The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Charlottesville best restaurants

The Alley Light



108 2nd St. SW . Charlottesville, VA . (434) 296-5003

Why The Alley Light?

In every respect — food, drinks, and experience — The Alley Light is a sensation. In 2015, it made history by becoming the only Charlottesville restaurant ever to be a James Beard Foundation semifinalist  for best restaurant in the country. The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, and one of the leading culinary educators of our time have all heaped praise. While some of that came during the tenure of Jose de Brito, the restaurant has barely missed a beat under current chef and co-owner Robin McDaniel. Behind the bar is author and mixologist Micah LeMon, whose ever-changing menu combines carefully chosen liquors with his own tinctures, infusions, tonics, and more. 

The Alley Light is not just excellent. It is one-of-a-kind. Before it opened in February 2014, it was not easy to see how much Charlottesville could benefit from this grown-up lounge with serious food, perched in an intimate second-story space off the downtown mall. Now, it’s hard to imagine The Charlottesville 29 without it.

What to Order

Our favorite way to eat at The Alley Light is to ask the kitchen to send out whatever it likes. It’s never failed to yield a wonderful meal. For specific suggestions, below are our picks, the chef’s picks, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where a local chef or personality has named an item from The Alley Light as one of the best in town. Because the specials menu changes weekly, not all of the dishes below will always be available.

Our Picks

  • Roasted Bone Marrow parsley crust, braised escargot
  • Roasted Chorizo chickpea puree, toast
  • French Green Beans grated foie gras, almond-shallot vinaigrette
  • Carrots herbs, yogurt, cumin-lemon-orange vinaigrette
  • Charcuterie
  • Pork Belly braised and roasted, apple, celery
  • Scallops (in any form)
  • Stuffed Quail porcini mushrooms, brioche, red wine sauce, turnips

Chef’s Picks

  • Rabbit Wrapped in Prosciutto, sweetbreads, chestnut, mushroom, mustard sauce
  • Cod, Mussels, Lobster, Scallop Boudin, saffron-vanilla broth
  • Guinea Hen, celery root, leek, foie sauce
  • Seafood Charcuterie Board
  • Mr. Rech hazelnut macaron, praline parfait, hot chocolate sauce

Five Finds on Friday Picks


Petit Pois

Pois201 Main Street . Charlottesville, VA . (434) 979-7647

Why Petit Pois?

Many Charlottesville restaurants have seasonal menus. In a city so committed to local sourcing, Mother Nature demands it. But, few restaurants transform themselves with the seasons as much as Petit Pois, the more casual and affordable sibling of Fleurie. It’s like several restaurants in one. In winter, it’s the closest thing in Charlottesville to a French bistro, serving hearty French classics, faithfully prepared, in a cozy 25-seat dining room. In warmer months, a 65-seat patio at the center of the downtown mall draws crowds for optimal people-watching, epic lunches, and breezy dinners of lighter takes on locally-sourced French fare. Any time of year, there are few spots as reliable for a great meal as Petit Pois, a necessity in The Charlottesville 29.

What to Order

Though the menu changes seasonally, some dishes are year-round fixtures. Below are our favorites, the chef’s picks, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where a chef or personality has named a Petit Pois dish one of the best in town.

Our Picks

  • French Onion Soup
  • Chicken Liver Mousse
  • Skate Wing
  • Steak Frites
  • Moules Marinieres
  • Bouillabaisse

Chef’s Picks

  • French Onion Soup
  • Beet Salad
  • Moules Marinieres
  • House Burger
  • Crab Cake
  • Bourride
  • Profiteroles

Five Finds on Friday Picks

petit pois soup


Revolutionary Soup

Rev Soup

108 2nd St SW . Charlottesville VA . (434) 296-7687

Why Revolutionary Soup?

Revolutionary Soup is deceptively named. Sure, you can find great soups at the popular counter-service joint on The Downtown Mall. But, there is much more. In fact, it might just as appropriately be called Revolutionary Sandwiches.

The building blocks for Revolutionary Soup’s sandwiches, salads, and soups are sourced locally, with delicious results. Wines and beers are well-chosen, too – a plus for those who enjoy an adult beverage with lunch. And while Rev Soup is most popular at lunch, it is a sneaky-good dinner option as well. Healthy, affordable, and delicious. After work, why go home and cook, when you can pick up a thoughtfully conceived and prepared soup, salad, or sandwich? We score big points at home when we walk in the door with a couple of creative salads or a few pints of Lamb Curry. It’s been a longtime fixture of The Charlottesville 29.

What to Order

The rotating selection of soups changes often, but a few staples are always available, including the signature Spicy Senegalese Peanut Tofu, Lamb Curry, Tomato Basil, and Miso. All come with a fresh roll from Albemarle Baking Company. There is also a long list of sandwiches and salads. Below are our favorite items, owner’s picks, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where a chef or personality has named a Rev Soup dish one of the best in town.

Our Picks

  • Lamb Curry
  • 90’s Club (Roasted chicken breast, bacon, cheddar, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onions & house sauce on a kaiser roll)
  • Gulf Coast Wrap  (House spiced shrimp, avocado, roasted red peppers, hard-boiled egg, spring greens and a zesty dressing)
  • Wild Mushroom Wrap (Wild mushrooms sautéed with Gruyère bechamel and spring greens)
  • Daily Specials, especially the Red Row Sandwich and Heirloom Tomato Sandwich

Owner’s Picks

  • Lamb Curry
  • 90’s Club
  • Garlic Garden Club  (Sautéed red onions, roasted red peppers, and cheddar, with fresh avocado, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli on griddled sunflower wheat bread)
  • Quesadillas (pro tip: the owner recommends eating these in-house rather than to-go)

Five Finds on Friday Picks

  • Lamb CurryTristan Wraight (Oakhart Social)
  • Cheese Steak HoagieNick Moon (formerly, Brasserie Saison)
  • Spicy Senegalese Peanut Tofu SoupZach Miller (formerly, Timbercreek Farm)
  • Adam’s AppleHannah Deal (Hannah’s Homemade)
  • Thai Tofu WrapPortia Boggs (The Local Food Hub)


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