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: Wiley Kimball


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


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.”

Five Finds on Friday: Michael Davis


On Fridays, we feature five food and drink finds from local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Michael Davis, owner of The Wine Guild of Charlottesville. The wine-buying club’s next wine tasting and pop-up restaurant night is Wednesday, November 18, starting at 5:30 pm, at Kitchen Catering & Events, at 606 Rivanna Ave.  Open to the public, “A Night in South Africa” will feature seven staff-selected wines from South Africa, with food available for purchase by Kitchen Catering & Events and cheese plates by Nadjeeb Chouaf of Flora Artisanal Cheese. 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.”

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