the farmer’s market was open every day, I would still go just for those two stands. The pancit is just like my father makes!”
5) BBQ at Pasture. “Three letters. BBQ.”
1) Monte Cristo at West Main. “You can’t go wrong with a well-made Monte Cristo. Also a great place for brunch.”
2) Ham and Cheese Croissant at Paradox Pastry. “The perfect on-the-go breakfast.”
3) Iced Coffee at La Taza. “The best iced coffee in town. It doesn’t even need sugar. Strong but super smooth.”
4) Smoked Trout Sandwich at Blue Moon Diner. “Nice to just sit at the bar, listening to music.”
5) Papas Bravas at MAS Tapas. “The only thing you really need on a late Friday night is a good drink and potatoes with aioli.”
Donnie Glass, chef of Public Fish & Oyster. Glass’s picks:
1) Any Dessert at Fossett’s Restaurant at Keswick Hall. “The pastry chef, Jenn Riesman, is crazy talented, and her desserts are spot on. Her IPA ice cream, sticky toffee pudding, and chocolate cake are all life changing.”
2) Gorditas Al Pastor from La Michoacana. “Always seasoned and spicy. My favorite gluttonous lunch for under $10.”
3) Sweetbreads with a glass of Champagne at the C&O. “I have a lot of respect for Chef Dean running a restaurant that never takes such a gem of a protein off the menu when it is not guaranteed to sell. Sweetbreads aren’t for everyone, but it was great to see them done well when I got here.”
4) Cured Meats and Sourdough at Tavola. “All of those guys could run kitchens themselves, but instead they pool their resources and make EVERYTHING from scratch (and it’s great too).”
5) Pork Belly and Scallion Pancake appetizers at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “I honestly had no idea how you make that pancake until I asked.”
Mitchell Beerens, co-owner of Lampo. Beerens’ picks:
1) Cheese Plate at Flora Artisanal Cheese. “This little cheese counter hidden in the back of a coffee shop is truly a Charlottesville treasure. Nadjeeb Chouaf is one of the most knowledgeable cheesemongers I’ve worked with. He has everything from the best imported mozzarella to local treats like Twenty Paces ricotta.”
2) Vegetarian Blue Plate at Hamiltons’. “My favorite lunch on the downtown mall. I order it every time and can only hope that whomever I’m with will let me have a bite of what they ordered so I can sample some of the other offerings.”
3) Vella Jack Cheese Fritters at Zocalo. “My go-to appetizer at the most consistent restaurant in town. You can always count on this dish coming out perfect. It’s both sophisticated and fun. Just like the place that it is served.”
4) Truffle Fries at Citizen Burger Bar. “French fries are my favorite food on earth. At Citizen they use a special potato that creates a truly superior fry. Combined with truffle oil and Parmesan they are a real treat.”
5) Beef Tendon and Tripe in Szechuan Chili Sauce at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “This is a very ‘chefy’ dish. All of the bits and pieces that no one else wants expertly prepared and transformed into something greater than the sum of its parts. I can’t go to this restaurant without ordering three of four items. It’s a fatty’s paradise.”
Dean Maupin chef-owner of C&O restaurant. Maupin’s picks:
1) French Macarons from Albemarle Baking Company. “They are just so well done, as is everything they bake there! They put such a huge smile on my kid’s faces when I bring some home.”
2) Dinner at TEN. “I wish I could eat there every day, easily some of the most well executed and tasty food around. Remember Pei’s pop up Handsome Boy Noodles, off the charts.”
3) Charcuterie from The Rock Barn. “We offer a plate of it here at the C&O – braunschweiger, Daisy Della, coppa, it’s all right on the money. Their andouille, kielbasa and bacon are great as well.”
4) Manti at Sultan Kebab. “Offered as a special from time to time, you may want to call ahead for this one, very special and full of Turkish soul, proprietors Deniz and Serhat have it on point!”
5) Caterpillar Roll at Kabuto. “I inhale this dish whenever I go there, very clean flavors and great service!”
Dave Fafara, owner of Shenandoah Joe. Fafara’s picks:
1) Pickles at Barbeque Exchange. “I ask for a smorgasbord of each type as I’m chowing down a brisket sandwich.”
2) Jack’s Java Espresso Stout from Three Notch’d Brewing Company. “A blend of my two favorite beverages, beer and joe.”
4) The Lunch Special at Harris Teeter. “6 inch sub, bag of chips, and sweet tea for $4.99. Perfect for me as I go from pool to pool.”
5) Patatas Riojanas at MAS Tapas. “It’s like Lay’s potato chips, you can’t have just one. Chorizo potato hash with an egg on top. Not always on the menu, but when it is, gotta have it.”
Doug McLeod, chef of Duner’s. McLeod’s picks:
1) Chicken and Waffles at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. “One of my guilty pleasures, best Southern food in town.”
2) Dried Fried Eggplant Szechuan Style at Taste of China. “I find myself craving them. And the service is always friendly.”
3) Chorizo Taco at La Tako Nako. “My late night Mexican fix.”
4) Lamb Saagwala at Maharaja. “I also love the smell of incense and vibrant Indian decor.”
5) Popeye Pizza at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “Lots of whole garlic. Vegetarian favorite. Plus anecdotes from Mike McCarthy.”
Stephanie Williams of La Vache Microcreamery. Williams’ picks:
1) Passionfruit Cheesecake at The Alley Light. “There is not a better dessert on any menu in Charlottesville. Jose de Brito is a master of the kitchen – if he cooked a shoe there is no doubt I would eat it and it would be delicious.” (Note: kudos also belong to pastry chef Robin McDaniel.)
2) Brioche from Albemarle Baking Company. “Nothing says Saturday morning like buttery flaky french toast made from ABC’s brioche with real maple syrup.”
3) Chef’s Tasting Menu at the Clifton Inn. “Chef Tucker Yoder knows how to highlight the ‘terroir’ of vegetables unlike anything I have ever experienced before – always with an unexpected twist, always with very few and simple ingredients, always delicious. Put your taste buds in Tucker’s hands for an evening.”
Sara Adduci, cheesemonger of Feast!. Adduci’s picks:
1) Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. “I just adore breakfast and brunch foods and these are simply fantastic! It’s truly hard for me to pick a single item in this category, because I also have a big crush on the ginger scones from Albemarle Baking Company and the BFP (big f****ing pancake) with bacon from Brookville.”
2) Spanish Tuna Salad and White Bean Salad from Feast! with Pea Shoots from Manakintowne Specialty Growers. “Mix these three items together in a bowl and you get my ever-so-lazy, non-cooking, dinner or lunch more often than I care to admit.”
3) African Curry Powder from The Spice Diva. “Simply saute any gorgeous, local veggies that suit your fancy with garlic, onions, and this flavorful, not too hot, green curry, top with toasted pine nuts and serve over the nutty, Kagayaki 6 Grain Rice blend from Seafood @ West Main. Delish.”
4) Farmhouse Dry Cider from Potter’s Craft Cider. “I love this stuff, in all its bone dry, bubbly, apple-y glory. It is great on its own and also great as a cocktail mixer. I like it with the brown liquors, but I seriously think you could use it wherever club soda is called for with great success. I have some mulberry gin steeping and I look forward to trying them together.”
5) Linguica Sausage from The Rock Barn. “I just can’t get over my deep affection for this Portuguese style sausage. I make a simple marinara with a couple of links of this sausage pulled from the casing, add fresh sheep and goat milk ricotta from Twenty Paces, some fresh spinach or basil and serve it over pasta. Then, the next day I take the leftover sauce, add black beans, and serve an over-easy egg on top. So good.”
Spencer Crawford, sous chef of Palladio Restaurant.
1) Virginia Apple Cider from Bold Rock Hard Cider. “What I drink almost all the time. Not a bad place to go and hang out either.”
2) Spudnuts from Spudnuts. “All of them. There’s a reason it has been on a lot of people’s list. Best in town or anywhere else.”
3) Pulled Pork Sandwich and Hushpuppies from BBQ Exchange. “Smoky pork-a-liciousness. ‘Nuff said.”
4) Tie between Loaded Footlongs from Jak’n Jil and Bacon Cheeseburgers from Riverside Lunch. “Both places have been around forever. Never been disappointed.”
5) Pancakes from Tip Top. “Good simple food done the same way every time.”
Michael Shaps of Virginia Wineworks’.
1) Mushroom Crepes at The Alley Light. “I was there recently with the whole staff of the Wineworks. We were a fairly large group lounging on the couches and sharing plates. The plates of crepes barely made it halfway around before we needed to order more. Nobody wanted to share these!”
2) Croissants at Albemarle Baking Company. “They remind me of the croissants I get in Meursault. Fresh, flaky, buttery. No need for jam.”
3) Vegetable Soup at C&O. “We eat this for lunch during harvest. It’s on the late-night menu at the restaurant and would be great then, too. It is light but satisfying, seasonal and delicious.”
4) Cheese from Feast! “No matter what you are looking for, they will have it and help you find it. The service at the cheese counter is friendly and enthusiastic and the cheeses are of the highest quality, best selection outside of Fromagerie Hess in Beaune.”
5a) Country Pate from JM Stock Provisions. “It is smoky and wrapped in bacon. What more could you want?”
5b) Martinis at Bang! “My current favorite is Da Bomb Basil. So darn refreshing on a hot night.”
Laura Jawitz, baker at Greenwood Gourmet.
1) Cheeseburger, “All the Way” at Riverside Lunch. “I love a huge, fancy, grass-fed burger, but there’s a deep truth to the Riverside burger that really speaks to me. It’s always seasoned perfectly, just the right size at four ounces, and really tastes of flat-top (which is like the terroir of greasy-spoon joints) in the best possible way.”
2) Glazed Spudnut at Spudnuts. “This cloud-like and ethereal pastry is just perfect. I can’t think of a way to improve it, and I also can’t eat just one.”
3) Fried Chicken at Wayside Takeout & Catering. “Wayside chicken is so aggressively seasoned that I almost prefer it cold the next day; especially if it’s eaten out of a cooler that’s caught in the net of an inner tube floating down the James River.”
4) Hot and Numbing Tofu Skins at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “I still can’t believe that Charlottesville has Szechuan food that rivals some of New York City’s best fringe Chinese food. The tofu skins have that perfect balance of spicy, sour, salty and earthy that all great Szechuan food has, plus an addictive chewy texture. Might be one of the top five things I’ve ever eaten in my life, no joke.”
5) Budweiser at Durty Nelly’s Pub. “I think that all good dive bars possess certain qualities, and minus cheap whiskey, Durty Nelly’s has just about all of them . . . solid tunes on the juke, friendly but not chatty bartenders, an assortment of arcade games, and very cold beer.”
The team at Twenty Paces sheep dairy.
1) Glazed Spudnut from Spudnuts. Bridge Cox says that “a simple glazed spudnut from Spudnuts is all I need. Perfectly yeasty and glazed with just a bit of crunch.”
2) Turkey Croissant from Blue Ridge Pig. Kyle Kilduff says that the only thing he craves as much as Dr. Ho’s nachos (see #5), is Blue Ridge Pig’s turkey croissant. “Criminally underrated. And, just as good for breakfast the next day.”
3) Plain Bagel with Cream Cheese from Bodo’s. Herd manager Tom Pyne says he has to get up and go quickly, but still makes time to prepare his toasted plain bagels with cream cheese, which he says he devours with wild abandon.
4) Apricot Jam from Jam According to Daniel with HomeSlice from Sub Rosa Bakery. Melanie Pyne says she likes HomeSlice bread from Richmond’s Sub Rosa with butter and apricot jam for “a tasty breakfast snack with ‘The Girls.’”
5) NacHo’s at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. The team says that they often “quantify budget and lactation numbers, sketch big dreams, and figure out new ways to find private investors over Dr. Ho’s nachos and a pitcher of Long Hammer IPA.”
Jeanette Peabody, chef of Oakhurst Inn, adjacent to UVa’s South Lawn.
1) Spicy Italian Sausage from Double H Farm. “It’s highly seasoned with lots of fennel and perfectly salted. Packs a serious punch and you can create any meal out of it. I used to buy it from my favorite farmer Richard Bean and thank goodness Ara is carrying on the recipe. You can buy it from him at the City Market.”
2) Eating at the Bar at Hamiltons’. “It’s the best bar service in town. You won’t get treated better by anybody than Daniel Page. Curtis has a real knack for home-made pasta. We’re still dreaming about the gnocchi he and Hannah made for the Hill & Holler dinner at Montalto.”
3) Margaritas at Mono Loco. “Mike Lewis is the consummate comic host. On a whim he will create a new margarita with seasonal ingredients. I like the spicy cucumber.”
4) Red Row cheese from Caromont Farm. “This melty deliciousness made such an impression on me I immediately decided to use it on the baked eggs at Oakhurst Inn. I need to have it close by at all times.”
5) Thai Mussels at Public Fish & Oyster. “I’ve only been there once but it’s my new favorite place for now. You can do an oyster tasting starting with a briny Virginia people-pleaser leading up to a full-flavored Katama Bay. Chef Matty’s Thai Mussels are amazing.”
Todd Grieger, Executive Chef of Red Pump · A Tuscan Kitchen.
1) Pork Belly at BBQ Exchange. “Smoked pork belly?! What else is there to say? It’s just delicious. Covered in Colonel Bacon sauce and Hog Fire sauce . . . that’s legit.”
2) Prix Fixe Menu at The Shack. “Ian is super talented and the food is awesome. It’s the best deal to eat the food of one of the best chefs in the area.”
3) Spencer Crawford’s Salumi at Palladio. “I’ve eaten salumi all over, and his is just fantastic – best I’ve had.”
4) Bocadillo at MAS. “I don’t get in there as much as I like but the chefs there (Ketola and Mick) are my peeps. When I worked there I would eat one every day with smoked tomato aioli. It’s tasty.”
5) Biscuits at Maya. “If you want fluffy and delicious biscuits that are the real deal then you have to get the biscuits at Maya. They are a rite of passage, working the veg station there, and Christian’s biscuits are the benchmark I try to achieve when I make them. My favorite snack when I worked there was two biscuits and ham gravy with Tabasco sauce.”
Brian Jones, chef of Petit Pois.
1) Pepperoni Pizza and Grape Soda at Vinny’s Pizza & Pasta in Ruckersville. “Just like the local pizzeria in my town where I grew up. While I can’t put down the grape soda like I used to as a kid, this combination makes me feel like I’m 14 again.”
2) Original Tart Yogurt with Oreo Cookie Crumbs at Sweet Frog. “With my six and seven year old girls, these Sweet Frog dates are always sweet times.”
3) Olive Thyme Levain at Albemarle Baking Company. “Toast a slice for breakfast to go with your coffee.”
4) Spicy Tuna Tartar at ZoCaLo. “Super clean flavors with a little bit of spice. A great way to replenish some calories after a hard night’s work. Probably the most consistent restaurant in town. They’re always on point.”
5) Mussels from Seafood @ West Main. “The place to grab a bag of mussels before your next party, or any seafood for that matter. Petit Pois Restaurant sources all of their seafood through Seafood @ West Main. Everything is always super fresh. Pristine quality fish.”
1) Drunken Noodles with Beef at Pad Thai. “The first time I went to Pad Thai was shortly after they opened. I was eight months pregnant and with three other very pregnant friends. We devoured half the menu and were in ecstasy. Within an hour of my son being born, I was begging my mother to go get me this dish. Nothing ever tasted better.”
2) Lobster Roll from Foods of All Nations. “When in town doing the mad errand dash, I more often than not find myself stopping for this quick lunch. Theirs is the best to-go sushi in town. And the lobster roll is my favorite!”
3) Orange Martini at Fardowners. “Order only one . . . trust me.”
4) Bratwurst and Fall Sown Spinach from Double H Farm. “Richard was a close friend and I will miss him dearly. What a blessing Ara and Gayane are here to carry on what he started. The brats are perfect and if you are lucky enough to get some of the spinach they have right now, saute lightly and they are perfect together. Their soil grows great greens.”
5) Princess Cake from Albemarle Baking Company. “I haven’t had a slice in a long time, but I still hear it call to me all the way out here in Crozet. There are some combinations that are just perfect.”
Nadjeeb Chouaf of Flora Artisanal Cheese,
1) Maiale Milanese at Tavola. “I can’t say enough about how much I love Tavola. Andrew runs a fantastic wine list and always has something new and funky for me to try, and Loren and his crew are flawless in the kitchen. This dish is my go to. Rock Barn pork served over veggies with great acidity.”
2) Chicken Kebob at Grand Market. “This Afghani market across from the Greyhound station is run by Abdul Rahim and his four sons. Hands down the best kebobs in town. Make sure to ask for extra sauce, you’ll want to dip everything in it.”
3) Peri Peri Chicken at Shebeen. “I love spicy food and the peri peri chili from South Africa is at the perfect point of spiciness without overwhelming everything else.”
4) Tart Berliner Weisse at Champion Brewing Company. “Champion’s take on a cloudy sour wheat beer from Germany, the Tart is low alcohol, refreshing and the perfect warm weather beer. With rumors that they might start canning it, I see a lot being consumed this summer.”
5) Pinot Noir at 22Brix. “The remote tasting room for Ankida Ridge winery that opened next to Bang! last fall has exposed a lot of people to wine from what is probably one of the top three wineries in the state. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay remind me of classic Burgundy wines.”
Ben Thompson of the pork butcher The Rock Barn.
1) The Gyro at The Ivy Inn. “This is not always on the menu, but just pop in the back door and tell the guys to stop service and make you one.”
3) Steel Wheels ESB from The Barrel House of Blue Mountain Brewery. “Great balance of drinkability and complexity. My ‘go to’ when it is available. Growlers or cans.”
4) Citra Hops Kombucha from Nugget’s Raw Kombucha. “Straightforward. Gets you right. Brings you back.
5) The Rock Barn Bratwurst at Beer Run. “Shameless plug. Proud to have my sausage in their hands. They do a great job.”
Stu Rifkin, the restaurateur and real estate maven.
1) Cherry Star at Spudnuts. “Or any donut frankly. We are truly blessed to have such a simply perfect donut shop in town. CW Llad immortalized the Cherry Star in a poem on the back page of C-VILLE many years ago. I’ve been consuming them regularly ever since.”
2) Pepperoni Pizza at Whole Foods. “Sad but true that some of the best pie in town comes from a grocery store. It’s not consistent, but when they get it right it’s unsurpassed deliciousness.”
3) Bambino Cone at Splendora’s. “Choose a flavor and get a small scoop on a tiny cone. It’s a perfect palate cleanser and a tasty treat. Salted Caramel Gelato or Grapefuit Sorbetto works for me.”
4) Tacos Campechanos at Don Panchito Taco truck on 29N. “I’ve tried them all and these guys knock it out of the park. The campechanos combine carne asada and chorizo.”
5) Smoked Turkey Croissant, Potato Salad and Limeade at The Blue Ridge Pig. “Their Dill Sauce is transcendent. I would eat anything they put it on.”
Emily Pelton, Winemaker at Veritas Vineyards and Winery.
1) Chirashi and a Hendricks Dirty Martini at the bar at TEN. “My favorite quick, de-stress dinner.”
2) Burger and Blanc de Blancs at Brookville. “It is outstanding and creative, and perfectly balanced, even in its over-the-top nature. My favorite meal to share with a friend and a bottle of Thibaut–Janisson, Cuvee D’Etat 2008.”
3) Fried Chicken and a Hangar Hound at The Whiskey Jar. “It’s my favorite comfort food on the mall. I love Will Richey’s passion for good traditional recipes, and his passion for local and fresh.”
4) Bangkok Mussels at Public Fish & Oyster. “One of my new favorite dishes. There is possibly no better meal than moules frites, and they do a great job of keeping it classic with a really flavorful twist.”
5) Fried Oysters and Barboursville Pinot Grigio at Three Notch’d Grill. “A wonderful combination of savory crunchy friedness and fresh zestiness.”
Chris Areneault, owner of Seafood @ West Main.
1) Kim-chee Fried Rice at The Korean House. “There is great, authentic Korean food in C’ville but it is served in a most unpretentious manner. Relax and enjoy.”
2) Fried Calamari at Pizza Bella. “With the house marinara (no cheese please), it is a meal by itself.”
3) Lunch Buffet at Royal Indian. “Fresh naan delivered to your table at a lunch buffet? Yes! I typically go on Friday after a long week of serving my precious customers . . . love you all!”
4) Blackened Catfish Sandwich at The Whiskey Jar. “This will make a southern boy speechless.”
5) My favorite fish…Hamachi (seriola quinqueradiata). “Sashimi is the quintessential manner to consume this beautiful fish.”
Josh Lowry, sous chef of Zocalo.
1) Thai Beef Consomme Noodle Bowl at Pad Thai. “Rich, brothy, crunchy, sweet, sour, savory. It’s everything in a bowl . . . the best!”
2) Pastrami and Swiss on an Onion Bagel with mustard at Bodo’s. “We are extremely lucky to have a place like this in Charlottesville. Let’s not take it for granted.”
3) The Classic #1 at Chick-fil-A. “My alltime favorite restaurant. When I was a kid they always had sweet old ladies out front with free chicken samples. I always walked by a second time for another free taste . . . they almost always let me.”
4) Dan Dan Noodles at Taste of China. “I know most folks have gone over to Peter Chang’s new spot but this is my go-to. Again, Charlottesville is lucky to have a place like this.”
5. Burrata at Tavola. “If you haven’t been . . . go!”
Matt Turner, Chef of Public Fish & Oyster. Turner’s picks:
1) Tacos at La Michoacána. “The meats, the tortillas, the house-made condiment bar, it’s all good. I have a 4 taco per week habit.”
2) Fried Chicken at Brown’s. ”I live two blocks from a fried chicken joint yet I choose to drive across town for Brown’s. The sides really push them over the top.”
3) Crispy Beef Salad at Thai 99 (Fontaine Location Only). “I used to frequent Thai restaurants in the DC metro area and always had a romance with Thai crispy duck salad. This is the best representation one can get locally. It’s everything all at once: sweet, sour, salty, savory, nutty, citrusy, fresh and packed with umami.”
4) The Bellissima at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “Chain pizza should hang its head in shame.”
5) Wood Fired Bread at MAS Tapas. “The arts and disciplines of artisanal food are dying slow deaths in today’s corporate monopoly dominated world. The oven alone at Mas is a local treasure. The bread that comes out if it is something to behold.”
Jose De Brito, Chef of The Alley Light. De Brito’s picks:
1) Croissant at Albemarle Baking Company. “Having grown up in Paris, I am always looking for good French food. The croissants at ABC are my way to not be too home sick. They are very well made.”
2) Kabuli Palow at Ariana. “I generally do takeout once a month, and Ariana’s lamb dish is always my choice. Perfectly seasoned rice, nice stewed lamb and the carrot & raisin relish is tasty. I need to stage there so I can learn how to make those carrots.”
3) Maiale Milanese at Tavola. “One of the fortes of Tavola is the use of acidity in the kitchen. A little bit of lemon juice will make your food shine. My girlfriend also loves the clams (I do too), never a single grain of sand.”
4) Lunch Buffet at Himalayan Fusion. “Buffets have never been my cup of tea but the one at Himalayan Fusion breaks my rule, sometimes twice a week. I come early for freshness. A plate of food from scratch and always seasoned properly for $7? Best value in C-ville.”
5) Coffee at Shenandoah Joe. “My coffee is black with no sugar, so I am sensitive to burnt coffee. Shenandoah’s coffee is perfectly roasted.”
1) Eggs and Grits at The Pigeon Hole. “This relatively new Elliewood Avenue spot on the Corner is kitschy, fun, and cozy. The food is good, the people are good, and it’s a great addition to the Corner. It feels like one of those ‘been there forever’ breakfast joints in the Low Country.”
2) “Grab and Go” Sandwiches at Feast!. “They are all fast and easy and oh-so-good (they only make like 3 or 4 types), and the store itself is awesome. The amazing level of staff product knowledge at the cheese and meat counter is enough to make any restaurateur question their training program.”
3) Flat-top Burgers at Riverside Lunch. “Grease everywhere, crispy edges, thick raw white onion, gooey American, and they’re served blazing hot. When they’re on their game, they’re the best greasy spoon burger around. Plus I never really recommend getting gourmet burgers (or any large burger really) to go. Old school flat-top hamburgers travel really well . . . and sometimes gorging at home is all you want. True burger lovers know that small diner-style burgers and large gourmet burgers aren’t really in the same universe, but they both can be perfect depending on one’s mood, and Riverside always helps my mood.”
4) Steak at the Downtown Grill. “I love Mas…and I love TEN…and I love Continental, but sometimes you just need a giant steak, some raw oysters, and potatoes done 10 ways. Gimme a bar stool, a well-cooked piece of meat, and a big red wine and I’m quite content. I can’t wait to see their renovations. In addition, I consider our little city so lucky to have a downtown area like we do, so an after dinner stroll on the mall is hard to beat.”
5) Late Night Cheese Breadsticks from The College Inn. “The Corner is overlooked too often. It’s one of the oldest areas of town and offers the best bar crawl in the city. Though it has many food and drink staples, there’s nothing better for soaking up the booze after a night of excess than a nice delivery of cheese breadsticks with ranch from College Inn.”
1) Marrow from Ham Hocks from The Rock Barn. “To have Ben Thompson working his craft in Nelson County is a local foodie’s dream realized.”
2) Nachos at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “I got tricked into ordering these one time and I barely saved room for the pizza.”
4) Datil con tocino at MAS. “The fact that Tomas is a vocal leader and supporter of the City Schoolyard Garden makes these taste even better.”
5) Eight Point IPA from Devil’s Backbone. “I often tell people that I’m heading up to Wintergreen to do some skiing but I usually don’t make it past the brewery.”
Bill Scatena, sous chef at Pippin Hill Farm Table & Wine Bar. Scatena’s picks:
1) Crispy Yucca with Salsa Verde at El Tepeyac. “Authentic, Salvadoran cuisine done up in an approachable way. The yucca is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.”
2) Bloody Mary and Eggs Benedict at The Pigeon Hole. “A hidden, local spot on the UVA corner. Cross your fingers when trying to get in for Sunday morning brunch, but well worth the wait – especially for a spicy bloody mary. You can never go wrong with a bloody mary, especially when it’s in a mason jar – it’s always good.”
3) Kale Salad at Tavola. “Everything about Tavola’s kale salad is memorable. I’m not a huge salad guy, but the combination of sweet and salty flavors gets me every time.”
4) The Hell Sandwich at BBQ Exchange. “I love spicy food. I love BBQ. It’s made by Brooks Tanner…enough said.”
5) Dried Fried Eggplant at Taste of China. “Favorite dish in town, hands down. It gets better every time I eat it. It takes a lot of skill to make this dish with a crispy, flaky texture on the outside, yet light and airy on the inside. You have to try it.”
Richard Ridge of Restoration. Ridge’s picks:
1) Country Ham and Apple Chutney Sandwich at Greenwood Gourmet. “It’s been on the specials board for as long as I can remember and I hope David and Nina never take it off. This sandwich is perfect. Fresh bread from Goodwin Creek Farm & Bakery and a balance of salt and sweetness from the country ham and chutney.”
2) Smoked Jalapeño Meatloaf Sandwich at SouthFork Food Truck. “Phil has a great selection of comfort food that is uniquely him. It’s based in Southern food but he draws from so many other influences. Whenever I see his truck I stop and buy this sandwich. The tartness of the green tomato salsa and the perfect toast on his sourdough bread make this a sandwich that you pick up once and don’t put down until its gone.”
3) Bellissima Pizza at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “A heaping pile of arugula dressed in a lemon vinaigrette on top of a country ham and fresh mozzarella pie. I love the feeling of the place and the staff too.”
4) Profiteroles at Petit Pois. “House made vanilla ice cream fills up cream puff pastries and is topped by warm ganache. Every element is done so well and they come together perfectly.”
5) El Te Caldo de Res Con Arroz at El Tepeyac. “This soup is a full meal with short rib, yucca, and potatoes with rice, onions, and cilantro served on the side. It’s warm and comforting, just like the owners and staff. This place used to be a counter in the back of a general store. Now they’ve built it out into a full restaurant. A lot of times when places expand something gets lost in translation. They’ve avoided that pitfall completely and I love having this restaurant as an option in Charlottesville.”
1) “Newest addiction.” Notorious P.I.G. at Ivy Provisions. “A charcuterie-lover’s dream in some of the best baguette outside of Paris. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to write a sandwich menu. It’s HARD! PK Kamath at Ivy Provisions has crushed it with inventive deli sandwiches and a killer beer and wine selection.”
2) “Classic.” Escargot at Petit Pois. “Anything at Petit Pois! I have found myself on a gorgeous fall day, three bottles of wine deep (not alone), ordering a third and fourth plate. Restaurant folk don’t often get out for dinner. Petit Pois’ super affordable, perfectly executed bistro offerings are about as good as a daytime meal gets.”
3) “Afghan.” Lamb Curry at Afghan Grand Market. “WOW. A couple of months ago I ran into the Grand Market International to buy chick pea flour and za’atar. They have a kitchen in the back complete with a ceramic flatbread oven and kebab range. OK, I obviously don’t know the correct names for these pieces of equipment, but WOW. The lamb curry is phenomenal as well as the mixed grill and all the sides. I know because one of the sons ensured I tried eveything my first time in!”
4) “Joe.” Kenyan AA from Shenandoah Joe. “It’s as close to the first cup of coffee I ever had as I can get. Not to mention I just feel good every time I walk in to the Preston Avenue store. Ask for yours with a side of Dave Fafara. It’s well worth it.”
5) “Beer.” Trader Saison at Three Notch’d Brewing Company. “First of all, so much gratitude to Devils Backbone for pioneering the Central Virginia beer scene. The boys at Three Notch’d are making you proud. The Trader Saison is out of this world. Even unconditioned. Even uncarbonated right out of the steel. Derek and Co. keep it up!”
Jason Oliver, Brewmaster at Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Oliver’s picks:
1) Lasagna at Beer Run. “It doesn’t matter if it’s meat or vegetarian. Every lasagna I’ve had at Beer Run is delicious, served smothered in bubbling cheese that’s hotter than the surface of the sun. Let it cool for a few minutes and you’ll have some great comfort food, plus an awesome beer selection.”
2) Shishito Peppers at Citizen Burger Bar. “They are simple, straightforward, and delicious. Flash fried peppers with an Asian inspired sauce that’s semi-sweet and salty. Most of the time the peppers are mild but it’s a little like roulette because you may land on a hot one which can light you up.”
3) Durban Spiced Chicken at The Shebeen. “The Shebeen has a great relaxed feel to it and is unique for it’s South African inspired foods and atmosphere. Durban Spiced Chicken is a peri-peri spiced chicken breast served with the South African staple mealie pap (think savory grits) and a sauce called “Voodoo” which is spicy and awesome. I usually ask for additional side of Voodoo sauce.”
4) Mediterranean Salad with Wood-Roasted Salmon at Brixx Pizza. “Sometimes I want a cool refreshing dinner-sized salad and I have found few better. The salad bowl is chilled, the lettuce crisp, the portion ample, with the blackened salmon hot, well seasoned, and straight from the wood fired oven. Simple and pure. A perfect salad when you want a light meal.”
5) Cheeseburgers at Riverside Lunch. “I was turned on to Riverside just a few months ago and they are really that good. Riverside also has one of the best prices on local bottled craft beer in Charlottesville which makes the combination of awesome old school burgers and affordable beer a no brainer.”
Justin Ross, of Parallel 38. Ross’s picks:
1) Cabrito Tacos Mexican Style at La Michoacana. “Roasted habanero marinated goat. Need I say more? Chicken tacos and a bottled coke is a very close second.”
2) Beef with Mixed Peppers on Hot Iron Plate at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “I rarely go a full week without this dish. The beef is amazingly tender with the perfect amount of heat. Peter Chang is a magician.”
3) Martinis and Meatballs at the bar at Vivace. “Their meatballs might be better than my mom’s, sorry mom! Coming from an Italian family, good Italian is a must. The only thing that makes this meal better is Paulie and his amazing Kettle One martinis.”
4) Veal Sweetbreads at C&O. “I’m not sure what’s better about our regular C&O date night, a much needed break with my lovely lady or the sweetbreads.”
5) Potter’s Farmhouse Cider and Will Richey’s House Smoked BBQ at The Whiskey Jar. “The perfect end to a long day or the best start to a long night.”
Stuart Madany, cidermaker at Castle Hill Cider. Madany’s picks:
1) Apple Kraut from Farmstead Ferments. “Naturally fermented red and green cabbage, apples and a spice blend including allspice and juniper. Crunch, tang, and aromatics. Surprisingly addictive.”
2) Esmontonian from Caromont Farm. “An aged raw goat’s milk tomme cheese. Wonderfully nutty and complex. Artisanal comfort food.”
3) Red Curry at Lime Leaf. “I find Thai food to pair wonderfully with cider, and this is one of my local favorites.”
5) Elderflower Sunrise kombucha from Barefoot Bucha. “Great balance, delicious, sustainable.”
Chuck Shelton, cider maker at Albemarle Ciderworks. Shelton’s picks:
2) Caramel Apples by Rachel Willis. “Rachel can usually be found baking for her ‘Cakes by Rachel’ label or selling homemade caramel apples at local markets and festivals. Anything she makes is delicious. I just finished a caramel apple with pecans and cranberries before writing this. Yum.”
3) Belmont at Bellair Market. “Bellair Market is a classic staple for Charlottesville residents. I’ve never had anything from the market that I didn’t like. My favorite would have to be the Belmont.”
4) Meat in Charlottesville. “This sounds very generic but the local meat products in the Charlottesville region are fantastic. I go for bratwurst, sausages, and beef from The Rock Barn, Croftburn Market, and Gryffon’s Aerie, among others. And, of course, all are very complementary to cider!”
5) Red Row from Caromont Farm. “When I am in the mood for cheese, any of Gail’s cheeses satisfy but the Red Row is my favorite.”
Bill Justus, Executive Chef of The Boar’s Head Inn. Justus’ picks:
1) Linzer Cookie at Foods of All Nations. “Beautifully decorative sandwich cookies. Great store with an extensive selection of choices, and knowledgeable, helpful, and courteous staff. A Charlottesville institution for more than 50 years.”
2) Spicy Chicken Wings at Fardowners. “The essence of pub fare. Good vibe . . . comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Friendly, attentive service. The beer doesn’t get much more local than at Fardowners.”
3) Burger at West Main. “Unfailing. Burgers are always hardy and flavorful.”
4) Enchiladas Camino at Baja Bean Co. “The shredded meats and the perfectly melted queso blanco sprinkled with fresh cilantro. Good place for a quick lunch. Always fresh and consistent.”
5) Pizza at Fabio’s. “Pizza is always on the mark. Again, a great place for a quick meal. Lots of parking, casual dining with indoor and outdoor seating.”
Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider. Flynt’s picks:
1) Apples from Vintage Virginia Apples. “Apples of course! Vintage Virginia offers many heirloom varieties, packed full of interesting flavor, with much more to offer than ‘sweet’ and ‘tart.’ Grimes Golden is my favorite sweet apple to mix in a pie, and the famous Albemarle Pippin, a spicy apple, tastes even better a few weeks off the tree.”
2) Bloomsbury cheese from Caromont. “Gail Hobbs-Page has won lots of acclaim, and for good reason. Her Bloomsbury cheese, made with milk from Silky Cow Farm is fantastic with a slice of tart apple. Sara, the genius cheesemonger at Feast!, says this cheese is more complex than Brie, with soft texture and mushroom notes. Agreed.”
3) Doughnuts at Brookville Restaurant. “Harrison Keevil fries a mean doughnut. The Wine Spectator recently wrote about his little sugary gems. While still warm, Harrison pipes in a dollop of apple butter, the seasoning of the season. You can’t eat just one.”
4) Candied Apple Cocktail at The Whiskey Jar. “For drinks, I often head to The Whiskey Jar and this time of year enjoy a Candied Apple Cocktail. Made with Bowman Brothers Whiskey, caramel brown sugar simple syrup, lots of lemon to balance things out, Foggy Ridge First Fruit Cider, and a cinnamon apple slice to top, this drink shouts ‘autumn.’”
5) Autumn Omelet at Beer Run. “For an apple grower, brunch is a rare treat. But when possible I head to Beer Run for their Autumn Omelet (El Otono) with roasted butternut squash, Yukon gold potatoes, Vermont goat cheese and, of course, apples . . . and just savor being warm, dry, and off the tractor.”
Penn Webster, sous chef of The Ivy Inn Restaurant. Webster’s picks:
1) Cheeseburger at Riverside Lunch. “I order mine with chili, onions, mustard, and slaw. That is ‘all the way’ where I come from in North Carolina, and Riverside does it right on. You have to order a basket of fries and onion rings to share at the table. Plus, the nice lady writes on your cup what drink you are enjoying with your meal!”
2) Spanakopita from Mr V’s Kitchen. “I have been eating Mr V’s wonderful pastry for years. I just don’t tire of it ever. On special occasions, he makes lahanodolmades, meat-stuffed cabbage rolls. They are 100 percent awesome. Plus, he makes a mean pizza as well.”
4) Tacos at La Michoacana. “It really doesn’t matter what type of tacos you order. They all taste good, and I end up smothering them with fresh hot salsa out of the squirt bottles anyway. It is cheap and tasty. And, remember to bring cash.”
5) Chicharron en Salsa Verde at El Tepeyac. “Not something I would recommend eating everyday, but it is so good and spicy. I think I broke out in a sweat last time I ate it.”
James Lum III and Matt Greene of JM Stock Provisions & Supply. James and Matt’s picks:
1) Cheeseburger at Riverside Lunch. “It’s pretty much everything I want in a burger, and Riverside is everything I want in a restaurant.” – Matt
2) Blueberry Cake Donut at Spudnuts. “Life altering.” – James
3) Aioli at MAS Tapas. “It made me rethink how I make aioli.” – Matt
4) Everything at The BBQ Exchange. “Go hungry and order everything.” – James
5) Pimento Cheese Fritters at Maya. “If there’s a dish involving pimento cheese on a menu, I get it. This one doesn’t disappoint.” – James
Nick Crutchfield, bartender at Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar. Crutchfield’s picks:
1) Corned Beef Hash at Bluegrass Grill and Bakery. “Their corned beef hash is the stuff that a breakfast lover’s dreams are made of. Hands down the best I’ve ever had. Ever. Then, we head home, go into a food coma, wake up, and head to Champion for some pints.”
2) Chef’s Counter at Clifton Inn. “My favorite date night place for my wife and I to head to is the Clifton Inn. I love the whole place, but when we go, I prefer to sit at the Chef’s Counter in the kitchen and go through the tasting menu. This is by far my favorite restaurant that I have ever had the joy of dining in.”
3) Pan con Miel at MAS Tapas. “Mas is where you can find me on a late and quiet night. The sherry menu, pan con miel, carne asada, and seared tuna are my go to items. But, I love anything that Tomas and his staff pull together.”
4) Ol Dirty Biscuit at Ace Biscuit and BBQ. “For lunch I usually try to eat at home due to the amazing abundance of produce we have in the area, but if I go out it’s to Ace Biscuit and BBQ. Holy smokes! (See what I did there?) It is impossible to go wrong with ANYTHING on their menu!”
5) Egg Salad Sandwich from Greenwood Gourmet with Sparkling Wine at Afton Mountain Vineyards. “It’s not fair that I have to narrow this to five. Alas, it is the Five Finds though. Number Five would have to be a nice day out in the country, stopping by Greenwood Grocery and picking up some quality sammies and heading to Afton Mountain Vineyards to sit on the patio with great company and relax with a bottle of their sparkling wine. My favorite sparkler to this day.”
Jason Alley of Pasture. Alley’s picks:
1) Cheeseburger and Chili Dog at Riverside Lunch. “This place is so rad, really old school and comforting for me. We used to go to the old location years ago when my band would come to town to play shows. It fit our budgets well, and was always exactly what we needed after a late night. I love that they do small burgers, so you can also cram in a hot dog. It’s also on the way to the new restaurant when we are driving in from RVA.”
2) Yucca Frita Con Chicharron at El Tepeyac. “We are still exploring town, trying to find our way to the next delicious spot. What a joy to come across this truly authentic Salvadoran/Mexican joint so close to Pasture. I’ve eaten the whole menu (in only three visits) already, but always have the yucca. The starch is perfectly cooked, and the crispy pork is as intensely porky as anything I have ever eaten.”
3) Everything at Mas Tapas. “Tomas has been a dear friend for years, and every time we have supper there I am reminded of what a talented cook he is (as are all of his chefs), and what it means to be a gracious host. Any fresh vegetable in season is a must, and of course those crazy good shrimp.”
4) Beverage Program at The Whiskey Jar. “This place reminds me so much of home. The Southern food is always great, but it is also the perfect place to enjoy a great local beer or cider, and a glass of well curated American whiskey. Also, the folks here are really great.”
5) Tasting Menu at The Clifton Inn. “To say that Tucker at Clifton is talented is a bit of an understatement. Every time I eat here I gain a new appreciation for the abundance that central Virginia has to offer. The techniques that he employs always work to highlight the ingredients being used. Smart stuff here.”
Brooke Fedora, who runs Horse & Hound Gastropub with her husband Luther. Fedora’s picks:
1) Bun Thit Nuong (Pork Vermicelli) at Moto Pho Co. “This dish is light, healthy, and delicious. I could eat it everyday. “
2) Pulled Pork BBQ Platter at Buttz BBQ. “Chris does a great job with all of his sauces, meats and sides.”
3) Pan Fried Dumplings at Kyoto. “My 5 year old son is obsessed with dumplings and these are his and my favorite in town.”
4) Pistachio Cupcake at SweetHaus. “These cupcakes are fresh daily and perfect for celebrations or a sweet snack.”
5) Vella Jack Cheese Fritters at Zocalo. “These hit all the flavor points on your tongue and leave you wanting more.”
Aaron Cross, executive chef of Fossett’s at Keswick Hall. Cross’s picks:
1) Vegetable Lo Mein at Made in Asia. “For those who don’t live near Zion Crossroads, it has saved me on many a random night around 9:00 pm in need of grub. I’m glad it’s there because nothing else is . . . for miles. I stick to the take-out classics.”
2) Sandwiches at Stonefire Station Kitchen. “Fresh, creative, and super tasty. Great pit stop on a long bike ride. Famished or not, any of their selections will satisfy. Grilled eggplant is a big winner.”
3) “Fuzzy Thing” at Dragon Lady. “Sometimes you find yourself at the bar of the Dragon Lady drinking something called a ‘fuzzy thing’ after dinner. Don’t judge me. The owner told me I needed to have the dan-dan noodles but I was too full to oblige. Maybe it was Ninja Warrior on the bar television that made this such a uniquely satisfying experience. . . guess you’ll have to cast your own vote.”
4) All You Can Eat Snow Crab Tuesday at Rhett’s River Grill. “It does not get any better before Kegler’s for pitchers of 8 point IPA and an ugly shoe fashion show. The dude abides.”
5) Sweetbreads at MAS Tapas. “I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to eating at Mas more than most native Charlottesvillians have, and I’ve only been here a little over a year. It’s my Friday night after work spot. It is the only place slinging serious food after 11:00. Their aioli and cocktails sate all end of day aches . . . or a couple tips on the porron.”
Justin van der Linde of Smoked BBQ Co. Van der Linde’s picks:
1) Chili Broth Steamed Mussels at Zocalo. “The smokey, spicy broth is awesome along with the grilled tortillas. Never been there without ordering the mussels!”
2) The Whole Menu at Kabuto. “Super fresh, super friendly, and fairly priced, This place is my new go-to!”
3) Smoked Turkey Croissant at The Blue Ridge Pig. “Yes, I do get extra dill sauce. Don’t judge me! Worth the ride every time.”
4) Blueberry Spudnut at Spudnuts. “I’m not sure how you make donuts better, but Spudnuts sure does. If you haven’t been . . . Go!”
5) Burger at Riverside Lunch. “‘Flat Out’ still the best! Crispy, cheesy and so delicious!”
Jarad Adams, sous chef of Clifton Inn. Adams’ picks:
1) Tacos de Lengua and Sopes con Longaniza at El Tepayac. “This Mexican/Salvadoran restaurant is dishing out some of the tastiest (and least expensive) food in town. Definitely wash it all down with an ice cold Michelada.”
2) Pork Belly with Leeks at Taste of China. “Skip the American menu and head straight for the pork belly with leeks. My wife loves the crispy fish scented with cumin and green onions. We stumbled in looking for some Chinese food close to home, and I don’t think we have been to anyone else in town since then.”
3) Octopus at Orzo. “Chef Tommy and his crew make some rock solid food. Seriously, I don’t get in there enough. A great meal accompanied by a glass of wine and an after dinner stroll downtown for people watching makes for a really nice date night.”
4) Annie Oakley pizza at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. (Spicy buffalo chicken breast, pineapple, pickled jalapeno peppers, mozzarella, and cheddar.) “After a long hike on a day off, nothing beats a pie and a cold beer from these guys!”
5) Meals at Home with my wife Nikki. “We work opposite schedules so when we are both home we often just turn on some music, make a mess, laugh and create something together. The antithesis to a crazy week at work!”
Matt Boisvert of C&O. Boisvert’s picks:
1) Falafel at Blue Ridge Country Store. “They make it daily and it is shaped like a cookie, usually by the salad bar. It’s the best in town, and usually my number one choice for lunch downtown.”
2) Shrimp Tempura at Kabuto. “It’s always very well prepared and different from regular tempura because they dredge the shrimp in tiny flakes so its extra crispy. I always get a side of Japanese mayo.”
3) Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup at C&O. “I’ve been eating this tomato soup in one form or another for years, and nothing beats this and a Makers and ginger after a long day.”
4) Pastry Basket for brunch at Hamiltons’. “Curtis and his team are killing it lately and sometimes they fry Cronuts (croissant donuts) for the pastry basket. Enough said.”
5) Heaven Sandwich at BBQ Exchange. “This sandwich is the real deal, and you can’t find better people than Craig, his wife, and his team to support. Worth the drive!”
Hernan Franco, chef of Beer Run. Franco’s picks:
1) Chimichanga at El Puerto. “I really enjoy the freshness of the sides. The lettuce, tomato, guacamole and beans are all great.”
2) Triple Delight at Asian Express. “The food quality is fantastic and the service there is excellent. She always recognizes my voice over the phone.”
3) Gus Burger at The White Spot. “This is a Charlottesville classic. I go to The White Spot specifically for this burger with a fried egg on top.”
4) Beef & Shrimp Red Curry with a Thai Iced Tea at Lime Leaf Thai. “I love the spicy dishes here, and though I’m not normally a tea guy I always order their Thai iced tea.”
5) Burger at Five Guys with provolone, jalapeño, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo with fries. “The beef here seems really fresh, and I like being able to make a burger however you like. The seasoned fries have a nice kick.”
1) Ham and Brie Sandwich with Cucumber Salad at Bashir’s. “Get a coke and the sports section and disappear for a half hour.”
2) Glazed Donut at Spudnut’s on Saturday morning. “Way better than the sugar-coated that my son likes. (He’ll grow out of it and realize his father was right all along).”
3) Pistachio Burma with Yogurt at Aromas Cafe. “This is it one of the best balanced desserts I know, especially after Moroccan cuisine.”
4) Pastrami on an Everything Bagel at Bodo’s . “I change options every time so I don’t seem boring, but always on an everything bagel. And of course the cream cheese on a plain bagel that saved me so many times on the way to school. Or back from it! Thanks Bodo’s.
5) An Afternoon at Veritas Vineyard and King Family Vineyards. “You go with friends, get a glass, and enjoy the time together. I easily forget to do it, but when I’m there I always think I should do it more often.”
1) Tofu Steak at Now & Zen. “Toshi is a master sushi chef who came back to the kitchen after a long hiatus. Incredible value. Oddly enough, I get the tofu steak every time I go.”
2) Pastrami and Swiss on an Everything Bagel at Bodo’s. “Am I exaggerating by saying we might have the world’s greatest high volume fast food restaurant (3) here in Cville? Think about it.”
3) Octopus at Orzo. “Tommy Lasley is a talent. His enthusiasm for cooking bleeds into his dishes. Go during a weeknight when he’s cooking. His bitter green ravioli with chicken sausage was awesome, but it’s his octopus, whichever way he does it, that is off the charts.”
4) Da Vinci Sandwich at Mona Lisa (three-seed baton with genoa salami, sopresatta, provolone cheese, tomato, mixed greens, house dressing and sun-dried tomato pesto). “I love Mona Lisa. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is such a pleasant vibe in that place. Great pizza, sandwiches, little freebies, and a pasta zip line, what’s not to love?”
5) Belly Q at BBQ Exchange. “You have to love what Craig is doing at the BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville. The BBQ is great, the bacon stupid (in a good way), and then bacon brownies? This is a guy who is talented and loving what he is doing. It shows. It’s already a destination BBQ place.”
Dylan Allwood, sous chef of Brookville Restaurant. Allwood’s picks:
2) Fried Chicken at Wayside. “Wayside’s chicken is always juicy and crispy – everything that I want in fried chicken. I love dipping it in the mashed potatoes and gravy. I hit this spot up on my days off for lunch – a little more often than I should.”
3) Whiskey on the patio at Miller’s. “My cooks and I always go for a drink after the brunch shift. It’s my favorite place to sit and relax after a stressful week in the kitchen.”
4) Hell Sandwich at BBQ Exchange. “I have known Chef Craig for a few years and he is always trying to get me to try his latest hot sauce experiments. The hell sandwich is painful to eat, but I end up ordering one almost every time we make the hike to Gordonsville.”
Gail Hobbs-Page of Caromont Farm. Hobbs-Page’s picks:
1) Amy’s Arugula Salad at Pippin Hill Farm Table and Wine Bar, with Albemarle sour cherries, duck confit, sunny side up farm egg, and Caromont Farm’s chévre. “I frequently go to Pippin Hill because of its close proximity to Caromont Farm. I am in awe of Amalia’s food and the Southern Albemarle Ridge view. There are moments when everything comes together for me — I ‘vacation’ here. I cannot stop thinking about this salad. Simple, yet balanced, bright and harmonic. This is field-to-fork at its best and a lot closer than Napa.”
2) Chicken Curry and/or Pork Dumplings with Sesame Noodles at Got Dumplings. “On Saturday mornings my day begins at 4 a.m. After way too much Shenandoah Joe Smoky Mountain Roast on an empty stomach, I NEED these dumplings to survive! They pan sear them just a bit for a crunchy edge and dress them with a citrusy ponzu sauce. The chilled noodles are perfectly dressed with a not-too-sweet sesame sauce and dusted with toasted sesame seeds. They also provide spicy Sriracha for those who can handle spicy food in the morning (which I can). Lately, I’ve been adding a dose of Radical Roots greens on top. Authentic street food you can eat while walking around the market.”
3) Spices at the Spice Diva. “They make me want to get in my kitchen and cook. The shop is a jewel, and I hate to blow the whistle because it’s so tiny, I fear that when folks figure out what FRESH, VIBRANT, QUALITY spices can do for chefs and home cooks alike, you won’t be able to get in there. Currently my favorite curry blend (and there are many) is the Vadouvan, a French green curry too complex to contemplate. We have a lot of cabrito to use up around here, and this makes it easy. The black truffle salt isn’t bad either. The list goes on and on.”
4) Stewed Cabbage and Pinto Beans at Mel’s Cafe with freshly chopped onions and a side of stewed tomatoes. “Tastes like my Momma’s, and that is saying something. Pete’s on the table and the tea is sweet. Got a tear in my eye.”
5) Jalapeno Cheeseburgers at the Howardsville General Store. “Caromont Farm is out there (off winding country roads) and our culinary choices are limited, so thank GOD for Gwen and her crew! Burgers are real, tomato is home grown, the crinkle cuts are fried to order, and the chicken salad and coleslaw are homemade. Get the cheeseburger with jalapenos and take a book. This is a fine local experience on the banks of the James River.”
Brooks Tanner of Barbeque Exchange. Tanner’s picks:
1) Sunday Brunch at Hamiltons’. “Chef Curtis Shaver and his kitchen ninjas reinstated an old tradition lost to Hamiltons’: Sunday Brunch. And boy, I am excited he did. The Grilled Ashley Farms Chicken Breast Sandwich on Housemade Ciabatta with Pimento Cheese, House Pickles, Arugula and Brown Sugar Cured Bacon is super solid. I also indulge in the Wagyu Corned Beef hash as it is a killer side. Abby’s scones are a hidden gem that I have not been able to find in any bakery around town. They are in fact the best I’ve ever had. Sorry Mom.”
2) Chicken Liver Pate with Cabernet Sauvignon jelly, house-cured pickles and toast at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. “Chef Amalia’s pate is better than the view from the patio. Her old-school ‘ass-kicking’ approach to food inspires me every time we chat.”
3) Sally’s Sazeracs at the Glass Haus Kitchen. “These are a treat. They consist of Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Absente Absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters, simple syrup and orange rind. They will ease your mind after a long day in the hospitality biz. I hate to write about the Glass Haus and not mention the food. It is amazing and the menu reflects only the very best of what’s to offer. It changes frequently and is very foodie! I never know what will be served that evening but it always exceeds even the highest of expectations.”
4) Jalapeno Lime Cream Cheese at Bodo’s. “It is ridiculous. You can really put in on anything, it’s that good. For myself, I go with the Everything Wheat Bagel BLT. Sometimes I go back later and get a Everything Wheat Bagel with Chicken Salad, tomato and sprouts. There is something magical about that particular cream cheese that keeps me yearning for more.”
5) Family Meal at Palladio Restaurant. “This is an invite only, exclusive, VIP secret to people in the know. Luckily, I am one of those people (and now you are too). Chef Melissa’s family meal at Palladio is insanely good. Although it is for staff only at a certain hour daily (that I can not reveal), served in the kitchen – standing room only, I find myself planning my visits to her exactly at this moment. I can’t help myself, I would eat there everyday if I could. There are no limits as to what she prepares for her staff but it is a fringe benefit that should not be overlooked. Oh, and her pecan-sticky buns are spot on. And the best part, somehow I get the friends and family discount!! Thanks Mel!!”
Tomas Rahal of MAS Tapas, who focused on some of his current daytime favorites. Rahal’s picks:
1) Double Macchiato from Shenandoah Joe. “Sometimes this is a meal, others a reward. Perfect pitch by the baristas at Shen Joe.”
2) Blueberry Spudnuts from Spudnuts. “Maybe they remind me of my aunt Eulalia’s nutmeg donuts, or Lori just knows I’m a sucker for these hot out of the oil. Simple pleasure.”
3) Fried Chicken and Waffles from Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. “Need I say more? Brian and staff hit this one out of the park.”
4) Pulled Pork from BBQ Exchange. “The whole hog and nothing butt the whole hog. Want some awesome hickory-smoked protein? Shake a leg to Gordonsville and be prepared to wait. You can’t hurry perfection.”
5) The awesome homemade Sandwiches from Breadworks. “Taste just like Mom’s!”
Steve Monson, winemaker at Early Mountain Vineyards. Monson’s picks:
1) Black Smoke Kolsch at Champion Brewing Company, in collaboration with Glass Haus Kitchen. “Anyone can hide bad brewing with a bunch of hops (I do it all the time) but this beer shows off a mastering of malts which give this medium bodied beer layers of complex flavors from caramel to toasted sesame seeds.”
2) Pulpo on Parrilla at Mas Tapas. “I like to pick this dish apart so I can enjoy the perfectly cooked octopus on its own, leaving a pile of pork to face on my own terms.”
3) Everything Bagel with Lox Spread at Bodo’s. “They serve other things? Maybe next year.”
4) Margarita at Continental Divide. “The simple, fresh ingredients really complement blanco tequila for a clean cocktail. But, I might go for aged tequila if I’m feeling swarthy.”
5) Fried Oysters and a Potter’s Craft Cider at The Whiskey Jar. “The cider really cuts through the fried batter. It’s like every oyster is the first.”
Matthew Hart, chef of The Local. Hart’s picks:
1) Sunday Lunch at Palladio. “Palladio was my favorite special occasion restaurant long before I married Melissa, their lovely and talented chef. Sunday is my favorite day to go, and not only because it is the only day I can manage to make it out there. After a busy weekend the perfect way to unwind is a leisurely lunch and glass of wine (okay, maybe a couple glasses of wine) and good company. Since my lovely wife is invariably cooking the food, I like to bring my ten year old son who is already smart enough to know good food when he tastes it, and loves Palladio as much as I do.”
2) Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on an Everything Bagel at Bodo’s. “Yummy. What kind of cheese? American. Don’t tell anyone please, because I know it is terribly unchefly, but when it comes to egg sandwiches and burgers, American cheese is gooey delicious. Being a chef, whenever I travel, I always try to eat the regional specialties in order to sample the best dishes as they are meant to be prepared. When I was younger and would find myself in New York, I would always ask around for the best bagel place because everyone always said that was where the best bagels were. Now, when in New York, I order whatever I am in the mood for because I had a lot of good bagels, but never one that was better than what Bodo’s serves all day, every day.”
3) Pork at BBQ Exchange. “Being outside of my regular stomping grounds, I don’t make it out to the BBQ Exchange as often as I would like. Fortunately, it is not too far out of the way for my wife to swing by and scoop some up on the way home. What do I like to eat there? Everything! As long as it is pork I am a happy camper. (I am sure that the non-pork meat offerings are good there as well, but I have not found a good reason to deviate.) Round it out with collard greens, macaroni and cheese (better get extra because my son can eat his own body weight in mac-n-cheese), some slaw, and some of the spicy pickles and that is about as good as it gets. Craig Hartman really shows that when a chef, who’s fine dining game is as good as anyone’s I know, turns his ambitions towards BBQ, then great things happen.”
4) Pizza at Ciro’s Pizza. “Ciro’s Pizza in Waynesboro is something I grew up eating and it is still my favorite pizza in the world. In my family, on your birthday, you get to pick what everyone eats, and we have been having Ciro’s Pizza since I was 12 years old. Judging by how old I feel, that is about 75 years of birthday dinners. My parents still live in Waynesboro, and Ciro’s Pizza helps ensure that I am a dutiful son and visit as often as I can.”
5) Blue Crabs on the Beach with my Family. “Every year my family gets to sneak away for a week and we go to the Outer Banks for some R&R. One of the highlights for me is getting a bushel of crabs, some potatoes, some corn, some shrimp, and whatever else looks good at the market and throwing together a crab boil. I literally look forward to this all year long. Dinner takes about three hours as we sit around and pick crabs and drink beer. I always get way more crabs than we can eat so that I can eat them for lunch the rest of the week. This is my favorite meal in the world and the crabs are only a small part of the recipe. Every year, I prepare this meal and sit down with my loved ones to eat it. The crabs taste great, but when mixed with the company and the memories of sharing this meal in years past, they become something indescribably delicious. This is what food and drink is all about. Making memories while breaking bread and sipping wine (or in this case beer).”
Melissa Close-Hart, chef of Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville Vineyard. Hart’s picks:
1) Crispy Shrimp with Pickled Ginger-Sesame Aioli & Honey Sambal Drizzle at The Local. “The chef, Matthew Hart, who also happens to be my husband, jokes that customers may revolt if he takes these delicious crispy shrimp off the menu. Truth of the matter is he knows that I might revolt. Just kidding, honey. I love to sit at the bar with a cocktail and these shrimp! It makes for a happy wife!”
2) “Family Dinner” at The BBQ Exchange. “Since I work out in Barboursville and live in Charlottesville, I can stop by and see my mentor, Craig Hartman, at his now famous BBQ joint. His pork is perfect. Everytime! And he’s smoking a lot of pork – thousands of pounds a week, I’m sure. But back to the Family Dinner: 1 pound of pork, 3 sides (we choose Mac & Cheese, Southern Slaw & Collards), 2 sauces (we go for Hog Fire & Craig’s Carolina), 4 buns and 4 pumpkin muffins. And you can’t forget those muffins! Yum. And all for less than $25. Can’t beat it! Pick up a six pack of Blue Mountain brew on the way home and life is good!”
3) Drunken Noodles with Chicken, Spicy at Pad Thai. “From the first time I had their noodles, I was sold. The balance between the spice, the acidity, the sweetness and the herbs is just perfect. Plus I really love how crispy they let the noodles get. I have to admit I get noodles from them almost every week! Pairs very well with a nice cold sweeter wine, like Barboursville’s Riesling or even the Dry Rose (not as sweet but works well with the spice).”
4) Any of the Southern Creations at Rapture. “Chris Humphrey and I are cut from the same cook’s cloth. We grew up on southern soul food and his interpretations always please me, my palate and my belly. Last time I was there we had Cherry Coke Braised Pork Cheeks over Grits. What the bleep! I was in pig heaven. And that’s a place I like to go often. Have some gumbo and fried green tomatoes to start and some draft beers and you will feel transported to the deep South, y’all!”
5) Donuts at Spudnuts. “Jacob, my stepson, likes when I drive him to school, because he knows that I can be talked into stopping by for a donut. I couldn’t tell you which is my favorite because that would be like picking a favorite child. They are all great in each of their own ways. But if I HAD to pick, I’d have to say the basic glazed, especially if they are warm. But you can’t go wrong with the apple fritter either. The kitchen and office crew at work like when I go because I’ll usually pick up an extra dozen to share. Got to share the donut love. The hardest part is waiting the 30 minutes it takes to get to work at Barboursville so I can have a cup of Shenandoah Joe’s Palladio Blend with my donut. Well to tell you the truth, I usually have one on the way. I have no self control!”
Pei Chang, chef of TEN Sushi. Chang’s picks:
1) Meatloaf Sandwich at Stonefire Kitchen. “Artisanal sandwiches and salads engineered by Jeremy Butterfield, a kitchen witch who’s just giving us a taste.”
2) Octopus Carpaccio at Glass Haus Kitchen. “It goes without saying that Ian Boden and his team are putting up the most interesting food in town. Inspired combinations that just work.”
3) Pappardelle Ragu at Tavola. “The perfect neighborhood restaurant. Mike and Loren kill it nightly.”
4) Short Ribs at Hanu Truck. “A fellow So-Cal transplant who is sharing the flavors of Los Angeles, Koreatown and the surrounding areas with Charlottesville. And, he’s doing it well. Can’t go wrong with the short ribs, be it tacos, mulitas or tortas. “
5) Spinach Balls by Caroline Chang. “Wifey’s spinach balls are a wonder to behold. I’m a fan of spinach as well as food in ball form.”
Treat Huey, former UVa tennis great, now a highly ranked doubles player. Huey’s picks:
1) Yuca and Caramont Farm Goat Cheese Fritters at Commonwealth. “This appetizer is ridiculously good. Then you can not go wrong with any of the entrees especially if you get the smashed, roasted red potatoes as a side. A great meal and then heading upstairs to Skybar to have a drink when there is good weather is a great way to end a day.”
2) Local “Double H Farm” Berkshire Pork Chop at The Local. “Get the blackberry cobbler with house made vanilla ice cream for dessert. All the food is great, and the restaurant building and decor are also reasons I come back and eat here as much as I can.”
3) Cajun Crusted Tilapia wrap with Chipotle Dressing and Salt and Vinegar Chips at Zazus Fresh Grille. “I have this at least once a week when I am in town.”
4) Lunch Buffet at Milan Indian Cuisine. “When I am really hungry, the lunch buffet at Milan is my go to. One of my friends, Sanam, who moved here from India five years ago, took me here for the first time a few years back after raving about it and I have been hooked ever since. The naan, curries and tandoori chicken are must haves.”
5) Pasta al Forno and House Salad at Bella’s. “Start with the large Bella’s house and then have the Pasta al Forno. Two people sharing these is the perfect amount of food. Also, I recently ate at the bar because there was a wait and my friend and I got to talking with Ayo the bartender. He’s a great guy and made dinner even more enjoyable.”
Jonathan Wheeler, Sparkling Winemaker at Trump Winery.
1) Oysters on the Half Shell at Blue Light Grill and Raw Bar. “Super fresh, tastes just like the ocean should.”
2) Ginger Braised Pork Tamale with Mole Sauce at Commonwealth Restaurant. “Goes great with their En Fuego cocktail.”
3) Hudson Valley Duck breast with Navy Bean Cassoulet at L’Etoile. “Great savory flavors.”
4) Steak au Poivre at the Downtown Grill. “Anytime I want perfectly cooked steak I go here.”
5) Umali Brûlée at Savour Restaurant. “A puff pastry with pudding, candied pecans, and coconut that is a great way to end the meal.”
1) Shredded Tofu Skin in Chili Sauce at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “Nothing gets the mouth watering like cold, shredded, tofu skins with cilantro and a plethora of chili oil.”
2) The Fat n’ Sassy at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “Otherwise known as a four cheese pizza disguised as ‘cheesy bread,’ studded with roasted garlic, cut into squares, and served with house-made ranch dressing. Broccoli optional. Extra ranch not optional.”
3) Bucatini All’Amatriciana at Tavola. “So simple, so good, yet impossible to re-create at home. I could eat this everyday – and the fellas at Tavola can attest to that.”
4) Tachos at Fardowners. “Translation = tater tot nachos piled high with all the fixins. Best shared with friends and pints of local beer.”
5) The Riviera at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery. “Hands down, the best tuna sandwich, period. Filled with quality tuna, olive oil, capers, red onion and magic. Served on crusty Goodwin Creek bread. What’s not to love?”
Ethan Zuckerman, of Barefoot Bucha. Zuckerman’s picks:
1) Ragu Bolognese at Bella’s. “Add the house salad, the calamari fritti, and a bottle of Italian red. You’ll definitely have leftovers.”
2) Datil con tocino (bacon-wrapped dates) at Mas Tapas. “Sweet, savory, sizzling slow food.”
3) Pork Gyoza at Now & Zen. “Try them with the spinach and eggplant dish and a roll or two.”
4) Pastrami & Swiss on an Everything Bagel at Bodo’s. “Don’t hold the mustard, horseradish, and lettuce.”
5) South Side of Heaven crepe at The Flat. “Local sausage from the awesome folks at the Rock Barn, spinach, and cheese–super filling, local ingredients, and under $10.”
Curtis Shaver, executive chef of Hamiltons’ at First & Main. Shaver’s picks:
1) Crispy Fried Eggplant at Taste of China. “Taste of China is consistently good. The soup dumplings are great too.”
2) House-smoked Pastrami Reuben at Fardowners. “The fact that they use pastrami and smoke it themselves makes this Reuben top notch.”
3) Animal Crackers at Glass Haus Kitchen. “What’s not to love about fried chicken skins and pigs ears?”
4) Gyro or Souvlaki at Mykonos Cafe. “A lunch time favorite of mine.”
5) BBQ at BBQ Exchange. “Craig is a culinary mastermind and his BBQ is worth the trip to Gordonsville. Worst part is I never can decide on a sauce. They’re all so good.”
Alex George of Commonwealth Restaurant and SkyBar and Just Curry. George’s picks:
1) Shrimp and Grits at Horse & Hound. “Luther Fedora’s shrimp and grits are amazing! The best damn grits I’ve ever had.”
2) Almond Croissant at Paradox Pastry. “Jenny Peterson does an absolutely fantastic job with these croissants. I have at least two a week.”
4) Prosciutto and Blue Cheese Sandwich at Market Street Market. “With pear, honey, and basil on ciabatta bread, this is my favorite anytime sandwich.”
5) Cornmeal-crusted Fried Oysters at Maya. “Christian Kelly’s fried oysters are a must-have every time I go there.”
Michael McCarthy, chef/owner of Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. McCarthy’s picks:
1) Hot Sicilian sandwich at Durty Nelly’s Wayside Deli. “Rye bread makes life better, plain and simple.”
2) Fried Chicken at GOCO on Cherry Ave. “There is a lot of fried chicken out there, but this is the BEST hands down.”
3) Crab Cakes at Duner’s. “The real deal, lots of lump crab and pleasantly seasoned.”
4) Pork Souvlaki Dinner at Tip Top Restaurant. “They know how to hook it up!”
5) Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb at Ivy Inn Restaurant. “Everything Angelo touches turns to gold, but the rack of lamb at the Ivy Inn is perhaps his biggest culinary achievement.”
Jenny Peterson of Paradox Pastry. Peterson’s picks:
1) Olde Salt Oyster Stout at Champion Brewing Company. “All of the beers here are wonderful, but a weekend afternoon spent sliding oysters along with this beer is indelibly etched on my palate. Perfection.”
2) Carne Asada at MAS. “I feel so unadventurous and borderline boring by ordering this dish every time I go to Mas. I just can’t not order it.”
3) Fried Mussels and Truffled Fries at Skybar. “We work long days on Fridays at Paradox and afterward, my Sugarista Sue and I head to the Skybar for a refreshing beverage. The fries are a staple and the mussels have replaced my former favorite, the fried oysters!”
4) Our Famous Veggie Pizza at Blue Mountain Brewery. “After delivering wedding cakes to one of the many wineries in the area, I treat myself to this pizza and always offer to share with the folks sitting with me at the bar.”
5) Blueberry Handpie at Paradox Pastry. “It’s . . just . . . perfect. Love you hold in your hand!”
Gerry Newman, Master Baker at Albemarle Baking Company. Newman’s five picks:
1) BBQ Lovers 3 Meat Platter at BBQ Exchange. “Worth the drive! My family loves to head over on a Sunday afternoon when the weather is warmer and squeeze in one of the front porch picnic tables. My son and I share a 3 Meat Platter of brisket, pulled chicken, and pork belly. We’re always trying different sides and Chef Craig never disappoints.”
2) St. Brendan Omelet and Caesar Salad at Bodo’s. “Millie and I have been Bodo’s fans for over 23 years. We used to drive over from Covington, Va before we moved to Charlottesville and would always get a dozen bagels to have back in our rural post. Now, my youngest and I like to share the St. Brendan omelet and a Caesar salad. Good food and the price is right. Though, as my daughter points out, you need to be mindful of social engagements after the garlic-y Caesar.”
3) Upstairs Window Table at C&O. “Every meal at C&O is a winner. I love the Berkshire Pork Saltimbocca while Millie prefers the Cuban Ribeye Steak. Our favorite table is upstairs by the center window, but it doesn’t really matter where we sit because when Dean is in the kitchen, we know we are in for a stellar dining experience.”
4) Cheeseburger at Riverside Lunch. “I first ate at Riverside years ago when it was at the west end of Free Bridge (now home to CVS). It was small, crowded, loud and you entered close enough to the grill that you could lend a hand with the lunch rush, if need be. Today, when the five of us go to to Riverside for lunch we make sure to order a basket of fries first to share while we wait for our sandwiches. I always get the cheeseburger all-the-way and I always leave happy.”
5) Pimento Cheese Fritters with Pepper Jelly at Maya. “My mom visits from Portland, Oregon every winter and loves going to Maya while she is here. If you have five or six people in your party, get a double order of these babies. Crispy on the outside, slightly melted on the inside, and full of flavor with the pepper jelly. Go on Tuesdays when they have the Chicken Fried Chicken and entrees are twelve bucks. Christian also makes a creamed cabbage that is out of this world.”
Christian Kelly, chef and co-owner of Maya. Kelly’s five picks:
1) Linguini Alla Carbonara at Tavola. “Simply delicious.”
2) Stone Pot of Pork and Potato Balls at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “Peter Chang’s Spring festival menu is unbelievable!”
3) Hot Chocolate at Splendora’s. “It’s really melted chocolate instead of what we think of as hot cocoa.”
4) Vella Jack Cheese Fritters at Zocalo. “Always perfect, a classic!”
5) Deviled Eggs (brunch) at Rapture. “Simple, delicious, like Grandma’s ‘cept better.”
Hunter Smith, owner and brewer at Champion Brewing Company. Smith’s picks:
1) Tres Colores Fish and Chips at Beer Run. “I don’t know what it is, but this fresh twist on a pub favorite really nails it for me. Moderate spicy heat, and really fresh pico on top of crunchy catfish is perfect with an IPA for me.”
2) Carne Asada at Mas. “I could order at Mas by using the menu as a dartboard and always be happy, but I particularly love the melt-in-your-mouth eyelid-squeeze-inducing carne asada. A showcase of amazing beef that seems to just barely touch the grill. Carnivore indulgence.”
3. Baltimore-Style Pit Beef Sandwich at Ace Biscuit & BBQ. “Brian catered our soft opening party and it was love at first bite. (Forgive the cliché.) Everything I’ve had there is fantastic . . . . We rarely have time to do lunch outside of the brewery because of hectic brewdays, so when we can, we plop down at Ace and I love the tender, juicy Baltimore-style pit beef with a smooth kick from the horseradish sauce. Can’t skip the side of fried green tomatoes. Always motivated to work out after a trip to fat kid heaven.”
4) Tacos de Lengua at La Michoacana. “We have been the fortunate offsite venue of choice for La Michoacana to set up their truck and by god is their food every bit as amazing from the truck as it is at the restaurant. Nothing off of the list is less than great, but I love the chewy and flavorful tongue, prepared ‘Mexican’ style, with their green hot sauce. 3 of these plus a Missile IPA = so bangin’.”
5) Duck Confit at The Clifton Inn. “I recently attended a beer dinner at Clifton Inn, and as usual Tucker, Tyler, and Collin were swinging for the fences. The highlight for me was duck confit with roasted endive, cocoa nib nougatine, and cherry fruit leather. Seriously? Seriously.”
Brice Cunningham, chef-owner of Tempo. Cunningham’s picks:
1) Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Oysters and a Special at Maya. “I start with a nice bottle of white wine and the cornmeal-crusted oysters and then usually have the special for the night. The guys in the kitchen are always doing something fun for the Southern food lover’s palate.”
2) Cocktails at Commonwealth. “When I need a good cocktail I head to Commonwealth’s bar and chat about cheese and wine with Steven, the manager there.”
3) BLT Sandwich at Bagby’s. “I love a good old fashioned BLT for lunch from Baggby’s.”
4) Pain au Chocolat at Albemarle Baking Company. “For the perfect pain au chocolat, I always turn to Albemarle Baking Company.”
5) Dinner at Clifton Inn. “When I have friends in from New York or Europe, I take them to the Clifton Inn to enjoy some of Tucker Yoder’s creative cooking.”
Ian Redshaw, Chef de Cuisine of L’Etoile. Redshaw’s picks:
2) Muffaleta at Beer Run. “Muffaleta, any time anywhere, especially at Beer Run.”
3) Meat and Cheese Counter at Feast!. “Some of the best people with the best products. Great time while waiting for your lunch.”
4) Bibimbap at The Korean House. “A hot stone boil comes out sizzling, with a sunny side up egg.”
Loren Mendosa, sous chef of Tavola. Mendosa’s picks:
1) Veal Sweetbreads and Fried Brussels Sprouts at L’etoile with capers, parsley, lemon, fleur gris and aioli. “Perfectly cooked sweetbreads are hard to find and Ian Redshaw does just that.”
2) Fried Chicken & Waffles at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. “I love the fact that Brian uses fried chicken thighs instead of breast meat for this dish. I’ve always been a thigh guy.”
4) Sake Roll at TEN Sushi. “I’m a sucker for a spicy roll and the fresh jalapeno in this one is perfect.”
5) “Coffee and Doughnuts” at TEN Sushi. “TEN gets two picks because they have two great chefs, Yoshihiro Tauchi and Pei Chang. This dessert is my perfect way to finish a meal, tender beignets and sweet creamy coffee.”
Tim Gearhart of Gearharts Chocolates. Gearhart’s picks:
1) Fried Oysters with Chipotle Aioli at Duner’s Restaurant. “An absolute staple.”
2) Beef Short Rib at Zinc. “This is one of the most memorable meals I have had in Charlottesville in quite a while. Grits, roasted cauliflower . . . ridiculous.”
3) Beef Jerky at The Organic Butcher. “I have a serious addiction to beef jerky. Don’t judge me.”
4) A perfectly poured Duvel beer on tap at Mas. “Maybe enjoyed with a few raw oysters and I am not sure it gets better.”
5) Chocolate Praline Crunch Cake Dome at Albermarle Baking Co.. “Even after being around a whole bunch of chocolate all day, I can still do some damage on one of these.”
Dan Potter, co-owner of Potter’s Craft Cider. Potter’s five picks:
1) Southside of Heaven at The Flat. “An eye-opening experience to what a crepe can be. Perfect after a long night out, big enough to feed two, but usually gone before anyone else gets a taste.”
2) Freedom Ranger Chicken from Free Union Grass Farm. “These birds are very active and run around more than a standard Cornish Cross. Any way you choose to cook it, they have the tastiest thighs you will ever try.”
3) Hemingway’s Paris by Forage. “I’m very excited for the next dinner from Megan Kiernan and Justin Stone, the curators of Forage. These two put together more than just an incredible meal – they create ‘holistic occasions meant to be enjoyed by all the senses.’ Every part of the experience is worth savoring.”
4) The Horny Goatburger at Black Market Moto Saloon. “Organic spiced goat with avocado, bacon, Gouda and cilantro lime sauce – what else is there to say?”
5) Fried Chicken with Collards at The Whiskey Jar. “Simple, but delicious. This is a staple meal done well. It’s always nice to enjoy at the end of a long week alongside a cold drink.”
Jennifer Keevil, Manager and co-owner of Brookville Restaurant. Keevil’s five picks:
1) “Omakase sashimi, sushi, and sake at TEN Sushi.”
2) “A refreshing Greyhound and grazing off the late night menu at C&O.”
3) “Shopping and tasting all the raw milk cheeses and charcuterie at Feast!.”
4) “Gambas al’ parilla smothered in aioli, and homemade sangria at Mas.”
5) “A perfect runny egg on anything at Brookville.”
Mike Yager, sous chef of the new Glass Haus Kitchen. Yager’s picks:
1) Charleston Wings at The Lazy Parrot Grill. “On boys’ night out, that’s the place we go to get the best wings in town. And, Charleston is by far the best flavor.”
2) Bison Burger at Beer Run. “Best beer selection in town by far, and the burger is a bad mamma jamma.”
3) Hamachi Collar at Ten Sushi. “Everything Pei does is awesome. Hamachi collar just happens to be one of those things.”
4) Hangar Steak at Petit Pois. “I love steak frites, and I love hangar steak. You can’t go wrong with hangar steak and french fries that are done right.”
5) PBR at Miller’s Downtown. “Something about that bar makes PBR taste better than it already does. Maybe it’s the dirty bar scene with loud music (Barling and Collins amazing Sunday night entertainment), or maybe it’s the fact that they have the best bartenders in the world right at my front door.”
Angelo Vangelopoulos, chef/owner of Ivy Inn. Vangelopoulos’ picks:
1) Nachos at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I decide to make the trip to North Garden. I love the Jack London pizza, but the nachos make me come back over and over.”
2) Moroccan Wrap or Chicken Shawarma Wrap at Aromas Cafe. “It’s a toss up: the Moroccan wrap with the world’s tastiest eggplant or the shawarma. Hassan and his staff make the experience memorable — great place for a lunch date.”
3) The Chef’s Counter at Clifton Inn. “It’s like eating in your own kitchen if it was staffed with five great chefs and a great service staff. The snacks and courses seem to be endless.”
4) Chorizo Potatoes with a side of Homemade Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce at Cafe Cubano. “It’s so good I’ll eat yours too.”
5) Goat Vin D’Alho and Naan at Milan Indian Cuisine. “Ask for extra napkins and order another beer. It’s succulent, spicy and soul warming. Don’t even try to eat without using your hands.”
Josh Hunt, co-owner of Beer Run. Hunt’s five picks:
1) Cheeseburger “All the Way” and a Coke in the Bottle at Riverside Lunch off High St. “As someone who grew up on the east side of Charlottesville, the Riverside has been an institution since long before I started going in the 80′s with my brothers and step-dad, to the old location on Long St., where the CVS is now. I’ve been all over this country and I haven’t found a better or more classic cheeseburger. Plus, the service is probably the fastest in town.”
2) Boquerones Con Ajo at Mas. (Plump white Cantabrian anchovy filets in an olive oil, garlic, lemon marinade). “Man, these anchovies are a thing of beauty — briny, fresh and plump, resting perfectly in olive oil. I think Tomas has some in-depth secret process that makes these so amazing. Excellent with a crisp white wine or a glass of Duvel Belgian golden ale.”
3) Baltimore-style Pit Beef Sandwich With Creamy Horseradish Sauce and a Cheerwine at Ace Biscuit & Barebecue. “When I go to Ace, I just let Brian & Gabby in the kitchen tell me what to order. I’ve yet to leave disappointed . . . or hungry.”
4) Lunch Buffet at Milan Indian Cuisine. “My girlfriend Chelsea turned me on to Milan, and its fantastic buffet, with a selection of delicious curries, rice, veggies, meats, chutneys, salads, naan and sauces. It also happens to be a great spot to meet my mom, who is a vegetarian and loves it.”
5) Fried Lotus Root at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “Holy Toledo, these things are like the best shoestring fries you’ve ever had, but better and flavored with spicy Szechuan peppers and spices. The are only available in season and fantastic with beer (like most things). Tip: Always order at least one item off of the hand-written page on the back of the menu. There are great authentic and seasonal dishes on that page.”
Tim Edmond, co-owner of Potter’s Craft Cider. Edmond’s picks:
1) Soft Pretzel at Early Mountain Vineyards. If you haven’t ventured to Madison to check out this winery, the soft pretzel is reason enough. They also have an awesome selection of Virginia wines and partner with wineries from across the state. The fact that it is beautiful, they are steadfast supporters of Virginia wine and have committed to donate all profits to the Virgina wine industry, those are good reasons to check it out too.
2) House-made Sorghum Butter at The Whiskey Jar. I could eat it by itself but usually put it on hush puppies or ham biscuits. Love this place, love the food and the understated local ingredients.
3) Goat Pasanda at Milan. I order this extra spicy with garlic naan.
4) Ginger Kombucha from Barefoot Bucha with a Hot Donut from Carpe Donut. A favorite Saturday morning ritual is to walk the dog to Carpe Donut. The kombucha is awesome and I love that you can also find Barefoot Bucha on draft at places like Blue Mountain Brewery, Whole Foods, and The Whiskey Jar.
5) Dinner at Forage. This is a ridiculously awesome supper club from chefs Megan Kiernan and Justin Stone. They cook some of the best food in Charlottesville that is either foraged, bought, or bartered from local sources.
Luther Fedora, chef/owner of Horse & Hound Gastropub. Fedora’s picks:
1) Singapore Mi Fung at Red Lantern. These noodles are my favorite when ordering takeout!
2) Virginia Prosciutto & Mozzarella Sandwich at Feast!. This is a great lunch option when I am on the go. It is fresh, local and delicious.
3) Potato Rosemary Bread at Albemarle Baking Company. This is one of the Saturday specials and it is one of my favorites.
4) Royalty Parties Sushi Platter at Tokyo Rose. This is a Monday night tradition at my house and it is my son’s favorite meal.
5) Rack of Lamb with Potato & Swiss Chard Gratin at Fleurie.
Tyler Teass, sous chef at Clifton Inn. Teass’ picks:
2) Cocktails at 9 1/2 Speakeasy. It’s got great cocktails, and they keep it quiet. It’s a great place for after work drinks or dates.
3) Vegetable Soup with Bread and Butter on the late night menu at C&O. Delicious and hits the spot especially now since the weather’s gotten colder. Plus, they play great music.
4) Duet of Lamb “Greek Style” at Ivy Inn. Angelo is the nicest guy ever and makes awesome food. His gyros are worth the trip to Ivy alone.
5) Larb at Thai Siam. It’s one of a kind and I constantly crave their food.
Ian Boden, head chef of Glass Haus Kitchen. Boden’s five picks:
1) Tacos de Carnitas at La Michoachana.
2) Crispy Pork Belly at Peter Chang’s China Grill.
3) Date Night at Ivy Inn. My wife took me there for my birthday.
4) Daily Specials at TEN. Pei’s creative specials are off the hook!
5) Baklava at Balkan Bakery at City Market. Their baklava reminds me of what my grandfather used to make.
Dahlia Lithwick, who is not just the nation’s leading Supreme Court writer, but also a lover of Charlottesville food. Lithwick’s picks:
1) Truffled Mushroom Ragout at The Local. My ongoing problem is that although I love everything on the menu at The Local, if I don’t get the truffled mushroom pasta I get depressed. Also, the one time I got a half-order I got depressed too. Best just to scarf down the whole bowl and smile.
2) Coriander Fish Rolls at Peter Chang’s China Grill. These are stupidly delicious.
3) Must Khiar (cold yogurt soup) at Ariana Grill Kabob House. You are either a cold soup person or you aren’t. But if you are and you haven’t had this one, you should. Dunk their bread in it. Use it as raita over everything! Oh my god, just writing this makes me need some Right Now.
4) Boquerones con ajo at Mas. (Plump white Cantabrian anchovy filets in an olive oil, garlic, lemon marinade). Possibly not a first-date food.
5) Black Bean Breakfast Burrito at Bluegrass Grill and Bakery. But I could have picked any breakfast item at random and said the same.
1) Melanzane al Parmigiano at Tavola. This really gets back to my Italian roots. Tavola is a great addition to the Charlottesville culinary scene.
2) Vegetarian “Blue Plate Special” at Hamiltons’. A classic, perfect every time.
3) The Haystack at the Horse & Hound. Stack of roasted vegetables, goat cheese, pesto, and sprouts, on multi-grain bread. Horse and Hound is a favorite at the UVa Center for Politics. They have a great menu and also do a wonderful job on catering.
4) Donut Ice Cream Sandwich at Carpe Donut. Cinnamon-sugar donut sliced in half and layered with homemade vanilla ice cream. The perfect food to fulfill one’s guilty pleasure.
5) Cookie Dough Archer at Arch’s Frozen Yogurt. Lots of cookie dough in vanilla frozen yogurt. Students aren’t the only ones who love Arch’s!
Chris Humphrey, chef at Rapture. Humphrey’s picks:
1) Goat Vin d’ Alho at Milan.
2) Pastrami and Swiss on an Onion Bagel with onions and mustard at Bodo’s.
5) Sweetbreads at C&O. Sweetbreads with sultanas and green peppercorns in a marsala cream sauce over toasted brioche.
Coy Barefoot, best-selling author, radio personality, adjunct faculty member at UVa, Founding Partner and Creative Director at earlessrabbit.com, Founder and Editor-in-Chief at uvahistory.com, and Ironman Triathlete. Barefoot’s picks:
1) Spicy Chicken Pizza at Christian’s Pizza.
2) 50 Blend at Cafe Cubano.
3) Sesame Chicken at Red Lantern.
4) Turkey on a Sesame bagel (or everything or garlic) with tomato, cheddar (or swiss or muenster), mayonnaise and mustard, hot and cut at Bodo’s.
5) Crab Benedict at The Nook.
1) Pollo Tacos with Salsa Verde at La Michoacana.
2) Avocado Tempura at TEN.
3) Capesante ai Ferri, at Tavola. Pan-roasted sea scallops, leek-beet risotto, white truffle oil.
4) Jowl Bacon with Fried Eggs at Maya (brunch).
5) Gyoza Dumplings at Now and Zen.
1) Honey Bunch at Java Java. My unofficial office makes these same cookie-meets-mini muffins as C’ville Coffee, and while they’re not as BIG at Java Java, they’re more densely packed with the oats, coconut, honey, brown sugar, butter, and flour that make them so chewy…and so perfect for breakfast!
2) Ginger Scone at Albemarle Baking Company. Made only on Fridays, these buttery delights packed with spicy chunks of candied ginger and topped with crunchy turbinado sugar sell out fast. Wait, did I say Fridays? I meant, um, Wednesdays.
3) Vodka Gimlet Up with Fresh Lime and a Splash of St-Germain at Zinc. Just about any bar who doesn’t mind my Sally in When Harry Met Sally ordering style (and who carries the fragrant elderflower liqueur) will make this, but I love the airiness of the bar at Zinc and the attention they devote to their cocktail program.
4) Bellissima Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. It’s been mentioned before, but I’ll mention it again: A chewy, charred whole wheat crust (made with Steadfast Farm’s wheat) strewn with roasted tomatoes, puddles of fresh mozzarella, ribbons of fresh basil, sea salt, shavings of salty Turner Country Ham, all topped with local arugula that’s been tossed with shaved parmigiano, lemon, and olive oil? My favorite salad and my favorite pizza in one perfect pie.
5) Melanzane al Parmigiano at Tavola. Michael Keaveny’s recipe is the best I’ve ever had. Thin rounds of eggplant get breaded with a secret ingredient (I’ll never tell!) and lightly fried before being stacked on the plate, free form, with ricotta, mozzarella, and parmigiano cheeses between the layers and a bright, garlic- and basil-laced San Marzano marinara sauce all around it.
Somdev Devvarman, UVa tennis legend and food lover. Devvarman’s picks:
1) Warm Medley of amFog Wild Mushrooms at Ivy Inn.
2) Cigar Rolls and Drunken Noodle at Monsoon Siam.
3) Chicken w. Three Peppers in Hot Iron Plate at Peter Chang’s China Grill.
4) Every omelet (as long as you get home fries) at Bluegrass Grill and Bakery.
5) Buffet Lunch at Milan.
Tucker Yoder, Executive Chef at Clifton Inn. Yoder’s picks:
1) Rock Barn Bratwurst at Beer Run. I am a big sucker for these.
2) Espresso from Sidamo beans at Shenandoah Joe. Dave [Fafara, owner] turned me onto this a while back and I crave it every time I go in there.
3) My Wife’s Muffins with Flour from Wheatberries from Steadfast Farm. My wife is a big baker and makes fresh muffins for breakfast from flour she mills from fresh wheatberries from Steadfast Farm. It really adds another dimension to the morning.
4. Lunch Buffet at Himalayan Fusion. With four kids, we don’t eat out much, but when we get a chance we really like the lunch buffet at Himalayan Fusion. The kids will eat naan and Butter Chicken for days.
5. Jam from Jam According to Daniel. Our house is big fans of Daniel’s jams, especially the fig, damson plum, and anything with holy basil in it.
Mark Thompson, Founder and Master Brewer of Starr Hill Brewery. Thompson’s picks:
1) BBQ Sandwich and a cold Northern Lights at Three Notch’d Grill. Made with love by my lifelong friend Hayden Berry.
2) Hippie Wings (with Ghost Rider sauce if you dare) and Festie Amber Lager at Fardowners with Grover the chef/owner. (Hippie Wings are breaded Portabella mushrooms tossed in your choice of sauce.)
3) Picnic lunch from Greenwood Gourmet Grocery. The food is as excellent as the company of Dave and Nina.
4) Gambas al’ Parilla at Mas, to catch up with Tomas, and because you can still taste the garlic the next day.
5) Any place that serves Starr Hill beer, because the best beer in the world is always the one in front of you.
Taylor Smack, co-owner and brewer at the beautiful Blue Mountain Brewery. Smack’s picks:
1) Crispy Pork “Cheerwine” BBQ at Maya.
2) The Goat Herder at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar.
3) Datil con tocino at Mas. Medjool dates roasted inside of applewood-smoked bacon.
4) Pad Thai with Tofu at Downtown Thai.
5) Fried Chicken with Collards at The Whiskey Jar.
1) Sausage, Egg and Cheesse, Coffee, and a Chocolate Glazed Donut at Spudnuts. Really doesn’t need an explanation.
2) Veggie on Rye with House Dressing, add Watercress and a Side of House Dressing, 1/2 pint Exotic Grains, and Rte 66 Dill Pickle Chips at Take It Away. I’m not a vegetarian.
3) Bamee Moo Dang at Pad Thai. Wonton Noodle Soup is what they call it on the menu, which is weird because the literal translation is Ramen Red Pork.
4) The bar and the man who makes it, Paulie, at Vivace.
5) Four C’s on a Sugar Cone at Chaps. This is a recent revelation for me, thanks to my better half, Laura, replacing Arch’s Swirl with M&M’s as indulgence #1 (besides Talisker).
Brian Ashworth, the former Zocalo sous chef and owner of Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. Ashworth’s picks:
1) Deli Egg on an Everything Bagel at Bodo’s.
2) Tom Yum Noodle Bowl with Beef Tongue at Pad Thai.
3) Gyro at The Villa.
4) Spicy Tuna Tartar at Zocalo.
5) Korobuta Pork Belly Sandwich at The Box.
Kirsty Harmon, Winemaker and General Manager at Blenheim Vineyards. Harmon’s picks:
1) Fried pickle chips at Tavern on the James.
2) Roasted Almond gelato at Splendora’s.
3) Kanpachi sashimi at Ten.
4) Burrata at Tavola.
5) Bellissima pizza at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie.
Michael Keaveny, chef/owner of Tavola. Keaveny’s picks:
1) Crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura at Ten.
2) Tacos de Carnitas at La Michoacana.
3) Fried Chicken at Brown’s.
4) Sausage, Egg, & Cheese on an Onion Bagel at Bodo’s.
5) Pho Special at Lime Leaf. (Weekends only.)
George Cohen, Chair of the UVa Faculty Senate, who led the faculty’s effort to secure the reinstatement of UVa President Theresa Sullivan. Cohen’s picks:
1) Lox and Vegetable Cream Cheese on an Everything Bagel at Bodo’s. Great soul food that takes me back to my Jewish New Jersey roots. Now if we could only get some good herring in sour cream and onions!
2) Black & White Cookies at Chandler’s. Another childhood favorite. I also love their chocolate cakes.
3) Hot and Sour Soup at Szechuan. We have known the Yu family for years and this is my personal favorite dish there.
4) Pesto Wrap at Zazus Fresh Grille. Zazus is a big favorite of my law professor colleagues and I just love the pesto wrap.
5) Fajita Burrito at El Puerto. This is another of my lunch favorites. Delicious, though I usually am in a stupor for several hours afterwards.
Harrison Keevil, chef of Brookville, which he co-owns with his wife Jennifer. Keevil’s picks:
1) Heaven and Hell Sandwiches at BBQ Exchange. I love Craig’s Q and when he put these on his menu I had to get them. They are filled with my favorite ingredient, pork. Just prepare yourself when about to eat both because they will put you on the couch and into a food coma. (Heaven: pulled pork, over-easy egg, melted cheddar cheese, “Sticky Love” bacon, baconnaise, lettuce and tomato on a house made roll. Hell: habanero fried mac and cheese balls, tempura-batter fried ghost pepper bacon, pickled Thai dragon chiles, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, spicy chimichurri, and “Caution Hot” ghost pepper sauce on a house made hoagie roll.)
2) Korobuta Pork Belly Sandwich at The Box. I fell in love with Banh Mi sandwiches when I lived in San Francisco. When Pei took over the menu at The Box and created this adaptation of the Banh Mi , I went straight to get it.
3) Earlysville Sandwich on French at Bellair Market. Just love this sandwich. (Note: This sandwich typically comes on sourdough, but Keevil prefers French instead.)
4) Chef Tasting Menu at Clifton Inn. Tucker and his crew do a great job and I love going to the Clifton Inn, which is actually where my wife and I met, and just put myself in their hands. They never disappoint.
5) Two Al Pastor Tacos and one Chicken Tamale at City Market. It is how I start every Saturday at 7 am before I go buy the day’s menu items at the market for Brookville.
Dave Kostelnik, General Manager of Feast!, Charlottesville’s favorite gourmet food shop and cheesemonger. Kostelnik’s picks:
1) Coriander Fish Rolls from Peter Chang’s China Grill. Miniature, crispy fish cigar. Yes please! Be forewarned, I refuse to share these with anyone and will often eat two orders all by myself prior to entrees arriving. Stop judging me. Stop it.
2) Pork Belly with Colonel Bacon BBQ Sauce from BBQ Exchange. Consume with a variety of house-made pickles for good measure. It’s a little known fact that every time you eat BBQ pork belly an angel gets its wings and an obese kitten is rescued from a tree. Do you not like angels and obese kittens? Exactly. Eat BBQ pork belly.
3) Gambas al’ Parilla from Mas. Grilled shrimp + garlic alioli + grey sea salt. Simple. I am half convinced that Tomas puts an addictive chemical in the dish that makes me crave it fortnightly (which oddly enough I am comfortable with).
4) Baked Currant Donuts from Albemarle Baking Company. A relatively new invention by team ABC. Admittedly I was not sold at first, but now things are different. Now I eat at least 3 of these per week. Gerry laughs maniacally whenever he sees me approach because he knows I lack the self-control to resist. Thanks Gerry.
5) Saganaki from Orzo Kitchen and Wine Bar. Let’s be clear about one thing: I love hot cheese even more than I love angels and obese kittens.* If you can find a way to sear delicious Halloumi cheese, cover it in anise-flavored Greek booze, fresh herbs, tomatoes and garlic, then I will let you into my circle of friendship. (*I actually loathe cats.)
1) Burger and Vanilla Milk Shake at Blue Moon Diner.
2) Taco de Pollo at La Michoacana.
3) Bocadillo Jamon at Mas. Jamon serrano, manchego cheese, and aioli on wood-oven bread.
4) Papparadelle Ragu at Tavola. House made pasta, pork and red wine ragu, parmigiano-reggiano, and basil.
5) White Bean Salad at Feast!.
Kath Younger, author of the blog Kath Eats Real Food, where she blogs about literally everything she eats. Younger’s picks:
1) Black Bean and Corn Relleno at Zocalo. I’ve seen it mentioned before, but this pepper is my favorite entrée in all of Cville. The flavor combination of the smoked grits and the cheesy, tortilla-crusted pepper with that amazing cilantro sauce are just incredible!
2) Meritage from Jefferson Vineyards. Although I’m not drinking now due to the baby baking in my stomach, the JV Meritage is one of my all-time favorite red wines. I will have to celebrate with a huge glass in September!
3) Veggie Plate at Eppie’s. I’m a Registered Dietitian, so I gotta put some veggies on the list! I always get collard greens, sweet potato, and black beans with that incredible cornbread that tastes like cake!
5) Spicy Cashew Trout at Commonwealth. I hope this is still on the menu, because it was one of the best entrees I’ve ever had. The cashews on top were sweet, candy spiced, the trout perfectly seared, but the show-stopper is their coconut rice – so sweet and rich! [Note: Sadly, this is not on the current Commonwealth menu.]
Kate Collier and Eric Gertner, the happy couple that runs Feast!, Charlottesville’s favorite gourmet food shop and cheesemonger. Kate and Eric’s picks:
1) Now & Zen: Yellowtail sashimi appetizer, Chirashi entree, and Cowboy cookies.
2) Zinc: The Palmer cocktail, Fois Gras Torchon appetizer, and the daily recommendation of chef Justin Hershey for an entree.
3) La Guadalupana: Crispy Pork Carnitas (weekends only) and Modelo Especial.
4) Brookville: Virginia Ham Fritters, and Chef Harrison Keevil’s special recommendation of the evening.
5) The Whiskey Jar: Hush Puppies, Sweet Potato Biscuits with Apple Sorghum Butter, and a Sazerac to drink. “This is a perfect food & whiskey pairing!”
Scott Smith, co-owner of Bodo’s. Smith’s picks:
1) Pancakes at Blue Moon Diner.
2) “The Albemarle” Cake at Albemarle Baking Company. Chocolate cake on the bottom, then three mousse layers—dark chocolate, white chocolate and milk chocolate. Covered with a milk chocolate glaze.
3) Contorni at Tavola. Specifically, cavoletti di bruxxelles pan tostado (pan roasted Brussels sprouts, pancetta, brown butter) and finocchio arrosto con aranci (roasted fennel, grilled oranges, basil).
4) Espinacas Catalana at Mas. Sauteed spinach, sultanas, pine nuts, garlic, Amontillado, and Arbequina olive oil.
5) Jalapeno lime cream cheese at Bodo’s.
Bryan Szeliga, Chef at Orzo Kitchen and Wine Bar. Szeliga’s picks:
1) Sushi at Seafood @ West Main. I love the fact that they only serve sushi a couple of days a week when the fish is super fresh. By only selling sushi when the fish is fresh, it shows to me a high level of respect for the fish.
2) Methi Sauce at Royal Indian. At Portland, OR’s Paley’s Place (where Szeliga previously worked), chef Vitaly [Paley] used to braise local lamb with hay from the farm. Royal Indian’s version of Methi sauce reminds me of that culinary experience. I love the grassy/hay flavor of fenugreek. To me, it creates a connection to the food and the earth. At Orzo, I buy fenugreek spice and methi herb from the Spice Diva and use it with Madeira to make our braised lamb.
3) Gyro platter and chick peas at Ariana. Ever since the first time I tasted the food at Ariana I have been hooked. Their flat bread is the best I have had. I eat there at least once a week. The gyro platter is great for lunch and at dinner I can’t get enough of their chick peas.
4) Black Bean and Corn Relleno at Zocalo. This is a cool ‘upscale’ version of a typical crisp chili relleno. Their chilis are typically just the right heat but sometimes…watch out!
5) Crispy Rock Shrimp Sandwich at The Box. – I really like the direction Chef Pei is going with the Box. All of the sandwiches are good. Most of the time I order the rock shrimp. The firm texture of the shrimp with the crispy tempura with pickled vegetables and spicy mayo make for a perfect filling between bread. Note: This was previously one of our picks on Two for Tuesday. The sandwich seems to have a bit of a following.
Jenée Libby, author of the renowned Charlottesville blog The Diner of Cville. Libby’s picks:
1) Slow Cooked Veal Shank Osso Bucco at Ivy Inn.
2) Bibimbap at The Korean House.
3) Hot and Sour Soup at Marco and Luca.
4) Apple Harvest Cookies at Cappelino’s Crazy Cakes.
5) Thai Iced Tea Gelato at Splendora’s.
Ivan Rekosh, one of the two head chefs and owners of Zocalo. Rekosh’s picks:
1) Roast pork with shrimp wonton and wonton noodles at Pad Thai. “Not on the menu anymore, but he still makes it.”
2) Chopped liver on an everything bagel with extra red onions at Bodo’s.
3) Agedashi tofu with bonito at Miyako. “You have to specify bonito.”
4) Sante Fe Enchilada at Continental Divide.
5) Chicken thigh at Wayside Takeout & Catering.
1) Porktopus at Mas Tapas. “Tomas (Rahal) is a mad genius and lucky to have Mike Ketola!”
2) Daily Cheese and Charcuterie Board at Pippin Hill Farm. “Hands down best winery food pairings in Virginia.”
3) Omakase (Chef’s Choice) Sushi at Ten. “I crave it!”
4) Truffled Parmesan French Fries at Fossett’s Bar at Keswick Hall. “The finest jewel of a casual restaurant anywhere.”
5) Pan-Roasted Trout at Maya. “I may go there right now, it’s that well prepared and handled from start to finish.”
Andrew Silver, one of the two head chefs and owners of Zocalo. Silver’s picks:
1) Thai beef consomme noodle bowl at Pad Thai. “Hands down my favorite dish in town. Profound broth, melt in your mouth brisket, lots of herbs and toasted garlic.”
2) Cheese Steak at Fabio’s NY Pizza.
3) The Hungover at Boylan Heights (Sunday Brunch menu). “Cheesy hash browns with a burger on top and 2 fried eggs. Served with white bread and spicy ketchup.“
4) Deli-Egg with American cheese on a sesame bagel at Bodo’s. “All the corned beef and pastrami scraps encapsulated in an omelet.”
5) Honey Shrimp with Chili Sauce at Taste of China. “Perfectly cooked small sweet shrimp with a sweet and spicy sauce.”