Everyone knows where I’m heading, but most people reading this probably don’t know where I’m from! My Twitter profile simply states, “Virginia, USA”, and that’s where I’ve lived for all but eight years of my life. To get more specific, for 12 of the last 14 years I’ve called Charlottesville, Virginia my home. I love Charlottesville (minus our ever-growing traffic problem) and will miss it greatly while I’m away. In 2004, it was ranked as the #1 city to live in (from the USA and Canada), and loads of other good things have been said about C’ville as well. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget to mention that Charlottesville is home to Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, which has been ranked as the #1 or #2 public university by US News & World Report for years. GO HOOS!
Of the many things I love about C’ville, the wonderful restaurants throughout town, especially those near the University, are chief among them.
After announcing my resignation, colleagues, students, and friends started adding lunch dates to my calendar, and I decided this was the perfect opportunity to visit my favorite places one last time and perhaps try one or two new ones.
Let’s start with the three places that currently top my list — all conveniently located on 14th Street:
Since my first trip to Boylan Heights one year ago, I’ve been hooked on their burgers. I usually go for the turkey burger (super moist and YUM) on a whole grain bun with grilled mushrooms and onions, feta or melted provolone, and their special house Boylan Sauce. The regular beef is also fantastic, and the veggie burger is the best I’ve ever had, hands down. The deep friend potato salad (pictured below) is unique and tasty, but the sweet potato fries are my favorite side.
Basil (a “Mediterranean Bistro”) is just up the road and has a solid menu with wonderful salads. I always order the Insalata Tunisia: Grilled chicken in mediterranean spices, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, sweet tunisian peppers, cucumbers, mint, dried dates, pita chips and pine nuts on a bed of mixed greens tossed in lemon sumac dressing.
And then there’s Revolutionary Soup where you can get a cheap and healthy meal. The soups, salads, wraps, and sandwiches are fun and fresh, and on my last visit there I opted for the Baby Spinach Salad (spinach, raspberries, sliced toasted almonds, and feta) & the Black Bean Spinach Wrap.
The rest of “the Corner” boasts more fantastic options.
Just to name the two that made my “C’ville Eats Tour” there’s Michael’s Bistro (enjoy dining on the balcony if you can) and Mellow Mushroom (I adore the Gourmet White and Magical Mystery Tour pizzas…their dough is amazing too!).
The Downtown Mall (and surrounding area) has a variety of restaurants and most offer outdoor seating.
I can’t resist breakfast for lunch at Bluegrass Grill & Bakery. I always get the Spanakopita Omelette, and the spices on their potatoes are *perfection*.
Directly on the mall is Eppie’s. I was introduced to it just recently, so I’ve only made it there twice. Their turkey meatloaf, cornbread, and 3-berry cobbler top my list.
Just off of the mall and tucked away in a small strip of buildings is The Shebeen, a South African restaurant with nice decor and meals more expensive than I typically like to pay for…but their Sadza Cakes are quite nice, and their West African Ground Nut Stew was tasty, but a tad too sweet for me.
You could easily pass by The Flat without realizing it. It’s a tiny set up but their sweet and savory crepes are worth the search. The chicken, apple, and brie was more than I could handle for one meal!
And finally, here are a couple of places I’ve frequented that aren’t on the Corner or in/near Downtown:
Zazu’s has been a favorite since I was 19 or 20. The egg and spinach wrap has been breakfast a handful of times, and the Teriyaki Chicken and Thai wraps are my favorites to order for lunch or dinner.
Ever since my first visit to Aromas Cafe three summers ago, I’ve been hooked on the Moroccan Wrap. I think I’ve only ordered something else once or twice.
Now that I’ve written about some of my favorite places in town, I’m ready for lunch O:-). I’m sure it sounds like I eat out all of the time, but I only managed to eat at these places in the last month or so because of all of the lunch dates My wallet and waistline can’t afford that on a regular basis, trust me!
Looking forward to finding new places to visit, photograph, and write about down under!
I took the top photo in La Boqueria in Barcelona…not Charlottesville 😉