Once upon a time (April 2011), my brother was going to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and Jeff and I decided to visit him. We asked our friend, Suz, who had lived in Charlottesville for a couple of years (and was vegetarian – I was too at the time) for some food recommendations. She made us a list of about 12 places.
Our trip was going to be about 24 hours total in Charlottesville. We’d get there around lunch on Saturday and leave around lunch on Sunday. Most sane people would have just picked 4 places to eat, one for each meal, and hoped to come back to try the other places later. We are a little crazy about food, though. We realized that if we didn’t eat huge meals, we could keep trying new places until we couldn’t eat anymore. Our goal was to try every place on the list, plus go to a deli I really like there.
Michael’s Bistro and Tap House
When we got in for lunch, we met up with my brother and his then-girlfriend on the corner (a popular spot next to UVA’s campus). He took us to a restaurant he liked, Michael’s Bistro and Tap House. It wasn’t on our list, but this was mostly about seeing my brother, so we didn’t care. I got a spinach salad with chevre, strawberries, sunflower seeds, and poppy-seed dressing. It was a good salad.
- Verdict: Pretty good. Has a great beer selection and decent food.
- Location: 1427 University Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22903
- Price: $13-15 including tax and tip.
- Hours: Mon – Sat 11:30 AM – 2 AM, Sun 5 PM – 2 AM.
My high school friend Bridget was in town studying for her master’s, so we met up at Bodo’s Bagels, a popular student haunt. The bagels are indeed incredibly cheap and quite delicious. I got a three cheese bagel sandwich, very good.
- Verdict: Tasty, cheap bagels! Definitely recommended.
- Location: 1609 University Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22906 (There are two other locations: 1418 Emmet St and 505 Preston Ave)
- Price: Bagel with cream cheese: $2.45; Bagel sandwich: <$4.
- Hours: The one on the Corner is open Mon-Fri 7-8, Sat 8-8, Sun 8-4
After a bagel at Bodo’s, we headed to Para Coffee to talk some more over a cup of hot chocolate (for me). Unfortunately, the hot chocolate was pretty mediocre.
- Verdict: Not very good. Can’t speak to the coffee itself though.
- Location: 19 Elliewood Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22903
- Price: Regular coffee prices, I think, around $3-5.
- Hours: Mon-Sat 7-7
After a quick lying around break, Jeff and I headed to the Downtown area of Charlottesville to walk around and look at shops, and to eat more, of course. First, we shared a chocolate almond crêpe at The Flat, a tiny shack that just dishes out crepes. It was a really good crêpe.
- Verdict: Great! There’s not much of anywhere to sit and eat though.
- Location: 111 E Water St, Charlottesville, VA 22902
- Price: $3-7
- Hours: Tue-Thu 11-9, Fri-Sat 11-11
Marco & Luca
Marco & Luca is a dumpling shop that my friend recommended. I got a veggie hot bun. It was hard to eat with chopsticks, let me tell you. But it was high quality, and the sauce was a perfect spiciness for me. Now that I’ve become totally addicted to dumplings, I would love to go back and try them (I couldn’t because they didn’t have vegetarian ones).
- Verdict: Delicious and easy on the budget.
- Location: 112 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902
- Price: about $3 for an order (one hot bun or 6 dumplings)
- Hours: 10:30 – 8:30, except it’s open til 10 on Fridays
Mellow Mushroom Pizza
You’d think, with all of those other things, we wouldn’t need dinner. We waited until pretty late and then were ever so slightly hungry, so we went back down to the Corner to try Mellow Mushroom. We got the Kosmic Karma, a pizza with spinach, feta, tomato, and pesto, and an appetizer of pretzels. The pretzels were good. The pizza was too. I’ve had better, but it was yummy. After this meal we went to bed.
- Verdict: Good pizza, not sure if there’s better in town.
- Location: 1321 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22903
- Price: about $10-15 for a pizza
- Hours: 11 AM – 2 AM
On Sunday morning, we went out to Barracks Road Shopping Center to try HotCakes, which is known for its brunch. There was a big case full of beautiful pre-made food as well as a menu of other things. I debated getting an omelette but decided eventually on huevos rancheros. It was delicious. The eggs were so fluffy. I tried Jeff’s spinach and cheese quiche – it was amazing. We also split a very nice eclair. What a satisfying breakfast.
- Verdict: Outstanding! Absolutely loved it.
- Location: Barracks Road Shopping Center, 1137-A Emmet St, Charlottesville, VA 22903
- Price: About $10
- Hours: Mon-Fri 7-8, Sat 9-8, Sun 10-6
Littlejohn’s New York Delicatessen
Littlejohn’s has become a Charlottesville tradition for me. Not that I go to Charlottesville a lot, but every time I do I come to Littlejohn’s. I love the four cheese sandwich and the sarcastic abuse from the counter staff. We met my brother here and had our last meal in town.
- Verdict: Love it. Definitely go.
- Location: 1427 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22903
- Price: $5-10
- Hours: Open 24/7
We left Charlottesville really full and very satisfied. There are a lot of good and very affordable places to eat there. We took this model with us to Malaysia and Singapore, too – we had a huge “you must try this” list and we completed about three-quarters of it. I kind of love eating lots of small meals and will probably be doing this plenty in the future too. Eight restaurants in 24 hours is probably still our top score.
Have you or would you ever eat like this? Do you have any other restaurant recommendations for Charlottesville, for the next time I go gorge myself there?