The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: El Tepeyac

Five Finds on Friday: Bill Scatena


On Fridays, we feature five food finds selected by local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Bill Scatena, sous chef at Pippin Hill Farm Table & Wine Bar.  Tonight, Scatena will be preparing a Tuscan-inspired menu for Pippin Hill’s first annual Winemaker’s Dinner. 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.”

Five Finds on Friday: Richard Ridge

On Fridays, we feature five foods selected by local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Richard Ridge, chef of Restoration, at Old Trail Golf Club in Crozet.   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.”

Five Finds on Friday: Five from 2013


For the final Five Finds of 2013, we thought we would look back at some our favorite foods of the year.  There are too many to mention, but here are five that leap to mind.

1)  Pupusa de Queso con Loroco from El Tepeyac.  For several months in 2013, this became an addiction.  Loroco is an edible flower common in El Salvador that seems like it was created just to go with pupusas.  It has other uses, too, but its floral, truffley, flavor melds perfectly with cheese inside chef Adolfo Solorzano’s handmade pupusas.

2)  Grilled Artichokes at MAS Tapas.  One of the challenges to eating at MAS is that we are so fond of our old favorites that it can be difficult to save room for the newest creations from Tomas Rahal and Mike Ketola.  When we do branch out, we are always rewarded, but never more so than when we followed our server’s advice this year to snatch up an order of grilled artichokes.  Blistered quickly on the plancha, and drizzled with olive oil, these artichokes are the best we’ve ever had.

3) Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Oysters with Collard Greens and Stone-Ground Grits at Maya.  Chef Christian Kelly is not just one of the nicest chefs in town, he’s also among the most talented.  A highlight of the year was learning that Kelly’s personal favorite way to eat at his restaurant is to have an appetizer of fried oysters, with sides of collard greens and grits, and eat the whole concoction together.  Wow.  We might have to run over there right now.

4)  Gyros by Angelo Vangelopoulos.  Unless you spring for the extraordinary Duet of Lamb entree at The Ivy Inn, you sort of have to be in the right place at the right time to be lucky enough to enjoy gyros made by Vangelopoulos, whose father once ran a gyro place in D.C..  Who knows when or where he might turn up and whip together some of these amazing sandwiches?  Vangelopoulos makes his own gyro meat by combining ground pork, beef, and lamb and baking it in a pate mold before slicing.   He stuffs it into his own pita and tops it with his own tzatziki.  Oh my.

5) Cakes from Bodo’s.  Co-owner Scott Smith worked hard to perfect these chocolate bombs inspired by bouchons, before introducing them this year at Charlottesville’s most popular restaurant.  Made from a combination of chocolate from Valrhona, Barry Callebaut, and Van Leer, they are dense and decadent.

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