The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Mel’s Cafe

Five Finds on Friday: Francesca Black

francesca

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Francesca Black, chef of Continental Divide, which has been closed for two weeks after water damage related to Hurricane Michael, but is poised to re-open next week. Black’s picks:

1) Late Night Burger with a Salty Dog at C & O. “I usually get fixated on one aspect or one ingredient of a dish so, for me, an exceptional food experience happens when that fixation isn’t easy to discern — a temporary whirlwind sets in because it is that good. C&O late night does that for me. I am rarely free during regular dinner hours, so after work we sometimes head over for that divine burger. The crispy bun, the crunchy lettuce, that perfect first bite. It all becomes complete with their salty dog, the delicious classic with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and a salted rim. It’s a great way to end a long work day.”

2) Masala Dosa from Desi Dosa with Turmeric Lassi from Planet Earth Diversified at the City Market. “If I can make it Saturday morning, the City Market rules. I love the Southern Indian vendor Desi Dosa. They focus on letting the intensity of their spices speak for themselves in simple dishes like the masala dosa, a thin stuffed pancake. Speaking of bold spice, the turmeric lassi from Planet Earth Diversified really wakes you up and goes great with spicy the food.”

3) Octopus Tempura and Hot Sake at Now & Zen. “Although hard to choose food favorites, octopus is absolutely up there, and when tempura fried, it’s a whole different level! I could eat Now & Zen’s octopus tempura everyday — it’s perfectly fried, salted and served with spicy mayo. Then with some hot sake — enough said.”

4) Half Chicken and Green Rice with Aji Sauce at Al Carbon. “I was definitely late to the game to visit Al Carbon on 29 but a friend got some take out one night, let me taste it, and I was instantly hooked. The flavors, especially in the homemade sauces, are unbelievable. I like to get the half chicken, break it up into the green rice and cover it in aji sauce, their medium, garlicky wonder.”

5) Fried Chicken and/or Meta’s Burger with Crushed Ice Soda at Mel’s Cafe. “Of all the delicious restaurants in Charlottesville, I think Mel’s might take the cake. Mel’s cures a bad day and makes a good day that much better. I can never choose between the chicken or Meta’s burger, both of which instantly fuel a tingling sensation even at the thought. Continental is so close, too –we are very proud and lucky to have them as our neighbors!”

Five Finds on Friday: Wiley Kimball

wiley

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Wiley Kimball of Parallel 38, which Wednesday, January 24, is hosting a happy hour and dinner with local wine star and itinerary creator Jake Busching. Happy hour, from 4-6 pm, includes a “meet and greet” with Busching and discounted prices on his wines. Dinner begins at 6:30, and includes a seven course feast with Busching, paired with Busching wines and other special selections. Guests can attend either or both events. Buy your dinner tickets at (434) 260-8793. Kimball’s picks:

1) One-Eye Burger from Mel’s Cafe. “This is, to me, the perfect burger. Just the right size, just the right amount of grease, and topped with a fried egg. I get mine with grilled onions, mayo, and hot sauce. Mel’s is a great spot for a casual lunch and the service is some of the friendliest you’ll find anywhere. If you haven’t been, you need to change that ASAP.”

2) The Rocket from Snowing in Space. “I can get down with just about everything from Snowing in Space but I always gravitate to this take on a Mexican hot chocolate. The Rocket is their cold-brew espresso mixed with milk, cinnamon, and a touch of chili powder. I usually drink my coffee black but something about this creamy, slightly spicy concoction always hits the spot.”

3) Literally Any Beer from Three Notch’d Brewing. “I wracked my brain trying to narrow this down to even only three favorites and I couldn’t. Their beers are just that good, especially the seasonals and collaboration brews. Special shout out to their collab with Oskar Blues, the Black & Goldings black ale. If you want something a bit more adventurous, stop by the Sour House on Preston (in their original taproom) and embrace the funk.”

4) Dry-Fried Eggplant at Peter Chang China Grill. “I could easily do this list five times over with only dishes from Peter Chang, but this is my hands down favorite. Light, crispy, savory, and with just enough spice to wake your palate up (and build up to some of the other dishes!). You hand me a couple orders of this and a tall Sapporo and I’ll be the happiest person on the planet.”

5) Wine and the View at Brent Manor Vineyards. “If I need to get out of town, this is my go-to. Tucked away just off 29 in Nelson County, this small vineyard is run by the lovely Jorge and Tracie, who not only make their own lineup of wines including a beautiful Chambourcin, they also stock a rotating selection of Portuguese wines and “winetail” specials that are always surprising and refreshing. All of that, paired with some beautiful VA scenery, makes for a perfect lazy afternoon. They’re closed for the season now but look out for them to reopen in the spring – you won’t be disappointed.”

Five Finds on Friday: Arley Arrington

Arley

Photo by Amy Jackson.

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Arley Arrington of Arley Cakes, who also makes desserts for Brookville.  This Monday is Pi Day – 3/14 – and Brookville is celebrating with a pop-up pie shop, from 12 – 6 pm, offering Arrington’s creations.  Details here.  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.”